17th Annual Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Gala


When USTA Colorado honors its own, the event goes beyond an awards ceremony and live auction. It’s all about the tennis family sharing a great meal, along with stories of athleticism, integrity and generosity … and it concludes with a kick-up-your-heels party to cap off the evening. Anyone who still thinks tennis is an elitist sport should consider the guests at this year’s Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Gala, who represented the continuing growth of the game’s participants, spanning age, gender, ethnicity and physical ability. Throughout the event, guests and speakers expressed that in participating in tennis, they learn more than sports skill sets, but also acquire positive life skills. Game. Set. Match.

Hall of Fame inductees, Class of 2016 (l to r): Don Willsie, Dennis Ralston and Dave Benson

On Friday, Jan. 20, more than 400 tennis aficionados gathered at the Marriott Denver Tech Center to celebrate the induction of four luminaries into its Hall of Fame: Dave Benson, Mary Jane Metcalf Donnalley (whose posthumous award was accepted by her granddaughter Eryn), Dennis Ralston and Don Willsie. Others were honored for their feats on the court, from winning a national title to exhibiting sportsmanship and grace during competition. Off-the-court good deeds were singled out as well, from coaching underserved youth to promoting the game. Vicky Matarazzo received special recognition for her work coaching Special Olympics athletes.

USTA Colorado board member Angela Finan, with Lew Sowell

Andy Zodin and Christine Chang served as co-emcees for the awards program, and auctioneer Shelly St. John revved up the crowd during a live auction that included an opening and a closing weekend at the 2017 U.S. Open. Two high bidders were able to jump on the special opportunity. The evening ended with a lively after-party to the sounds of Saddle Rock.

Dollars raised at the annual gala benefit the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation (a fundraising arm of USTA Colorado), which promotes the physical, emotional and social development of all youth to aspire to become active, productive and responsible citizens. The organization strives to put a tennis racket into the hands of any child who wants to learn and participate in the game. USTA Intermountain Colorado has been promoting the growth and development of tennis since 1955, and support of the CYTF enables USTA Colorado help create the next generation of tennis players in the state. The Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame display is permanently housed on the first floor of Gates Tennis Center in Cherry Creek, in Denver, and is open to the public during normal hours of operation for the center. For more information, and to read bios of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, please visit: http://www.colorado.usta.com.

Porter-Billups Leadership Academy Fundraising Dinner


Success and Significance. Two words that changed Chauncey Billups’ life as a youngster growing up in the Park Hill neighborhood and propelled him as a star basketball player at Denver’s Washington High School, as CU Boulder Buff and with a 17-year NBA career playing with several pro teams including the Denver Nuggets. The NBA All-Star thanked his coaches and family who inspired him to achieve success on and off the court.

More than 400 guests attended the annual Porter-Billups Leadership Academy (PBLA)  fundraising dinner with the theme of “Education, Leadership and Transformation” at the Ritz-Carlton, Saturday, July 26.

Regis President Father John Fitzgibbons gave the invocation, which was followed with comments from advisory board member co-chairs Flossie O’Leary and Randy Holliday, who introduced coach Lonnie Porter and 1995 George Washington High School graduate Chauncey Billups, who joined the PBLA non-profit in 2006. Entertainment was provided by songstress Natalie Tatum and pianist Ronneka Cox.

Founded in 1996 by Regis basketball coach Lonnie Porter, the non-profit organization offers scholarships to support at-risk Denver Public School students. Coach Porter, founder and executive director; Staci Porter-Bentley, co-founder and director; and Billups, co-executive director, each greeted guests and and recognized top sponsors including The Tynan Family, Robert “Bob” Willis, Panorama Orthopedic and Spine Center, and some other 50+ sponsors.

Recognized as the winningest college basketball coach in Colorado history, Porter recognized student graduates for their hard work and encouraged guests to pay it forward and continue their support for struggling at-risk students who need mentors and guidance. He described the mission of the PBLA, a three-week summer academic program at Regis University serving students ranging from elementary and high school students.

Staci Porter-Bentley took the podium with her mentee DaVeion Jackson and their history of partnership and growth throughout the years. Later in the evening, several other PBLA students shared their stories of overcoming personal struggles and graduation from the program.

For more information visit www. porter-billups.org





Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame, 2013 Awards & Inductees


Tennis, anyone?

The 14th annual Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Gala was held on Friday, January 24, 2014. The four inductees: Nicole Leimbach, Rita Price, Gil Roberts and John Whistler were welcomed into the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame and USTA Colorado, where each was honored with a 2013 Annual Award.  The dedicated tennis players had distinguished themselves through life-long dedication and contributions to the sport.

The gala evening was held at the Marriott Tech Center hotel, where 300 tennis enthusiasts and their families joined to raise funds for the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation. The popular program provides tennis opportunities to youngsters in need. Joining in the fun, the Auction Divas, Shelly St. John and her two sidekick divas, kept the momentum at an anxious pace. The three lovely ladies led the live auction with silly heads or tails games and coaxed higher and higher bids from the supporters for mountain tennis weekends and donated items such as a custom made fly fishing rod. The Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation Friday night was at least $22,000 closer to helping young tennis players enjoy the sport of tennis.

Tennis is big in Colorado – a whopping 85,000 known players in the state. The sport and state have always been like-minded. When the state was formed in 1876, the sport of tennis was right behind it. The USTA was formed in 1881, as a not-for-profit organization devoted to the development of the sport of tennis. It remains the voice of tennis and establishes and maintains rules of play and high standards of amateurism and good sportsmanship.

Emcee Andy Zodin charmed the tennis community with his Broncos’ enthusiasm and his  acknowledged respect for the select group of tennis players who filed onto the stage.  The honored group of 2013 award winners were chosen for their sport skill and tireless support of the tennis community’s goal, which is to promote the physical, emotional and social development of all youth. Tennis has been celebrated throughout the state for 100 years and remains one of the top competitive sports. The inductees and annual award recipients came from all parts of Colorado. Each was chosen for on-court talent, dedication and service benefiting the entire state of Colorado tennis community.