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Paducah's Gamble named to Kentucky's USTA Hall of Fame

By Mike Stunson mstunson@paducahsun.com

It's never been about the awards for Jane Gamble, who simply wanted to give back to the community she loves through the sport that has meant a lot to her.

She's spent her adult life helping grow the sport of tennis in Paducah, and her efforts were recognized by Kentucky's United States Tennis Association -- as she was named to its 2017 Hall of Fame class late last month.

Fifty of her friends came to the luncheon that honored Gamble, who said it meant a lot to her to be recognized.

"I've been involved in Kentucky Tennis for a long time -- certainly as a player, not a great player but decent. It's nice that they recognize the great players, but I think what they do now to recognize the people who give back to the game is just great," she said.

Gamble helped form the Paducah Tornado Tennis Association in 1991 and served as its president, and by the turn of the millennium she helped raise the funds to build the Chad Gamble Tennis Courts at Paducah Tilghman.

Building those courts, which received the USTA Facility of the Year award in 2006, is what she's most proud of.

"We raised money to build the complex at Tilghman and it was such a big community effort," she said of the court, which is named after her son, who passed away in 1997. "It was an amazing feeling to see matches being played there for the first time."

In addition to her work with Tilghman, Gamble has been instrumental in helping bring a bathroom facility to the Noble Park tennis courts.

She's a past president of USTA Kentucky and just last year she was named its Volunteer of the Year.

"Every kid with a passion -- whether it be German club, track or tennis -- should have the opportunity to do what they want to do," she said. "My passion is tennis and I believe it's a lifetime sport. I don't want kids to grow up thinking tennis is something you only play on the (Nintendo) Wii."

Gamble isn't retiring her efforts anytime soon, as she hopes to continue the revitalization of Noble Park's tennis facility by leading the charge to resurface the six courts. She said it's important for her to make its facility one the whole town can be proud of because "Noble Park is an important asset to the Paducah community."

Ever since she began her fundraising efforts and helped bring tennis to the forefront of Paducah, Gamble's husband -- Oscar -- has been with her every step of the way.

"My husband has been part of everything I have done for tennis and I couldn't have done these things without him," she said. "He's done everything from bringing pizzas to school to jumping in and hitting balls with students."

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