» ATA Awards

2015 USTA Arkansas Award Winners


The Herschel Friday Outstanding Junior Award
Hunter Harrison 

"Tennis became a part of my life at the age of eight.   Since then I have dreamed of playing college tennis for a Division 1 school.  My family and friends have supported me as I try to achieve that goal.  My school tennis accomplishments have been Overall Doubles Champion freshman year, 5A State Singles Champion as a sophomore, 5A State Singles Champion and Overall State Singles Champion junior year, selected as an All American High School tennis player and this year to be named All-Arkansas Preps Tennis Player of the Year.

I have also been very successful in USTA tournaments.  My favorite tournament, ever since I was twelve, is playing for Team Arkansas at the Southern Junior Cup.  My team achieved 1st place in Silver twice throughout those years.

Even with the endless demands of practice and tournaments I have maintained a 3.8 GPA at Pulaski Academy and have been a recipient of the “Respect” Award.

My thanks go to my caring parents, sister and grandparents for the endless amount of support.  Most importantly I would like to thank God for all that He has done for me and for blessing me with the ability to play tennis.  I would like to thank Thomas Andersson and Sergio Ramirez for teaching me so much and showing me how to love the game. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank the Arkansas Tennis Association for all their support and for choosing me as the recipient of this award."



Tatum Rice

"I have played tennis since age seven, and the sport has blessed me with great friends and coaches who have made me into the player I am today.   I have been fortunate to play on the Lakeside Girls’ team which has won the 5A State Championship the past three years.  In 2015 I played my younger sister, Thea, in the Conference, State and Overall Finals and according to her, I “got lucky” and won. 


I was a finalist at the 2015 Southern Closed 18s Championships and recently placed 3rd in a National Selection tournament.   I have won 4 National Doubles titles in the last 2 years.  I am currently ranked 37th in the nation among the class of 2017 and 7th in the South for 18s.  I played on the Arkansas 2015 Southern Cup team which placed 1st in the Silver division!!

I would like to thank my Mom, Dad, brother Tanner, and sister Thea for their love and support. I’m also very thankful for my coach and friend, Pablo Esner.  Pablo presses me to be better, and always has a "plan" for improvements. I would also like to thank my high school tennis coach, Shawny Green, for always supporting me whether it’s at high school tennis matches or basketball games. Our Lakeside High school team has won the 5A State Championships the past 3 years.  Thank you to the Arkansas Tennis Association for this award that I am very honored to receive."



The Jay Freeman Most Improved Player Award

Blake Wooldridge

Blake started playing tennis in November of 2013 and was hooked from that day on. In 2014, he played in various tournaments winning his first in July in Hot Springs Village. In 2015, Blake moved to the Open division of USTA tournaments and competed in the Doubles division too. Blake also made the Lakeside High School Tennis Team and was runner-up in Conference and also made All-Conference.

Many people are responsible for Blake’s early success and he would like to thank the following: Pablo Esner, Dillon McDougal, and Leah Burroughs. The instruction at HSCC is top-notch. Chris Poplin for hot practices at Kimery Park. And his mom, Dawn, for running him to and from practices and tournaments.



Hunter Roper


"I’m so honored to be selected to receive the 2015 Jay Freeman Most Improved Junior Female Award. I would like to thank all of my coaches who have pushed me to be the best I can be and my family for believing in me and standing by me every step of the way. I would also like to thank the USTA Arkansas Awards Committee for recognizing my hard work and recent achievements. But the person I would like to thank the most is my mom. Without her love, support and encouragement I would not be the tennis player or person I am today. Once again, I am so honored to receive such a highly respected award."



 Bette Mooty Scholarship
Cortni Thomas

"At the end of 9th grade I had a very difficult decision to make. Would I play volleyball or tennis for the Mountain Home Bombers? It was a decision that would change my life. I’ve played tennis for eleven years, competing for the past seven.  In 2015 I was the 6A East conference champion and 6A state runner-up.  This year, I was 6A East runner-up and took third at state.  Most count success on the court with wins and loses but I count success as the experience and friendships I have made through tennis. I plan to continue playing tennis while pursuing a degree in Athletic Training.   Thank you to the committee for selecting me to receive the Bette Mooty Scholarship. I also want to thank the tennis community in Mountain Home, my coach Matt Beavers, and especially my family for all of their sacrifices and support along my journey."



Margie O' Brien Scholarship
Braydon Montgomery


"Something happened one summer five years ago that changed my life.  I was bored sitting at home when my cousins asked if I wanted to go to a local tennis camp.  I said sure, having no idea that it would be the beginning of all my tennis endeavors and playing competitive tennis for many years to come.

I began competing in USTA junior tournaments in 2011 and have also competed in Junior Team Tennis.  Through my four years on the VBHS team, I received 7A All Conference honors all four years and All State honors my junior and senior year.

