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Tennis: County tennis group honored for inclusive approach

Tennis: County tennis group honored for inclusive approach
(Kevin Goldy / AP)

On Saturday, the Tennis Alliance of Anne Arundel County won the Inclusion Award at the annual meeting of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section.

Louise Gengler-Thomas accepted the award from Lynn Coddington, the president of the USTA MAS. This year the MAS met at the attractive Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington. The USTA recognized the efforts of the non-profit Tennis Alliance to galvanize Anne Arundel's tennis community and county government to establish a year-round tennis facility. The county government has already begun studying a facility for a new park that is in the works for Millersville.

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"The Millersville Tennis Center will be an important amenity that will serve the entire county's recreation needs," County Executive Steve Schuh said.

The Tennis Center is part of his vision to improve "quality of life infrastructure," such as bike trails, boat ramps, and parks. During the last decade Anne Arundel has seen the demise of the Big Vanilla and Severn Valley tennis clubs. In September, the Tennis Alliance hosted the second 24-Hours of Tennis Event.

More than 300 players kept the ball moving around the clock at Annapolis High School. Together, they raised more than $50,000 for the project. Celebrating the motto, "Tennis for Life", players ranged from youngsters in the 10-and Under Clinic to the seniors doubles match with 299 years of experience on the court. The Tennis Alliance board includes Gengler-Thomas, Michele Archibald, Peggy Sange, Dan Dupras, James Appel, Jeff DeCaro, John Officer and Ellin Ponder.

The USTA Mid-Atlantic Section just completed its reorganization into a centralized section by absorbing Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia Districts. The new streamlined organization features many familiar faces from Maryland, including Lynn Coddington, Barbara Linke, Lynn Gertzogg and Alex Chan. With the consolidation, the MAS has built a solid financial base to manage programs and resources effectively and efficiently. The Section is reaching more players than ever in schools, leagues and tournaments. Competitively, five MAS adult teams and three junior teams finished in the Top 4 at the National Championships.

Rear Adm. Sean Buck, a 1983 Naval Academy graduate, was the keynote speaker at the MAS meeting. Admiral Buck is an avid tennis player stationed on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. He opened his remarks by remembering former military men who were tennis champions, such as Lt. Arthur Ashe, who is in the Tennis Hall of Fame; Joe Hunt (USNA '42), who won the U.S. Open in 1943; Don Budge (USA), who was a Grand Slam winner in the 1930s; and Bobby Riggs, who was the No. 1 in the world for three years in the 1940s. The admiral told about his own memorable moments, such as playing Riggs as a boy and playing tennis while underway on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. He spoke about the importance of sportsmanship and self discipline. One of his fondest memories was taking to the court in his whites last year to face an Army major at the Citi Open. The result was Navy 3, Army 0. On a more serious note, Admiral Buck spoke about the core values of a successful player: confidence, determination, engagement, professionalism, resilience, respectfulness and toughness. In his words, it takes character and maturity to be successful, on court or in life.

Competitive Tennis: Two USTA winter leagues will start in January, the 18-and-Over Mixed Doubles and the Ladies Day League. USTA League Tennis is designed for recreational players at different skill levels. To get started, players can rate themselves and then the USTA will check results over time. For information, contact Stacia Bontempo at stacia@bontempo.org or check with AACTA at www.aacta.com.

• Sofia Zafiropulos advanced to the semifinals of the Girls 16 Singles at the David LeMair Tennis Junior Open in Falls Church on Nov. 21.

• Finn and Luke Garner (Annapolis) have been selected to play in the Boys 16 and Boys 14, respectively, at the USTA Open Regional Tournament in College Park this weekend.

• Austin Yannone (Severna Park) has been selected to play in Boys 18s at the USTA National Selection Tournament at Yale University this weekend.

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