Virgil Christian, the director of market development for the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), has been named “Person of the Year” for 2013 by Tennis Industry magazine in the publication’s January 2014 issue. Christian led off the magazine’s 13th annual “Champions of Tennis Awards,” which honors people, businesses and organizations dedicated to improving the sport and business of tennis.
Christian, who lives in Shelton, Conn., and works out of the USTA’s national headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., has had a significant impact and influence on the development of recreational tennis in the U.S., especially the industry-wide focus on reaching and providing infrastructure for 10 and under players. He joined the USTA national office in 2005, after running tennis facilities in the Atlanta area and Cary, N.C.
“When the USTA began to focus on youth tennis in 2008, Virgil was really the one who dug into what this would mean for tennis facilities, and what may need to change to get more kids playing the game,” says Peter Francesconi, the editorial director for Tennis Industry, the world’s largest tennis trade magazine (www.tennisindustrymag.com). “He was the architect behind adding ‘blended lines’ to tennis courts, creating the smaller 36- and 60-foot courts on a regular 78-foot court, thereby helping kids and other tennis beginners to get into the game.”
Christian oversees the USTA’s entire tennis facilities efforts, including providing technical and grant assistance. “We’ve helped design or renovate over 30,000 courts in the last six year, and about 5,000 facilities have reached out to us for help in some way,” says Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis.
TI also named winners in 18 other categories for its 2013 Champions of Tennis Awards (visit www.tennisindustrymag.com for more on these winners):
* Private Facility of the Year: Tennisclub of the Low Country at Rose Hill, Bluffton, S.C.
* Stringer of the Year: Chuck Hakansson, Atlanta
* Builder/Contractor of the Year: Fred Kolkmann Tennis & Sport Surfaces, Grafton, Wis.
* Tennis Sales Rep of the Year: Richard Mennig, Miami and south Florida
* Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year: Serious Tennis, Atlanta
* Tennis Advocate of the Year: Robert Walsh, Napa Valley, Calif.
* Junior Tennis Champion of the Year: Vesa Ponkka, College Park, Md.
* Grassroots Tennis Champion of the Year: Carla O’Connor, Charlotte, N.C.
* Municipal Facility of the Year: Baseline Tennis Center at University of Minnesota
* Park & Recreation Agency of the Year: Lexington County, S.C.
* Wheelchair Tennis Champions of the Year: Nick Taylor, Wichita, Kan.
* 10 & Under Tennis Facility Developer of the Year: Fast-Dry Courts Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.
* Public Park of the Year: BNA Bank Park, New Albany, Miss.
* Community Tennis Association of the Year: Dallas Tennis Association, Texas
* PTR Member of the Year: Robert Carlbo, Palm Harbor, Fla.
* USPTA Member of the Year: Avis Murray, Gloucester, Mass.
* High School Coach of the Year: Kenneth Griffith, Indian Head, Md.
* USTA Section of the Year: USTA Eastern
Tennis Industry (www.tennisindustrymag.com or www.racquetsportsindustry.com), which has been covering the sport and tennis businesses for 42 years, recently changed its name from Racquet Sports Industry magazine. Available in both print and digital editions, TI is the official publication of the Tennis Industry Association, U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, and American Sports Builders Association.