A family of tennis players, Tom, Ellen, Steve, Beth, Evan, Caleb and Luke Fridinger, of White Bear Lake, received the Ralph W. Westcott USTA National Family of the Year Award. The Fridingers were recognized for their outstanding contribution to grow tennis at the local level at the USTA Annual Meeting and Conference last month at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
The Family of the Year Award, created by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) in 1965, is given annually to a family that volunteers its time to promote amateur tennis, emphasizing the theme that tennis is a family game. The Fridingers, who were the USTA Northern Family of the Year in 2014, became the sixth USTA Northern family to receive the National award.
The Fridingers are a multi-generational family, all passionate about tennis. Tom and Ellen, of White Bear Lake, passed on their love of the game to their son Steve, his wife Beth and their three sons, Evan, Caleb and Luke.
Tom has played tennis for more than 60 years and played at the College of William & Mary. In USTA Northern adult tournaments, he was ranked No. 1 in 70s doubles and No. 2 in 70s singles, and has qualified for USTA League Nationals 15 times in 35 years. Tom was inducted into the USTA Northern Hall of Fame in 2009, and won a bronze medal at the 2015 National Senior Games in 75-79 doubles. Tom worked at 3M for over 40 years and claims 15 U.S. patents. He started the 3M Tennis League, growing it from 50 to over 300 people in only five years. Tom also serves on the board of directors for St. Paul Urban Tennis and is a volunteer coach with the East Ridge Athletic Association.
Ellen is a recreational tennis player and supports her husband, son and grandchildren both on and off the courts.
Steve and Beth helped start the East Ridge Athletic Association (ERAA) Youth Program and Community Tennis Association in Woodbury in 2010, where Steve was the Director of Instruction. He volunteers his time with the East Ridge High School team and has also coached winter Junior Team Tennis. Steve plays USTA League tennis and was on the national championship-winning 4.5 men’s team in 2009. He and Tom played in a number of local and national father/son tournaments together from 1984 to 2011 and were ranked No. 3 in the nation in 2002. They also played in the Equitable Family Tennis Challenge and advanced to play nationals at the US Open in New York.
Beth, a recreational player, is a volunteer coordinator with the ERAA Youth Program and is active in the East Ridge High School Booster Club. She has organized and helped run the East Ridge Summer Smash USTA Level 6 and 7 Junior Tournaments and has coordinated a 10U JTT team. She has organized and participated in a number of USTA Red, Orange, Green trainings and attended the USTA Community Tennis Workshop in 2011.
Evan, Caleb and Luke are active tennis players, as well. Evan plays college tennis at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire after being a member of the varsity tennis team at East Ridge High School since eighth grade. Along with his father, Evan also coaches for ERAA and volunteers with the St. Paul Urban Tennis program. Evan and his grandfather traveled to Guatemala in the fall of 2012 to teach youth tennis. Along with his older brother and father, Caleb also helps coach the ERAA youth program and is ranked No. 9 in USTA Northern Boys 16s and #17 nationally with Tom in the Grandfather/Grandson rankings. The youngest Fridinger, Luke, is ranked 12th in Boys 14s. All three boys played on the East Ridge High School team that placed second at the Minnesota state tournament in 2017.
"The USTA is proud to honor the Fridinger family for their dedication to the sport and their impact upon the tennis community," said Craig Morris, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis. "The Fridingers exemplify the best parts of the sport and their efforts continue to help the growth of tennis."