USTA New England Honors 2016 Award Winners
Photo by Savannah Dos Santos
USTA New England award winners were celebrated at the annual luncheon on January 21 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Marlborough, MA.
By James Maimonis
Communications and Engagement Coordinator
MARLBOROUGH, MA- Celebrating the best of the best in New England tennis was the theme of the 2016 Awards Ceremony. USTA New England honored the greatest sportsmen and women, volunteers and contributors for their positive attitudes and continuous work and support of improving the tennis community one hand at a time.
The annual event took place at the Courtyard by Marriott in Marlborough, MA on January 21.
“The Awards Ceremony is one our most meaningful events of the year, as we recognize the people who are on the front lines growing tennis each and every day. They’ve made so much more than a local impact, and we’re incredibly proud of their efforts on and off the court in 2016,” said Matt Olson, Executive Director and COO of USTA New England.
USTA New England recognized 16 award winners, seven Volunteers of the Year and seven Youth Sportsmanship winners along with its 33 Volunteer Service Award winners for their extraordinary efforts both on and off the court. Tennis Industry magazine also recognized two categories for its annual Champions of Tennis honors.
“The event was amazing, and hearing the stories of these volunteers and these people who give all of their time, it’s very inspiring,” said Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV News Channel 4 Boston anchor and event emcee.
David Kimani, of Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education, was a co-winner of the William Freedman Award, which honors a person or persons who have made outstanding contributions to the development of junior tennis. Kimani is the director of tennis at Norwalk Grassroots, a title which to him doesn’t mean just teaching tennis, but being the best coach, mentor and role model he can be for hundreds of underserved youths in Connecticut every day.
“Tennis and teaching kids is my life. Even though it’s a job, it has become a lifelong duty of teaching youngsters and getting them to do the right things and mentoring them with education, and tennis is a small piece that connects us,” Kimani said. “We don’t do this for the awards, but it’s wonderful to be officiated for what you do, and USTA New England has done a wonderful job bringing all these recipients together.”
Kimani’s, like many of the award winners’ stories, are truly inspiring and deserve praise. As people like Kimani pass on these values to the younger generation, seeing them be applied is the ultimate validation.
Jayanth Devaiah, of Chestnut Hill, MA, took home the Boys’ 12 and Under Sportsmanship Award. While introducing Devaiah, Kate Merrill told a story on his remarkable sportsmanship through his coach, Troy Crichlow, and Kimani’s counterpart for the William Freedman Award.
Merrill visualized a scenario for the audience where Devaiah was in a match-point battle with an opponent. After forcing his opponent to make long runs at a number of shots throughout the rally, Devaiah hit a drop shot that would seemingly end the point. His opponent made an incredible get but missed the shot by a matter of inches. Devaiah shockingly gave his opponent the point, saying, “He deserved it for all those incredible gets,” embodying the true sportsman he is.
“Winning is great but sportsmanship is really the most important thing for me. I will always look back at this moment and it will remind me to be a good sportsman, something I want to keep with me throughout my life,” 12-year-old Devaiah said.
“To read about and highlight the best out there in New England really makes me want to do more and try to be the same way”, said Merrill, who is a former college player and USTA League player herself. “Tennis is a tough game and sportsmanship can be hard to find sometimes, so to highlight the good people out there makes the game even better.”
Devaiah was also one of five lucky raffle winners on the day, as he took home the grand prize- two tickets to the US Open. Other prizes included tickets to the Connecticut Open and the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships as well as a pair of Babolat bags raffled separately.
From youth sportsmanship and junior tennis awards to League Captains of the Year and Official of the Year, each USTA New England award recipient, in some form, embodies that positive mentality necessary to continue to grow and better the sport of tennis. It is the honor and privilege of the New England Section to celebrate these winners and use them as examples for the rest of the community.
The following junior players took home Youth Sportsmanship Awards: Will Tarini (Boys’ 18 and Under), Noelle Ehrenberg (Girls’ 18 and Under), Lexi Kubas (Girls’ 16 and Under), Ethan Na (Boys’ 14 and Under), Taylor Suozzo (Girls’ 14 and Under), Jayanth Devaiah (Boys’ 12 and Under) and Alexandra Prudente (Girls’ 12 and Under).
The following received Volunteer of the Year Awards: Jerry Berg (Connecticut), Margaret Welch (Eastern Massachusetts), Mike Kolendo (Western Massachusetts), Brian Mavor (Maine), Deb LaPress (New Hampshire), Linda Fontaine (Rhode Island) and Errol Nattrass (Vermont).
The rest of the award winners are as follows:
William Freedman Award- Troy Crichlow and David Kimani
JTT Organizer of the Year- Miguel Garcia
Starfish Award (Awarded to a no-cut high school coach)- Gigi Meehan
CTA of the Year- Lakes Region Community Tennis Association
NJTL Chapter of the Year- Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education
Organization of the Year- The Connecticut Alliance for Tennis and Education
Official of the Year- Christopher Burgess
Adult Sportsmanship Award- Christina Cavin
USTA League Coordinator of the Year- Judy Thomas
USTA League Female Captain of the Year-Alison Borelli
USTA League Male Captain of the Year- Jim Tillow
Joseph Deitz Bowl (USPTA Award)- Adam Molda
PTR New England Professional of the Year- Julian Ramirez-Luna
Wheelchair Tennis Player of the Year- Dick Lane
Special Tennis Event of the Year- Wint Filipek Sr. Memorial Tennis Tournament
Edwin Goodman Family of the Year- Wool Family
Tennis Industry magazine awards:
Adult Tennis Provider of the Year- Jack’s Abby Social Tennis League
Innovative Tennis Event of the Year- New Balance High School Championships
To view the Facebook gallery, visit: https://www.facebook.com/pg/USTANewEngland/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154972205894508
To view the entire album and download photos, visit: http://smu.gs/2jNntUG