Tim Heckler, the longtime former CEO of the United States Professional Tennis Association (a teaching organization), passed away at the age of 71 on Monday in Houston after suffering a heart attack.
Heckler retired from his position in December 2012 after 30 years as CEO. Under his stewardship, the organization grew from having 2,400 members and an annual budget of $700,000 to having more than 15,000 members and an annual budget of $6.5 million.
“We are shocked and saddened by this loss,” said Tom Daglis, USPTA President. “He will be sorely missed in the industry as the single largest contributor to the USPTA in its entire history.”
Heckler started his tennis-teaching career in 1970, the same year he joined the USPTA. In 2008 he received the association’s highest honor, the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award.
“We’ve all lost a major figure in our sport. Tim was the driving force behind the growth of the USPTA during his tenure and was a passionate advocate for the sport for his entire life,” Greg Mason, VP of Sales and Marketing, HEAD USA said in a statement.
Heckler attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas on a tennis scholarship and played on the international circuit, including Wimbledon in 1959 and 1961, and the U.S. Open in 1960.
“We've lost a man who saw what was needed and then went out and created it," teaching pro Greg Lumb of Inside Out Tennis wrote on Facebook. “Reading through his accomplishments has saddened me by our loss. He inspired me by his vision and action.”