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USTA South Carolina Recognizes Its Best

October 6, 2014 10:27 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tennis coaches, players and volunteers from all over the state will be honored for their tennis achievements later this year by USTA South Carolina.

In all, 23 people and organizations will receive USTA South Carolina annual awards at the organization’s annual meeting in December.

This year’s group of award recipients features a range of tennis experience.

One award recipient had never played the game before deciding to coach a group of adaptive athletes in Charleston six years ago; another recipient has been growing tennis in Florence for decades.

“Each of these award recipients had exceptional and exemplary achievements in tennis,” said Graham Cox, executive director of USTA South Carolina. “We're pleased to recognize them for how they've honored the game through their commitment to excellence in their endeavors.”

Josh Tutterow will receive the Adaptive Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award.

Tutterow, 28, coaches tennis to adaptive athletes through the City of Charleston Therapeutic Recreation Department. He has coached the team since 2008.

At the time, Tutterow had just moved to Charleston after graduating from Furman University and was looking for a way to work with adaptive athletes. He had never played tennis but decided to volunteer as a tennis coach anyway.

He’s been successful. Next summer, he is scheduled to be an assistant tennis coach for Team USA at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

“I love tennis because it’s also something that gets those athletes active and keeps them moving,” Tutterow said.

Cindy Babb of Charleston has been named the USTA SC Adult Female Player of the Year.

Babb, 63, competed in three USTA national championships this year. She also participated as a player and a captain on the South Carolina team that competed in the Senior Cup, an annual competition between adult players in nine Southern states.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award from USTA South Carolina. I am most thankful to have been able to compete in age group tournaments for almost 50 years against players who define themselves by the content of their character and not the results of their tennis games,” Babb said. “Tennis awards are nice but it is the special people who love pure competition that keep us all involved in this wonderful game!”

Norm Chryst of Bluffton has been named the Adult Male Player of the Year.

Chryst, 67, reached the quarterfinals of three USTA national championships earlier this year in singles and doubles competitions for his age group, 65 and older. Chryst also won the singles competition in his age group at the Southeastern Indoor Championships, which were held in January in Asheville.

He has a simple explanation for his success. “Well, I’m retired, and I basically play a lot of tennis,” he said.

The Cardinal Classic Adult Tennis Championships at the Cardinal Racquet Club in Anderson has been named the Adult/Senior Tournament of the Year.

The tournament, which celebrated its 39th anniversary this year, received the most positive reviews from player surveys. Among the responses: “The best tournament of the year… They do a fantastic job,” and “The tournament staff set the bar for excellence – couldn’t be better.”

The tournament is run by Matt McKenzie, the director of tennis at the Cardinal Racquet Club.

“All our (Cardinal Racquet Club) members really support it,” McKenzie said. “That’s one of the main reasons why it’s been so successful for so long.”

Hardeep Judge of South Carolina State University has been named the USTA South Carolina Coach of the Year.

Judge is in his 13th year of coaching the men’s and women’s tennis teams at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. His teams have won more than 400 matches and 20 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships.

The Bulldogs have been especially successful in recent years. The women’s team has won 10 consecutive league titles and the men’s team has won seven in a row.

This is the second time Judge has received the USTA SC Coach of the Year award. The first was in 2005.

Ed Sprenger of Florence will receive the Community Service Award.

The Belton Tennis Association has been named the USTA South Carolina Community Tennis Association of the Year. The association, originally called the “Belton Tennis Club,” celebrated its 60th year in 2014. And it was another busy year for the association and its leaders, president Hank Clinkscales and Rex Maynard.

Among the association’s events in 2014:

  • 58th Annual Palmetto Championships, the state qualifier for South Carolina juniors wanting to go to the USTA National Championships.
  • Special Population Unified Doubles tournament, which pairs special athletes with unified partners for doubles competition.
  • Chick-fil-A Hall of Fame Classic, which annually features eight of the top high school girls tennis teams in the state.
  • South Carolina Men’s Collegiate Invitational.

