USTA NorCal Tennis Hall of Fame 2012 Class Honors a Former Pro, a Volunteer, a Community Activist and a Super Senior
Nick Saviano, Andrea Norman, Steve Cornell and Martha Downing inducted.
The 2012 class of the USTA Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame –Nick Saviano, a Stanford All American, accomplished ATP Player and outstanding coach; Andrea Norman, a volunteer who donates her time to making tennis more accessible to juniors and adults; Steve Cornell, an accomplished junior, collegiate and senior player and tennis advocate; and Martha Downing, a gifted senior player, teaching pro and volunteer – were honored at the Tennis Hall of Fame Brunch and Induction ceremony, held at Stanford University on Thursday, July 12.
Stanford’s legendary men’s tennis coach, Dick Gould welcomed the over 160 guests in attendance and serving as emcee was Ted Robinson, Tennis Channel and NBC Sports on-air commentator. The brunch marked the tenth consecutive year that the Hall of Fame event has been held during the week of the Bank of the West Classic, immersed in the exciting atmosphere of a top women’s professional tennis tournament.
The four inductees were chosen for their continued commitment and service to tennis; each have been driven in his or her own way to accomplish their personal goals while using tennis as a vehicle to make life better for others. Their contribution to the sport has helped USTA Northern California fulfill its mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis.
Originally started in 1974 by Elmer Griffin, the Class of 2012 will mark 143 inductees and they will be joining an elite group, which in the past has included, Tom Chivington, Alycia Moulton, Brad Gilbert and Dick Gould.
Recognized around the world as one of the top tennis development coaches and coaching educators, Bay Area native Nick Saviano is often viewed as having an unparalleled understanding of how the game of tennis is played. Through his esteemed USTA coaching positions and the advent of his own tennis academy, Saviano High Performance Tennis (SHPT), Nick has coached and developed more than 50 ATP and WTA players, including Grand Slam winners and those who have reached a world ranking of number one. Before turning to coaching, Nick played on the ATP Pro Tour for nine years, achieving a top-50 ranking in singles and winning four ATP titles; one in singles and three in doubles. During his acceptance speech, Nick paid tribute to those who helped him during his junior playing days in Northern California, "I have a core belief that by working with young people, there is a sacred trust with the kids and the parents. Thank you (Northern California Tennis Association) for honoring that trust with me and my parents," said Nick. "The Northern California Tennis Association helped me every step of the way, it meant so much."
San Jose’s Andrea Norman has given back to the sport she loves through volunteering on many levels. Her selfless service has included directing the USTA Girls' 18 National Championships, starting a local tennis-based non-profit organization and participating on regional and national committees that have worked toward making tennis accessible for everyone. Her love of tennis started at the age of eight in Bakersfield when she and her family took lessons at the local park. Andrea fondly remembered this moment while being inducted and thanked her parents by saying, "You gave me the gift of tennis." As a young mother Andrea joined the Almaden Valley Athletic Club (AVAC), where her doubles partner, Jennifer Pitzen, offered her the opportunity to become involved with the USTA Girl’s 18’s National Championships. From there her dedication to tennis grew to enormous heights, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Steve Cornell has been passionate about tennis throughout his entire life. His involvement includes having been an accomplished junior player, earning two NCAA championships, was a founding member of the Berkeley Tennis Club Foundation, is a USTA committee member and he is an avid volunteer. He says of his Hall of Fame induction, "It is an honor for me to share this day and to be included in this class with Nick, Andrea and Martha." During his junior days, Steve reached the #1 NorCal junior ranking in the Boy’s 12s, 14s and 18s; he reached a national junior ranking of #7. Two back-to-back NCAA Championships, in 1970-71, while on the tennis team at UCLA continued to fuel Steve’s passion for the game. As president of the Berkeley Tennis Club Foundation, Steve has led the foundation in its efforts to provide funding for under-privileged juniors and for wheelchair tennis programs.
Senior player Martha Downing has been a teaching pro and director at tennis clubs in Sacramento for over 35 years, is a regular on the international cup teams, holds 27 Gold Balls, donates her time to charity tournaments and has been named USTA NorCal Senior Player of the Year four different times. After attending Stanford University Martha decided to turn her passion into a career. She learned how to teach tennis through the recreational programs that at the time were run by esteemed NorCal coaches Dick Gould and Tom Chivington. She has held prominent positions at several clubs in the Sacramento area. Additionally, she has reached an Open #1 ranking in singles seven times and three times in doubles. Her USPTA rankings have been just as impressive, reaching the #1 ranking in doubles five different times; playing in the senior 60s in 2009 she reached the #1 world ranking and earned seven Gold Balls in that one year alone. Of her induction Martha says, "I am very honored to be included in the USTA Hall of Fame and it is a privilege to be involved with the Northern California section."