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Diane Fishburne Barker Named to Southern Tennis Hall of Fame

ATLANTA – November 9, 2011 – USTA Southern announced today that a top adult player, an influential college coach and a former USTA Southern president have been named as 2012 inductees into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

Diane Fishburne Barker, of Charleston, S.C.; Emmett Paré, of New Orleans, and Dr. Don Varga, of Louisville, Ky., have been selected by the USTA Southern Hall of Fame Selection Committee to become the 82nd, 83rd and 84th members of the hall.

Barker won over 26 national singles titles and has held the No. 1 ranking in the United States several times in age groups 35s-50s. Paré was the longtime Tulane coach whose career of leading successful teams covers a span of 40 years. Varga served as USTA Southern president from 1989 to 1991, a period of notable expansion and change.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. The first Southern Tennis Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1977. Members of the selection committee are: Roy Barth, Steve Duffel, Sheila Evans, Sharon Gault, John Peddycord and Hugh Thomson.

Diane Fishburne Barker
Dedicated Top Adult Player No. 1 women’s 50s player in the world

Fishburne, Diane 1 (3)Diane Fishburne Barker is the No. 1 women’s 50s player in the world and has been one of the top American senior players for more than 14 years. She is the winner of at least 33 USTA national titles.

Barker, who has played most of her career as Diane Fishburne, was born in Hollywood, Fla. in 1957 and began playing tennis in Jacksonville, Fla. at the age of 10. She ranked top 15 in girls 18s and ultimately earned a scholarship to the College of Charleston where she played No. 1 singles and doubles for four years. She won the AIAW Small College National Championship in singles in 1978. After graduation Barker played professional tennis in Belgium. When she returned to Charleston, where she continues to live, she began to teach tennis under Roy Barth at the Kiawah Island Golf and Tennis Resort.

Barker has won more than 26 national singles titles, her first at the Women’s 30s Clay Court Championship in South Carolina. She also won eight national titles in Mother/Son with Matt, winning on all the three surfaces offered. She has also won four world single titles. She has played in the Young Cup (women’s 40s), the Margaret Court Cup (women’s 45s) the Maria Ester Bueno Cup (women’s 50s) tournaments, along with other ITF competitions. 

"As tennis players, rarely do we play in team sports. So, I’ve really enjoy it in the past few years. The high point has been playing with my son and the success we’ve had in national tournaments," Barker said.

She held the No. 1 ranking in the United States several times in age groups 35-50 and No. 1 in the world several times in age groups 35-45. She has represented the U.S. in international play for over 12 years, USTA Southern in Intersectional play for over 15 years and South Carolina in Senior Cup matches for over 12 years.

Her tennis career has allowed her to travel to South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, Australia, South America, Spain, England, Germany and other countries.

She is a member of the College of Charleston Athletic Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Tennis Patrons Hall of Fame. She was also elected to active membership in the International Lawn Tennis Club of the United States in 1998.

USTA Southern and USTA South Carolina named her Female Player of the Year in 2004. Professional Tennis Registry named her Female Player of the Year and Female Player of the Decade given in 2010. She received the Sports Achievement Award given by Charleston Metro Sports Council.

Barker is currently a teacher at the Country Club of Charleston. There she hosts fund-raising events such as "Rally for the Cure" which has raised more than $1,100 for the cause. She participates in the "Darkness to Light" program for the prevention of child abuse and she is active in the growth of Special Olympics and wheelchair tennis in Charleston and across the South.

She is also a member of the board of the International Club of USA, which has the goal of growing and promoting tennis and friendship around the world.

Emmett Paré
Success as Tulane coach spanned of 40 years

Emmett Paré had a notable playing career but made his mark as the longtime men’s head tennis coach at Tulane University where he won a NCAA national championship.

Raised in Chicago, Paré was one of the early stars of professional tennis traveling with the legendary Bill Tilden in his first barnstorming tour in 1931.

In 1933, Paré became the head pro at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club and head coach of men’s tennis at Tulane. Paré, known simply as "coach" to his players at Tulane and his students at the NOLTC, was a master stroke technician. From Ham Richardson’s backhand to Linda Tuero’s forehand, Paré’s players were known for their classic strokes and mental toughness.

Paré’s record of success at Tulane over a span of 40 years is unparalleled. From the 1930s to the 1970s, Tulane was a national power and dominated collegiate tennis in the South. From 1938 until Tulane left the SEC in 1966, Tulane won 18 conference championships including nine straight from 1951 until 1959. In 1959, with Paré at the helm, Tulane won the school’s only NCAA team national championship. Tulane was also runner-up at the NCAAs in 1949 and 1957. Tulane also captured an amazing 59 individual SEC singles championships and 35 SEC doubles championships from 1936 to 1965.