Maynard said he views this award as not only a tribute to the association’s 2014 work, but also a nod to the group’s past accomplishments.

Gentle Dentistry of Lexington has been named the Company of the Year.

The dentistry, operated by Dr. Rick Jackson, has supported USTA Jr. Team Tennis and the Lexington Area Tennis Association’s Sunburn Open tournament for more than 10 years, said Steve Hunter, president of the Lexington Area Tennis Association.

The Jackson family supports tennis because the family has long enjoyed the sport, said Eric Jackson, the dentistry’s office manager. Rick Jackson played tennis in high school, and all of the five Jackson children have played tennis at some point in their lives as well.

Eric Jackson also coaches the varsity girls and boys tennis teams at Lexington High School.

“The people who participate in tennis are really great people, and we feel blessed to support tennis in this community,” Eric Jackson said.

Carlos Lozano of Lexington has been named the John Newcomb Pro of the Year.

Lozano has been the director of tennis at the Topspin Racquet and Swim Club in Lexington since 2005. He was a teaching pro at the club for two years prior. Before that, Lozano was an all-American tennis player at Brigham Young University.

As director of tennis, Lozano excels with junior tennis players and adults, said Charly Rasheed, who is currently the director of tennis at Wild Dunes in Charleston but previously worked with Lozano at Topspin. “He has a magnetic quality that attracts juniors and adults of all levels to him,” Rasheed said. “(His) communication skills, knowledge of the game, playing ability, and general likability make him an extremely versatile and talented tennis professional.”

John Newcomb was a star tennis player at Winthrop University and later became director of tennis at the Longcreek Plantation Club in Blythewood. In 1996, however, Newcomb was shot and killed in downtown Columbia.

Crimora Carter of Greenville will receive the Jr. Team Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award.

Carter became involved with Greenville JTT three years ago, said Ashlyn Cousins, coordinator of Greenville JTT. Since then, Carter has helped organize JTT teams and, lately, she has agreed to serve as the Greenville JTT’s area schools coordinator. In that role, she will work with Greenville schools to expand Jr. Team Tennis options for kids.

“Crimora is a leader who inspires others to want to lead in our program,” Cousins said. “Her positive outlook and desire to see the growth of tennis in Greenville has made a huge impact in our community. We hope she is a part of our program for a long time to come!”

Oliver Crawford of Spartanburg has been named the Junior Boy Player of the Year.

Crawford, 15, is the No. 1-ranked boys singles player in the state in the 16-and-under division. He’s also the No. 2-ranked singles player in the nine-state USTA Southern Section for the same age division.

His rankings were aided by his successful 2014. Earlier this year, he won the Palmetto Championships in Belton and a top-level Southern Section tournament held in the Upstate.

Crawford also had success at the national level. At the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Crawford won five matches and advanced to the semifinals of the 16-and-under division.

“Oliver has spent more time practicing and focusing on the basics,” said his father, Julian Crawford. “He has developed a broader range of strokes, which has expanded his game, making him a more competitive player.”

Jade Lewis of Hilton Head Island will receive the Junior Girl Player of the Year.

Jade, 15, is the No. 1-ranked singles player in South Carolina in the girls 18-and-under division. Earlier this year, she won the girls 18-and-under division at the Chick-fil-A Palmetto Championships in Belton.

She and her sister, Carolina, won the girls 18-and-under doubles championship at the Palmetto Championships as well.

In the nine-state USTA Southern Section, Jade is the No.3-ranked singles player in the 18-and-under division.

Jade’s father, David, said she has done so well this year because she has consistently worked hard and spent a lot of time on court.

The South Carolina Junior State Open Championships has been named the Jim Russell Junior Tournament of the Year. The tournament was held at the Rock Hill Tennis Center and directed by Kim Ozmon, the center’s supervisor.

The championship received positive feedback from participants and parents. Some of the comments included, “Great tournament – one of the best,” and “All in all a great experience!!”

