The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has announced that Anthony Lara of Chino, Calif., was presented the Brad Parks Award for his outstanding contribution in helping grow tennis at the local level. Lara was recognized during an awards banquet at the USTA Annual Meeting and Conference, March 11-14, at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
Lara is a U.S. Paralympic representative and motivational speaker promoting “Living a Productive Healthy Lifestyle” for the advancement of the disabled. “I’ve been playing tennis for more than 25 years, but it’s only been the last five or six years where I’ve been on the other side of the net,” Lara said. “In my speaking, teaching and volunteering my time promoting wheelchair tennis, it’s been rewarding to use sports as a ‘linking bridge’ as I like to say.”
Lara’s career highlights include being a member of the USTA High Performance national team in 2003, and the U.S. Open “second draw” men’s open singles champion in 2006. He has traveled to compete as an alternate for the U.S. team in the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, in 2008, and he went to Turkey to compete in the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup.
Lara says he enjoys working with youth the best. “The reason why I like tennis so much is because for a lot of the kids the sport really brings out their individuality,” he said. “When you see them hit the ball for the first time, even if it’s in the net, it really brings out that inner personality of players.”
He continued: “Tennis is such an individualized sport, it really takes a special person to play that sport and be successful. In other team sports you can hide, but if you lose in tennis, there is no one to point the finger at and make excuses. You have to take responsibility. And if you win in wheelchair tennis, you are the one who gets all the admiration. You don’t have to share it with anyone.”
The Brad Parks Award was established in 2002 to recognize outstanding contributions to the sport of wheelchair tennis. Named after San Clemente, Calif., resident Brad Parks, a pioneer of wheelchair tennis and the first wheelchair tournament champion, the award is presented annually and honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game.
“Anthony Lara has for years been an inspiration and true leader of wheelchair tennis, a true work horse when it comes to organizing and promoting events,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “He has devoted so much time and effort to promoting wheelchair tennis, and is very deserving of the Brad Parks Award.”
The USTA Annual Meeting and Conference brings together USTA leadership, national staff, national committee members and section volunteers and staff in pursuit of the USTA mission: to promote and develop the growth of tennis. Along with leadership and committee meetings, the Annual Meeting provides education opportunities for all attendees to develop and enhance their personal and professional skills and learn new ways to promote the game of tennis.