I want to thank USTA Arkansas and the Women’s Tennis Association of Little Rock for this scholarship.  In addition, I want to thank Dolores Cox for being my first coach and teaching me to love tennis, as well as my VBHS coaches, Brandy Mosby and David Harrison, for their support and encouragement.    Melissa Kelly, WATA, and Matt Walters  gave me many opportunities that advanced my tennis ventures, as well as Apex Tennis coaches Gregoire “Frenchy” Lehman and Matt Hogan, who played an enormous part in my tennis success with their knowledge, leadership, and encouragement.  Thank you for this incredible opportunity."


Arkansas Tennis Professional of the Year
Melissa Kelly


"Thank you to the ATA Awards Committee for selecting me as Arkansas Tennis Professional of the Year.  This is an award that would not be possible without the following people:

Kami Tucker, Jheri Buchanan, and Chris Stuart- Without you, our growth would not have been possible.

Leslie Jackson-Thank you for being a friend and a mentor and not ever telling me “I told you so.”

ATA and WATA-Your dedication and passion for the sport keeps the ball rolling for all of us.  Thank you for all that you do!

My clients and the city of Fort Smith-Thank you for making my job so enjoyable.  I get to come to work and laugh and learn with some of the best people on planet Earth.

My Friends and Family-Thank you for supporting me while I do what I love and being patient with my crazy but rewarding schedule.  A special thank you to my dad for introducing me to this great game, my mom for supporting me and cheering me on, Raymond for reminding me that life is pretty awesome, and my sisters Laura and Samantha for being my biggest cheerleaders. "


Patrick M. Riley Umpire of the Year
Danny Needham


"First of all, I would like to thank USTA Arkansas for honoring me with the Patrick M. Riley Umpire of the Year Award. I became a USTA Certified Official shortly after joining the staff of USTA Arkansas in 2005. During the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to umpire several District, Sectional and National tournaments, some of which include The Arkansas State Qualifying, USTA Southern Boys’ and Girls’ 16s, and USTA National Championship Boys 12s Hard Courts. Also, I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Joey Walters of the Arkansas Activities Association regarding ways to improve high school tennis in Arkansas. Although I will be retiring as an official, I will still be available to assist USTA Arkansas as needed."



Member Organization of the Year
Benton Parks and Recreation 

Over the past year Benton Parks and Recreation has implemented both youth and adult tennis programming for the first time in the department’s history. These programs include; Jump Start Tennis Clinics, Fall and Spring Junior Team Tennis, Summer Tennis Clinics, USTA Play Days, Adult Mixed Doubles League, and Adult Winter League. In addition, for the first time, Tyndall Park has served as home facility to numerous USTA teams. “I have been overwhelmed with the amount of participants and support of these new tennis programs.” says Stephanie Batchelder, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Benton. “Not only have our youth programs exceeded my expectations, our adult leagues have been extremely successful as well. None of this would be possible without the help of our volunteer parents and coaches. They have played a pivotal role in our success. With increased traffic and demands for more USTA teams at Tyndall Park, there is a need for the City of Benton to continue investing in our tennis facilities, with the hopes of building more courts in the future.”




Adult Tournament of the Year
                   Riser Ford Multi-States 70's and 80's Championship       



The Multi States Tournament was started in 2013 due to Deanna Garretson’s desire to give the 70 and over players of Arkansas a way to continue competing in USTA events.  It grew to what it is today because of the vision that Chuck Skarshaug had to share this tournament with all 70 and over players across the nation.

It took Chuck countless hours of reaching out to players, local league coordinators, and regional directors to grow this tournament from 7 teams in 2013; to 28 teams in 2014; and finally to 38 teams from 10 states in 2015, with a draw of approximately 350 players and total attendance of approximately 450. 

Chuck and Barb Skarshaug begin to solicit sponsors in October of each year for the next year’s tournament, and due to the success they and their committee have had, the tournament is able to provide continental breakfast and lunch to all players each day.  In addition, approximately 75 volunteers from Hot Springs Village act as hosts and hostesses to the players who have said that this tournament is the best they have ever attended.

Due to the awesome sponsors, the beautiful Hot Springs Village setting, and the amazing hospitality that is provided, teams come back year after year and help spread the word so that other teams develop an interest in coming.   It is expected that the 2016 tournament will draw 50 teams from 10-12 states in the nation.


Special Tennis Event of the Year


John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, and Mark Philippoussis took the stage on April 17, 2015 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. A clinic for 10 and Under players from around the state was also held before the pros took the court. There were lots of giveaways at the USTA Arkansas booths and several media stations covered the event. Arkansas was very honored to host this prestigious event. It brought an excitement to existing tennis players and a light to lapsed tennis players! Players from all over the state were in attendance.


2015 State Volunteer Service Award
Gwen Wiggins


2015 President's Award

Bob Lucky






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