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USTA Florida Volunteer Award Video Profiles

January 28, 2010 06:00 PM
In December 2009 USTA Florida celebrated "60 Years of Love and 30 Years of Dedication" during the USTA Florida 60th Annual Meeting and Anniversary Celebration Weekend at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort, recognizing the 30 years of service by retiring junior tennis icon Bobby Curtis.

Approximately 400 USTA Florida volunteers and guests attended the weekend celebration.

Below are the video profiles created of the major award winners -- Member Organization of the Year, Committee Volunteer of the Year, Tennis Family of the Year, Merit Award (Male and Female), and Hall of Fame Inductee:

Member Organization of the Year
Seminole County Leisure Services

Seminole County Leisure Services currently operates three large tennis facilities -- Sanlando Park (25 lighted hard courts), Red Bug Lake Park (16 lighted hard courts), and Sylvan Lake Park (9 lighted hard courts) -- plus two neighborhood parks with four additional courts. Seminole County provides and promotes all tennis programs, leagues, tournaments, and special events in accordance with USTA Florida standards of excellence.

The organization's involvement with USTA Florida began in 1976 with the opening of Red Bug Lake Park and has continued to grow each year with new facilities and additional courts. Seminole County Leisure Services, which serves as a hub for USTA Florida volunteer and membership recruitment, has been a leader in the tennis community dating back to the early 1980s. The county's impressive participation figures help explain the selection as USTA Florida's Member Organization of the Year.

Committee Volunteer of the Year
Phil Girardi of St. Petersburg

Phil Girardi, who says he feels blessed to work in a profession he truly loves, has been a devoted USTA Florida volunteer for a number of years. From his days serving as a District 12 director to his role as chair of the Recreational Tennis Council, Phil has showcased a true passion to bring about positive results in everything he does. Although he only began teaching tennis in 1994, his natural gifts and winning personality helped him snare the coveted position of director of tennis for the City of Treasure Island, which includes running all community-based programming at Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis.

"I believe my biggest accomplishment has been to introduce a life sport to hundreds of juniors and adults over the years and hopefully having  a positive influence on some of their lives," explained Girardi, who also serves as a national USTA Jr. Team Tennis Committee member.

Tennis Family of the Year
Ross Dubins Family of North Miami

If the old adage that "the family that plays together stays together" is true, then there could be no better representative than the Ross Dubins Family. Ross and Veronica, who have been operating the City of North Miami's Sans Souci Tennis Center since 1989, have crafted a thriving tennis haven that features numerous men's and women's tennis leagues as well as various other community-based events for players of all ages.

They currently oversee four junior USTA-sanctioned events annually and showcase their humanitarian side by providing free instruction, discounted classes, and scholarships for those in need. Ross, who won the USPTA District Professional of the Year Award in 2007, and Veronica have passed their love of tennis on to their two daughters, Taylor and Brittany, who are gifted individuals both on the court and in the classroom.

Merit Award (Male)
Arthur Russo of Sun City Center

According to Arthur Russo, who received the USTA Senior Service Award in 2002, his most notable contribution to USTA Florida began in 1998 when Joe Rasgado, a former USTA Florida president, asked Russo to become chair of the Super Seniors Grand Prix (SSGP), which allows players 55 and over from around the world to compete while enjoying the beautiful Florida weather. He also convinced the USTA to assign the SSGP two category II national tournaments, which have been incredibly successful, especially the event in Naples, which consistently draws over 500 entries in both singles and doubles.

Russo, who still plays tennis four days a week, also served USTA Florida as a District 10 tournament evaluator and as a member and chair of the Adult Competitive Council. Currently, he is assisting USTA Florida's Lynne Salus by chairing the section's Awards Committee, which is a position he accepted in 2007.

Merit Award (Female)
Cindy Harkins of Longwood

Over the past 35 years, Cindy Harkins has been a great friend to USTA Florida and the tennis community in Seminole County. Prior to 1976, Seminole County did not contain one public tennis court. Today, there are 54 public courts. Harkins established Red Bug Park in 1976 and had the privilege of actively serving on the committee to select, plan, and develop Sanlando Park, which opened in 1978. To ensure the parks' success, Harkins served as park supervisor for Sanlando and director of tennis for both Sanlando and Red Bug through 1988.

Today she's just as busy, which was evidenced this past summer when she introduced QuickStart Jr. Team Tennis to Red Bug Lake Park. She currently is working to expand the program countywide at Sanlando, Sylvan Lake, and Red Bug. As a USTA Florida volunteer, Cindy has been equally proactive, especially in terms of the development of tournament criteria and standards of excellence for the different junior tournaments.

Hall of Fame Inductee
Jim Vuille of Sun City Center

How do you encapsulate over 80 years of tennis achievement in just a few short sentences? If the truth be told, it's an almost impossible task when you are talking about Jim Vuille, who is a true tennis icon. During an amateur playing career that began in 1919 and ended in 2003 at the age of 94 due to an arthritic knee, Vuille has won many titles and earned top rankings in age divisions stretching from his junior days to his last competitive event in a Florida 90s tournament in 2002 when he was ranked No. 2 in his age division.

A legend in the St. Petersburg area, Vuille, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, helped establish Bartlett Park, now known as the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, and claimed the city championship numerous times. Over the years, his commitment to the St. Petersburg Tennis Center never wavered, which is evidenced by his support of the club that included stints serving as president, interim pro, maintenance helper, and manager from 1974 to 1984.





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