November 13th, 2022
USTA Florida Reveals 2022 Award Winners
The USTA Florida 2022 Annual Meeting is underway. Leaders from across the organization are gathered to chart the path for 2023 and beyond. The weekend will be a time of celebration, inspiration and motivation to keep leading the game of tennis in Florida As a means of celebration and inspiration, on Saturday, November 12, 12 individuals or organizations are being recognized for their work throughout the Florida tennis community
Section award winners were honored at the conference and will forever hold a spot in USTA Florida History.
This year’s Section Award winners are listed below:
Wendall Walker won the Spirit of Tennis Award. Walker first picked up tennis in 1999, when he moved from Atlanta to Florida. His involvement began as a casual drop-in play group with random people, but they quickly became his friends and invited him out to compete on their league team. After just one season, Wendall was asked to captain the team and the rest became history. His friends refer to him as the unofficial “ambassador” of tennis as he has spent the past 23 years dedicating his life to tennis.
Robert Isosaari is receiving the Exceptional Tennis Program Volunteer. He is a great leader in the tennis community as he loves to volunteer his time to teach all ages and skill levels the sport. He has been a Red Ball coach for JTT teams, a Special Olympics coach, and assisted with the Tennis-4-Everyone program that runs in Escambia County. Robert lives out that “tennis is for all” and in 2022 he was selected as Florida’s coach for the Special Olympics Tennis Team competing in the USA Games. Tennis is his highest priority in life because he can put a smile on other people’s faces and see the emotional connection that people are making with the game.
The Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation (DBYTF) won the Diversity Achievement for promoting tennis for everyone. The DBYTF became a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter in 2015 with a goal to provide a safe place for children to let their true selves shine. Programs run by the DBYTF are designed to enhance the lives in underprivileged communities in Palm Beach County. Every week valuable life skills are being taught to these children through tennis lessons, education, and peer coaching.
Nick Liguori is the 2022 Outstanding Section Volunteer for his contributions to the USTA Florida community. Liguori became a volunteer on the USTA Leagues Committee as a member of the Grievance Committee. He also served on the NTRP Committee, while working USTA Sectional Championships whenever he was available. His favorite tennis memory comes from 2015, when he won the Mixed 18 & Over Sectionals as a player and captain. He was also named Captain of the Year in 2018
The Ebony Evans-Molock Family is the Outstanding Family of the year. The Evans-Molock family have been heavily involved in tennis for many years. Ebony, Dwyane, and Madison have been volunteering as a family for nearly 10 years. Tennis has the Evans-Molock family closer than they ever imagined, because not only have they fallen in love with the game, but they have also accomplished amazing things together. They love to share their experiences with new players and encourage others to get involved with the sport as it creates bonds that can last a lifetime.
Tennis-4-Everyone (T4E) has received thethe 2022 Outstanding Member Organization award. T4E is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2002 to continue a summer outreach program, which had previously been supported by a local Junior Tennis Association (JTA). Since it was founded, T4E has introduced over 1,000 children per year to the sport of tennis in underserved Escambia County communities. The organizations also provide free tennis instruction and homework assistance to children in the program. A big part of T4E is the Racquet Round Up, which is a series of free tennis clinics at over right facilities in Escambia County.
The RITA Foundation is taking home the Edward A. Turville President’s Award. The foundation first began as a tennis tournament fundraiser in 1996 to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. Shortly after that it became a volunteer nonprofit to raise awareness and money to help in the fight against cancer, especially breast cancer. Today, there are three different local RITA fundraiser events held per year to help generate even more revenue. (let’s outline those events here). All of the work done by the RITA Foundation is 100% voluntary, there are no employees or salaries involved. Everything that is donated goes directly to cancer research. Since it’s inception, the foundation has raised over $5 million, touching lives across the greater Jacksonville area.
Kevin Johnson won the Merit Award as he has been a key asset for the tennis community. He first became aware of tennis when he moved to the United States and saw the sport on television. He wanted to learn how to “bat the ball” so he headed to his local court and the rest became history. He became a local league coordinator for the USTA in 1993 and has been involved with the organization since then. Currently, he sits as the Chair of the USTA Florida Section League Committee, where he supports USTA Florida league programs and pathways to playing tennis.
USTA Florida will also induct four members into its Hall of Fame. Larry Turville, who had a tremendous playing career, also spent 18 years coaching at Rice University. Following coaching, was well known for being friends with practically everyone on the senior circuit. He was welcoming, supportive and highly respected. He spent countless hours making sure that every senior had an opportunity to play the sport, regardless of their skill level.
Larry passed away at the age of 71. Following his death, the Super Senior Grand Prix was renamed to honor his work throughout the Senior Florida tennis community. Larry is remembered for his positive influence on tennis and his friendly nature.
Pierce Kelley has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Kelley was first introduced to tennis in 1957, when he was 10 years old. His mother asked him to start playing with her during the summer, and he instantly fell in love with the sport. He originally got involved with volunteering in 1971 through Jack Blair and Youth Tennis Foundation. Pierce has stayed active with the Youth Tennis Foundation (YTF) for over 50 years, where he has helped create hundreds of programs for the tennis community. One of those includes the Bedford Cup, which is a tournament for all Division I Colleges in Florida. The YTF also created a tournament for Division II, NAIA, and JUCOs in the state. He was also one of the founders of the Junior Team Tennis scene.
Terri Florio, who was originally introduced to tennis during her senior year in high school as a volunteer, fell in love with helping others. She worked in the ticketing department and then moved into the tournament space as a promoter throughout her college years. Terri is currently the Executive Director of MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation (MWYTF) in Jacksonville, Florida. She has held this position for the last 26 years and some of her favorite memories in the sport have come from this role. Terri loves to see the kids grow through their involvement with MWYTF.
Nancy Horowitz is the final 2022 Hall of Fame inductee. She started her first role in tennis in 1978 where she was trained to be a volunteer umpire for USTA tournaments. A few years later, she became a key part of the recruiting and training process for tennis umpires. Today, she serves as a member of the USTA Florida Foundation Board Grant Committee. Her role involves reviewing grants that fund equipment, events, and programs. Nancy lives out the message that “Tennis is for all” as she is on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for USTA Florida and National.
To learn more about USTA Florida Awards and Recognition please visit USTAFlorida.com/Awards