Jon Heiniger of Munster recently received some pleasant and surprising news.
The Heiniger family of Munster has been named the United States Tennis Association's Midwest Section Family of the Year. They will be honored at a dinner ceremony today in Indianapolis.
“We were very surprised when we were notified of the award,” said Jon, patriarch of the clan. “There are many families in the area who are very deserving of this type of recognition.”
While that may be true, the first-generation tennis family has certainly done their share to promote the sport in the state.
Rachel Heiniger, the oldest daughter, lettered four years at Munster, and made three Final Four appearances (2007-09). She was named to the all-state doubles team in 2010. Rachel played USTA singles tournaments throughout her high school career. Rachel has continued her tennis career at Indiana Wesleyan.
Jack Heiniger is a senior at Munster. He also lettered all four years, and made to state final appearances in 2009-10. Jack is currently ranked No. 68 in the USTA Midwest in the 18 year-old category. Jack has also been a member of the Northern Indiana Davis team (2011-12), an affiliate of the USTA.
Jack recently gave a verbal commitment to Grand Valley State. He will play tennis for the Lakers and pursue a degree in engineering.
The youngest child, Nikki Heiniger, is a sophomore at Munster. Nikki played No. 2 singles varsity this past season, making it to the semistate finals. Nikki also plays USTA singles tournaments in the 14 year-old category.
“The USTA tournaments are a great way to stay in shape both physically and mentally for the school tennis season,” Nikki said. “The competition is very tough, and it helps me to stay on top of my game.”
As the children got more involved in the USTA, mom Leanne Heiniger found herself taking on an active role in the organization. She served as the Northern Indiana Tennis Association District Boys’ Endorser, and also served as the Competition Training Center administrator.
“They provide training for the top junior players. It was a way for me to stay involved and be part of the team,” she said. “I don’t play the game, but I wanted to find a way to keep in the loop with the kids.”
Jon served on the Board of Directors for six years, including two years as the president. He is also a USTA player in the adult division.
“The USTA is a great organization,” he said. “They do quite a lot to promote the game in the midwest and in Indiana.”
The USTA takes the sport to youngsters who otherwise may never get an opportunity through the National Junior Tennis and Learning program. The organization consists of 600 non-profits groups who provide free or low-cost tennis lessons to 250,000 children each year.
“It’s a great way for kids to learn what tennis is all about,” Leanne said.
The family will attend the banquet and ceremony.
“We’re excited and humbled by the recognition,” Jon said. “We want to represent all of the families who do a lot of work for the USTA and for tennis in general. They all deserve it.”