The United States Tennis Association Georgia Chapter honored Rome Public Information Officer with its statewide Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award for 2023. Walker also received the award in 2019.
The Kaplan Award is presented to the individual or organization who has made significant contributions to the sport of tennis through media promotion and coverage of events and people involved in tennis. “I am honored to have even been nominated for this award by the leadership of the Coosa Valley Tennis Association,” Walker said. “The fact that this nomination was for continuing support of the support across numerous events makes it very special. Rome is blessed to have had the foresight to develop a large tournament complex that has brought so many events to Rome. I have enjoyed helping tell the story behind many of these athletes.”
The Rome News-Tribune has been very helpful in getting the word out, largely through Walker’s photographs of the various events, from men’s and women’s professional events that have been held in the indoor facility to the volume of high-caliber junior events, USTA league events and intercollegiate championships. It is interesting to note that most of the time, coverage of the events at the Rome Tennis Center is often featured in the front news section of the paper as opposed to the sports section. “I think that helps spread the message that the RTC is an economic development driver for the Greater Rome community,” Walker said. “Since opening in the late summer of 2016, the RTC has helped generate more than $40 million in directly trackable dollars, easily surpassing the capital expenses related to the facility’s construction.”
The 2019 Kaplan Award was presented to Walker specifically for his coverage of Georgia’s Rome Open International Wheelchair tournament, spotlighting the incredible talents of athletes who have suffered from debilitating injuries but have refused to allow physical challenges from competing at the highest level of their sport.
The 2023 Kaplan Award is being presented in Atlanta on February 10.