Updated: Apr 25, 2022
The Texas Tennis Hall of Fame is proud to announce the Class of 2021, two individuals who have made an indelible mark on Texas tennis both on and off the court. The 2021 inductees are Wayne Leavitt and Carolyn Moody. The induction ceremony will take place at the Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame Annual Banquet on Saturday, November 6. The Class of 2020, which included Paul Cass, Chuck Sanchelli, Kathy Vick and Carol Weyman, will also be honored. Tickets can be purchased online.
A 30-ft. fall at the age of 20 resulted in a spinal cord injury and complete paraplegia for Wayne Leavitt. However, it was less than a year later when he became involved in disability sports and was on his way to using his disability become a role model, mentor and coach for aspiring wheelchair athletes – a passion that continues today, more than 50 years later.
In 1969 he helped start the first wheelchair basketball team in the Dallas area. That early team helped North Texas grow into a hotbed of wheelchair basketball, spawning multiple community and collegiate teams that have won many national championships.
It was 1980 when Randy Snow brought wheelchair tennis to the Dallas area. He and Bill Hammett gathered disabled athletes together and started a wheelchair tennis program. Wayne raised his arm to be a part of it. The following year the group hosted the first wheelchair tennis tournament in Texas, and Wayne played in it. Now known as the Texas Open Wheelchair Championships, the event lives on as the oldest continuing held tournament in wheelchair tennis history.
That first tournament led to Wayne setting the record for playing the US Open National Wheelchair Championships for 25 consecutive years. While he’s lost track of how many tournaments he has won, he knows he’s played in 20 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, and he remembers defeating the World Number One, Ricky Moller of The Netherlands, twice in 1997. He’s accumulated eight USTA National Championship gold balls and was Runner Up seven times. One very memorable event was being selected to be the Team USA Paralympic coach for the Atlanta games in 1996. They won Men’s Singles Silver, Men’s Doubles Gold and Women’s Doubles Silver.
The list of his playing/coaching accomplishments goes on and on, but his continued contributions to the sport of wheelchair tennis are even more impressive. USTA Texas honored both his playing and dedication to improving and promoting wheelchair tennis by awarding him the prestigious Randy Snow Community Service Award. He’s also won the Dallas Wheelchair Tennis Club’s Randy Snow Spirit of the Sport Award and the USTA National Community Service Lifetime Member Award. After six rotator cuff surgeries and two complete shoulder replacements, he continues to serve and be an active participant on many boards and spends countless hours recruiting and counseling potential players. During the Texas Open, year after year, he can be found in the wheelchair repair tent. It is universally known that wheelchair tennis would not be what it is, in Texas or worldwide, without the work Wayne did to develop the sport from the very beginning.
Carolyn Lain Moody
Carolyn Moody’s tennis story began in Odessa where as an elementary schooler she took part in a summer recreation program with lessons by Bob Smith. When her family moved to Midland, she began playing for Bob Mapes at Midland High School in the #1 singles position and lettered all three years. She also played many of the Highway 80 tournaments.
After college at North Texas State and Texas Tech, marriage and motherhood, Carolyn became very active in the Austin tennis community. She played women’s, mixed doubles and husband/wife leagues and became involved in the early development and expansion of the Austin Women’s Tennis Association that she became president of, as well as developing and promoting the Austin Tennis Foundation and the Capital Area Tennis Association.
Carolyn also organized the Austin area Central Zone Division of the Texas Tennis Association’s Junior Girls Development Program. The goal was to facilitate and implement the skill development, tournament play and subsequent advancement of girls ages 10-18 from local to state and national level competitions. Through both the Texas Girls Youth Development and Junior Wightman Cup programs, these players were ultimately striving to compete in national age division championships of what is now the USTA.
In 1972 she was named to the TTA’s Executive Committee, and six months later was hired as the first full-time paid Executive Director of the organization and its only employee. Its office was in her garage, and from there she managed and supported all operations statewide to include volunteer involvement, staffing, programs, sponsorships, promotions, rankings, tournament scheduling and publications. She also wrote a regular tennis column for the Austin American Statesman newspaper. During her time as Executive Director, Carolyn grew the organization to 10,000+ members and set the stage for Texas to become one of the largest USTA sections and one recognized nationwide as the gold standard of many programs. She served on many USTA committees and helped form a partnership with the National Tennis Foundation as well as becoming the Southwest Regional Director of the National Junior Tennis League.
In her life beyond the TTA, Carolyn continued to work in tennis and used her vast skillset learned during her TTA tenure to work with World Championship Tennis, the Virginia Slims of Dallas and the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. The Texas Tennis Hall of Fame honors those who served and contributed to the phenomenal growth of the sport over the years, and Carolyn Moody was there in the beginning and made a significant difference towards its success.
For more information on the banquet or two purchase tickets, click here.