As one of the most successful and experienced executives in the tennis industry, Benton’s lifelong commitment to the sport began in Iowa where he started playing at the age of fifteen. During his years in college and the US Army he worked as an instructor in a variety of venues including public parks, country clubs and as the Varsity Tennis coach at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
In 2008 Ray became the CEO of the Junior Tennis Champions Center and the College Park Tennis Club in College Park, Maryland. Since his arrival the Center has seen graduates earn over seven million dollars in college tennis scholarships. The organization has been the recipient of the USTA’s Development Program of the Year, the USTA Organization of the Year and the USTA Facility of the Year.
Benton was a founder of ProServ, a leading sports management and marketing firm, and served as its President. The company managed top athletes including Arthur Ashe, Tracy Austin, Michael Jordan, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Yannick Noah, Payne Stewart and Dave Winfield. Benton directed the Volvo Grand Prix, the Volvo Masters at Madison Square Garden and was the Tournament Director of over 100 major events.
In 1993 he created the Nuveen Tour, the first commercially successful worldwide senior tennis circuit which featured Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and other legends of the game. The tour grew to 22 events, drew over 500,000 spectators annually, was telecast on major television networks and raised over 35 million dollars in corporate sponsorships.
As the first National Executive Director of the National Junior Tennis League, Benton led the organization’s growth from three cities to 50 chapters. He was elected to the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame in 2005 and has served on the governing boards of both the men’s and women’s professional tennis association. He represented the North American Tournament Directors on the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council and the Top Twenty players on the WTA Board.
Benton earned a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.