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January Volunteer of the Month - Art Russo

January 13, 2009 09:51 AM

By Tori Townsend

Birthplace: East Hartford, CT
Family Members Include: My wife Martha, daughter Leigh, granddaughter Katie, also two brothers and a sister
Favorite Movie:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Favorite Food:  Anything but cucumbers
Favorite Travel Spot: Traveled the World, Australia was the best, of course next to Sun City
Favorite Tennis Stroke/Shot:  Forehand

Art Russo of Sun City has been named the association’s inaugural Volunteer of the Month for 2009! Art joins a group of special USTA Florida volunteers who have given their time and effort to grow the game of tennis in Florida. A volunteer for the organization since 1994, January marks his 15th year of volunteerism for USTA Florida, which Art explains as, “The best non-paying job I ever had!”

2009 January Volunteer of the Month - Art Russo
After playing competitive tennis in Connecticut where he grew up, Art retired and moved to Venice, Fla. with his wife in 1989. Not too long after joining the Courtside Tennis Club, a gentleman named Newt Torrance (a past USTA official, Florida Tennis Association volunteer and Tournament Director) approached Art, asking for his assistance with the two senior tournaments that were held each year. From there, Art was on the fast track to improving tournaments for competitive senior players throughout the state.

His hard work paid off in 1995 when, along with his close friend Lynn Abbot, the duo received the USTA Florida Tournament of the Year for the Suncoast Senior Championships in Venice. Together, they turned this particular tournament into a highly respectable event for seniors.

“When Lynn and I took over, if we had less than 150 entries, we thought it was a bad tournament,” Art said. “We held some great tournaments and people loved coming. It was a good thing.”

In addition to running tournaments, Art became a tournament evaluator for District 10 in 1994; it was his responsibility in District 10 to go to the tournaments and make sure they went smoothly and according to the rules.

The following year, Art became a member of the Adult Competitive Council. He was assigned to the Sanctioning and Scheduling Committee for all USTA tournaments in Florida for the entire year. It is a task that is incredibly important to competitive tennis in Florida, and at the time, there were more than 350 tournaments in the state! That number has been reduced to a more manageable 225, thanks to the efforts of Mark Taylor, Ann Brown and Andy Gladstone.

Perhaps Art’s most notable contribution to USTA tennis in Florida came in 1998, when he took over the Florida Super Senior Grand Prix (SSGP) series. The SSGP is where many tennis players, ages 55 to 90, come from all over the world to enjoy the warm weather of Florida and get in some great tennis competition. Art reorganized the SSGP making it more player friendly, which included shortening the number of tournaments (from 10 to 8), and scheduling them only to the West Coast (starting in Ft. Myers, moving through Naples, and then finishing the eight tournaments in St. Petersburg) within a two month period.

After running the SSGP series for 10 years(Larry Turville is now in charge of the SSGP), and turning it into the prestigious circuit that it is, Art decided to move forward and take on a different role with USTA Florida. However; within those 10 years, Art served as chair of the Adult Competitive Council from 2000-2002 and received national recognition in 2003 by the USTA in Palm Springs, Calif. when he was awarded the prestigious “2002 Senior Service Award of the Year”.

Presently, Art serves as Chair of the USTA Florida Awards Committee, a position he’s held since 2007. At 81, he has not only worked behind the scenes of the sport, but he’s traveled and seen the world because of his involvement with tennis. He’s competed at the individual ITF World Championships in Turkey, Australia, Austria and two which were held in America(West Palm and Philadelphia) still plays locally four times a week. His contribution to the sport of tennis is palpable and USTA Florida is thrilled to honor Art this month for everything he has done for tennis.


My earliest tennis memory was…
In 1975, my wife thought it would be a good idea if took up tennis as a sport, and the rest is history!

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be… Agassi, Sampras, Chang.

When I am not playing tennis I am… Enjoying my retirement years.






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