SCTA Service Awards recognize beacons of SoCal tennis

The Southern California Tennis Association recently honored its 2018 Service Award recipients with a banquet and ceremony at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center and Straus Clubhouse. Ranging from adult to junior tennis, and acknowledging the ongoing efforts of coaches and providers throughout Southern California, the awards reflected a truly diverse roster of individuals who collectively help build and enhance the game of tennis for thousands of players across the region.

Awardee Jim Winters, an icon who founded the San Diego Tennis Federation in 1983 as an outlet for LGBT competition, received the Henry Talbert Lifetime Achievement Award. Winters, who was unable to attend due to illness, has been a fervent supporter of not just LGBT tennis, but also high school athletics and various key USTA initiatives, including blended court lines and Red/Orange/Green progression.

Steve Johnson, the extraordinary coach and mentor to countless players across Southern California, posthumously received the Curt Condon Spirit Award. Johnson, who passed away suddenly in 2017, was a fixture on the tennis scene for more than 35 years, and his spirit continues through his son, Steve Jr., an ATP pro who joined his mother, Michelle, to accept the award.

The Evelyn Houseman Junior Sportsmanship Award, given each year to a male and female athlete who best exemplifies sportsmanship on and off the court, was presented to Eric Hahn and Julia Deming. Hahn, currently a freshman tennis star at UCLA, was part of the Boys championship team at the 2018 USTA Nationals, as well as last year’s victorious Maze Cup team. Deming plays currently as a freshman at the University of Kansas after earning the top doubles ranking among Girls 18s in Southern California, while peaking in the singles Top 20.

Other notables included:

Esther Hendershott (Eugene Jung Multicultural Award), for over 25 years an advocate for Diversity and Inclusion. Hendershott operates the Pasadena Tennis Association, and serves as the chairperson of the SCTA Diversity and Inclusion Committee;

Colleen Clery Ferrell (Adult Tennis), the Club Director at Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego who has been instrumental in #TeamSoCal’s success at the Women’s Intersectional Team Championships;

Amanda Fink (Adult Tennis), organizer and facilitator of the Section’s College Knowledge program that offers guidance and support for parents of college-bound tennis players;

Ben Brunkow (Junior Tennis), Director of Toluca Lake Tennis & Fitness, has coached teams in SoCal for 36 straight seasons (spring and fall) and has coached over 100 teams in the region;

Mary Melvin (Junior Tennis) hosts the USTA TGA Premier Tennis program after school on the PRCS Campus. The program has sold out 19 consecutive sessions providing students with positive enrichment options during a tumultuous time for families;

Dave Borelli and AG Longoria (High School Tennis) are the mastrerminds behind the SoCal “Marguerite” tournament, the female comparable tournament to the Boys’ amateur tournament at Ojai. Known for their success overseeing high school ranks, the pair teamed up to create the prestigious Girls’ junior event;

UC San Diego (Tennis On Campus) for their ongoing efforts to build a community of club tennis players at the San Diego campus;

First Serve Tennis (Member Organization of the Year), led by Cathy Jacobson-Guzy, for their ongoing leadership in building local tennis and supporting SCTA initiatives, including “Tennis Jam,” for over 35 years;

Southern Methodist University (Long Ellis Intercollegiate Award) and head coach Grant Chen, and their organizational participation in the SCTA Southern California Intercollegiates;

The Mahdessian Family (Family of the Year) of Santa Monica, led by mother Debbie Mahdessian, who founded the Santa Monica Tennis Collective, with a mission to build an inclusive tennis community that reflects the diversity of ability, background, as well as the socio-economics of the Santa Monica community.

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