In Memoriam - Lewis Isaac

Nov 25, 1948 – Jun 2, 2019

Our dear fellow board member and friend Lewis passed away recently. His full obituary is here which details his public service commitment to his community.

WLOS did an article about his passing and contributions to our community, read more here

The ATA Superhero Board

Jeff Joyce, President

Jeff Joyce, President

Jeff Joyce serves as the super President of the Asheville Tennis Association. He has worked in and volunteered for the sport of tennis for over 30 years in the Asheville area. In the 1990s his work included working as a member of the Asheville Parks and Recreation staff to collaborate with the ATA to coordinate clinics for kids throughout Buncombe County. This collaboration led to a shared employee that helped both organizations with youth sports. He also has served as the Tournament Director for the Asheville Open, President of the NC Tennis Association and Foundation, Committee member of the USTA Tennis in the Public Parks, and currently serves as the CTA Committee Chair for both the Southern Tennis Association and NC Tennis Association.

Jeff's first racquet was a wooden Spalding Pancho Gonzalez, his favorite shot is the overhead smash (rarely successful), and he is involved in tennis due to all the great people throughout the country that he has met through the sport. He firmly believes the future of tennis is getting kids and adults involved through Beginner clinics and especially the Try Tennis program. And he loves to play triples!

Debbie Southern, Co-Vice President

Debbie Southern, Co-Vice President

Debbie was born into a tennis playing family. She grew up in Winston-Salem and started playing at age 7 with a Tad Davis Classic wooden racquet. Her first tournament was the 10 and under NC State Championships, easing her way into the competitive sport of tennis! When Debbie was 12, Chris Evert came on the scene with a two-handed backhand, which changed the game and gave youngsters a way to create power with a large wooden racquet on the backhand side. Debbie could never grasp the two-handed backhand after playing 5 years with a one handed backhand - possibly her most versatile weapon today.

Debbie graduated from Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem NC where she participated on the basketball and tennis teams, plus drove a school bus her senior year (yes it was allowed back then!). She played collegiate tennis at The University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) and coached the women’s team at Furman University for 31 years (Go Paladins!). Debbie is a USPTR Tennis Professional certified in Adult Development and 10 & Under as well as a Net Generation Certified Coach. She also has completed the USTA Player Development Course.

Tennis has a special place in her super heart as a player, a coach, a volunteer and an advocate of the game. Debbie retired to Asheville in 2017 and joined the ATA Board in 2018. Borrowing a line from a Stevie Nicks (Debbie’s favorite rocker), “I play for the things money can't buy."

Chuck Johnson, Co-Vice President

Chuck Johnson, Co-Vice President

For those who’ve seen him play, they’ll be surprised that Chuck has played tennis his whole life. Growing up in Florida, tennis was just something everyone played with varying degrees of success.

Chuck took to the neighborhood courts with his Butch Buchholz Autograph metal racquet and started hacking away. Note, self-taught tennis can have lifetime consequences.

There was a gap during college and his early career, but he picked up the racquet again when his daughter decided to play. She started playing at nine, beat him at 10 and kept winning until she tossed a match on his 60th birthday to snap a super 24-year losing streak.

During those years, he developed his unfortunately ugly backhand that he relies on because it’s a mystery where it’s going – to him and opponents – and he scores a few cheap points before they figure it out.

Despite limited skill, Chuck continues to play tennis – and works with the ATA to grow tennis – because he thinks everyone should play.

Kathy Hurley, Treasurer

Kathy Hurley, Treasurer

Kathleen J. Hurley a super proud member of the USTA and is the Treasurer of the Asheville Tennis Association, a position she assumed in January 2019. In this role, she also serves as Co-Chair of the Asheville Open | Tennis Championships.

Hurley has 2 years of service on the Asheville Tennis Association both years working on the re-booting of Asheville Open Tennis Championships which is in its 88th year.

A tennis player since the age of 12 years old running around the hard courts in Edina, Minnesota. She learned the game from her eldest brother Patrick J. Hurley who instilled a fierce and fun competitive spirit. Grew up watching every minute of the Grand Slams, thought Virginia Wade and Steffi Graf were the classiest tennis players ever to play the game and love the passion of Hana Manlikova. Jack Kramer racquet was the first and when the days are great the backhand is ripping down the line and cross court. Desperately in need of better volleys!

Hurley is the founder and Executive Producer of Milepost355 an advertising and marketing production company and calls Asheville, NC home sweet home.

Shelley McNeill, Secretary

Shelley McNeill, Secretary

Shelley is the newest board supporter and greenest player. She still uses her first racquet and it was the lightest, skinniest handle she could find. She never played sports growing up and instead did super nerdy things like piano and math competitions. Needless to say it’s a miracle she’s into a sport and supporting its growth and addiction on a board. She is helping with the website and how to get the word out!

Shelley grew up in NC and got to Asheville as soon as she could. She appreciates that tennis is a way to feel connected with the community of Asheville despite its being such a tourist mecca. And playing tennis allows us to enjoy all the local beer and food without calorie considerations.

