USTA Leagues (Mountain, now Western NC) History:
The USTA leagues program officially started in Western North Carolina in 1994. Bonnie Vandegrift had just moved to WNC from Columbia, SC and missed the fun of USTA league play. In 1994, the only USTA league in WNC was a group of 4.0 men playing out of Aston Park. Nell Barksdale, the state league coordinator at North Carolina Tennis Association indicated the need for other league flights and a WNC program.
Bonnie met with the local clubs and area tennis pros to get their cooperation, support and help in recruiting players for potential teams. At that time, players were required to attend verification clinics so that teaching professionals in the WNC area of the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) could verify the player’s self-rating and determine at what level the player should be participating. Before TennisLink, all rosters had to be typed and a copy of each player’s USTA card copied and submitted to Bonnie, the Mountain League Coordinator. No email – everything was done by telephone and regular US mail. Scorecards were mailed to Bonnie after each match!
The first verification clinic was held at the Brevard Racquet Club in March of 1994 and the first teams were formed at the Women’s 3.5, 4.5 levels and the Men’s 5.0 level. The teams began play in April of 1994 with a total of 53 players. Over the next eight years, the leagues grew as more players found out about the leagues and signed on. From a start of 53 players in 1994, the league has grown to presently over 1,000 players.
In 2001, the Mixed Doubles league was added to the program and Pam Hymer took over the coordination of this league. In 2002, Pam Hymer took on the responsibility of Adult and Senior leagues also, along with the new Southern Combo Doubles league which was added that year. In 2002, the league program finally moved into the technology age and TennisLink was introduced to administer the program along with a much simpler online player self-rating system. Over the next few years, the participation numbers grew for all the league programs.
In 2006 Bevie Walker was added as the Southern Combo Coordinator. In 2007 the Mountain League CTA was formed by the active area community tennis association leaders to administer the USTA leagues in the Mountain area of North Carolina USTA tennis. In 2008 Singles league was added with Dottie Mattern as coordinator. In 2011 Pam Hymer retired. Dottie Mattern retired in 2014. Currently the USTA leagues in the Mountain area, now known as Western NC are coordinated by Bevie Walker. Barbara Patton retired as Assistant in September, 2018. Mindy Nelson joined Western NC Tennis as the new Assistant on Nov. 1, 2018.