Adult Leagues Adult Tournaments Junior Tournaments Jr. Team Tennis Learn more

Tennis Briefs: USTA Florida President's Message; Ria Graham Profile; TennisLife Digital

October 14, 2010 02:11 PM
Donn Davis small
USTA Florida President, Volunteer, Donn Davis
"Connection, Connection, Connection" -- November USTA Florida President's Message

by Donn Davis, USTA Florida President, Volunteer

My buddy, Rick Vach, communications coordinator for USTA Florida and fellow participant in the US Open Playoffs Qualifier-Florida, tells me that I have one more article left in my term as president after this one. Now, everybody knows that you always reserve the last opportunity to say thank you to all of those folks that have helped to "Promote and Develop Tennis in Florida" over the past two years so that will be a long article and there won't be room for too much other stuff. So, allow me to reflect a little bit and explain why I think many of us play this great game of ours. 

"Connection, Connection, Connection"...this is going to take a little time to explain so bear with me. 

As I've probably mentioned before, I've played on a couple of USTA League teams this year, matches being played on Tuesday nights. I also play each week with a great bunch of guys on Thursday night. It's all doubles and for us, it's quite competitive but always friendly. There are four regular participants with several substitutes for when work or travel intercedes, which happens on a very regular basis. The sets are rarely blowouts, so many nights we stay with the same partner but on occasion, we'll play a set with each of the other three players on the court. The point is that through the spring and summer, I've played with a lot of different guys, which is just to my liking.

Well one night about a month ago, I was playing with a fellow that I just met this year. His name is Jose' and he's of Chinese decent, but I believe he was born and raised for a period of time in Brazil.  I'm not sure of all of the detail about that (Jose' -- you're going to have to explain that to me again) but what I do know is that he's relatively new to the game, say within the past 5-6 years or so, and he's absolutely captivated by it! He's always the first to the courts and the last to leave and for that whole time, he's talking tennis with anybody that he can engage on the subject. Any part of tennis is open for discussion...preparation, strategy, placement, movement, the USTA leagues, NTRP?who, what, where, when, or why...it doesn't matter -- Jose' will talk to you about it!

Well one night after a match where Jose' was a substitute and my partner, we were sitting around with a cold one, as we often do, rehashing the match and whatever else came up. There had been two courts that night so there were about 5-6 of us and the subject turned to why we play the game. Everybody had a little different take on it, mine being that I'll play as long as my knees hold out but that I got involved with USTA Florida so that I could stay with the game after I could no longer compete. As for Jose', he kept saying..."Connection, Connection, Connection."

Now, I sometimes have a hard time understanding him but it finally dawned on me what he meant. What Jose' meant is that tennis has become his "connection" with many, many other people that love the game, people that he would probably otherwise never had met except for tennis. Jose' speaks Chinese very well...I had the opportunity to hear him converse recently and it was quite interesting to me -- and probably other languages but for Jose', even if there is a bit of a language barrier, tennis has become the common language for him with his friends, and now because of tennis, I'm one of them!

Jose' helped put it all in perspective for me. Tennis is the language I have in common with a lot of my friends and family and well, all of you reading this column. Just like Jose', if it hadn't been for tennis, I wouldn't have met all of the wonderful folks over the years that love the game as much as I do but the important thing is that regardless of gender, race, religion, socio-economics, whatever -- tennis is our way to communicate -- it's what brings us together -- it's our common language! Thanks Jose' for bringing that to my realization -- I appreciate it!

We'll have crowned US Open champions by the time you read this column...one of my other favorite sports, football is here again...and that means that the weather should start to cool a bit. My next and last column will be that "Thank You" one so stay tuned but until then, have a fabulous fall and...get out there and hit some balls!

Ria Graham
Profile: International Flair for Ria Graham  

By Nancy Morgan, TennisLife-Florida Region 3 Writer  

Ria Graham was in her 40s when she got serious about her tennis game, and the Netherlands native has been on the fast track since. This summer, Ria was among 12 Florida players selected to represent the United States in the 30th International Tennis Federation Super Senior Team Championships scheduled for Oct. 11-16, 2010, in Antalya, Turkey.

The ITF event includes 19 divisions among the men's 60-80 age groups and the women's 60-75. The senior tennis competition is the equivalent of the Davis Cup or Fed Cup. The USA team players were chosen by the women's sub-committee of the USTA Senior International Competition Committee.

In her first ITF team selection, Ria joins three others on the Althea Gibson Cup team for 70-and-over competitors. Ria brings impressive results, especially over the last two years.

"When I was called, I was really surprised and honored," said Ria, 72. "I've never been to Turkey and never played on red clay, so this will be exciting."  

As a youth, Ria didn't really care for tennis, preferring handball instead, and became a formidable competitor in her province. When she took up tennis as an adult, however, Ria became a dedicated student of the game. Last year Ria claimed Florida's No. 1 spot in the 70s, was No. 5 in the USTA National Rankings, and No. 45 in international rankings.

This past spring Ria traveled to Huntsville, Ala., for the USTA National Clay Court Championships, where she reached the singles quarterfinal round and was third in doubles with Carol Wood of Maryland.

"I try to improve every day, and believe I'm mentally strong, so I work on my endurance, especially," Ria said. "I'm never satisfied. To improve, you have to be willing to lose and still be comfortable with yourself."

RafaOctNovTennisLife10TennisLife-Florida Oct./Nov. Digital Issue Available

The on-line flipbook edition of the Oct./Nov. 2010 issue of TennisLife-Florida is now available, set your browser to:






Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share