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Hooked by 10 and Under Tennis, Lombardi Named USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month

October 4, 2011 12:59 PM
celia lombardi profile pic1Volunteering in tennis was a "long time coming" for Celia Lombardi of Leesburg, Fla., located just northwest of Orlando. Upon retiring and moving to Florida, the former Texas resident found her own love for the game, and also got her first glimpse of what would become her advocacy passion -- 10 and Under Tennis.

"Working for 30 years for a wholesale distributor in El Paso, Texas, and raising a family did not leave much free time to find my passion," Lombardi said about her years prior to joining the Florida tennis community. "Retiring in 1989, I started volunteering at triathlons, then the clay court championships in Orlando, Special Olympics, and now specifically for tennis with the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis program."

Upon first seeing kids playing with the 10 and Under Tennis kid-sized racquets, smaller court sizes and slower-bouncing ball, she said her eyes lit up.

"After viewing a practice at Lake Cane (Tennis Center), it convinced me that this program would be such a benefit to kids in Lake County," Lombardi said. "What a way to grow tennis in Lake County, start from the bottom up! Get the kids involved at an early age having fun with tennis, and it would get the whole family involved."

Lombardi went to work, posting signs on public courts advertising 10 and Under Tennis, and visiting schools in Lake County, both public and private, to demonstrate the format and its kid-sized racquets, nets and low-compression balls that don't bounce over kids' heads.

"I would demonstrate the equipment and explain the format to the elementary school students," Lombardi said. "I let the kids get a little taste of hitting the new foam balls with the new rackets."

She also volunteered with Lake Sumter Community College and their "Kids College." The school included 10 and Under Tennis in their summer classes, which give children exposure to college campuses and the opportunity to take summer "classes at college." Lombardi stuffed more than 800 envelopes to market the program to parents.

If that wasn't enough, she also volunteers with the Eustis Tennis Team, one of four 10 and Under Tennis teams in the area; she serves as an advisory board member in Lake County to grow tennis; serves as a director for the newly-created Lake County Tennis Association, and serves on the committee writing the association by-laws; and at Harbor Hills club she volunteers as "Seasonal Social Leader" for Tuesday Tennis, signing up players for doubles, recruiting subs for foursomes, and looking for new ways to keep the club's tennis program strong.

Lombardi's volunteer plans are far from over. She says one of her goals is to volunteer for Special Olympics in Orlando specifically in the tennis program.

"I would like to see tennis grow in Lake County, and I would like to see more kids get involved in tennis and love tennis as much as I do," says the tennis advocate and USTA Florida October Volunteer of the Month. "I would like to reach as many people as possible about the health benefits of tennis, and be involved in a sport which they can play all their life."

ABOUT CELIA

Birthplace: "Tucumcari, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment) USA"
Family Members: My husband Rick, daughters Kim and Kris, son Rick, grandkids Chris, Jessica, Nikki and Patrick
Favorite Movie: Gone with the Wind
Favorite Food: Sonny's BBQ babyback ribs
Favorite Travel: Ireland
Favorite Shot: inside-out forehand

My earliest tennis memory was..."Being lucky enough to have high school tennis."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Roger Federer, Kim Clijsters, Dr. Phil."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."Watching it on TV, riding my bike, or volunteering."

Best-ever tennis memory..."Being at the US Open in 2001, visiting the twin towers one week before 9-11."
 

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