Presidents Letter October 2019

Kentucky Tennis Family,

Happy October and almost Halloween!  I feel like I need to reintroduce myself, as it’s been a few months since you've heard from me. Late summer was crazy for numerous reasons, from surgery to lots of travel, so I handed the reigns over for this space to the Raise A Racquet Foundation to share with you the amazing work the Foundation is doing and how you can be involved.  I hope you received your postcard in the mail regarding how your donation can make a difference in growing tennis here in Kentucky and if you have not already, I hope you’ll consider making a donation by the end of the year. I received my postcard in the mail this morning!  

There’s no way I can adequately share with you all that’s been going on in tennis over the past 3 months, both in Kentucky and nationally but I’ll try and hit some of the highlights below.

Just in October the following happened:

     USTA announced a new CEO and Executive Director to succeed Gordon Smith when he retires in January. Michael Dowse is currently the President of Wilson Sporting Goods, where he has been for 6 years. Prior to that he worked for Amer Sports and Nike, Inc, where he was the Director of Tennis Footwear.  You can read the story HERE.

     Kentucky hosted the Tri-Level Sectional Tournament in Louisville the weekend of October 18-20.  It was the first time since 2002 that Kentucky has hosted a sectional tournament.  Over 600 players from 9 states participated. Kudos to the amazing Kathy Klein (Kentucky Adult League Coordinator), members of the Adult League Committee, including Chair Melanie Humbert, and so many of YOU, members of our Kentucky Tennis Family, who came out to volunteer at the event and helped make it a rousing success! And as if all that isn’t great news, add in that a Kentucky team won the 18 3.0-4.0 division! Congratulations to Team Voss from Louisville! 

     The Kentucky State Middle School Tennis Tournament was held in Elizabethtown the same weekend as Tri-Level, with 125 players participating over the two days.  Teams representing Elizabethtown, Lake Cumberland, Lexington, Louisville and Woodford County participated this year. If you’re interested in starting a Middle School team or league in your area next year, please let us know!

     The Kentucky High School Interscholastic Tournament was held in Lexington at Top Seed on October 5th & 6th.  132 players participated on 16 teams from Boyle County, Elizabethtown, Franklin County, Lexington, Louisville, Nelson County and Woodford County.

     The Combo State Championships were held October 3-6 in Lexington and over 700 players participated representing communities all over the state.

And that’s just October folks!!  September saw the Tennis on Campus Championships in Lexington, the Adult 65 & Over Championships were held in Louisville, Adult Mixed Doubles State Championship was held in Bowling Green, Team Kentucky had an impressive showing at the Southern Ozaki Cup, the Kentucky Tri-Level State Championships were held in Owensboro and nominations for USTA Kentucky Awards closed! 

Also, in September, Tom Higgins, Cindy Miller and Colleen Jones Underhill were announced as inductees into the Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame!  Click HERE to read more about these amazing tennis players, coaches and advocates! Tom, Cindy and Colleen will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, January 24 at the Louisville Marriott East.

Kentucky was also well represented at the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting and US Open in early September and USTA Kentucky President-Elect Mike Eden represented our state exceptionally well in August at the Southern Annual Meeting in Gulf Shores, AL while I was still recovering from surgery.  A huge thank you to Mike for standing in for me!

As you read through this message, I hope you take note of the breadth of Kentucky tennis. We are small, but we are mighty, and we are growing tennis in all parts of our state. Just in this small window, events were held in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Bowling Green in addition to Lexington and Louisville, and we are committed to continuing to find ways to host events in other areas!  Note also that the list above is not even close to all the tennis events and activities held in this time period.  There’s not enough room to list everything going on in this letter, but I do encourage you to visit USTA Kentucky on Facebook and scroll through the posts to get an idea of the breadth of tennis that is being offered statewide!

There’s still lots of tennis to be played this year but be sure to mark your calendars for January 24-25, 2020 for our annual Kentucky Tennis Weekend. Friday night will be all about Raise A Racquet and our Hall of Fame Inductees. This very special event will include a silent auction, drinks, dinner and the induction ceremony.  Saturday will include the Community Tennis Development Workshop and USTA Kentucky Awards Luncheon. All events will be held at the Marriott East Hotel off Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville. More details will be posted online in the coming months.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Thank you for all you do for tennis in your community and in our state.  I’d also like to say thank you to our USTA Kentucky staff for all of their incredibly hard work over the past few months as they have coordinated some exceptional events and put in some very long days, nights and weekends to make these events happen around our state. They give up significant time with their families to make these events exceptional, so it is with the utmost respect and a grateful heart that I say, “THANK YOU” to Jason, Kathy, Bryan, Taylor, Stacey, Maddie, Kim and Tim for everything you do.  You guys are the best we are so lucky to have you on #TEAMKENTUCKY!

Find your serve,

Rainey Johns
USTA Kentucky President