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July VOM Goes to Erik Stenberg

June 29, 2007 03:45 PM

USTA Florida recognizes Erik Stenberg, Director of Tennis at Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center, as July Volunteer of the Month because he dedicates his time to tennis 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  As Erik simply states, “Tennis gave me a new country, a second language, and the greatest possible way of making a living.  Tennis is why I roll out of bed every morning.”

Erik-Stenberg.jpg
Erik grew up in Sweden during the Swedish Bjorn Borg hysteria and golden era of tennis. He came to the U.S. on a full tennis scholarship in 1987 and played for Jefferson State Junior College, Birmingham Alabama. He later transferred to Huntingdon College in Montgomery Alabama where he graduated in 1991. During his senior year, he received the Team Leader Award.

Erik is a member of the USPTA and has been the Director of Tennis at Fort Walton Beach since October 2001.  He has been running the second annual USTA $25,000 Women’s Challenger at the tennis center and admits it is one of his favorite tennis memories.  The event has been quite a success as it even drew the Fort Walton Beach City Council and Mayor Mike Anderson to the courts. 

“It is great to see the business community, schools and mayor all come together to support tennis,” said Erik.  Erik raised sponsorship dollars for the tournament by organizing a breakfast, backed by the Chamber, for those “outsiders” in the community and talked to them about the impact professional tennis has on all aspects of the community, including schools.  “Before the end of the breakfast, I had $5,000 in sponsorship money, and before the sun set, I had $5,000 more!” 

During the tournament, Erik arranged a USTA Kids Day for over 200 students in 10 area middle schools who are all part of the Okaloosa County Middle Schools Tennis League, which Erik also helped organize with the Okaloosa County Education Department in partnership with parents, teachers, and other pros. 

According to Bill Moore, tennis coach of Davidson Middle School, “The league has been an inspiration to many young kids to play the sport of tennis.  Many of them have continued into USTA Sanction tournaments.”

Erik has been a USTA Florida volunteer since March 1994, and has continuously advocated tennis to people of all ages.   As seen in his commercial on the Tennis Channel, “In 2007, Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center had players age 3 to age 94!” 

USTA Florida raised Erik with a few more questions, and this is what he had to say.

When I am not playing tennis I am…
Trying to promote tennis to the city; that is first and foremost in my life right now (referring to the effect that Property Tax rollbacks from Florida legislation will have on recreation throughout the state).  Otherwise, you can find me reading or writing.

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…
Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander (two Swedish tennis icons) and Bob Dillon (who Erik has seen in concert about 20 times).

My earliest tennis memory was…
In 1970 at about six years old; both my parents played tennis in Sweden, as did my older brother.  I could only play from May – August because there were no indoor courts. 

People who have influenced me most are…
Swedish rock star and writer Ulf Lundell. 

 

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