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PLTA Attracts Tennis Greats, Membership Grows

April 2017 -- As the years passed, America’s greatest tennis players and teachers belonged to the association, then called the Professional Lawn Tennis Association, including Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert, Fred Perry, Don Budge, Bobby Riggs, Pancho Segura, Bill Tilden, Ellsworth Vines, Frank Parker, Vinnie Richards, Bruce Barnes and Welby Van Horn.

As early as the 1940s, the organization also began to attract famous women members, including Pauline Betz Addie, Alice Marble and Sarah Cooke.

These women and men were the cream of the tennis crop, and their professional tours captured the imagination of thousands of fans around the world.

During this period, the PLTA membership was limited primarily to the eastern United States. The association offered few benefits other than a membership directory, annual meetings and an opportunity to meet others in the profession.

In the late 1940s, membership increased to more than 200 of the nation’s top professionals. The group added benefits such as a job placement service, two meetings a year and a model professional contract for members to use with their clubs.

In following years, the PLTA acquired an official song, “I’m in the PLTA now!”, and members were involved in three movies, “Topflite Tennis,” “Great Moments of Great Matches with the World’s Greatest Pros; Tennis by Contrast, Comparative Games of Riggs, Budge, Perry, Stoefen and Tilden;” and “Mixed Troubles,” a tennis comedy starring Mickey Rooney, Walter Pidgeon, Pauline Betz and Sarah Palfrey Cooke.

In 1957, the association changed its name to the United States Professional Lawn Tennis Association (USPLTA). Membership grew to more than 550 professionals in eight geographic regions under the presidency of William Lufler in the early 1960s.

The open tennis explosion in 1968 brought professional players into their heyday, and the industry grew by leaps and bounds. The first national certification exams were administered in 1969 under then President Jack Barnaby, modeled after those already in use by several of the association’s divisions. Over the years, it was molded under the direction of George Bacso, former USPTA director of certification and academies, into the extensive exam it is today.

The establishment of professional standards through the Certification Exam caught the attention of teaching professionals interested in a tennis career path, and membership began to grow. During the 1960s and early ’70s, USPLTA expanded west and added its last eight divisions. It made its final name change to USPTA in the early ’70s.

USPTA Presidents (1948-1973)
George Seewagen (1948-53, 1962-63) was the only member to serve as president twice. He was the tennis coach at St. John’s University for 49 years. He also was the tennis professional at Jackson Heights Tennis Club and the 7th Regiment Tennis Club, and he coached the ELTA Junior Davis Cup Squad.

Mercer Beasley (1954) coached at Tulane, Princeton, Lawrenceville School and the University of Miami, and taught tennis at private clubs in Milwaukee, Pasadena and Chicago. He authored the book, “How to Play Tennis: The Beasley System,” in 1933, which was a highly influential book that emphasized accuracy and consistent play. 

Thomas Byrne (1955-56) was a USPTA member for 44 years. Prior to serving as national president, he was the Eastern Division’s president from 1954-55. He was the professional at Travers Island, N.Y., for  many years.

Arthur Condon (1957-58) was the professional for Old York Road Country Club in Jenkintown, Pa., and Northeast Harbor Tennis Club in Northeast Harbor, Maine.

Ralph Chambers (1959-61) was recognized in 2000 as USPTA’s longest serving member – 72 years.  He coached Army Men’s Tennis from 1933 to 1946. In 1965 he received the Joseph D. ­Deitz Bowl Award. 

Bill Lufler (1963-66) was a collegiate coach at Presbyterian College, the University of Miami and the University of South Florida. He was the head professional at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y., and St. Petersburg Tennis Center and Safety Harbor Spa and Resort in Florida. Under his direction, the Association adopted stricter admission standards and encouraged better communication among those in the profession. He was a USPTA member for 65 years.

Milton Phillips (1967-68) also served as the association’s secretary. He was a tennis professional at Schuyler Meadow Club in Loudonville, N.Y.

Jack Barnaby (1969-70) was a USPTA member for 47 years. He was the winningest coach in the history of Harvard University, coaching from 1932 to 1976. He was inducted posthumously into the USPTA New England Hall of Fame in 2013. Barnaby was instrumental in the creation of the first USPTA Certification Exam in the mid-1970s.

Dave Muir (1971-72) has been a USPTA member for 55 years. In 2015 he received the USPTA George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award. Muir has coached some of the top teaching pros in the Chicago area today, several national champions, and Illinois High School Champions. He continues to be an integral part of the local USTA Competition Training Center Program, having been a CTC coach for the last 20 years. Muir also served as president of the USPTA Midwest Division, and he was the head coach of the USTA Competition Training Center at Homewood-Flossmoor from 1988-2009. 

Ted Withall (1973) has been a USPTA member for 66 years. He is a Master Professional and he served as the Florida Division president in 1967. He founded the H.V. Kaltenborn Junior League in Stony Brook, N.Y. (1958-61), and the Arvida Trophy League, an adult competitive league for clubs from Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (1958-70). 

Alex Gordon Award for the USPTA Professional of the Year
2016 Kirk Anderson
2015 Jorge Capestany
2014 Randy Mattingley
2013 Avis Murray
2012 David T. Porter, Ed.D.
2011 Feisal Hassan
2010 Ron Woods
2009 Robert Greene Jr.
2008 Tom Sweitzer
2007 John Joyce
2006 Tom Daglis
2005 Rick Macci
2004 Steve Diamond
2003 Jim Loehr
2002 Will Hoag
2001 Dave Kozlowski
2000 Mark McMahon
1999 Chip Brooks
1998 Joseph Thompson
1997 Luis Mediero
1996 Jim Reffkin
1995 Angel Lopez
1994 Kurt Kamperman
1993 Jim Davis
1992 Bill Bond
1991 Nick Bollettieri
1990 Peter Burwash
1989 Vic Braden
1988 Spike Gurney
1987 Jack Groppel
1986 Sean Sloane
1985 Dave Sivertson
1984 George Bacso
1983 Paul Gagon
1982 Bill Tym
1981 Ken McAllister
1980 Rod Dulany
1979 Tim Heckler
1978 Rob Danner/Bill Thompson
1977 Joe Dennis
1976 Fernando Velasco
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