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Building Tennis

2019 Middle States Hall of Fame Inductee – Virgil Christian

Virgil Christian has assisted with the development of more than 400 tennis facilities and park and recreation programs in the Middle States Section. But before his career in the business side of tennis, he was just a kid who loved the game.

“You remember those feelings from when you first start playing,” he said. “The sound of the ball. The feeling you get when you win. The things you learn when you lose.”

These days, Christian still has the chance to experience the emotions of tennis, as he impacts players from the grassroots all the way to the professional ranks. This fall, he will be inducted into the Middle States Hall of Fame.

As Senior Director of Facility Development at the United States Tennis Association, his job title and description can’t come close to explaining the impact he’s had on courts across the country. He’s been heavily involved with large-scale projects like the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. His work expands to community initiatives, including Blended Lines and Park and Rec programs.

 

Through it all, his roots always tie back to Middle States.

Christian grew up in Pittsburgh and Delaware. At one point, he earned the Middle State “Most Improved” award in his age group. He went on to attend Penn State, where he played on the tennis team, expanding his appreciation for the college game. He loved Penn State because it provided him incredible resources and experience while keeping him close to home.

He evolved into a well-known player in the section, earning the No. 1 spot in the Middle States men’s rankings before playing on the satellite tour for 6 months. This eventually led to a coaching job at the University of Pennsylvania.

Later, during graduate school in Philadelphia, he worked at Delcastle Tennis Center. That’s where he learned to run a tennis venue and, even more so, witnessed the importance of tennis in the local community.

“Looking back, this is home for me,” he said. 

Christian maintains his love for community tennis and often reiterates the importance it has on the game. He sees College Tennis as a fast-expanding, still somewhat untapped market. That’s something he and his team focused on while providing a vision for the USTA National Campus in Orlando. The National Campus has 100 courts and has become a mecca for college tennis in the United States. 

“I designed Nona as a collegiate venue,” he said. “With that in mind, I thought we could have Bowl Games there, so to speak. We could have schools play each other in a prime time situation with fans. So far it’s been a pretty good success.”

Almost always behind the scenes, Christian’s impact sometimes goes unrecognized in the public eye, and he shies away from taking credit. But there is no question about his impact on all levels of the game. Each day he’s helping to connect more people to tennis.

Christian will join three outstanding tennis advocates in the 2019 Hall of Fame class. The event takes place Thursday, October 17 at the Boathouse at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The additional class members for the 2019 Middle States Hall of Fame inductees are Shari Bucklin-Webber, Dan Faber and Ann LoPrinzi.

Tickets and additional information can be secured by visiting www.mshalloffame.org.

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