Jerod Becton, general manager of Lubbock Country Club, received a prestigious national award in New York, but wants to share credit with Mel McRee, the club’s tennis pro.
(Photo at left: Jerod and Mel in New York recently.)
Becton was given the United States Professional Tennis Association Small Facility Manager of the Year Award during the 2018 Tennis Teachers Conference.
The national honor – which comes from 17 different divisions around the U.S. – came months after Becton and the club was given the same honor for Texas.
"Thank you to a great staff including Head Pro Mel McRee and to a supportive membership and Board. Without them this would not have been possible," said Becton.
Becton graduated from Texas Tech University, then started his career in the private club industry and worked for Club Corp for 18 years before working for Arnold Palmer Golf Management for six years.
The honor is awarded to a general manager of a country club, commercial tennis facility, public tennis center, resort or similar facility general managers of a club or a tennis facility that has fewer than 10 tennis courts and a community size under 500,000.
LCC has exactly eight courts – not counting a pickleball court.
“He’s been absolutely instrumental,” said McRee of Becton’s support for the tennis program. “Jerod sees the little things and makes sure it gets taken care of.”
“The first thing he did when taking over in 2015 was look it all over and he made mental notes of everything that was old, outdated, dilapidated and broken. Then he found ways to allocate funding to get the jobs done,” said McRee.
Becton returned the compliment.
“Mel almost doubled our junior program in one year and has grown clinics and player development,” said Becton. “Anything intangible Mel did, anything tangible, I got funded.”
So what got done?
• Resurfacing all eight courts (Photo at left: Indoor courts after resurfacing)
• Relamping all lighting fixtures
• Installing new windscreens on outdoor courts with logo
• Turning a dilapidated hitting wall into a pickleball court (Photo below left: Pickleball court)
• Taking online court reservations and offering a phone app
• Increasing Wimbledon event from one day to two full days of tennis including a grass court
• Increasing budget to add new tennis pros and educational opportunities for those pros through USPTA
• Adding smart features to operate music and fans
• Allocating funding to replace 30-year-old curtains for indoor courts
• Improving the outdoor viewing area
“That’s a hell of a lot in one year,” said McRee.
McRee serves on the group that gives the award at the state level.
“When we were going through the nominations, I went through list of what we’ve done and they said that’s pretty clear cut. There was not another club nominated that did remotely close to what we did in 2017,” he said.
All of this has led to more activity, said McRee.
His program runs tennis events such as USPTA Ladies Leagues, USPTA Junior Circuit tournaments, USTA 10 & Under tennis, USTA Future Stars events, USTA Sanctioned and non-sanctioned events, private tournaments, and leagues.
“We have a good staff and members are proud of facility and come out and play,” he said.
Founded in 1927, the USPTA is the global leader in tennis-teacher certification and professional
development. With more than 14,000 members worldwide, the association raises the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches and promotes a greater awareness of the sport.