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Amelia Island's Colebourne Named USTA Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month

March 24, 2014 09:15 AM
Scott-Colebourne-webNot long after Scott Colebourne assumed the position of director of tennis at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation in 2012, subsequently running junior tennis tournaments and giving private lessons, he wanted to do more to make tournament tennis a better entry-level experience for youth and families.

Reaching out to the USTA Florida Section office, he began a journey that has taken him into the heart of restructuring junior tennis in Florida to best serve young players working their way up the competitive ranks.

"In 2012 I decided that I wanted to give back to the game and become more involved in the USTA," said Colebourne, the former driver of tennis camps in Vermont that earned consecutive Top 3 Camps in the country status. "I reached out to the USTA and was put in touch with [USTA Florida Assoc. Exec. Dir.] Andy McFarland, who recruited me to join the 10 and under Tennis Committee. From that point I jumped right in, assisting with as many events and programs as I could. [USTA Florida Director of Rec. Tennis] Jason Gilbert invited me in late 2013 to join a committee to discuss ways to ensure that our junior players had the best possible first tournament experience, and that they began playing in the correct events for their abilities. This opportunity to assist with positive additions to the USTA's junior tournament program excited me."

Those discussions were the beginning of the USTA Florida Earned Advancement Pathway, which addresses beginning juniors entering competitive system in a changing age, but in a tournament system itself that has changed little over the years.

"Tennis is facing strong competition for families recreation time, while that recreation time available is also shrinking," he says. "To compete, junior tournament tennis needs to make some changes, and I think that the recommendations of our Earned Advancement Committee, along with the Entry Level Tournament Committee, will create positive change for a child's first years of tournament play. Florida has always been one of the strongest areas of the world for junior tennis, and our recommendations won't have any effect on that. They will, however, ensure that our beginner players compete in the appropriate events, and have a great first tournament experience so they'll want to return."

Colebourne is certified in adult and junior development with the PTR, and junior programming with the USTA. He is a national tester and tournament director, and has coached nationally-ranked juniors, sectional-winning USTA adult teams, and traveled the country both playing and teaching. As a junior he was nationally ranked in the Top 5 in New Zealand.

The experience has left him with an affinity for introducing youngsters to the game the right way.

"My first role as a coach was in 2001, and fortunately we were using red balls and 21-inch rackets to teach beginner 5-year-olds," says Colebourne of the Youth Tennis kid-sized equipment that has become popular in the U.S. over the last five years. "From that point onwards I have been an advocate for beginning tennis with this equipment. My personal opinion is that this philosophy makes the game easier for beginner younger players, by making it easier at this crucial age. I believe our junior participation numbers will increase dramatically over the long term."

McFarland says Colebourne's broad vision has helped to quickly move the earned advancement project forward.

"What I admire and respect about Scott the most is that he 'gets it,' McFarland said. "He gets how we have to offer and provide more quality play and competition opportunities for kids, not just at his facility, but all over Florida and the U.S. He wants to make a difference for all kinds of tennis players everywhere. He's a special breed of tennis teacher that sees a bigger picture."

"I have been very impressed with Scott's leadership skills and extensive knowledge in junior tennis," Gilbert added. "His contribution to the Florida Youth Tennis Pathway Project has been invaluable."

USTA Florida congratulates Scott Colebourne as the March 2014 Volunteer of the Month for his involvement with junior tennis at the USTA Florida Section level, and as a Youth Tennis advocate at the local level in the Amelia Island area.

"I urge you to contact USTA Florida, they are a huge resource that are here for us, the tennis players and coaches of the section," he says.

ABOUT SCOTT

Birthplace:
Gisborne, New Zealand
Family: My amazing wife Amanda and Max our 5 month old
Favorite Movie: Romeo and Juliet, the 1997 Baz Luhrmann version
Favorite Food: I don't discriminate when it comes to food
Favorite Travel: New Zealand
Favorite Shot: I love seeing players hit the overhead lob. Personally I'm happy to volley all day.

My earliest tennis memory was..."Serving and volleying on grasscourts at the local club, age 7."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Sal Barbaro, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, classy people and all have great one-handed backhands -- mine is a work in progress."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."Replying to e-mails, trying to put my son to sleep."

My best tennis memory is..."Winning the grasscourt club championships in the open singles, doubles, and mixed at 13."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I like the people at USTA Florida and it's great to give back selflessly when possible."
 
 

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