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December 7, 2007 01:52 PM

Edward A. Turville President’s Award

Eleanor Warmack of Tallahassee

“Life Is a Highway”

Eleanor Warmack’s choice of the song “Life Is a Highway” reflects her attitude that, “how we travel down that highway is up to us.” When it comes to her efforts on behalf of USTA Florida, Eleanor, who serves as executive director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, has certainly made all the right turns on tennis’ highway. Over the past decade, she has worked diligently to introduce USTA Florida to the state’s many parks and recreation agencies. One of her notable recent achievements on behalf of the section was her successful effort to encourage USTA Florida to be the featured organization in the association’s spring 2007 FRPA Journal, which dedicated 11 full pages and the front cover to Florida programs and tennis initiatives. Publicity-wise, it was a masterful maneuver since the publication was distributed to approximately 2,000 Florida parks and recreation professionals, 500 citizen supporters of parks and recreation, and 200 state-elected legislators. “Passionate individuals find a way through the potholes and construction zones and enjoy the journey while it lasts,” said Eleanor, who first experienced the childhood joy of hitting a tennis ball at Winthrop Park in Tallahassee. “Working with an organization such as USTA Florida is a rewarding opportunity. I applaud the efforts of the staff, and more importantly, the many individual volunteers who are so convinced of their mission that they continue to accomplish great things for communities across the country.”

Committee Volunteer of the Year

Barbara Wong of Melbourne

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

Barbara Wong’s most recent and significant involvement as a USTA Florida volunteer are her innumerable contributions to the efficient functioning of the section’s Diversity Council, which was established in 2003. She willingly shares and applies her leadership capabilities, business organizational knowledge, and management skills in the development and implementation of the council’s goals and objectives. In fact, Barbara’s exemplary dedication was rewarded in a major way when the Diversity Council received the highest award possible from the USTA national office in recognition of the council’s accomplishments. As chair of the Diversity Council’s Senior Tennis Initiative Subcommittee, she uses the success of her senior community tennis activities in two counties for implementation and identification of opportunities in other regions. “Because of my love for the game of tennis and what it has brought to my life, I consider my involvement to be a ‘labor of love,’” said Barbara, who is also the founder and president of the Senior Tennis of Volusia Community Tennis Association. “Any obstacle I encounter is an opportunity to continue on.”

Tennis Family of the Year

The Don Cleveland Family of Delray Beach
“Faith, Family…and Forehands”

No family better exemplifies the classic adage, “The family that plays together stay together” than the Don Cleveland clan, which has been making a mark in the tennis community for more than two decades. Patriarch Don has been a longtime USTA Florida supporter, serving as president of the section and volunteering his time to numerous USTA national and sectional committees. Matriarch Becky has been just as industrious, working as the tennis coach for the St. Joseph’s School boys’ and girls’ tennis teams for the past 24 years and serving as coordinator of the Gold Coast Tennis League for private schools in Palm Beach County for two decades. And then there are son Casey and daughter Crystal, who became standout junior players in the late 1980s and early 1990s before graduating to further tennis success in the college ranks and beyond. “The amazing grace of the Lord has allowed us to enjoy each other in special ways, while continuing to pass the blessing down to the next generation,” said Don of his family’s many achievements, which includes a previous win in the USTA Tennis Family of the Year category in 1993. “The hours spent on the court and in preparation together are what really fuel our desire to play. Tennis certainly is the sport of a lifetime, and in our case it has become the sport of our family time. We are absolutely grateful for our success on the court, but forever indebted to the sport and the USTA for the opportunity to build a family.”

Merit Award (Female)

Irene Tharin of Palm Harbor

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”

