AWARDS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Margaret Russo Award 2019
NSWTA Life member Elaine Mason is our 2019 recipient of the Margaret Russo Award winner. The Russo Award, NSWTA’s highest honor is presented annually and recognizes a player for her love of the game and her respect and concern for her fellow competitors. The award is presented during the banquet at the National Senior Women’s Intersectional Team Championships. This award is in memory and honor of Margaret M. Russo who was an NSWTA member, and the epitome of an outstanding sport on and off the court as well as being an outstanding tennis player. She is greatly missed by all who knew her.
Elaine is a triple threat in tennis: An outstanding coach, player, and volunteer. As a player she won more than 94 gold balls and 11 gold slams (winning each national championship in her age division in the same year), and 14 world championships. She was the women’s tennis coach at Fresno State University from 1971-78.
In addition, she invented the first short racquet designed for the youngest players and developed the graduated length method to help them in their development. Here are some words from Elaine on this: “In regard to the short racquet: I had the patent for about 20 years, before much happened regarding the racquet. Children were not playing at the time, but junior high school teachers usually were interested. I never made a penny on it, and when the children became interested, the major companies began making the racquet and my attorney said it would cost about $100,000 to challenge them. I could not afford such a lawsuit so, I gave up the patent. As I've traveled to Turkey and Cape Town, South Africa with the "Cup" teams I find the racquet being sold there. Finally after about 30 years the USTA started the children’s short tennis game using the short racquet. I just have the satisfaction that I got an idea established. The racquet and some of my memorabilia are in the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum in Newport Rhode Island.
Among her many awards for volunteerism and leadership she was recognized by the USTA as the USTA Educational Merit Award winner in 1971 and the USTA National Service Bowl Award in 2010. The Service Bowl, the organization’s highest honor, recognizes a female volunteer who through her leadership and example has encouraged and inspired others to become volunteers and assume leadership roles at the community, section and/or national levels of the USTA. She is a member of the USTA Northern California Hall of Fame. As an NSWTA member she was Friendship Cup captain from 2002-2012.
Lubbock High School Hall of Fame Inductee
Kathy Kuhne Vick was in Austria on the day of 9/11 and in New Zealand when a killer earthquake struck in 2011. When she had a flight canceled once, she took a ride with a total stranger the more than 500 miles from Branson, Missouri, to Chicago.
Tennis has taken Vick a lot of places, and it started innocently enough in the Lubbock Independent School District. “My dad introduced me to tennis in my sixth-grade year,” Vick said, “and then some friends from Parsons asked me to join them in a free clinic for those who might be interested in competing at the junior high level. “And ever since then, I was hooked and have had a passion for the sport. It led to a college career and I still play senior tournaments to this day and have had a chance to travel throughout the country and to many different countries, mostly as a player but often as a coach.”
Vick was among the inductees Saturday night into the 2019 Lubbock ISD athletic Hall of Honor. She was a three-time district champion from 1975-77 at Monterey, part of a national runner-up team in college and has been a top-ranked player nationally in her age division for more than 20 years. She’s won 46 gold, silver or bronze balls at USTA national tournaments. She was one of two new tennis entries inducted during ceremonies at the Memorial Civic Center. Tanya Hamilton Bryant and Lara Mahaney, the first girls doubles state-championship team from the Lubbock ISD, were recognized for their stellar 52-1 season for Coronado in 1987. Their coach was Jim Carter, whose career spanned 1966 through 2011.
“And during that time,” Carter told the crowd, “I have never seen very many girls doubles teams that could play technique doubles the way these two did.”
USTA South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee
Whether Cindy Babb is playing tennis or volunteering, her undying love for the sport undergirds her success on the court. Babb has been actively involved as a player and volunteer since she moved to South Carolina in 2004.
She has been ranked among the top three singles players in South Carolina for twelve years, including number one for five years and number one in doubles since 2005. She has been ranked the number one singles player in the south five years and the number one in doubles 13 years. Babb earned national rankings of number four in singles and number one in doubles in 2016, the year she won the USTA National Grass Court Singles Championships. She has six silver balls for finishing second and ten bronze balls for finishing third in USTA national championships doubles competition. She has been ranked among the top 15 players in the nation 13 years.
In addition to her excellent playing record, Babb is a person of high character both on and off the court. She has received numerous awards, including the 1999 USTA Mid-Atlantic Sportswoman of the Year, the 2009 Michael E. Bambauer Distinguished Competitor Award at the Alan Fleming Tournament, the 2016 Betty Gray Washington Sportsmanship Award and the 2016 Margaret Russo National Senior Women’s Sportsmanship Award.
