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Hillsborough's Harrison Named USTA Florida Oct. Volunteer of the Month

October 31, 2012 02:13 PM
ray-harrison-webRay Harrison of Land O' Lakes, Fla., just north of Tampa, has spent a lifetime in tennis. From college player to teaching pro to community leader, the long-time Hillsborough County Tennis Association (HCTA) board member is now serving his first year as president of the organization. As a result the organization is looking to expand its footprint in Hillsborough County, offering an even greater menu of tennis opportunities.
 
"The HCTA has just recently partnered with the Hillsborough County Parks to begin 10 and Under Tennis programming this fall," Harrison said. "We will start with two county park locations with over 100 potential players, and then expand to more locations once these programs are running at a high level. The HCTA also helped with leadership and volunteers in the Spring Jr. Team Tennis program, where 8-and-under and 10-and-under team competition saw a total of 18 teams and more than 75 players."
 
 
The regional sales manager for GAMMA Sports, Harrison saw an opportunity to further the sport in his own backyard while serving his faith.
 
"I originally got involved with the HCTA because I serve God and others through my passion for tennis, and I wanted to give back to the game," he said. "Plus as a sales rep. for a major tennis brand, I could help this young CTA (Community Tennis Association) strengthen their relationship with local pros and pro shops. We want to come alongside local pros and facilities to help them grow their programming. Our mission is to promote tennis for all abilities and backgrounds, and we want to grow the game and make it more accessible to disadvantaged youth and the community as a whole."
 
10 and Under Tennis has become a passion for Harrison, a way to easily bring young players to the game with an easy-to-learn and fun format.
 
"10 and Under Tennis makes so much sense in many ways, and every other sport in the world reduces the field or court size," he said of the format which features smaller racquets, court sizes and lower-bouncing balls. "For the HCTA, it helps us to bring tennis to youth in most any setting. They have more success quickly and a lot of fun doing it. That means they are more likely to want to continue playing more tennis."
 
Carla Williams works with Harrison as the USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Tampa area.
 
"Ray is a fantastic supporter of youth tennis and a true asset to the Tampa Bay tennis community," Williams said. "I am very appreciative of all that he does for USTA Florida, especially with a focus on expanding the game in to new areas. I want to encourage folks who see him around the courts to join me in saying 'Thanks!'"
 
Harrison's goal is to continue giving back to the game that has given him so much over the years.
 
"I have been blessed financially with a college scholarship, a job as a teaching professional out of college, and for the last seven years as a sales rep. in Florida," he said. "The sport has given me a fun, athletic outlet with some of my greatest friends coming through tennis. Tennis is very challenging both mentally and physically which has helped me in all facets of my life."
 
USTA Florida congratulates Ray Harrison as the October 2012 Volunteer of the Month for giving his time to expand and grow the game for current and future generations of players.
 
ABOUT RAY
Birthplace: Jackson, Miss.
Family Members: Emily (wife), sons Nolan and Mitchell, and dog (Scooby Doo, a Boxer)
Favorite Movie: Rocky 4
Favorite Food: snow crab
Favorite Travel: I love Disney at Christmas and dream of travelling the world
Favorite Shot: forehand winner
 
My earliest tennis memory was..."I had a hand injury in the 7th grade and my mom had caught the tennis fever big time, which led me to trying tennis. I fell in love with the game forsaking all other sports, earned a college scholarship, became a teaching professional, and have been in tennis sales for major brands in Florida for over six years."
 
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, and John McEnroe."
 
When I am not playing tennis I am..."taking care of my family, representing GAMMA Sports in Florida, serving at my church, or serving the local tennis community through the HCTA."
 
My best-ever tennis memory is..."meeting my future wife while we both worked at Saddlebrook."
 
I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I get to serve God and serve others with the sport I love. The game has blessed my life beyond words and I feel compelled to give back by helping grow tennis in my local market."
 
 
 
 
 
 

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