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2023 Annual Meeting

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2024 ALTA President Chequetta Allen
2024 ALTA President Chequetta Allen

By Emmy Powell, Net News Editor

Each year in November, ALTA’s leaders and volunteers gather to celebrate our great organization. ALTA Board Chair Sandy Depa called the meeting to order at the Atlanta Athletic Club and introduced ALTA Treasurer Larry Waters who stated that 2023 was another successful year for ALTA, with increased participation in all leagues. He added that the organization is in a sound financial position.

ALTA’s backbone is its great volunteers — from captains, coordinators and overall coordinators, to the league VPs, the Executive Committee, the various committees, and the Board of Directors. “On behalf of all the approximate 60,0000 ALTA members, we thank you for all that you do to make ALTA the great organization that it is,” said Depa.

One of the newest developments in 2023 was the introduction of the ALTA Pickleball League, which had its inaugural season this past summer. There were more than 4,000 members and 200 teams that signed up for this first season of ALTA Pickleball. In 2024, Pickleball will grow to two seasons.

Last year, we also introduced a two-year pilot program to extend ALTA boundaries. This program allows facilities outside of our existing boundaries and annexation areas to apply to become an approved ALTA facility as a two-year pilot facility. Facilities in Cherokee, Forsyth, portions of Hall, Barrow, and Jackson Counties are now allowed to have ALTA teams. We are seeing a gradual growth in the number of ALTA “pilot” teams. Emmy Powell, ALTA’s Marketing Director, plans to introduce more marketing efforts to these boundary areas in 2024.

Although most people know the ALTA name for league play throughout Atlanta, the ALTA Foundation, under Rita Maloof’s leadership, made a huge impact in the community in 2023. “With continued focus on ‘Building Stronger Communities,’ the Foundation increased its giving by $35,000 over 2022, awarding more than $115,000 to new and existing underserved programs in metro Atlanta,” said Maloof. New partnerships with the Shepherd Center, Center for Movement Challenges, Above the Net and others, along with an increase in the number of Title I schools supported by our START program, are catalysts for growth as the footprint of the Foundation continues to expand.

As she closes out her term on the ALTA Board of Directors and the many years serving on the Executive Committee, Depa thanked all the ALTA family of volunteers that have been there to support and help. “Those who came before and after — Larry, Marla, Bob, Joyce, Bill, Debbie, Lamar, Linda — thank you for all your support, advice and friendship throughout the years. I also want to thank my family and husband, Tony, and my friends for their support through this journey. Thank you.”

Depa then asked 2023 ALTA President Linda Shepherd to share her incredible year. Shepherd spoke about the Junior Pilot program, which became permanent in 2023. Our goal was to give junior players, 16 and 17 years of age, an opportunity to play in the AA adult leagues.

ALTA Board Chair Sandy Depa received this year’s Chairman’s Award while 2023 ALTA President Linda Shepherd received her President’s Award.
ALTA Board Chair Sandy Depa received this year’s Chairman’s Award while 2023 ALTA President Linda Shepherd received her President’s Award.

April brought a vision to reality. After months of a dedicated, hard-working committee, a Pickleball League was ready to hit the courts. “We had ALTA members with pickleball experience, pickleball ambassadors from around the city, and other ALTA VP’s willing to do the work to get those paddles swinging,” Shepherd said.

In May, an incredible young ALTA player, Saketh Ramakrishnan, reached out to Shepherd. He had ideas on ways we could reach other junior players in the Atlanta area and introduce them to ALTA. “We were interested to hear his suggestions and asked him to work with our Junior Leagues Vice President and our marketing director as a Junior League Tennis Ambassador,” Shepherd said. Since then, he has worked with us to expand our social media to reach junior tennis players.

July was exciting as we again supported and attended the Atlanta Open. With a new tournament director working with our marketing director, ALTA was featured bigger and better than ever. From t-shirts being tossed to repeated announcements throughout the week, Atlanta soon realized ALTA was where ATLANTA Comes to Play!

Shepherd closed out her speech thanking the office staff and recognizing our fantastic ALTA photographer, Laura Barnard.

2024 ALTA President Chequetta Allen stepped up to the podium to talk about how ALTA will continue its strong momentum into the coming year. Allen says the passion she felt for tennis guided her toward volunteering with her community tennis association, the Coan Tennis Association. “It was on the courts in Edgewood, Atlanta where literally, the ball started rolling for me,” she said. “I moved from a free lesson participant to a volunteer, and on to the President of that organization.”

Her enjoyment of the game led Allen to ALTA, the league that has provided her with countless opportunities to play. As a result of her league play experiences, she developed a curiosity about the organization. She says she would get ALTA’s Net News magazine, and the issue that always captured her attention was the January/February issue with the Executive Committee on the cover. “I was intrigued, and the question I would ask myself became, “How do you get on the cover?” Talk about speaking something into existence! I put a question out there and I think it’s pretty cool how God responded,” she said.

ALTA’s 25-year Hall of Fame Award winners (pictured L-R) Beth Graham, Mike Wright, and Maribeth Leaman.
ALTA’s 25-year Hall of Fame Award winners (pictured L-R) Beth Graham, Mike Wright, and Maribeth Leaman.

In sports, we find that momentum is always essential. Regardless of the sport, you will find individual athletes or teams are either gaining or losing momentum. As you all know, tennis is no different. It is a game where momentum shifts create critical moments for players and teams. The same is true with the ALTA organization. The tone has been set by those who have come before Allen, and ALTA has positive momentum. “Momentum is important. ALTA is no different from your tennis or pickleball teams. When our organization has momentum, we want to keep it going,” Allen said.

Our boundary expansion pilot serves as a physical and visual representation of this momentum. Allen said: “My predecessors set the wheels in motion. They have cleared the route and paved the way, now it’s my job to accelerate our forward movement.”

If we really want to talk about continuous, positive traction that allows for greater momentum gains, then we don’t have to look any further than the ALTA Foundation. With steady growth in their grant and scholarship awards, as well as the broadening of the START program from two to 11 schools, the foundation is strengthening legacy relationships, while expanding the ALTA brand and vision to encompass seven new community partnerships, including the iconic Shepherd Center. The foundation’s efforts are making tennis and ALTA more inclusive of all who want to participate.

Allen said each of us, as well as ALTA, is a machine in motion with moving parts that require our care and attention, some labor, a bit of renewal, and sometimes a few new parts to make sure our momentum is not interrupted.

“First, although she isn’t here tonight, I want to publicly acknowledge and thank my longtime friend and fellow ALTA member, Kendra Jenkins, who encouraged me to move from fangirl to tennis girl,” Allen said.

Last, but not least, to the current and past ALTA Board members, Allen thanked them for entrusting her with the privilege of being the 2024 ALTA President. “I recognize that we are an organization in motion, one with great momentum that continues to be propelled forward. In a nutshell, ALTA is on a roll and in the words of Robbie Lawler, “when you’re on a roll, you want to stay busy — you want to keep that momentum going.” That is Allen’s purpose, and it is her promise to continue the actions required to keep ALTA’s momentum going.

he 2024 ALTA Foundation Board Members (pictured L-R) Foundation Secretary Karen Harris, President Cameron Turner, and Treasurer Susan Levin.
he 2024 ALTA Foundation Board Members (pictured L-R) Foundation Secretary Karen Harris, President Cameron Turner, and Treasurer Susan Levin.
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