HOUSTON – Tim Heckler, former chief executive officer of the United States Professional Tennis Association, passed away this morning in Houston after suffering a heart attack. He was 71 years old.
“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. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Renee, his children, and the rest of his family. They are all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Heckler retired from his position as chief executive officer of the USPTA in December 2012, after 30 years in the position. When Heckler was tapped as USPTA CEO in 1982, the organization had approximately 2,400 members and an annual budget of $700,000. He grew the association to the world’s oldest and largest organization of its kind, serving more than 15,000 members in 66 countries, and operating on an annual budget of $6.5 million.
Heckler, who began playing tennis at age 3, started his tennis-teaching career in 1970, the same year he joined USPTA. He was elected president of the USPTA Texas Division in 1974 and served as national president of the organization from 1980 to 1982. With Heckler’s guidance, USPTA became one of the first tennis organizations to embrace technology, first through the computerization of the business itself as early as 1982, and then later through its use of the Internet and email-based communications and education.
USPTA introduced its first website in 1995. The USPTA honored Heckler in 2000 by naming him a grand inductee in the Association’s Hall of Fame. He also received the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Tennis Educational Merit Award in 2002 and was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 2008 he received the highest honor awarded by the United States Professional Tennis Association, the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award. He 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.
Visitiation and Vigil Service
Friday, February 8, 6-8pm
Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home
6700 Ferris St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
Saturday, February 9 at Noon
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
6800 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, TX 77025