Village of Oak Creek resident Larry Lineberry has given a lot to the tennis community in Sedona and the Northern Arizona area at large.
Now the U.S. Tennis Association Southwest Section community has given him something in return: He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the USTA Southwest Section at a ceremony held on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS
Lineberry is one of 53 members and the first from Northern Arizona, according to a press release from the USTA Southwest Section.
“It’s the highest recognition I’ve ever had in my career,” Lineberry said. “I was very honored to be placed in the Southwest Hall of Fame. There’s a lot of unbelievable people already in it who I have a lot of respect for.”
For Lineberry, this recognition is distinct from what he called his other top honor, that of becoming a United States Professional Tennis Association Master Professional.
It is the highest level of USPTA ratings, and a status that less than 1 percent of all professionals hold.
That difference, the Hampton, Va., native said, is that becoming a Master Professional was something he worked for by meeting certain criteria, whereas he was voted on and selected by others to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“That’s a distinction that’s important to me,” Lineberry said. “That’s why I’m extremely proud of being recognized in the Hall of Fame.”
He has been a teaching professional for 43 years, 25 of which in the Sedona area. He said that he is one of 140 Master Professionals in the world.
After graduating from Old Dominion University, Lineberry’s first job was teaching tennis.
“It was what I wanted to do, so I did what I wanted to do,” Lineberry said. “I took a chance on it, and I’m glad it worked out.”
Lineberry, who became a teaching professional in 1976, spent the first half of his career in Roanoke, Va.
In 1990 he became a Master Professional, then in 1991 moved to Sedona to work as director of tennis at the Sedona Racquet Club.
He has been the promoter and director of 21 USTA professional tournaments, 19 of which were Challenger or Satellite events. Of those, eight were held in Sedona.
Lineberry said that he also has volunteered to help raise funds to start junior programs in Northern Arizona. He organized a pair of concerts where lifelong friend and multiple Grammy-award winner Bruce Hornsby played, and also has written grants to get money from Fit Kids of Arizona to help fund programs.
“It [the induction] is essentially for doing a lot of volunteer work for the USTA Southwest Section,” Lineberry said. “As a teaching pro I always try to be on the volunteer side. This recognition comes from the volunteer work I’ve done.”
Lineberry has been a high school coach, parks and recreation tennis director, and held multiple board positions for the USTA Northern Arizona District and on the board of directors for USTA Southwest.
Lineberry has coached some successful players, most notably K.J. Hippensteel, from the time he was 4 to 12 years old.
Hippensteel went on to be a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion at Stanford University from 1998 to 2002.
He also highlighted coaching his son, Alexander, who in 2014 graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and played four years, as the most fun he has ever had, saying it was “unbelievably rewarding for me.”
Lineberry first started with tennis at the age of 10. He was bored with baseball, although he noted that he is still an avid Yankees and Cubs fan, and the fast pace of tennis attracted his attention.
Nowadays, he regularly plays doubles with friends in the Village, and in the past has played in USTA adult leagues and singles tournaments.