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Jacksonville's Lamkin Named USTA Florida Oct. 2013 Tennis Volunteer of the Month

October 15, 2013 10:52 AM
Lamkin-webTournament Director John Lamkin carries on both a proud tradition of providing for the under-served children of Jacksonville, Fla., and the legacy of serving the black community founded by local community recreation advocate Julius Guinyard.

For more than 18 years, Lamkin has volunteered as tournament director for the Julius Guinyard Tennis Association Fundraiser Tournament, the primary fundraiser for the non-profit organization that introduces tennis to a target audience of urban and low-income youth and adults near downtown Jacksonville.

This year's edition of the annual tournament was completed earlier this month at the Clanzel Brown Tennis Center and the MaliVai Washington Tennis Complex, where more than 60 players competed, providing funding for tennis equipment and scholarships for children.

"We formed the tennis association back in 1992-93 with about 20 kids," says Lamkin, a late-life tennis enthusiast and 40-year recently-retired veteran of the U.S. Navy. "We started doing the tournament for Mr. Guinyard back in '95. Mr. Guinyard was one of the first people to bring tennis, swimming and boxing to the black neighborhoods on the north side of town. He worked for the recreational department back in the '50s. I met him in 1984 when he was still playing tennis."

One of the association's goal is encouraging and enabling volunteerism, using tennis as a vehicle, embodied by Lamkin.

"I got hooked on tennis after injuries stopped me from playing softball," Lamkin says. "Some guys asked me to play, and I've been playing ever since."

The camaraderie and the chaos of the fundraising tennis tournament keeps the tournament director coming back after 18 years.

"I guess it's the challenge of trying to get everyone on the court -- it's chaos at the tournament desk," he says. "The challenge is trying to get everyone off, everybody in the tournament, without a hitch. You have people come up for this or that, a lot of strange things, and you have to multi-task, do a lot of things at one time. You have 120-some people and you have to think, 'How can I get them in and out in the amount of time I have?"

Lamkin got them all in and out again this year, and will see his junior participation flourish in the coming year as the USTA is in the midst of a $42,000 refurbishment of the Clanzel Brown Tennis Center. The USTA's "Davis Cup Legacy" project from a visit earlier this year when Jacksonville hosted the U.S. Davis Cup vs. Brazil.

One court at the center will be converted into four youth-size courts with permanent fencing, nets and center straps, while seven additional courts will be resurfaced.

"I would describe it as one of the best hardcourt facilities in town," Lamkin says. "We work with the city to maintain it -- you have showers, nice landscaping, you can have a barbecue or something like that, everything you need there all in one place. A lot of kids walk right through the facility because it is near a housing development, so that's how we capture a lot of kids, they see the other kids playing tennis and they ask if they can play."

USTA Florida thanks John Lamkin as the October 2013 Volunteer of the Month for bringing tennis to children in the urban core of Jacksonville, and helping maintain the legacy of Julius Guinyard through the Julius Guinyard Tennis Association. For more information on the association go to www.thejgta.com.


Birthplace: Richmond, Tex.
Family Members: "I have a wife, two daughters and three grandkids."
Favorite Movie: Lonesome Dove
Favorite Food: Seafood
Favorite Travel: Sanibel Island, Fla.
Favorite Shot: "Anything that goes in when hit properly."

My earliest tennis memory was..."when I lost to a 4-foot-11 lady 8-2 in a pro set, and I'm still looking for her."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, and Serena Williams."

When I am not playing tennis..."I play bass guitar in a rock band."

My best tennis memory is..."winning my first turkey at the Turkey Day Tournament in Mobile, Ala."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."this is my way of giving back to my community and I love tennis."






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