Induction Year: 2023
Laura Gilbert has played, coached, and served tennis at every level. As a
player, she competed on the professional women’s tour as an
amateur right out of high school, reaching a ranking high of #25.
In 1975, she accepted a scholarship to the University of Texas
where she played before returning to the tour and, unfortunately
sustained a career-ending shoulder injury.
It was then time for her to get into coaching and teaching players of all levels, which was her true passion. She brought tennis to elementary school gyms, middle and high schools, conferences, and workshops. In addition, she pitched the benefits of the sport to city councils and right on up to the halls of Congress in Washington, DC.
While raising a family, she managed tennis facilities and created community tennis associations in areas where none existed.
In the early 1990s, when the city of Southlake was just getting established, she recognized the potential for the success of organized tennis there. Gilbert founded the Southlake Tennis Association in 1993, kicked off a series of tennis activities to draw in participants, and within the first year, the number of adults and juniors playing grew substantially. By 1997, there were over 3,000 league players, and interest was spreading way beyond Southlake. That’s when the Southlake Tennis Association became the Northeast Tarrant Tennis Association (NETT). Gilbert then tapped some volunteers to work with her to push for building a world-class tennis center. That became a reality with groundbreaking in 1998 and doors opening in 1999. Today, the Southlake Tennis Center is the largest public tennis facility in Northeast Tarrant County. It has been awarded Facility of the Year awards by USTA National, USTA Texas, US Professional Tennis Registry, and the Tennis Industry Association. With NETT thriving and in good hands, Gilbert moved on to manage the Arlington Tennis Center, where she received the USPTA Texas Section Facility Manager of the Year Award in 2004. Next up: a position with USTA Texas as a community coordinator for the North Texas Region and Lead Tennis Service Representative. This was a 20-year opportunity to teach teachers how to teach and help community tennis groups grow and work with their local pros toward the same goal.
She is credited with helping develop and strengthen 27 area Community Tennis Associations. USTA Texas’ approach to developing/supporting CTAs and building/ supporting tennis
facilities can largely be attributed to Gilbert. “Her ‘fingerprints’ are all over those methodologies, and they remain a vital part of how we do business today,” says Mike Carter, Community Services Manager and Program Developer for USTA Texas.
In 2007, Gilbert received the USPTA Industry Excellence Award for the USPTA Texas Section. She was on the USTA National Adjunct Faculty, a USPTA tester, USTA National Recreational Coach Trainer and USTA National Advocacy Consultant. However, Gilbert still had at least one more thing to do before retiring. She saw a need in the early 2000s to establish a coalition of all of Tarrant County’s CTAs to oversee and put one umbrella over all the USTA leagues. It wasn’t an idea that was
well received when she first cast her line into that pool. But by 2008 The Greater Fort Worth Tennis Coalition became a concept that took hold and now comprises seven local CTAs. Gilbert currently volunteers as its secretary, representing the NETT organization, where she sits on their board.
Guernsey in 1940