You may see her pedaling back and forth to the courts on her ebike.

Laura Loftis, Board Member

Laura Loftis, Board Member

Laura has worked for the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department for nearly 20 years, 14 of those at Aston Park Tennis Center as the Facility Manager. She has been a non voting member of ATA since 2000 serving as the liaison for the City. Laura enjoys working with the tennis community to promote the sport of a lifetime for all ages.

Outside of work, Laura enjoys spending time with family and friends and playing super golf with her teenage boys.

Mary Ann Myers, Board Member

Mary Ann Myers, Board Member

An Asheville super native, Mary Ann played tennis on the Owen High School boy’s tennis team in the late 70’s, but basketball was always her first love. She played D1 NCAA basketball at Miami University and coached in the collegiate ranks for ten years at UNC Asheville, Ashland University and Iowa State University.

After 35 years off the tennis court, her neighbor and avid USTA player coaxed her to pick up a tennis racquet again. Now she can’t seem to put it down!  

Mary Ann is an active member at both ARC clubs and at Aston, and supports UNC Asheville Bulldog Tennis whenever she can. She now teaches tennis in afterschool programs with the City of Asheville.

Tom Ruffing, Board Member

Tom Ruffing, Board Member

Tom Ruffing, affectionately known as "Coach", has been a part of the Asheville Area Tennis Community for decades. Tom served as President of the Asheville Tennis Association for many years, and led efforts to grow tennis in the North Buncombe area. Due to Coach's leadership, the North Buncombe summer clinic site at the Middle School has historically had the largest attendance and by far the largest volunteer efforts. Coach was an integral leader in getting tennis courts at the High School, along with Buster Brown and the late Bob Meyer. Coach serves as a Volunteer Assistant Coach of the North Buncombe High School Tennis Team. In addition to his North Buncombe leadership, Coach organizes the "Drop-In" play at Aston Park Tennis Center every Monday-Wednesday-Friday mornings. His organization has grown Senior Tennis in the Asheville area, and has established Aston Park as a premiere facility for Senior play. The Scoreboard at Aston Park has been named in honor of "the Coach".

Coach has 2 other loves - Trivia and the Green Bay Packers. He attends Trivia nights at least once a week, and leads Tennis Trivia at the ATA Volunteer Party every year. Coach will come into the Pro Shop at Aston Park just about any day and ask you a new Trivia Question he recently heard or just made up. You have to always be on your toes with the Coach! His other love, The Green Bay Packers, is the one NFL franchise that is owned by the community, and as a stockholder, Coach is quick to inform everyone that he is a "Part Owner" of the Packers.

A super beloved volunteer, Coach has been an integral part of the success of the ATA for many years. His support and love of the sport of tennis is an inspiration to all of us.

Laurie Tinnell, Board Member

Laurie Tinnell, Board Member

Laurie splits her time each year between FL and Asheville. Her favorite shot is her slice backhand - LOVES it!

Her first racquet was a Wilson T-2000, so cool since it was first racquet with a hole in throat. Her grandfather gave it to her for her 10th birthday with her name etched on the side. And she still has this racquet today!

She thinks Asheville is such a great community service city, and always wants to give back to this super town and to the great sport of tennis which has been so good to her!

Sylvia Valois, Board Member

Sylvia Valois, Board Member

Sylvia learned to play tennis when she was 6 years old using her big sister's wooden Jack Kramer racquet. She played one year in high school and has played tennis most of her adult life (although this isn't always obvious in competing today). Sylvia is a former board member and 10 & under tennis coach for the A's & Aces organization in New Orleans. She moved to Asheville from New Orleans in May 2017 and became active in the super tennis community shortly thereafter.

She claims that her favorite, and usually most effective shot, is the cross court backhand. Sylvia shares the love of tennis with her fellow board members, along with the desire to involve others in this lifetime sport.

ATA board members receiving the 2019 NC CTA award of the year

ATA board members receiving the 2019 NC CTA award of the year


Bill Barber
Mindy Mettee
Laura Loftis
Wayne Forrester


Junior Programs

Debbie Southern, Chuck Johnson, Sylvia Valois & Tom Ruffing

Adult Programs

Mary Ann Myers & Laurie Tinnell


Shelley McNeill, Kathy Hurley, & Sylvia Valois


Jeff Joyce

Asheville Open

Debbie Southern, Kathy Hurley, Chuck Johnson, Jeff Joyce & Laura Loftis


Laura Loftis


Chuck Johnson, Debbie Southern & Laura Loftis


Sylvia Valois & Jeff Joyce

We're looking for super-stars who want to enrich our local tennis community!  Become a board member or chair a committee.  We need help in the following areas:

  • Fundraising/Sponsorship

  • Volunteer Coordinator

  • Marketing

  • Media Specialist

  • Grant Writing

  • Junior Tennis Development

Interested in joining our board in the future?  Download our application here and email it to