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www.sportseventsmagazine.com January 2017 25 SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue Donna Bailey's more than 30-year engage- ment with the Macon Tennis Association (MTA) started with a small newspaper ad. "I saw a little ad in the paper about tennis lessons and I thought 'This might be fun,'" said Bailey, executive director of the MTA. "In 1982, I said 'I'd like to try it out" and started taking lessons. Bailey found she was hooked on tennis and four years later, she started working for the association. "In 1986, I started off by filing and helping out in the office," Bailey said. "Then I became assistant to the previous director and then league coordinator." The MTA was founded in the early 1970s by John Drew Smith, Macon's first teaching pro, with help from his Legion of Ladies and other avid tennis supporters. Bailey admits she didn't have any grand designs or plans when she started. "My vision was just to help out and get other people involved," she said. "Tennis has done a lot for me. I think it can do a lot for everyone. Tennis is a sport for a lifetime and is very rewarding." Most of all, it's a people sport, Bailey said. "The main thing that hooked me was the people," Bailey said. "I think you meet some great peo- ple in tennis. I always felt like the kids who play are good people. I believe in fair play and a positive attitude. Each year, I see the rewards of my efforts by people respecting what I say and telling me that I have helped them." More than just the locals noticed Bailey's commitment. In 2015, she earned the USTA Nicholas E. Powel Award, given each year to a sectional chair or line umpire, recognizing the importance of officiating at the local level. Part of the criteria for the award is a "supportive attitude toward grass-roots program." "That is the highest award you can get for grass-roots as a tennis official in the United States," Bailey said. "There are 3,200 officials out there and I was lucky enough to get it. " In addition to being executive director, Bailey runs tournaments and officiates. While Bailey has hosted a lot of state and regional tour- naments, she's proud to have landed a national tournament for 2017. "I thought it would be nice to bring a national tournament back to Macon," Bailey said. "So we bid on it." n Donna Bailey Executive Director Macon Tennis Association