During his tenure at Tulane, Paré led his players to six NCAA singles titles as well as two NCAA doubles titles. He also coached nine Southern Tennis Hall of Fame members: Richardson, Tuero, Ron Holmberg, Crawford Henry, Lester Sack, Leslie Longshore, Wade Herren, Clifford Sutter and Ernest Sutter. He also coached NCAA singles champions Jack Tuero and Jose Aguero.

Paré’s contribution to Southern tennis was not limited to Tulane. As head pro at the NOLTC, he taught dozens of Louisiana and Southern junior champions with a number of his players going on to capture conference honors for other universities such as LSU in the SEC, Duke University in the ACC and Northwestern University in the Big 10.

Before he began his coaching career, Paré was also an accomplished player. Tilden described Paré as a "great natural player." While a student at Georgetown University, he reached the doubles final of the NCAA Championships and a year later in 1929, he captured the United States Men’s Clay Court Championship. NOLTC legend is that Paré, well into his forties, would play his Tulane tennis stars on the clay courts at the club and regularly beat them.

Almost forty years after his passing in 1973, Paré’s players are still competing at high levels. One of Paré’s prized NOLTC pupils, Mark Meyers, recently won the USTA National Men’s 55 Clay Court Championship in Atlanta. Sack remains one of the top players in the world in his age division and represents the U.S. in international play.

Paré was in the first class of inductees into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1983. He has also been inducted into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame, the Georgetown University Hall of Fame and the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame.

While Paré, who lived in New Orleans, did not have any immediate family, his "tennis family" remains involved in the game. Many who were lucky enough to be his students will be forever grateful to him for teaching the great game of tennis.

Dr. Don Varga
Former USTA Southern President, Dedicated Volunteer

Dr. Don Varga served as USTA Southern President from 1990-1992, a period of notable expansion and change.  Among his numerous credits of volunteerism within the USTA, he also served eight years on the section’s Management Committee.

During Varga’s term of presidency, the section’s USTA Leagues experienced tremendous growth, attracting an increasing number of adult players. Varga’s leadership and management skills enabled USTA Southern to overcome these and other administrative challenges in a professional and successful manner.

Varga and his family were awarded the USTA Family of the Year award in 1980 and he was the recipient of the Jacobs Bowl Award in 1991, emblematic of the section’s top volunteer.  He served as USTA Southern Delegate to the USTA from 1993-1994. He served on the Southern Tennis Patrons for 10 years. Varga has served and chaired numerous committees throughout the USTA.

Although Varga was never a ranked player, his outstanding contributions have earned him a place in the Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame.

The Louisville resident co-founded the Louisville Tennis Club (LTC) in 1970 and served as managing partner for 25 years. Under his leadership, the club grew to 12 indoor courts and 14 outdoor clay courts. While guiding LTC in physical plant growth and membership, Varga unselfishly opened the facility to the public. Every year the LTC hosted numerous tournaments, clinics, exhibitions, leagues and benefits. Additionally the LTC hosted the National 16 Clay Court Tournament, Intercollegiate Tennis Association Invitational Tournament, Kentucky Sanctioned Tournaments, Kentucky Adult League Districts, USTA Adult League Sectionals and other various prestigious events.

The Cystic Fibrosis Tennis Gala Fundraiser was founded at LTC, which has grown to a $200,000 annual fundraiser.

Varga served as tournament director repeatedly for numerous junior and college events including the Kentucky State Closed, Creason Qualifying, LTCF Junior Invitational and Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association.

The Friends of Kentucky Tennis, founded by Varga, has raised over $100,000 for scholarships and other special projects. He co-founded the Kentucky Hall of Fame. Along with his wife, Shirley, a former long time Executive Director of USTA Kentucky, he organized the first USTA Kentucky office. He also served as president of USTA Kentucky and served on the state’s board of directors for more than a decade. He was awarded the Kentucky Tennis Association Volunteer of the Year on two occasions and his family was awarded the Kentucky Family of the Year on three occasions. He was inducted into the St. Xavier High School Hall of Honors in 2011.

In 1987, Varga was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the University of Kentucky. In 1994 he was bestowed the same award by the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association. In 2001 a tennis court at the University of Kentucky Tennis Complex was formally named the Don and Shirley Varga Court.

Varga practiced internal medicine for 35 years in Louisville. He also served as medical director of the Norton Health System for five years.

Varga has five children that played in USTA junior programs. Three of his children – Paul, Andrew and John – held a national ranking and played college tennis for the University of Kentucky.