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December 15, 2006 12:41 PM

Diversity Achievement Award

Helping Hands Tennis Program
Accepting the Award – Paul Johnson
“Do What You Can”

The name Helping Hands couldn’t be a more-appropriate term to describe what this altruistic organization is all about. The program, which was established in 1997 by Paul Johnson, is dedicated to providing tennis to children who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to the sport and utilizing tennis as a tool to build self esteem and improve academic performance. To underscore the high regard the tennis industry has for the program, Helping Hands was awarded a $10,000 USTA National Excellence Program grant in 2005 and 2006 to train youngsters aspiring to achieve national and/or international rankings. The program’s success is reflected in the USTA Florida rankings, where Helping Hands players are ranked in every conceivable division. In fact, the program currently boasts two players in the top three of the Girl’ 10s, two in the top 10 of the Girls’ 12s, and two in the top 20 of the Girls’ 14s. Currently, 40 juniors ranging in age from 5 to 18 participate in the program, which also helps its players earn college scholarships. Thankfully, all that altruism has reaped huge rewards. Since 2003, more than a dozen players have earned scholarships to prestigious universities such as Florida A&M, Temple, Howard, Bethune Cookman, and Morgan State.

CTA Volunteer of the Year

Susan Allshouse of Delray Beach
“The Path to Success”

When Susan Allshouse won the USTA School Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award in 2004, one of her many admirers said, “Susan is one of those volunteers you wish you could clone 50 times over.” As far as we know, Susan hasn’t yet been cloned, but her contributions to the East Coast Tennis Foundation have once again earned her a prestigious tennis accolade. In her role as vice president of the newly formed foundation, Susan has helped provide opportunities for socio-economically disadvantaged populations to develop their mental, physical, and social well being through the lifetime sport of tennis. In addition to serving as an adult league coordinator, Susan was reappointed to the USTA Florida Community Tennis Council and elected to the association’s board of directors in the role of Region 6 director. Over the past few years, this consummate volunteer was also designated as a school specialist for the association’s Schools Program, selected as a USTA national trainer of recreational coach workshops, and named head tennis coach at the grassroots level for the Palm Beach County Community Olympic Development Program.

CTA Volunteers of the Year

Louise & John Downey of Spring Hill
“Climb Every Mountain”

Thanks to the efforts of Louise and John Downey, who founded the Nature Coast Tennis Foundation in Hernando County several years ago, tennis has become an increasingly visible presence in the area. This has been accomplished in a number of ways, such as the establishment of an NJTL chapter that services over 100 needy youngsters and provides a free weekly rallyball program, eight weeks of summer camps, and opportunities to participate in state tennis jamborees. Through the foundation, Louise and John were able to secure a USTA Adopt-a-Court Program grant that was used to revitalize the McKethan Park tennis courts, improve safety, and create a renewed sense of pride in the community. The foundation also hosted a USTA Recreational Tennis Workshop, which allowed individuals affiliated with the CTA to maximize their talents when working with programs such as NJTL and the A-STAR middle school tennis program.


USTA School Tennis Volunteer of the Year

Susan Scarboro of Tallahassee
“Leading the Charge”

If you need a woman of action to help solve a problem, look no further than human tornado Susan Scarboro, who led the charge to incorporate middle school tennis into the Leon County public school system. To accomplish this goal, Susan single handedly initiated a grassroots effort that she launched by securing a “buy-in” through her local parent-teacher organization and then through the principal at Deerlake Middle School. She then established a “no-cut” middle school tennis club program, run entirely by parents, that has attracted more than 60 children just at Deerlake Middle alone. Susan then kicked her efforts into high gear by urging other parent volunteers to encourage and then mentor other area middle schools to form similar clubs. In addition, she personally contacted the athletic directors and principals of each Leon County middle school to see if there was interest at those schools. The result? By the end of 2005, three schools had come on board. Thanks to her dogged determination, Susan has accomplished all this success despite dealing with a county administration that has never been supportive of seeing tennis recognized as a middle school sport.

