President's Letter September

Dear Kentucky Tennis Family,


I’m having a difficult time knowing where to even begin this month’s newsletter!  The past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind full of great experiences and some exciting announcements!


September started with two pretty significant firsts for me…New York City and the US Open, all wrapped into one amazing, fun, insightful and exhausting experience!  The USTA National Semi-Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with the US Open each year, so it’s a mixture of motivational speeches, educational sessions and seeing some amazing tennis.


I am blessed to have had this experience.  This year, as you may have picked up on during the tournament, was the US Open’s 50th Anniversary.  The clear messaging throughout the tournament was a celebration of the last 50 years and how that pushes, motivates and drives the vision for the next 50. Much of the discussion and attention was on Arthur Ashe as the first US Open winner in 1968 and the legacy he left for us all in terms of courage, diversity and inclusion.  I was moved by the words spoken about him, the footage of the amazing work he did outside of tennis and his intentionality of utilizing his platform as a tennis player to make a difference in the world.  He was an ardent supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, worked alongside Nelson Mandela opposing Apartheid in South Africa and marched against the treatment of Haitian refugees at the capitol in Washington, DC, just to name a few of his off-court accomplishments.


He is quoted as saying, “"I know I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without human purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others."


Arthur wanted his legacy to be more than just being a great tennis player, but he realized that his ability as a tennis player gave him a platform to make a difference in the world. 


We all have our own platforms…whether it be as coaches, teachers, business men/women, parents, grandparents or even Parks & Recreation professionals.  May we all be more like Arthur Ashe and have the wisdom and courage to utilize the platforms we have, no matter what they are, to make a difference in the lives of people.


Along those lines, I can’t let this opportunity slide to recognize some amazing people in our own state who have received some pretty significant honors in the past month!

Julie Ditty, a native of Ashland, KY, will be inducted into the Southern Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame in January!  Julie has too many accomplishments to list in this space, but here are a few fun facts: she made her high school tennis team as a 2nd grader, won 3 state tennis championships, had a storied career at Vanderbilt University where she was eventually inducted into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame, went onto play professional tennis, including the main draws of the Wimbledon, Australian and French Opens and played on the 2009 US Fed Cup team that made the semifinals of the tournament that year.  Julie is currently serving on the USTA Kentucky Board of Directors, where her knowledge, insight and experience will be invaluable!  Read more about Julie’s accomplishments here.

Next up, we are excited to congratulate the two inductees to the 2018 Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame! 

Mike Eden of Nicholasville currently serves as Vice President on the USTA Kentucky Board of Directors, chair of the Marketing Committee and serves on a Southern Section committee and subcommittee.  He played competitively at Elizabethtown High School and Georgetown College and continued his competitive play in USTA Tournaments and Adult League Tennis.  Mike has coached, officiated, volunteered and is a founding member of the Kentucky High School Tennis Coaches Association. He is an avid collector of tennis memorabilia and a founding member of the Tennis Collectors of America along with being a collaborative author of “The History of Tennis in Louisville and Kentucky”. 

Matt Emery is currently the Director of Tennis at Kennesaw State University. Prior to his coaching career, Matt had an impressive playing career both on the junior circuit and collegiately. As a junior player, his world ranking of 15 in singles and 18 in doubles as well as a National Clay Court winner has never been achieved by another Kentucky player.  He played in all four Grand Slams and reached number 1 in US rankings as a 16, 17 and 18-year-old prior to a near career ending eye injury at age 18.  After his injury he competed at the collegiate level at the University of Kentucky and then transitioned to coaching.

Mike and Matt will be inducted at the USTA Kentucky Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony in Louisville this January! Please read more about them and the awards banquet here.

And finally, congratulations are in order for Meg Peavey of Louisville!  Meg was announced as a Bell Award recipient by the WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the true “spirit of Louisville” through selfless volunteer efforts and seeks to inspire all residents to engage in community service.  An individual who epitomizes the heart of this award, Meg provides free tennis instruction for individuals with special needs in cooperation with Frazier Rehab Center, Downs Syndrome of Louisville, and Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), among many other accomplishments. Read more about the Bell Awards and Meg here

I am a lifelong resident of Kentucky and take tremendous pride when our own are recognized for the amazing work they do.  Congratulations to Julie, Mike, Matt & Meg for the work you do, the legacies you’ve already left and will continue to leave!  Your USTA Kentucky family is proud of you and wish you much joy as you celebrate these milestones!

Until next month,

Rainey Johns
“Find Your Serve”