For the Puerto Rico-born Diana Norniella-Burke of Coral Gables, a staunch advocate of junior tennis, the sport is a family affair originally driven by a desire to see more play opportunities for her son.
“I saw such a great improvement of my son after so many clinics and private classes through Jr. Team Tennis putting it all into practice,” she said. “I wanted more kids to experience the growth in tennis skills that my son had experienced.”
A volunteer USTA Florida Jr. Team Tennis coordinator, league and team captain in the Biltmore area, Norniella-Burke has also been an advocate for building Jr. Team Tennis programs at local middle schools by approaching athletic departments and directors.
“Schools that have tennis teams play one season, so what are the kids going to do the rest of the year?” she says. “Let’s get them involved in USTA Jr. Team Tennis. Also I tell them ‘How about the ones who do not make it into the team?’ These kids could play Jr. Team Tennis, representing their schools too, and this is a way for them to improve their tennis match skills so they have a better chance to make it onto the school team the following year.”
Her involvement has resulted in Biltmore Jr. Team Tennis growing to eight teams comprised of 49 beginner to advanced level players.
When she takes to the court herself she is active in captaining teams from 2.5 to 3.0 over the years, and 5.5 doubles teams, recruiting fellow volunteers to captain teams and expand local leagues.
Volunteering is a growth opportunity for Norniella-Burke, whose philosophy is that teams are a beginning step to seeing yourself as, and acting for, the benefit of a larger group.
“I believe [volunteering] helps people to know themselves,” she says. “It can test you in so many ways. You can experience the power of patience, positive thinking, forgiveness, truthfulness, etc. There are so many opportunities for personal growth, and most people do not even realize it. Not to mention making great friends with people of all walks of life that share the same passion.”
Family members: husband Stephane, kids Christian, 11 and Rumi, 7
Favorite movie: What the Bleep Do We Know??
Favorite food: veggie burger
Favorite tennis shot: crosscourt forehand
Favorite travel spot: St. John U.S.V. I.