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Bermejo-Espaillat Named August 2010 USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month

July 26, 2010 09:29 PM
rosanna-webRosanna Bermejo-Espaillat has returned to the sport of tennis she flirted with as a child. This time she brought with her two new players to the sport, her 11-year-old daughter Veronica and her 8-year-old son Marco. The Miami resident has now coached three seasons of USTA Jr. Team Tennis, in the midst of running the Epaillat Eye and Laser Institute she founded with her husband, and for her effort she's been named the August 2010 USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month.

"I got involved in tennis when I was in school, almost in high school -- either I didn't try very hard or didn't have a good instructor so I stopped," Bermejo-Espaillat said. "Then I took it back up in high school. I used to play every day in the Dominican Republic."

At age 17 she went off to school at the University of Pennsylvania, but to her regret did not try out for the tennis team, thinking she was not good enough.

"I turned out to be really good. Had I known, I would have done it," Bermejo-Espaillat said. "Back then I was playing every day, I think I could have made it."

She returned to tennis at age 34, and now in her early 40s she plays USTA League tennis and has introducing both her children to tennis through the USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) league.
"She is the best cheerleader and representative of Jr. Team Tennis," said local league coordinator Cyndi Johnston. "I am very lucky to have Rosanna as a leader in my program. This past season there were not enough kids for a beginner team at Grove Isle so we combined with another site at Salvadore. Rosanna organized practices for three kids from Grove Isle to combine with three kids from Salvadore and even captained that team."
As a JTT captain she enjoys organizing children in a sport where they receive not only the physical benefits of tennis, but the social growth from being involved in a team sport.

"I think it's great and I've found it a very rewarding opportunity, especially for the kids, because they get to enjoy not only the league but the social part of it too," Bermejo-Espaillat said. "I think tennis is a whole-body sport, it's not just the physical but mental. It uses most muscles of the body, and in addition you have to use your brains like a chess game. When they're losing they can get themselves together and fight back, and that's very similar to situations you encounter in other aspects of life."

Just as she enjoys the social aspect of USTA adult league tennis, she says children receive the same benefits at a younger age with JTT, something they don't necessarily get from playing only tournaments.

"The team makes it more fun. It makes it so you have a group of friends that you're playing with, and you go as a team, so it adds to it the social component," Bermejo-Espaillat said. "You have to win as a team, so you have to play with whatever partner you get, you have to be a little flexible -- so that's good."

Bermejo-Espaillat has staged her own family version of Welcome Back to Tennis for the next generation, and is enjoying the benefits after discovering USTA League and USTA Jr. Team Tennis in her 30s.

"I entered a USTA League for the first time and I really liked it, and I wanted to get my kids into a sport, a lifetime sport," Bermejo-Espaillat said. "I wanted a program that would give them motivation so that's how I got into USTA Jr. Team Tennis. Through tennis I've met a lot of interesting people. I compete right now against 60-year-olds and they can make it a real challenge, so it's a lifetime sport, which is truly rewarding."


Birthplace: Puerto Rico
Family Members: Husband, kids, siblings, and mother
Favorite Movie: My tastes are diverse, ranging from Star Wars to Rocky
Favorite Food: It depends on the month, but this month I am craving for Indian food!
Favorite Travel: Southern Europe. Although I like variety, Europe is probably one of the few spots in which I don't get bored after visiting several times in a row.
Favorite Tennis Shot: A strong, low forehand with lots of spin and speed straight to the net! Nothing better than that!

My earliest tennis memory was..."I started playing tennis when I was in seventh grade. I was a swimmer and needed a change. However, this first attempt was short lived, because I did not believe I was good enough!"

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."[Roger] Federer! He is incredibly smooth in the court, but in addition, I would also love to play with Steffi Graf and Venus Williams (she hits hard, too!)."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."working, or volunteering in other positions, or running around with the kids! It never ends. In addition, in my spare time, I study. There are too many things to do and too little time. I wish the days had 30 hours, and that we had an extra day each week to sleep."

Best ever tennis memory..."This is an extremely hard question, because I have many wonderful tennis memories. Just hitting the ball and feeling the adrenaline each time gives me plenty of satisfaction. However, once I started playing tennis as an adult, my game became better than ever. Having been able to figure out how to conquer the level of achievement I had set for myself in the sport is the best tennis memory ever, yet this happens a day at a time. My current coach, Pete Roschia, has been very instrumental in this."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I love tennis because it is a complete game, not just physical, but mental. A game of tennis is similar to what we go through in life every day. You have to figure out ways to succeed and get what you want. Tennis entails not only agility and fitness, but strategizing and making the right choices. I want to transmit those learning experiences to my kids, in addition to giving them a tool to remain healthy, in a fun way, for life. In the process, if other kids can benefit, why not?"






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