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“It Starts in the Parks” for Trio in Pembroke Pines

January 14, 2009 07:17 PM

It certainly does “Start in the Parks” for three dedicated enthusiasts in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Nancy Horowitz of Pembroke Pines, Gerri Braxton of Miramar and Pierre Arnold of Pembroke Lakes have received prestigious tennis and volunteer service awards from USTA and USTA Florida. The trio, who are diversely involved with tennis in the City of Pembroke Pines, have contributed to the overall growth of the sport in their community and worked intently with juniors, adults, and special need populations with a simple goal - to spread the joy of tennis to others. With important established partnerships with tennis facilities in Pembroke Pines, such as The Pembroke Lakes Racquet Club and Maxwell Tennis Park, USTA Florida salutes the triage for helping USTA Florida meets its overall mission “to promote and develop tennis in Florida”.

Most recently, Gerri Braxton was awarded the USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) Area League Coordinator of the Year award by USTA Florida in 2008. Her rich legacy as a tennis volunteer stretches back over three decades to the time she served as a local National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) Coordinator in 1980.

“Tennis has served me and my family well,” she explained. “So working with children is my way of returning the favor.”

Gerri, who was introduced to the Jr. Team Tennis concept through her NJTL involvement, quickly became both a fan and disciple of the program. In 1998, she formed a local 12’s team that won its playoff and competed in the Lakeland Jr. Team Tennis Tournament. Over the past decade, her teams have yet to miss the tournament. In some years, she has even brought as many as seven teams including 42 juniors to the Lakeland event.

"Gerri and her team of captains are committed to growing JTT in South Broward County,” said Cheryl Rivera, Tennis Program Coordinator, North Gold Coast. "We cannot run any of our USTA programs without passionate and dedicated volunteers like this Gerri and her group."

Since 1998, her teams have won numerous sectional awards, collected five Georgia/Florida titles, and earned three trips to nationals. In 2008, Gerri’s 14’s team won the sectional championships and progressed to the national championships in Tucson, Arizona in October, further underscoring her amazing and unabated skills as a Jr. Team Tennis Area League Coordinator. She is also owner of her own company, Braxton Serve - n - Return.

In 2008, Nancy Horowitz was recognized for her dedication to tennis in her community and was awarded the Eve Kraft Community Service Award, which the USTA bestows upon an individual who perpetuate their selfless mission to bring the game of tennis to anyone who wants to play.

Nancy began in 1980 as a USTA Florida volunteer when she founded the Pembroke Pines Tennis Association, which served the city as a tennis advisory committee and spearheaded efforts to build four more tennis courts on the east side of town. Her commitment landed her a full-time position as a Parks and Recreation Tennis Coordinator. Now Horowitz’s responsibilities included staffing the city’s six public facilities, overseeing 12 tennis pros, purchasing equipment and more. She coordinated more than 50 courts across the area which gives tennis opportunity to over 1,000 people of all ages. She is also a recognized tennis official who has traveled to a number of events ranging from the Orange Bowl to the 1996 Olympics.

In 2001, Pierre Arnold was awarded the USTA Florida Coach of the Year, which recognizes a junior competitive coach who has made notable contributions to junior competitive tennis in Florida and has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills in the promotion of the game. Pierre leads by example as the City of Pembroke Pines Director of Tennis and through his teaching academy, Pierre Arnold Tennis. From 2000-2005, he and Nancy were co-directors of the local Sunshine Open Wheelchair Championships.

“The best tennis starts in the parks,” Pierre said.

He also founded the Children’s Cup with co-founder Gustavo Granitto, which is a tennis team event for junior competitive players 12 and under and 14 and under in Florida. The event takes place at Pembroke Lakes Racquet Club and Maxwell Park and was created in an effort to increase the opportunities for competition between the time span during the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl junior events in South Florida.

“We are committed in making Children’s Cup an event where the players will feel proud to be part of it forever,” Pierre said.

USTA Florida salutes these three outstanding tennis volunteers for promoting tennis in Pembroke Pines. It is clear to see that Gerri, Nancy and Pierre work hard to serve others in their community and do it with the utmost enthusiasm and passion.






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