Adult Leagues Adult Tournaments Junior Tournaments Jr. Team Tennis Learn more

Florida Tennis Briefs: 76-year-old Super Senior Simmonds; Davis New Foundation President

April 29, 2011 09:34 AM
76-year-old Simmonds Leads Florida Contingent at USTA League Super Senior National Championships

by Rick Vach, www.ustaflorida.com

When USTA Florida Super Senior League team captain Malcolm Simmonds embarked on his very first year of play in the Super Senior (players age 60 and older) division, he faced two obstacles: he was primarily a singles tournament player and didn't like to volley, and at 76 years of age he was older than many of the "youngsters" in the league.

Malcolm Simmonds (center) and his Super Senior squad
and supporters
Neither obstacle proved a deterrent as Simmonds now finds himself and his teammates representing USTA Florida this weekend at the USTA League 7.0 & 9.0 Super Senior National Championships, April 29-May 1, 2011 at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

As the team captain Simmonds challenged the age issue by partnering with someone even more experienced, his 78-year-old teammate Edward Pavlick. The volleying issue was also solved by Pavlick, who Simmonds says is happy to take charge at the net while he scampers along the baseline.

"I'm a singles player, so I play doubles from the baseline," Simmonds said. "I don't like to volley and I'm really not confident volleying, and some people don't like that. They want a partner to be up at the net with them, but my partner is happy because he likes to be up at the net, but he cannot move as well as me.

"So he's very happy because he's a good volleyer, and he knows I'm covering the back, and if I play with someone else I know they're not happy to play with me," he adds with a laugh.

Simmonds quickly found himself in the team's captain's seat after the former captain, who was also the USTA local league coordinator, stepped down due to a conflict of interest.

"So I got an e-mail from her, not saying, 'Would you mind being captain?' but it said 'You are captain,'" he said, laughing. "And that's how I ended up being captain of the men's team."

Just as Simmonds and his partner are a unique fit, the 76-year-old feels that much of the success of their team is due to long-term teaming at the doubles positions.

"I had some experience back when I played county tennis [in England] where I used to really get pissed off because they used to just pick the two best players, and they would play No. 1 [doubles], and that was just absurd," Simmonds says. "The best players don't necessarily make the best doubles team. We play it as four teams of two, which really makes a big difference. A doubles team is about playing the best with that player. You may have the two best players together, but they might not get along, and there's some people that just play better when they're playing with someone else. I play the same teams together all the time. I think that has a lot to do with our success really."

While many captains of USTA League teams navigate rough waters in juggling their line-ups in an effort to please everyone all the time, Simmonds says his captaincy has been smooth sailing.

"Everybody is a team member, they put the team first and themselves second," Simmonds says. "Almost every member of the team has come to me at one time or another and said, 'Don't worry about playing us, you must do what's best for the team.' That makes it much easier as a captain, when you don't have to deal with some of the difficult issues."

No matter what their results this weekend in Surprise, Ariz., he says two things are for certain -- they will have their supporters from their home club, The Plantation at Leesburg, just north of Orlando, some in person and some in spirit -- and they will be having fun.

"We get a lot of support from the community at The Plantation," Simmonds says. "Last year we had six or eight people travel with us, and I'm not talking about the spouses, but other people from the community that are interested in playing tennis. They come to some of our away matches and to sectionals, and it makes a lot of difference to have that support. We have a lot of fun when we're playing -- it's not that we're not serious, it's just that we are enjoying ourselves."

Donn Davis Named President of USTA Florida Section Foundation

Donn Davis smallThe United States Tennis Association-Florida Section Foundation, the supporting 501(c)(3) organization that carries out the charitable purposes of USTA Florida, has named USTA Florida immediate-past President Donn Davis as foundation president.

Davis succeeds Jean Mills, who served as president from the Foundation's inception in 2004 to April 2011. Mills is also a USTA Florida past president, and current tennis director of The Polo Club in Boca Raton.

"Jean Mills has been a mentor on mine since I first came to USTA Florida," Davis said. "She was the council chair for my first volunteer position with the association and since that time, my respect for the leadership that she's provided our association has grown exponentially. When we needed a leader to take our Foundation to the next level, Jean stepped to the plate and hit a home run in her work to help secure the "Play Tennis" Florida license plate.  Now the Foundation has a recurring revenue stream, something many Foundations would only hope to achieve in this most difficult economic climate."

Founded in 2004, the USTA Florida Section Foundation values tennis programs that develop self-esteem and human potential for all Floridians, regardless of age and ability. It is the Foundation's belief that tennis provides opportunities for healthy social, emotional, physical and educational development and encourages peer and family participation.

The Foundation provides grants for after school and physical education programs for at-risk and special population children in Florida; instruction, travel and equipment grants for underprivileged, at-risk and special populations children and adults; and the renovation, refurbishment and building of quality public tennis facilities along with tennis programming and instruction.

Davis says he hopes to build on the work of Mills.

"The USTA Florida Section Foundation is in great condition and a big part of it is due to Jean's hard work and dedication," Davis said. "Jean leaves some big shoes to fill but I'll do my best to follow her lead."

For more information on the USTA Florida Section Foundation go to www.florida.usta.com/Foundation/1893_Foundation/.






Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share