4 Honored for Service to Tennis by Hall of Fame

March 26, 2019 - In recognition of their generous and longtime service to the sport of tennis, four dedicated industry leaders and volunteers were recently honored by the International Tennis Hall of Fame, in a special awards presentation at the USTA Annual Meeting. 

Bobbie Farley of Cincinnati, Ohio was the recipient of the 2018 Samuel Hardy Award, which is presented annually by the Hall of Fame to a dedicated USTA volunteer. Additionally, longtime USTA volunteer Don Tisdell was also honored with the 2018 Samuel Hardy Award, in a posthumous recognition. The 2018 Tennis Educational Merit Awards were presented to Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez and Intercollegiate Tennis Association CEO Tim Russell. 

“At the International Tennis Hall of Fame we are committed to celebrating all that is great about our sport. We celebrate its rich history, the inspiring people who have built that history, and the values that make this sport so special and empowering to us all – values like sportsmanship, honesty, perseverance, and respect. With these special awards, it is truly my privilege to be here to recognize four individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding and selfless commitment to fostering participation and growth in the sport and who exude the character values that make tennis so special,” commented Todd Martin, International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO.

The Samuel Hardy Award is given in memory of a highly engaged and dedicated USTA volunteer. Sam was a promoter for Spaulding racquets, and spent much of his time as a USTA volunteer, actively serving on national committees for well over two decades. This award was established when Sam passed away in 1953 and it has been given every year since by the International Tennis Hall of Fame to a USTA volunteer who exemplifies Sam’s devotion to tennis, and who has been an inspiration to others.

Bobbie Farley has been involved in tennis her entire life, raised a tennis family, and given countless hours to growing the tennis community—both locally in her hometown of Cincinnati and through national volunteer service. Farley has carried her passion for tennis into leadership positions at the local, section and National level with the USTA. She served a combined 14 years as committee chair for the Membership and Constitution & Rules committees. For 10 years, Farley presided over amendments and bylaw changes for the USTA, setting a high standard of leadership and diligence for the organization and her peers at the National level. Farley is a synonymous figure with the Cincinnati tennis community, bringing her love for the sport to countless initiatives. She and her husband Jim, own a thriving tennis and health club. Additionally, Farley has been integral to the development of two significant and impactful philanthropic ventures—Midwest Youth Tennis & Education Foundation and Tennis for Charity, Inc, the charitable arm of the Western & Southern Open. 

The late Don Tisdell served on the USTA Board from 2005 until his retirement at the end of 2016. Tisdell served as the vice chair of the Budget and Investment committees, as well as the Audit, Compensation and Major Construction Oversight committees. During this time, Tisdell’s tremendous business acumen, keen financial understanding, and clear vision were integral in the major projects the USTA took on—and successfully completed—in recent years. This includes the transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the construction of the USTA National Campus in Orlando. He also served on the board of the USTA Foundation. After his retirement from the Board, he continued to serve on the USTA Executive Committee as a Presidential Appointee and on the Investment Committee. Tisdell passed away in September 2017 and was honored posthumously at the ceremony, with his family there to accept on his behalf. 

The Tennis Educational Merit Award is presented annually by the Hall of Fame to a man and a woman who have made notable contributions at the national level and have demonstrated leadership and creative skills in such areas as instruction, writing, organization, and promotion of the sport of tennis. 

Gigi Fernandez was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010, in recognition of a remarkable career highlighted by 17 major titles, two Olympic Gold Medals, and reaching the world No. 1 ranking in doubles. In her post playing career, Fernandez has made a concerted effort to share her knowledge and passion with tennis players and tennis teachers. She has been involved in volunteer board service for the USTA and the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and has embraced roles to grow participation in tennis across all sorts of age, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. Fernandez has served as a tennis director at the club level and has coached accomplished high school teams, college teams, and WTA players. Additionally, Fernandez has developed several innovative new programs for teaching tennis to kids and adults. Most recently, she has connected with a national network of individual club players by delivering useful doubles strategy tips via online training tools and in person clinics. In this new work, Fernandez says she has embraced the sport from an entirely different perspective and rediscovered her passion for the sport. 

Following a distinguished 30-year career teaching at Arizona State University, Ohio State, and University of Rochester, Tim Russell combined his long-standing passion for tennis with a desire to continue serving higher education when he took the reins in leading collegiate tennis nationally at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) in 2015. Russell approached this role, and has successfully led the organization, under a guiding principle that college tennis is about “developing championship human beings for life through tennis.” During his tenure, Russell has led the development and implementation of a new strategic plan for the ITA that has resulted in a renewed emphasis on sportsmanship at the national level, significant growth in digital coverage and publicity of the sport, and active, engaged partnerships with Oracle and Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), among others. During his collegiate teaching career, Russell served the sport extensively as a volunteer at the local, sectional, and national level, serving on the USTA national Executive Committee and as Chair of both the USTA College Varsity Committee and national Junior Competition Committee. With the approach of an academic background, Russell has studied the teaching of tennis extensively. He has published works on and presented about relevant themes in teaching tennis including deliberate practice, mindfulness, and innovative ways to compare tennis teaching to the teaching of high performance in the arts. 

For additional information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame, please visit www.tennisfame.com