Over the past several decades, Irene Tharin has amassed a sparkling tennis resume that stands as a towering tribute to her numerous volunteer contributions. In addition to spending the past 17 years as the area coordinator for the Pinellas County Schools Program, Irene has served as a member of the Junior Recreational Tennis Council, a USA Tennis 1-2-3 site director, an NJTL chapter leader, and an area league commissioner for Jr. Team Tennis. Her additional contributions, which include acting as president of the Suncoast Tennis Foundation and serving as director of the North Pinellas County Elementary Tennis Fun Day, have earned her well-deserved recognition in the form of various awards. These include the USTA Florida School Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award in 1994 and 2000, the 1999 Pinellas County Athletic Conference Boys’ High School Tennis Coach of the Year Award, and the USTA Tennis Family of the Year accolade in 2001. “The vast experiences I have had with the USTA Florida section have given me an avenue to spread my passion for tennis,” Irene stated. “I have naturally spent most of my time with junior programs and in the schools since it is the perfect fit in my profession as a physical education teacher. From the time my children were young and our family became involved in NJTL and Jr. Team Tennis, I have seen firsthand the positive effects tennis can have on children’s lives. That is enough to motivate me to do more and more with USTA Florida.”

Merit Award (Male)

Chuck Collier of Mulberry

“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”

Chuck Collier is certainly one of the more humorous Merit Award winners in USTA Florida history based on his choice of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” as his theme song, which he selected because of his “Chief Rain Cloud” reputation for the precipitation that seems to perpetually fall on his tournaments. Rain clouds aside, Chuck has been a prolific USTA Florida volunteer over the past decade. From his role as site director for the USTA Jr. Team Tennis State Championship and various USTA-sanctioned junior tournaments to his contributions as an NTRP verifier, Chuck can always be counted on to give his all. Over the years, he also has served on a number of national committees, including the USTA League Committee, the Media and Public Relations and Rules subcommittees, and the National League Championships staff. On the sectional level, he currently serves as a board of directors member, acts as chair of the Leagues Council and its Rules and Regulations and Grievance Appeals committees, and volunteers as tournament director of the Regional and Sectional League Championships.

Hall of Fame Inductee

Trish Faulkner of Palm Beach Gardens

“Exceeding Expectations - Yours and Mine!”

Be it as a player, administrator, or volunteer, Trish Faulkner has definitely made a career out of exceeding expectations. The winner of 38 gold balls for her exceptional play in both singles and doubles, Trish has been a major tennis force in the Sunshine State since she moved south from Michigan in 1983 as a member of the WTA Tour staff. After leaving the WTA, she formed her own sports marketing company and owned or operated four events on the women’s pro tour. Since 1994, Trish has served as the director of tennis at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, where she ran seven USTA Florida-sanctioned tournaments each year for adults and juniors until 2005. Currently, she runs two major tournaments at BallenIsles?Les Grandes Dames and the $25K Challenger?and serves as tournament director for numerous sanctioned events. She also continues to contribute to Florida tennis on a daily basis by supporting various programs, helping young players, teaching free clinics, and offering free lessons every week. Trish, who serves on the Florida Board of the USPTA, is also a civic-minded citizen who has received many accolades for her efforts. These include the Key to the City of Palm Beach Gardens in 2001, the Palm Beach County Volunteer of the Year Award from Cystic Fibrosis in 2007, and the USPTA Special Recognition Award in 2004.

Hall of Fame Inductee

Sam Vuille of St. Petersburg

“As Time Goes By”

Time has certainly flown by for Sam Vuille, who has been a Florida fixture in various aspects of the sport for over 46 years. It all began in the 1960s when Sam became a standout junior player, winning the USTA Florida State Closed Championships in four different age divisions and becoming the 1972 Florida State High School Champion. After embarking on a pro career, where he reached the top 300 in singles and a doubles ranking of 225, Sam evolved into other areas of the sport. Since 1979, he has worked continuously as a teaching pro in some capacity and has served as director of tennis at the St. Petersburg Country Club Sam for over 20 years. His USTA Florida involvement includes being involved as a Jr. Team Tennis coach, captain, or league coordinator since 1989 and serving as head of the Adult League Appeals Committee in his region for the past few years. Sam, who has served as tournament director for a USTA junior event every year since 1987, is also no novice when it comes to receiving tennis awards. In 1971, his family was the recipient of USTA Florida’s Tennis Family of the Year Award, while in 2001 and 2004 he was named USPTA District Volunteer of the Year. “I love being a USTA Florida volunteer,” said Sam, who also won the section’s Outstanding USA Team Tennis ALC Award in 2002. “It gives me a chance to give back to the younger generation some of the joy I have had playing tennis all my life.” 


> Back to 2007 USTA Florida Awards






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