Jacksonville Sports Day

Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville Winners at 2014 USTA Florida Annual Community Tennis Awards

ORLANDO, Fla. – Individuals from Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville received awards over the weekend at the 65th USTA Florida Annual Meeting & Volunteer Celebration, held Nov. 22-23, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. 

The weekend celebrating Florida tennis volunteers and community advocates also included educational sessions, a tennis mixer, the Starry, Starry Night Awards Dinner & Dancing, and the Sunday Breakfast with the Stars awards.

Here are the local award winners from the 65th USTA Florida Annual Meeting & Volunteer Celebration:

HALL OF FAME AWARD — Celia Rehm of Jacksonville

Jacksonville native Celia Rehm is a former USTA Florida president, the current Bylaws & Governance Committee Chair, a USTA Florida Section Foundation Board Member — and she also almost-single-handedly saved high school tennis and reinstated USTA League play in the city of Jacksonville.

Locally Celia co-founded Jacksonville’s first CTA, the First Coast Tennis Foundation, and has since founded a second youth-focused CTA, the Jax Youth Tennis Association in partnership with the City of Jacksonville to deliver 10 and Under Tennis programming.

From the early 1990s when she first served as the chair of the then-District Community Development Committee as a district director, she is now approaching 25 years as a USTA Florida volunteer. Her service has included leading local, state and USTA national committee efforts.

Last year Celia was presented with the national Eve Kraft Community Service Award, one of the USTA’s highest honors. Part of that service was leading the effort to raise $40,000 to save the high school tennis program in Jacksonville that had been targeted for budget cuts – exemplifying the effort that no local, state or national effort has been beyond Celia’s ability to keep people playing tennis.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD — Scott Colebourne of Fernandina Beach

Late last year, USTA Florida put together a committee to address the initial tournament experiences of junior players, and all junior players competing in the correct events for their abilities. What evolved into the USTA Florida Earned Advancement Pathway, and the committee behind it, has been guided by teaching pros such as Scott Colebourne, the director of tennis at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation.

Scott says, “Tennis is facing strong competition for family’s recreation time, while that recreation time available is also shrinking. To compete, junior tournament tennis needs to make some changes.” Even ahead of the USTA’s roll-out of Youth Tennis, with kid-sized racquets, balls and court sizes, the New Zealand native was teaching with lower-compression balls and age-adjusted racquets when he began coaching in 2001.

His insights into junior development and tournament progression are making a difference as the USTA Florida Section strives to make junior competitive tennis a seamless progression from beginner to advanced play.

USTA Florida’s Andy McFarland says, “What I admire and respect about Scott the most is that he ‘gets it.’ 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.”

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