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TENNIS: Salo named Junior Team Tennis Organizer of Year

BLOOMINGTON — Brainerd coach and teacher Lisa Salo has been named the 2011 USTA Northern Junior Team Tennis Organizer of the Year. 

The award recognizes an individual for their efforts in expanding an existing Junior Team Tennis league or developing a new league within the section.

Salo, the 2008 USTA Northern Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award winner, has built the Junior Team Tennis program in the Brainerd area from one team in 2005 to a full league with six teams from Brainerd and one from Staples in 2011. This year, three teams advanced to the USTA Northern Section Championships. 

Since 2005, JTT in the lakes area continues to grow each year, with the numbers jumping from 40 to 55 in 2011.

“Without Lisa, there would not be Brainerd team tennis,” parent Monica Wennerstrand said in a news release. “She runs tournaments, coaches, works with coaches, creates teams, finds volunteers, motivates players and promotes the overall concept of team tennis.”

In Salo’s first season, Brainerd advanced to the Midwest Regional tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla. Her teams consistently have qualified for USTA Northern Section championships and are known for their sportsmanship and team spirit, having claimed multiple awards at these events through the years. 

She has also organized the Northern Minnesota Junior Team Tennis Area championships since their inception in 2008. Three years later, the Northern Minnesota championships saw 17 teams participate.

Perhaps Salo’s greatest accomplishment is the joy she brings to youths and parents involved in her program. Often times she’s introducing the sport to kids for the first time. Her passion and enthusiasm are contagious. 

She also takes the time to educate and train parents and volunteers, getting them involved with the program, doing everything from coaching teams to entering scores into TennisLink and staffing the tournament desk.

“She has made Junior Team Tennis what it is — a fun, enthusiastic opportunity for kids of all ages and abilities to participate,” parent Cheryl Steffen said in the news release. “Lisa is loved by all parents and her passion to get kids hooked on tennis is phenomenal.”

“Tennis passion radiates from Lisa,” parent Angela Headlee said in the news release. “I have never in my life met anyone who lives as vibrantly her passion and has passed that passion on to hundreds, if not thousands, of kids through her Community Education and USTA Junior Team Tennis programs. 

“My two daughters are perfect examples of the passion that has been passed through Lisa.”

Salo is now eligible for the 2011 Janet Louer National JTT Organizer of the Year Award that will be announced in December.