The Friends of Bitsy Grant Tennis is happy to announce that Joan Merkle is the 2016 winner of the Michael J. Maxwell Porch Courtesy award.
Nominated for her 10 years of captaining both her senior and Thursday ALTA teams, Joan considers the Porch Courtesy award a “win for the team – a fantastic group of 24 ladies ranging in age from the mid-60s to early 90s.”
Joan grew up across from the Duck Pond in Peachtree Heights. One of seven children, she walked with her siblings to Christ the King School, jumping over the creek on their way. She was always athletic and majored in Physical Education at Ursuline College in New Orleans, and taught PE at Christ the King upon graduation. She also served as “recreation leader” for her six children: five girls born in 6 years and one son born four years later.
“Joan Merkle is one of the most energetic and passionate players I have met during my 30 years of playing at Bitsy Grant. She has a captivating sparkle in her eyes when she talks about Bitsy and I am fortunate to have landed on her team back in 1986 when we received the coveted division winner bag tags.”
– Suzi Modisett
For more than a decade, Joan has served as the captain for two ALTA teams, and can be frequently found at Bitsy Grant events, manning tables and talking to friends. While she no longer plays – Joan has had rotator cuff surgery, a knee injury and heart valve replacement, so she can’t afford more “cutting on her body” – she doesn’t miss a beat as captain.
She’s the only one who can juggle the schedules of 24 players, two teams per season, and lead them through victories and defeats, resurrected PE whistle in hand. And she does it (Dan Lyon, former President of the FBGT, confirms): “always smiling and in good humor.”
Joan’s enthusiasm even helped make her Thursday, Women’s C-8 team the winner of the recent “Bitsy Gets Decked Out” team competition, with 100% of her team donating to the campaign.
“Everyone who has played on Joan Merkle’s teams would agree…she is the ultimate captain. She is competitive, fun, and true to her PE teacher days, sometimes demanding of her players. Any bossy moments are forgiven however at the end of the season when she comes up with crazy favors or trophies acknowledging the food organizers, the most points won, the best helpers, the most games won, the most matches played, or the best spectators. Her team spirit, friendship and faith are an inspiration to us all.”
– Joan Ansley
Joan Merkle is gracious, dedicated to the game of tennis and a role model to all who have the privilege of knowing her. Congratulations to a super Friend of Bitsy Grant Tennis!
About the Michael J. Maxwell Porch Courtesy award
Named in honor of Michael J. Maxwell, a dedicated porch regular, the annual award recognizes individuals who embody Mike’s best qualities: good sportsmanship on the courts, cheerful and consistent volunteer efforts for the good of the Tennis Center and, above all, the ability to extend “porch courtesy” to all players, visitors and railbirds, at all times.