USTA awards local tennis leaders

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

By Lori Shiver

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Throughout the state, Bainbridge is well known for being a strong tennis community. Creating that reputation has been no small feat. It has required vision, hard work, planning and the right people, mostly volunteers who love the game and want to see it last long beyond the painted stripes on a tennis court.

Email newsletter signup

On Jan. 27 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, USTA Georgia hosted its annual awards ceremony. Recipients are nominated by their peers with USTA having the final authority on awards selection. Babs Coyle, Glenn Heard and Tabitha Spooner, all of Bainbridge, received awards for their service to Georgia tennis, both on and off the courts.

Babs Coyle is the winner of the Randy Stephens Award for Volunteer of the Year. This award is presented to the “key volunteer who made significant contributions to USTA Georgia working above and beyond the normal call of duty”.  Since retiring from the school system, Babs has been very involved with local tennis. She has worked with local P.E. teachers, encouraging them to use curriculum developed for all grade levels to introduce children to tennis all the way through their formative years. From this introduction, children can enroll in a program called “Level Up”, which Babs also serves as a board member of. She recently helped to organize another program designed to grow the game of tennis called “Funday Sunday” which allows players of every ability, new to the game or not, a chance to come out and play for the fun and exercise. Her primary hope for this event is growth of the tennis program in Bainbridge. In addition, Babs finds time to play on several leagues, captain a team and play a vital role in helping to organize charity tennis tournaments such as “Play for Paws” in support of our local Humane Society and hold a seat on the Bainbridge Decatur County Recreation Authority.

Tabitha Spooner is the USTA Georgia Local League Coordinator of the Year. This award is presented each year to the individual who has “demonstrated excellent volunteerism, leadership, management and growth of league play at the local level”.  Tabitha first began playing tennis in 1999 and even began as captain of her team. In 2000 she was recruited by Carole Floyd as women’s league coordinator and shortly after began as men’s coordinator as well. In 2005 she became the Flint River Coordinator and currently she organizes tennis league play for Bainbridge, Albany, Camilla and other surrounding communities in our area. Tabitha has attended countless USTA workshops, started a Community Tennis Association newsletter for the state, organizes board meetings for area tennis leagues and has operated tournaments from Bainbridge to Columbus. Being a seventh grade math teacher has also given her further opportunity to grow tennis locally by coaching the tennis team at Bainbridge Middle School. Since that first day on the courts Tabitha has logged in more than 18 years of filling an integral role in Bainbridge tennis. On a state level Tabitha has served on the USTA Advisory Council and as an Adult League Committee member and is well respected as a dedicated and innovative thinker and an outspoken proponent for tennis in southwest Georgia.

Glenn Heard received the prestigious “Male Captain of the Year” award. Since Glenn became involved with USTA tennis he has captained over 60 teams. His organization and leadership skills help grow tennis in our area. With a very demanding career as a successful farmer Glenn still makes time for tennis and others. He has worked closely with several Bainbridge High School boys tennis players, as they graduate, to transition into league play in Bainbridge and become a part of a team, even helping financially when needed. Glenn brings enthusiasm to the courts, is a model player and participates in everything tennis in our community.

Upon accepting the award Glenn thanked USTA Georgia, his wife LeAnn for her support and help and his teammates. Glenn is definitely a loyal and vital part of the Bainbridge tennis community.