The USTA announced the creation of the "US Open Sportsmanship Award," which will be presented to one male and one female professional tennis player who best demonstrate excellence in sportsmanship throughout the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open. The award will be presented to each winner during the 2012 US Open.
"We believe that great sports make a sport great," said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen. "Professional athletes in our sport are viewed as role models by fans across the globe. The US Open is a great opportunity to recognize the positive impact these athletes can make in promoting excellence in sportsmanship through the game of tennis."
Under Vegosen’s leadership, the USTA started a Sportsmanship Committee in 2011. Its charge is to "educate and inspire youngsters and their parents to develop and exhibit a high degree of sportsmanship and an attitude of fair play and mutual respect on and off the tennis court. Underlying the charge is the ethical imperative that fairness is more important than winning." Todd Martin is the Honorary Chair, and USTA/Middle States Section President George Parnell, is the Chair of the USTA Sportsmanship Committee.
The US Open Sportsmanship Award winners will be selected by a committee made up of the following individuals:
• Todd Martin, Chair
USTA Board Member, former world No. 4 and two-time Grand Slam singles finalist, former Olympian, member of 1995 U.S. Davis Cup title-winning team and winner of several sportsmanship awards, including two ATP Sportsmanship Awards
• Mary Carillo
International sportscaster, former French Open mixed doubles champion and President of USTA Serves
• Matt Cronin
Tennis reporter and columnist
• Mary Joe Fernandez
Two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, former world No. 4, noted tennis television commentator, U.S. Fed Cup Captain and 2012 U.S. Olympic Coach
• Lars Rosene
Past President, USTA/Texas Section, and Vice Chairman of the USTA Sportsmanship Committee
• Chanda Rubin
USTA Board Member, former world No. 6 and Australian Open semifinalist, former U.S. Fed Cup team member and Olympian and winner of several sportsmanship awards, including Arthur Ashe Leadership Award and USTA Service Bowl Award
• Jon Vegosen, Honorary Chair
USTA Chairman of the Board and President
"The USTA believes strongly in the importance of good sportsmanship in making tennis more enjoyable for all," said Todd Martin, Selection Committee Chairman. "Players, parents and coaches alike all share responsibility in ensuring that good sportsmanship always is an integral part of competition—regardless of the level of play. When players adhere to the rules of fair play and parents and coaches encourage good sportsmanship by their own actions and examples, the sport benefits—and becomes more enjoyable and beneficial to all involved."
Eligibility requirements for potential winners include participating in at least two Series tournaments, as well as the 2012 US Open. In addition to a handsome trophy, each US Open Sportsmanship Award winner will receive a $5,000 donation to the charity of his or her choice.
The USTA will promote this new award at all Series tournaments and in advance of the 2012 US Open by creating a "Great Sport" brochure, along with in-stadium messaging for fans and tennis players.