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Bobby Curtis, Jr. Tennis Icon, to Retire from USTA Florida

September 24, 2009 07:00 PM
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sept. 25, 2009 -- Legendary Florida junior tennis organizer Bobby Curtis, who has touched the lives of thousands of Florida juniors over the years, including many who went on to pro careers such as Jim Courier, Andy Roddick and Mary Joe Fernandez, will be honored upon his retirement from USTA Florida on Dec. 4-6, 2009, during the USTA Florida Annual Meeting & 60th Anniversary Celebration Weekend in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

After 30 years of service, there is virtually no aspect of junior tennis in Florida that hasn't been touched by Curtis, who helped launch what would become the USTA Jr. Team Tennis program, and the careers of numerous college, pro, and life-long recreational players.

"You can go to almost any junior tournament in the state of Florida and if you hang around for just a short time, someone -- the tournament director, a volunteer, a parent -- will mention how much Bobby Curtis has meant to that tournament or to a player in the tournament, or to Florida junior tennis as a whole," said USTA Florida President Donn Davis. "The important thing to remember when that happens is that Bobby does it all with absolutely no interest in his own personal gain. He does it all for the kids. That's what makes Bobby Curtis so special to all of us."

In the coming months, USTA Florida will release stories and interviews with Curtis, who was the first full-time employee of USTA Florida in 1980, when the organization was known as the Florida Tennis Association (FTA). Curtis opened the first FTA office in 1983 in Miami Shores.

"When I was first hired we had no office," Curtis says with a laugh. "I worked out of my room at home, so my room was the headquarters for Florida junior tennis."

USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth, a former teaching pro himself, joined the organization soon after the first office was established and has seen the impact of Curtis' work with juniors, their families, and junior tournament personnel during his tenure.

"Bobby has been an integral part of Florida tennis for over 30 years," Booth said. "His dedication, passion and impact on tennis  are immeasurable, and the support he has given to tournament directors over those years has helped provide an environment where countless junior players have excelled. Bobby Curtis and Florida tennis will always have a special bond."

Curtis until 1980 worked for the Youth Tennis Foundation of Florida, where he organized junior tennis as the state coordinator. In 1987 the Florida Tennis Association took over the administration of the program that was built by the Youth Tennis Foundation and Curtis, and renamed it Jr. Team Tennis. In 1991 the USTA offered Jr. Team Tennis across the U.S., and today more than 60,000 youth participate in the league.

"I'm proud of helping to create Jr. Team Tennis, where we had a model, and the USTA picked it up," Curtis said. "Starting the Lakeland event [the Jr. Team Tennis State Championships], it was so much fun, and in those days the kids had to be unranked so we were dealing with a different spectrum than the tournament players. Also getting involved in the National Junior Tennis League and what became the Greater Miami Tennis & Education Foundation, that changed a lot of kid's lives though the years, and it's still going today. That's been a nice feather in the cap."

USTA Florida is happy that Bobby will continue working with the section as a consultant with junior competitive tennis and as a volunteer. Look for more features and interviews with Bobby Curtis in the coming months at ustaflorida.com. To arrange interviews with Bobby Curtis or other USTA Florida staff members, see the contact info below.

Contact:
Rick Vach, USTA Florida communications coordinator
vach@florida.usta.com; (904) 535-9489
photos available upon request

 

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