Pat Devoto: The “Mother of USTA League tennis”
In 1978, Pat Devoto was among a small group of volunteers who pioneered a new program. Growing from that grassroots innovation to the nation’s most popular tennis program, she jumpstarted USTA Leagues. Marilyn Sherman called her “the mother of USTA League tennis” when Devoto was honored with the 2005 Charlie B. Morris Jr. Service Award from USTA Southern.
This accomplishment was cited earlier in 2016 when Devoto was the recipient of the USTA League Volunteer Award. USTA Executive Director & COO Gordon Smith remarked, “Pat Devoto’s contributions to our League program are legendary. I shudder to think where our League program would be if she hadn’t been at the right place at the right time.”
Based on Devoto’s experience and vision, more than a half-million Americans gather weekly to team tennis.
But, forming an adult tennis institution was just the start of her involvement in USTA. Over thirty years she has been a consistent presence and force in promoting tennis through volunteering. For her long-time service, Devoto, of Decatur, Ga., received the Jacobs Bowl in 2013, USTA Southern’s highest honor.
On the local front, she served as the Vice President of USTA Georgia and two-time President of USTA Atlanta. On the sectional level she served as Director at Large on the USTA Southern Board of Directors, along with being a member of the League, Marketing, Olympic, Membership, School/After School, Public Relations, Community Programs committees and on the Publications Task Force.
On the national level she was appointed to the following USTA committees: Leagues, Olympic, Membership, Public Relations, Marketing, Publishing and Schools/Afterschool.
In Atlanta, she coordinated volunteers at the 1996 Olympic tennis center, co-founded Techwood GAP, an afterschool program of intercity youth and coordinated student volunteers for the Davis Cup tie. Additionally, she worked as a State League Coordinator and managed Dekalb Tennis Center for an extended period.
Devoto was the founder and tournament director of the Southern Cities Championship. This women’s competition served teams from throughout the Southern Section for 18 years and dispensed thousands of dollars to local charities by way of the winning teams.
Two other programs are close to her heart: “Reading for Racquets” based out of Dadeville, Alabama and designed to bring tennis to elementary and high school children. Additionally, she makes a monthly visit to the Montgomery Women’s Facility in Montgomery Alabama, to conduct an ongoing book club and has introduced tennis to the women there. As a result “The Alabama Slammers” are a member club of the USTA.
An accomplished novelist, her latest novel “The Team” is about – believe it or not – a women’s tennis team. Other well-known books include “My Last Days as Roy Rogers” and “Out of the Night that Covers Me.” She writes under the name of Pat Cunningham Devoto.
The Alabama native received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee. She taught high school social studies for several years. Besides earning a private pilot’s license she has served on the Board of Directors of Aid to Inmate Mothers, Alabama; Board of Directors of the Dekalb Historical Society, Dekalb County, Georgia; President, Pace Academy Parent’s Booster Club, in Atlanta and President of her neighborhood Swim and Tennis Club, in Decatur, Ga.
Pat Devoto, Georgia, 2017
- Considered the founder of USTA Leagues, often described as the largest adult league in the world with more than 500,000 players
- The second recipient of the national USTA League Volunteer Award, presented to her in September 2016
- Founding Director of Reading For Racquets, which uses a multidisciplinary approach to teach tennis and its culture to elementary schoolchildren
- Southern Cities Championship Founding Director and director for 18 years of this women’s charity tennis event that has awarded thousands of dollars to winning tennis teams to be contributed back to their designated local charity.
- Served two terms as president of USTA Atlanta
- Served on the USTA Southern Board of Directors as a Delegate at Large
- Writing as Pat Cunningham Devoto, the author of numerous novels, including “My Last Days as Roy Rogers,” “Out of the Night that Covers Me” and “The Team,” which is about a women’s tennis team