Ozmon said consistent communication with players and parents helped the tournament go well. Organizers kept the tournament website updated with any and all news about the tournament, she said. She also thanked the tournament’s volunteers. “They are the foundation that supports me,” Ozmon said.

Ozmon also received a USTA SC annual award last year, the Community Service Award.

Russell, who died in 2012, dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to growing tennis. He was president of USTA South Carolina and played a crucial role in establishing the South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation, the charitable arm of USTA SC, and the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. Russell also was president of the USTA Southern Section and had served as a tennis referee for dozens of junior tournaments.

Sean Sculley of Hilton Head Island has been honored with the Most Improved Junior Boy Award.

In September 2013, Sean was the No. 61-ranked singles player in the state in the boys 16-and-under division. A month earlier, his family had moved to South Carolina from another USTA region, so Sean essentially started over in ranking points. But it hasn’t taken him long to catch up to his peers. Last month, Sean was the No. 2-ranked singles player in the state in his division.

His mother, Marcy, said Sean has ascended the rankings so quickly because he’s playing tennis almost every day. He used to play only a few times a week.

Sam Calais of Irmo has been named the Kimberly Hampton Most Improved Junior Girl of the Year.

Sam, who is a sophomore at Dutch Fork High School, is the No. 9-ranked singles player in the state in the girls 16-and-under division. In January, she was ranked No. 25 in the same division.

“Sam has worked very hard this past year,” said Audrey Calais, her mother. “She has spent a great deal of time practicing and playing tennis.”

Hampton was named USTA South Carolina Most Improved Junior Girl in 1992. She grew up in Easley and played collegiate tennis at Presbyterian College. There, Hampton won the South Atlantic Conference singles title her final two years and never lost a conference singles match, finishing 27-0.

She also served her country. Capt. Hampton was an Army helicopter pilot. But in January 2004, the helicopter she was flying in Iraq was shot down. She was 27.

Susan Turner of Columbia has been named the Helen Jeter League Volunteer of the Year.

Turner has coordinated USTA leagues in Columbia for the past 10 years, said Mary Goins, director of leagues for USTA South Carolina. Turner also helps organizes a USTA South Carolina state league championship.

“She will immediately undertake any project that needs to be done in her league and around the state,” Goins said. “She always gives up her time with her family and friends to make sure our championships are the best in the country.”

Turner also plays tennis. One of her league teams recently finished second in its division at a USTA regional championship.

Helen Jeter has been a longtime USTA South Carolina volunteer. Jeter, of Greer, S.C., also has helped grow tennis throughout the country by serving on regional and national USTA committees. This is the first year the award has been given in her honor.

Paul Hendrix of Murrells Inlet has been named the recipient of the Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Boy Award. Paul has won several sportsmanship awards throughout his young career, including two at national tournaments.

“He is a great competitor who always plays fair and gives his opponent the benefit of any doubt when making calls,” said Jonathan Barth, a tennis professional in South Carolina who has seen Paul compete at various junior tournaments. “Paul doesn’t get caught up in some of the on-court drama that can occur while playing. If he receives a bad call, he will let it go and just get ready for the next point.”

Paul also plays tennis well. He is the No. 5-ranked singles players in the state in the boys 16-and-under division. “South Carolina should be proud of Paul, not only for his many successes on a state, (USTA) Southern, and national level,” Barth said, “but also for his sportsmanship while representing South Carolina.”

Elizabeth Truluck of Myrtle Beach will receive the Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl Award.

In June, Elizabeth received the girls sportsmanship award at a USTA Southern championship. A total of 160 girls competed in the 14-and-under division of the championship, but only one girl received the age division’s sportsmanship award.

“It means more to us than winning a tournament,” Joan Truluck, Elizabeth’s mother, said of receiving the Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl Award.

When Elizabeth started playing tennis about seven years ago, her parents instructed her how to handle herself after matches: “You win gracefully, you lose gracefully.”

Elizabeth, too, also plays tennis well: She is the No. 5-ranked player in the state in the girls 14-and-under division.

