By Emmy Powell, Net News Editor
Most of you know the true backbone of ALTA’s unique organization is its vast number of volunteers. What you might not know is the time commitment of those who choose to serve. We have members who have spent more than 40 years as an ALTA volunteer, 25-year Hall of Fame members, and officers who pledge at least a five-year commitment if voted onto the board to serve as the First Vice President, President, and Board Chairman. It all comes together by those who dedicate their time to help run the ALTA leagues. Many of those members came together at this year’s annual meeting to hear about the numerous accomplishments in 2022, in addition to the recognition of the fine people who make ALTA …ALTA.
ALTA Board Chairman Bill Price kicked off the meeting, citing the strength of the ALTA organization. “2022 has been another great year for The Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association. Post-COVID, we have experienced membership growth to levels above 2019. Junior and Senior leagues have seen the greatest year-over-year increase, and participation in virtually all leagues is up,” he said. Price also acknowledged the importance of ALTA’s volunteers. “From captains to coordinators and overalls, to league VPs, you support over 60,000 active members enjoying all ALTA has to offer. On behalf of the membership, I thank you for all you do.”
One key initiative diligently worked on for the last several years has been a comprehensive plan to expand ALTA’s boundaries to increase participation while reducing travel times. This year, under the leadership of Sandy Depa, the boundaries committee proposed (and the board approved) a pilot program to allow facilities outside our existing boundaries and annexation area to apply to become an approved ALTA facility. Learn more about this pilot program for 2023 in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of Net News.
While ALTA’s primary mission is to facilitate league play, there is so much more to the organization. “Via the ALTA Foundation, led this year by Rita Maloof, ALTA makes a significant impact in the community on an annual basis,” said Price. More than $85,000 was awarded through various grants and scholarships in 2022. Some of the recipients include Junior ALTA players who received college scholarships, the Georgia Special Summer Olympics, Pace Academy, Blaze Sports, the ALTA Foundation’s START program (more on page 14), Special Pops, AYTEF, and so many others. You can now make an online donation when you renew your membership at www.altatennis.org.
Price also echoed the sound financial position of ALTA. He thanked ALTA Treasurer Larry Waters and the finance committee for being good stewards of ALTA’s resources. “I am very happy to report to you that financially our organization is in great shape,” said Waters. Nearly all of ALTA’s yearly revenue is from membership dues. This year membership was up 2 percent as of the end of October compared to the same period last year. An integral part of ALTA’s financial success is due to the great work of Leslie Gersack, ALTA’s bookkeeper. “Leslie does an amazing job with all of our financial transactions and has been a great help to me answering my questions, creating monthly reports and by being a big part of our recent yearly budget process,” said Waters.
Turning his attention to the 2022 ALTA President Lamar Scott, Price recognized the great work done by the Executive Committee under Scott’s leadership. “Lamar and the pickleball committee planned and conducted several pickleball clinics around the city where we exceeded all participation expectations,” he said. “Members, and frankly, the community in general, are excited ALTA is taking a leading role in providing additional opportunities to participate in racquet sports in the Atlanta area.”
Scott helped launch three ALTA Pickleball Clinics/Mixers at 13 facilities, providing introduction to newcomers and welcoming more seasoned players to a social round robin. “Each session sold out within hours, and we were able to connect with more than 640 members, with over 50 on the waiting list,” said Scott. The committee continues to discuss the infrastructure and anticipates launching league play in 2023.
Scott had a busy and successful year, which he said went by way too fast. “Looking back at my term as president, it’s been a great year and an experience that I’ll never forget.” Scott also pointed out that the Atlanta Open was a key event sponsored by ALTA. ALTA Day included recognition of the ALTA Foundation scholarship winners, the top players on the Junior Challenge Ladder, and a great women’s exhibition match. “I had the opportunity to perform the coin toss for the match between Coco Gauff and Sofia Kenin — and what a match it was,” Scott said.
Scott pointed out his key goal to listen and learn from ALTA’s members and volunteers, with the main objectives being to grow the membership and opportunities within ALTA. “We listened to parents and coaches, and late last year, embarked on a Junior Player AA Pilot program that allowed 16- and 17-year-old competitive juniors to play at the AA level in our Men’s, Sunday Women’s, and Mixed Doubles Adult Leagues,” he said. “Initially, 14 junior players took advantage of the program. …And this year, that number doubled to 28 players!
“The exciting part was that half were girls and half were boys, and the best part is that 90 percent of them moved on to continue to play in an adult league,” Scott continued. He closed by saying, “Tennis has positively impacted so many aspects of my life, and it has been my privilege to give back to the organization that has made all this possible.”
Moving into 2023, the future looks bright for ALTA. That future includes 2023 President Linda Shepherd. Shepherd said serving as president is a dream come true. “I am excited, I am humbled, and I am honored,” she added. She recalls in 2004 when she walked up the steps to the first coordinator’s meeting and walking through the door to a room of laughter, smiles and friendships. “I knew then this was more than a volunteer position. It was a family that I had been asked to join.”
Shepherd reiterated her plan to lead the organization to expand the boundaries and monitor the results. She also echoed the sentiment to find a solid plan for ALTA to incorporate pickleball in the Atlanta area. “You better find a paddle and a pickleball because ALTA is joining the craze,” she said. Shepherd closed out her speech emphasizing the important of service to ALTA’s members. “Our customers are our members. I believe good customer service starts with our leaders. It starts with me, and I’ll do my best to promote and continue our good customer service.”
Following the swearing-in of the 2023 ALTA Executive Committee and several award presentations, Price brought the meeting to a close and thanked the ALTA staff. “While few in number, the support from Renee Bowen, Emmy Powell, Joan Appelbaum, Jena Pace, Michelle Camay, and Leslie Gersack is the best,” he said. He also acknowledged his trusted advisors: Larry Waters, Bob Fitzgerald, Marla Michalewicz, Lamar Scott, Debbie Gaster, and Sandy Depa. Perhaps his most trusted advisor is his wife, Dawn, whom he thanked as well. “Your love, support, and honestly lift me up and keep me grounded all at the same time.”
We are all looking forward to another exciting year for ALTA in 2023!