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Florida Tennis Briefs: Lake Wales' Weiss Aug. VOM; Miami Beginner's Clinic

August 8, 2011 10:19 AM
Lake Wales' Weiss Named August 2011 USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month

Weiss-webLong-time college tennis coach Bernie Weiss is giving back to the next generation (or "next-next" generation) of players -- 10 and Under Tennis players -- by hosting free tennis clinics at schools, YMCAs in and around his small hometown of Lake Wales, Fla., located approximately an hour south of Orlando.

"The kids were sprinting to the tennis courts when their P.E. class started," Weiss said of the free classes he offered to 297 kids in grades 2-5 at Babson Park Elementary. "The assistants were playing games during the break between classes as everyone had a blast during this presentation."

Weiss was assisted by parents, using USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart format. USTA 10 and Under Tennis is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes.

Weiss reached out to physical education teachers at the school to begin implementing the program.

"Mr. Weiss has a heart for the kids. It was fun to watch him teach the game he loves to our students," said Becky Mendes, the physical education coach at Babson Park Elementary.

Few if any of the beginner children realize the pedigree of the man teaching them tennis with child-sized racquets on mini-courts with smaller nets. A Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)-certified coach, Weiss was most recently the women's tennis coach at Warner University. His more than 50 years of coaching includes positions at Wabash College (Ind.), Buena Vista University (Iowa), Iowa State University, and Valparaiso University (Ind.) where he was named the Indiana/Heartland Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in his first year as head coach. 

He has also held tennis instructor positions at Imperial Lakes Country Club in Mulberry, Fla. and East Lake Woodland Country Club in Palm Harbor, Fla. At Warner University Weiss was also churning out future tennis teaching pros through the "PTR on Campus" course, which makes PTR certification and membership available to full-time college or high school students between the ages of 16-24.

Weiss began his 10 and Under Tennis odyssey by applying for and receiving a "Share the Love" grant for 10 and Under Tennis equipment from USTA Florida. Later this year Weiss plans to expand his free 10 and Under Tennis program to the Lake Wales YMCA.

"We appreciate what Bernie is doing to introduce tennis in schools, and judging by the smiles on the children's faces, they are appreciative too," said USTA Florida Schools Coordinator Rebecca Halpern. "It?s wonderful to see the Share the Love grants in action, and tennis volunteers like Bernie who show their love of the game by bringing tennis to children in schools, church groups and other organizations."

wife Kay (married 52 years), children Matt, Tad, Julie
Favorite Movie: The Eddie Duchan Story (seen on first date with wife)
Favorite Food: anything my wife cooks
Favorite Travel: Grand Cypress in Orlando; Teton Lodge in Jackson Hole
Favorite Stroke: drop shot

My earliest tennis memory was..."being interviewed by the athletic director for the assistant basketball coaching position at Valparaiso University in 1970. At the time the A.D. also told me I would be the tennis coach. I declined the tennis coaching offer because I knew nothing about tennis nor had I ever played tennis. The A.D. became extremely upset with me and told me if I didn't accept the tennis position, he was withdrawing the basketball offer. I immediately accepted the tennis position. A meeting was called with the tennis team and they were told that I knew nothing about tennis, but that I would get them in shape, I would get the to the matches on time, and I would see that they were fed after the matches. We won the conference title, the state championship, and I was selected as Coach of the Year."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."stringing tennis racquets, walking our Southeastern guide dog Nydia, or putting trophies together for marketing promotions."

My best tennis memory is..."playing in a father-son tennis tournament in Kansas City. We lost in a three-set match in the final. Had we won we could have played at the US Open in New York City for the grand championship."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."It reminds me of coaching our three children in their various activities. It provides me with the opportunity to see young people develop their tennis skills, [and to tell them] don't quit! Do it!"

South Miami-Dade Men's Tennis Beginners Receive Free Clinics, Gear at USTA F.L. (Fun League) Event

Tennis Blast logo-GREEN--2.5-BLAST
Twenty-six male beginning tennis players received a free morning of clinics, demonstrations, prizes and give-ways, and lunch during the USTA F.L. (Fun League) Tennis Blast, held on Saturday, July 30, 2011, at the tennis facility located at Coral Reef Park in the Village of Palmetto Bay, Fla.

"The morning started out with a 30-minute clinic put on by Babolat representative Richard Mennig and Steve Hanssen, our men's league coordinator," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Miami area Cathy Nordlund. "They tried out the different Babolat racquets and Richard explained the importance of understanding the basic trade-offs between power and control in relation to string tension. All this was very informative to the beginner players."

Players were assigned a court and played some friendly round-robin tennis, rotating every 20 minutes to play and meet different people. The group had lunch at the Park Cafe, where they learned more about USTA League opportunities and programs for beginner players. Participants received goodies and gear, including t-shirts, and two Babolat tennis bags were raffled.

"Recruiting new players is critical to the future of tennis," Nordlund said. "I am thrilled that our area clubs and parks are working with USTA Florida by partnering together to offer these fun, great first experiences to tennis players." 

The Beginner Men's USTA F.L. (Fun League) for the South Miami-Dade will be starting in September. To receive more information, players can contact men's league coordinator Steve Hanssen at tennisleader@aol.com.

To see the pictures of the event and for dates and locations of future free USTA F.L. (Fun League) Tennis Blast events in the Miami area, go to www.ustamiami.com or contact Cathy Nordlund at nordlund@florida.usta.com.

USTA League is the country's largest recreational tennis league, helping more than 325,000 players nationwide get on the court, have a good time, and step up their game. The League is organized as competitive team match play, with teams made up of a minimum of 5-8 players depending upon division. Teams and matches are set up according to NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) ratings, so teammates and opponents are at the same skill level, with leagues ranging from the 2.5 beginner level up to 5.0 advanced and Open divisions. The competition is exciting, the atmosphere is social, and since players compete on teams, they have a built-in cheering section.






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