LAKE NONA, Fla. – The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) is proud to present the 2020 USPTA Alex Gordon Professional of the Year Award to Jenny Gray of Austin, Texas.
From organizing USPTA and USTA tournaments, to running the tennis programs at two clubs in Austin, Texas, 2019 was an eventful year for Jenny Gray.
Her dedication earned her recognition as the Alex Gordon USPTA Professional of the Year.
Gray directed 13 sanctioned and unsanctioned tournaments across the country, including the USPTA Texas Ladies Champion of Champions Cup, the USPTA National Hard Court Championships and the USPTA World Championships in Las Vegas; where Fast 4 scoring was used for the first time at a USPTA Surface Championship event. Within her own club, she hosted her 16th annual Rally for the Cure benefitting Susan G Komen for the Cure, the DGG Ladies Cup, Davis Cup Member/ Guest and a holiday event benefiting Toys for Tots, among others.
“I look at tournaments like they’re a puzzle,” Gray said. “Making sure you have all the details carefully thought out and implemented, creating the draws and interacting with the players and other tournament staff are all pieces of that puzzle. The goal is when all those pieces fit together, you have hopefully created an enjoyable experience both on and off the court for everyone involved.”
Planning tournaments and events has been much different in 2020. Gray has had to deal with many challenges stemming from the pandemic. Most of her tournaments were cancelled, so she created new events and programs for smaller group sizes to comply with all city, county and state health requirements, all while reassuring players that it’s safe to return to the courts.
Still, the most important aspect of a successful post-pandemic program remains the personal connections with her staff, co-workers and club members.
“It’s making sure that everyone on your professional staff knows that they are an important part of the team. As the Director, it is essential to know each of your employee’s strengths, then utilizing those strengths to create a well-rounded, quality program,” she said. “Players quickly realize there is someone on the staff to meet their individual needs. Whether it’s 10-and-under tennis, a high-performance program or adult level class.”
Gray is also involved in USPTA leadership. She served on the Executive Committee for seven years and was President of the USPTA Texas Division for three years. And when the Texas Divisional Board needed her, she stepped up to serve a second term as Regional Vice President for 2018 and ’19. She is currently serving as the Past President through 2021. She says she likes being involved with the USPTA to be a part of “something bigger than ourselves.”
“We all get so involved in the day-to-day at our clubs and facilities, but it’s been incredibly rewarding to be a part of something that is bigger than our own lives and routines. It has been an honor to be part of the USPTA Texas family and leadership team and to help organize programs, events, or activities that directly affect other USPTA Texas professionals. On the national side of things, it has been humbling to be a part of a group with varying opinions and experiences, that is trying to make a difference in the tennis industry.”
Throughout her career, Gray has relied on other USPTA members for mentorship and guidance. She sees Jim Sciarro of Tyler, Texas; Alan Cutler, a USPTA Master Professional; and Charlotte Wylie, Executive Director of the USPTA Texas Division, as “my three go-to people when I have questions or if I need to bounce an idea of someone. Their friendships and professional support have been invaluable to me throughout my career.”
About the USPTA: Founded in 1927, the USPTA is the global leader in tennis-teacher certification and professional development. With more than 14,000 members worldwide and 17 divisions nationwide, the Association’s mission is to raise the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches and to promote a greater awareness of the sport.