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December 20, 2005 02:03 PM

CTA Volunteer of the Year

Helen Ciesla of Jacksonville
“Start Me Up (and I’ll Never Stop)”

When an unsavory situation threatened to disrupt the operational process of the First Coast Tennis Foundation earlier this year, Helen Ciesla did what all great leaders do by springing into action and rectifying the problem. In her role as president, Helen worked tirelessly and used her professional experiences in retail management and tennis to smooth things over, spending 15 hours per week on court and countless more hours corresponding with various individuals via phone and email. In her role as chair of the area’s community tennis program, she also used her myriad marketing skills to initiate a remarkable surge in player participation, which rose from 75 participants in 2004 to over 800 in 2005. To deal with the numerous presidential challenges of running a CTA, Helen uses her strategic planning and problem-solving abilities to get things accomplished. Unlike many leaders, she is not reluctant to roll up her sleeves and get in the trenches to fight a winning battle.

CTA Volunteer of the Year

Martie Healy of Gainesville
“Simply the Best”

Although she only began playing tennis in 2002 at the ripe young age of 49, Martie Healy has made up for lost time in a big way. When she was asked to join the fledgling Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association as a board member in 2004, Martie enthusiastically accepted. Within weeks, she was already having a beneficial impact on the organization by creating a website that has vastly improved communications regarding the area’s tennis program. In addition to being second vice president of the Gainesville CTA and serving as “webmistress,” Martie volunteers for many related activities. For example, when the association decided to sponsor a local 25th anniversary of league tennis celebration, Martie jumped right into the role of event chairperson, which involved overseeing a day of round-robin tennis throughout Gainesville followed by a lavish dinner dance in the evening. The duration of her volunteer service to the tennis community may not be noteworthy, but her accomplishments certainly are.

USTA School Tennis Volunteer of the Year

Stacey Fabrizio of Palm Coast
“Reach Out, I’ll Be There”

Over the past two years, Stacey Fabrizio has single-handedly developed a thriving tennis program at St. Brendan School in Ormond Beach. With the help of a USTA Florida grant, Stacey supervised the resurfacing of St. Brendan’s two tennis courts, which she quickly put to good use by directing a beginner tennis program for her students. As a result, over the past two years, more than 60 St. Brendan players have participated in the USTA Team Tennis program. Thanks to her energy and enthusiasm, St. Brendan students are lining up to play tennis and represent their school. In the spring 2005 season, Stacey organized seven junior teams—more than any of the other participating Volusia County tennis facilities and clubs. However, her dedication is truly exemplified by the following fact. During the season, Stacey not only volunteers her Friday evenings to travel to the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach to coach her teams but also leads after-school practices during the week.

USTA Tennis NJTL Chapter Leader of the Year

Terri Florio of Jacksonville
“Serving Hope, Changing Lives”

In her role as executive director of the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville, Terri Florio has done an exemplary job of developing the organization’s NJTL program into one that has earned national recognition and served more than 1,400 youth since its inception. As a result, juniors involved in the foundation’s tennis programs tend to attend school more often than their peers and make better overall behavior choices. Terri, who serves on the board of directors of the First Coast Tennis Foundation, has also played a major role in making sure area youth have an array of playing opportunities to choose from, ranging from beginner clinics to high school and tournament-level competition. Of course, Terri is no stranger to the NJTL Chapter Leader of the Year accolade, which she previously won in 2001. These awards only serve to prove that Terri is indeed “serving hope” and “changing lives.”

USTA Team Tennis (Youth) Area League Commissioner of the Year

Rita Gladstone of Port Orange
"Get ‘em to Play and They’ll Stay”

In 1977, when Rita Gladstone began playing in what was then called Little Team Tennis, not even she could have foreseen a day nearly 30 years later when she would be a leader in the program where she began playing tennis as a child growing up in the Sunshine State. Since becoming area league commissioner of the Volusia County USTA Team Tennis League, enrollment has nearly tripled from 60 to 200 players. Under her leadership, the league secured a long-term sponsor and established a team tennis committee comprising both teaching pros and parents. Additionally, in the fall of 2004, Rita started a Rallyball league at a public park in Port Orange that grew to include 90 players ranging in age from six to 12. According to Rita, “What’s most gratifying as a parent and tennis leader is that I can give my own children, Paul and Mira, a quality program they can enjoy with their friends.”

USTA Team Tennis College Campus Coordinator of the Year

Chelsea Duchene of Bradenton
“Nothing is Impossible”

Because tennis has always played a major role in her life, Chelsea was surprised to discover that no tennis club existed on the campus of the University of South Florida (USF) when she began matriculating at the university.  To correct the situation, she decided to establish a club that would allow former high school players to compete in college while also outreaching to other tennis aficionados looking to meet other players. After holding its inaugural meeting in February 2005, the USF Tennis Club grew in size from 10 to 40 members by the end of the spring semester. After spending the summer applying for grants and planning new fall activities, Chelsea’s efforts reaped obvious dividends, resulting in the acquisition of $2,700 in grant money and the addition of over 20 new members. “Your greatest satisfaction in life is to accomplish what others say you cannot do,” Chelsea explained. “I have been able to accomplish everything within reason that I have set my mind to do even though others told me my endeavors were almost impossible to achieve.”

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> Back to 2005 USTA Florida Award Winners 






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