USTA Jr. Team Tennis Area League Coordinator of the Year

Diana Gardner of Jacksonville Beach
"To Everything There Is a Season”

The fact that Diana Gardner was the recipient of this same award two years ago speaks volumes about the work ethic she displays and the esteem she engenders with those involved in Junior Team Tennis in the Jacksonville Beach area. Diana, who has been an area league coordinator since the summer of 2003, has continued to add to her past accomplishments by taking the league to new levels of success. In addition to running three regular seasons in 2006, she coordinated a special two-day 18-and-under event and organized a record-breaking Play Day with over 110 participants. Throughout the year, 64 teams comprising 448 players participated in the spring season, while 33 teams comprising 250 players took part in the summer season. In addition, a record 73 teams committed to play in the fall season. “With more than 25 sites participating, there are days when the calls and emails are endless, but I love the challenge of it all,” she said. “There isn’t a better program that provides a win-win for everyone involved.”

USTA Jr Team Tennis Area League Coordinators of the Year

Louise & John Downey of Spring Hill
“On the Shoulders of Others, You Can Reach New Heights”

2006 has proven to be twice as nice for Louise and John Downey, who claim their second award of the evening for their contributions to Junior Team Tennis in their community. In 2003, the couple established a rallyball program that featured eight youngsters; today, the program reaches over 125 children from public and private schools as well as several who are home schooled. In 2006, Louise and John were informed that the USTA national office approved their proposal to implement an after-school tennis program for Hernando County middle school students called A-STAR (After School Tennis Achieving Results). “We have learned as ALCs that we must be a “willow” willing to be flexible,” said the dynamic duo. “Junior Team Tennis in Hernando County is always changing, growing, and rebuilding to service our families, and we are motivated to provide the best Junior Team Tennis program for our players.”

USTA Jr Team Tennis College Campus Coordinator of the Year

Brent Boostrom of Orlando
“The Best of What’s Around”

Can there be any question that Brent Boostrom is a man who knows how to get results? In his role as area league coordinator at the University of Central Florida, Brent bolstered the USTA Junior Team Tennis College Campus Program at the university from 75 players in the spring of 2002 to over 250 participants by the fall of 2003. In the summer of 2005, he created the College Championship Series, which includes six tournaments over the fall and spring semesters where teams earn points that accumulate over the academic year. In 2006, the series returned stronger than ever with increased participation, additional locations, and a newly designed website. Because of the success of the College Championship Series, other USTA sections around the country are emulating the successful program. “I love tennis, and I enjoy getting other people to love the game like I do,” he explained. “Volunteering takes a lot of time, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

Jimmy Gantt Memorial Award

Timmy Berg of Lakewood Ranch
“St. Elmos Fire”

Turning tragedy into triumph is something that sounds great in theory but is exceedingly difficult to put into practice ― unless your name is Timmy Berg, that is. In the summer of 2005, Timmy was sitting on top of the world after winning the USTA Florida State Closed Boy’s 12 doubles championship. Unfortunately, ecstasy quickly turned to agony a few months later during a routine practice session with his father the week before Thanksgiving. Suddenly, Timmy turned to his dad and said, “When I look through my left eye I don’t see color as good as I do through my right eye.” A quick trip to the hospital confirmed the worst when Timmy was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, which is an aggressive soft-tissue tumor that usually affects young children. Following a lengthy operation to remove the tumor, Timmy was placed on an exhaustive battery of chemotherapy treatments at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he saw children similar to himself enduring comparable treatments. However, instead of feeling sorry for himself, Timmy decided to mobilize a fundraising effort, with the proceeds earmarked for the hospital’s cancer ward. To date, while still undergoing cancer treatment, Timmy has raised over $10,000 for this worthy cause. His explanation as to why he chose the song “St. Elmos Fire” to describe himself epitomizes the characteristics that earned him this year’s Jimmy Gantt Memorial Award: “I feel the fire burning in me to accomplish good things in life ― and to help others along the way.”

> Back to Tennis supporters honored at annual meeting







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