Mark Hodgin was a top-ranked junior player in his age group for years in South Carolina. He also won nine singles and doubles titles at the Palmetto Championships. In addition to his strong play, Hodgin’s attitude and composure also helped him stand out on the tennis court. Unfortunately, Hodgin died in 1990. He was 28.

Ann Green, a writer in Greenville, will receive the Media Award.

The award goes to an individual who has done an outstanding job reporting about tennis in South Carolina. Green writes a monthly tennis column in the Greenville News. She also writes feature stories about tennis events and players in the Upstate.

“We in the Greenville area are thrilled with her enthusiasm and recognition of tennis,” said Bonnie Sue Duncan, a USTA league coordinator in Greenville.

The Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center has been named the Member Facility of the Year.

Scott Arbena of Clemson will receive the Pete Conklin Official of the Year Award.

Arbena started officiating matches in 2009 and has worked to better his skills every year since. He annually works about 30 junior and collegiate tennis matches. He also frequently gets invited to officiate USTA national championships and NCAA championships.

“Scott has been committed to developing strong skills as a grassroots official,” said Bena Peek, chairwoman of officials for USTA South Carolina.

The late Pete Conklin was a popular and respected tennis official in South Carolina and the South during the 1970s and ’80s. He helped at collegiate and professional tennis matches, including contests at the US Open.

The Scheper family of Beaufort has been named the Tennis Family of the Year.

Larry Scheper is a teaching professional and runs the Larry Scheper Tennis Academy on seven public courts in downtown Beaufort, near Bladen and Boundary Streets.

From noon to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays, he also offers free lessons to kids and gives them fruit bars and Gatorade.

His wife, Sandra, plays USTA league tennis and helps Larry run the academy, he said. Jayda, their 12-year-old daughter, also plays on the varsity tennis team at Beaufort Academy, where Larry coaches the boys and girls tennis teams.

“Larry lives on the tennis courts,” said Fanni Simmons of Irmo.

Alexander Miller of Rock Hill will receive the Wilton McKinney Award.

The award, named after one of the founders of USTA South Carolina, annually goes to one junior player in the state who best exemplifies McKinney, who died in 2011. The award recipient must work hard, practice great sportsmanship, show a positive attitude at all times and support his or her community.

Miller does all of the above.

He is the No. 1-ranked player in the state in the boys 18-and-under division. The past two years, he has won the singles and doubles competitions in his age division at the state’s clay court and hard court championships. At this year’s junior clay court state championships, Miller also received the boys sportsmanship award.

This fall, Miller is a freshman at the College of William and Mary. He plans to study biomechatronics and work on developing more lifelike artificial limbs.

USTA SC Annual Award



Adaptive Tennis Volunteer of the Year

Josh Tutterow


Adult Female Player of the Year

Cindy Babb


Adult Male Player of the Year

Norm Chryst


Adult/Senior Tournament of the Year

Cardinal Classic Adult Tennis Championships


Coach of the Year

Hardeep Judge


Community Service Award

Ed Sprenger


Community Tennis Association of the Year

Belton Tennis Association


Company of the Year

Gentle Dentistry at Oak Grove


John Newcomb Pro of the Year

Carlos Lozano


Jr. Team Tennis Volunteer of the Year

Crimora Carter


Junior Boy Player of the Year

Oliver Crawford


Junior Girl Player of the Year

Jade Lewis

Hilton Head Island

Jim Russell unior Tournament of the Year

SC Jr. State Open Championships

Rock Hill

Most Improved Junior Boy

Sean Sculley

Hilton Head Island

Kimberly Hampton Most Improved Junior Girl of the Year

Sam Calais


Helen Jeter League Volunteer of the Year

Susan Turner


Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Boy

Paul Hendrix

Murrells Inlet

Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl

Elizabeth Truluck

Myrtle Beach

Media Award

Ann Green


Member Facility of the Year

Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center


Pete Conklin Official of the Year

Scott Arbena


Tennis Family of the Year

Scheper family


Wilton McKinney Award

Alexander Miller

Rock Hill