Babb has represented South Carolina at the local, state, section and national levels for 15 years. She has been a member of the USTA South Carolina Senior Cup Committee and captained the women’s team since 2008, having played on the team since 2005. Babb was selected as the USTA South Carolina Female Player of the Year in 2014. Cindy has served on the USTA Senior International Committee, the USTA Seeding Committee and has been vice-chair of the USTA Adult Competition Committee. She has chaired the USTA Southern Adult Competition Committee and is the Captain of the Southern USTA Intersectional Team. Cindy served as president of the National Senior Women’s Tennis Association in 2014-2015 and continues to serve the association as an ambassador. Babb is a leader, organized, prepared and enthusiastic, always promoting the game of tennis.
Betty Gray Washington Award
At the 2019 USTA National Senior Women’s Clay Court Championships at the Houston Racquet Club, the players voted for Lurline Fujii to be the recipient of this award. Lurline is well known among senior women to be a fair, kind, and enthusiastic competitor.
The Betty Gray Washington award began in 1980 in honor of this talented teaching professional. Until her cancer-related death in 1979, she taught at HRC for 7 years. Betty won the 35 singles title in the NSWCCC in 1972. Selection for the Betty Gray Washington award is based on a player’s on-court conduct, friendliness, and over-all contribution to women’s tennis. Each year the NSWCCC players vote for a player who merits this honor. The trophy resides at HRC.
Congratulations to Brenda Carter
Brenda Carter is a 2019 Honoree at Trident Literacy Association’s Founder’s Award Luncheon in Charleston, SC. The March event honors outstanding women leaders in the community. An Educator, Athlete and Administrator, Brenda volunteers in many capacities in her city and state.
Adult Female Player of the Year
Lizl Kotz was recognized as the Adult Female Player of the Year by USTA South Carolina. Congratulations Lizl!
USTA Florida Merit Award
Carol Clay was awarded the USTA Florida Merit Award, recognizing a person who through their efforts, willingness, cooperation and participation is most deserving of the respect and honor of all volunteers. Over time, their contributions to amateur tennis in Florida, either in play or organizational work, have made a significant impact.
Slew Hester Female Player of the Year
Jan Kirkland-Cochran of Fayetteville, GA. was named the Slew Hester Female Player of the Year by the USTA Southern section. Given in memory of past USTA Southern Section President William E. “Slew” Hester, this award is presented annually to a ranked female (and male) adult or senior player in the USTA Southern Section in recognition of their outstanding tennis performance.
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame: Shula Feuer
Shula Feuer was inducted as a Trailblazer into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame June 9 in Nashville, TV. The Women’s Basketball League was the precursor to the current Women’s National Basketball Association. Shula was always a champion for girls’ and women’s sports. After her two years as head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Miami, she returned to her hometown in NY, and found herself getting involved with both the WBL league and the NY Stars franchise of the WBL. While working for the NY Stars, Shula wore two hats, she worked in the front office as a Director of Marketing and Promotions, and also as an Assistant Coach to Head Coach Dean Meminger. Not to be outdone, Shula’s State Championship volleyball team that she developed from basically nothing was just inducted into their H.S. Hall of Fame. She retired as a State Championship coach.
North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame: Burnette Herrick
Burnette Herrick (Bea) of Tarboro, NC, will be inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. Burnette began playing tennis at the age of 17 while attending East Carolina Teacher’s College (now East Carolina University). Burnette continued to play as she moved from Greenville to Chicago to New York City. During the early 1970’s, Burnette played in five events on the Virginia Slims Circuit, placing her in a pivotal time for women’s tennis. While Burnette jokingly confesses she lost to everyone on the Virginia Slims Circuit, including Billie Jean King, her amateur career has been nothing short of extraordinary.
At this writing, Burnette has won 16 USTA National Championships in her age group, claiming titles on multiple surfaces in both singles and doubles. Burnette also has 29 second place finishes and 21 third place finishes, making her the most decorated North Carolinian in USTA Championship play. She is still playing today so that total could increase!
As a member of Team USA, Burnette has won three International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Championships. Burnette has been selected to compete as a member of the USA ITF Super Seniors Team every year since 2010. Burnette has participated in tournaments in Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Great Britain, Turkey, and all across the United States and has won numerous awards. She is an ardent ambassador for tennis and what tennis can do for each of us.