Biloxi High School graduate Bulut Ozturk, who became the first member of an Indians team to win the Boys Singles Tennis Championship in more than 40 years last spring, is now a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association.
"Being a member of the USPTA is a great honor," Ozturk said. "This is the kind of thing that will open so many doors for me."
Ozturk, a native of Turkey who has been playing tennis on U.S. soil since the age of 12, joins some of the biggest names in the sport as a member of USPTA, and according to R.J. Tessier, director of certification and testing, achieving membership is not an easy task.
"We have almost 11,000 members," Tessier said. "Names like Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, Chris Everett, and each of them is put through various different tests that they must pass before they become members."
Ozturk accepted a scholarship to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and is now enjoying his freshman season as member of the Bulldogs team.
"We have a good team here this year," he said. "I think and I hope that we will be real good."
Several USPTA members have played on the professional tour, but the association is specifically for the "teaching professionals."
"I like teaching tennis to young people, but, of course, I always have dreams of playing professionally," Ozturk said. "That is going to take a lot of hard work and some time."
Last year, while Ozturk was relishing the view from atop the rankings of men's singles in Mississippi, his 12-year-old sister, Rain, also was ranked No. 1 girls' double in the state.
"I have been teaching her everything she knows for about four years now," Ozturk said. "She is going to be a great player. I know I was not that good when I was her age."
Being the father of successful tennis players is enough to make any man proud - just ask Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena - but Kemal Ozturk has managed to take it one serve at a time.