Tennis

Monroe’s tennis coach will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with local legend James Blake

Monroe's tennis coach will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with local legend James Blake

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Three-time Grand Slam singles quarter-finalist James Blake and his longtime coach Brian Barker of Monroe have been selected as new members of the USTA New England Tennis Hall of Fame. The duo will be inducted together at a ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI on June 11 and will be dedicated as the Class of 2020.

“We are so proud to finally have the chance to recognize James and Brian for all they have accomplished in New England tennis and beyond. They are great examples of what hard work can do and have represented New England with the utmost professionalism throughout their formidable careers,” said Brian Lomax, chairman of the Hall of Fame committee. USTA New England.

The USTA New England Hall of Fame exists to recognize and honor New England tennis players and non-players whose achievements or voluntary contributions to tennis-related activities have been outstanding over a period of time. significant time.

“Being inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame is special to me because it’s all my childhood memory of junior tennis,” said Blake, who grew up in Fairfield and is currently a tennis analyst for ESPN. “Playing all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island has been such a pleasure for me and my family. Personally, I have enjoyed my time playing in New England and some of the most lasting friendships I have made through New England tennis tournaments.

“I’m honored to have my name next to so many great tennis players,” Barker said. “Being inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame allows me to thank everyone who has helped me in my tennis career, especially my family, coaches and friends. I wouldn’t be here without them. .

Barker coached Blake at the Trumbull Tennis Club. He is a resident of Monroe, who grew up in nearby Trumbull.

Barker has made a career as a player and coach. He was one of the most successful juniors in New England tennis history, holding the No. 1 ranking in the 14, 16 and 18 divisions, while winning five consecutive sectional championships. It also held a national top-20 ranking.

Barker’s crowning achievement, however, was the multiple sportsmanship awards he won. Sportsmanship was something his parents instilled in him from an early age and remains his top priority for his current students.

His success continued in college, where he played NCAA tennis at the University of South Carolina. He served as captain and was twice named the team’s MVP.

Barker then had a short run on the professional circuit before coaching full time.

He spent most of his coaching career at Trumbull Tennis Club, where he had stints before and after traveling the world for 10 years coaching Blake. He is currently a top coach at the club.

“New England tennis was and still is a big part of my life,” Barker said. “Some of my closest friends are also involved in New England tennis, and today I still travel to New England tournaments with my students and it brings back fond memories of my friends and my family came to see me play. It was thanks to my great experience as a tennis player in New England that I decided to pursue a career in tennis.

Barker has won a number of coaching awards throughout his career, including the 2005 USOC National Coach of the Year award for his work with Blake.

“Being inducted into the New England Hall of Fame with James is huge and now means I can honestly say I can do anything James can do,” Barker added. “But seriously, I’m honored to be inducted the same weekend as him. James had a huge impact on my career, and it was thanks to him that I had the opportunity to learn how to teach at all levels, and this knowledge that I gained has made me a much better coach today.

Those wishing to attend the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony should contact Alex Wesley at [email protected] for ticket information. Applications for the class of 2023 are open and can be submitted here.