Presidents Letter January 2020

Dear Kentucky Tennis Family,

It’s hard to believe, but this is my final letter to you!  At the end of January my two-year term as President of USTA Kentucky will come to an end and I’ll pass the torch to your President Elect, Dr. Mike Eden.  I’m not really sure where 2 years went - time really does fly when you’re having fun!

I’d like to use my last entry to say thank you.  Thank you to each of you for your passion for tennis and for your investment in growing the game! Thank you for your kind words and support over the past 2 years.  Thank you for seeing that our game is more than just a sport and using your love of tennis to do good in your communities.

Thank you to the Jason Miller and the USTA Kentucky staff for their support and encouragement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe our Kentucky staff are the best in the country and would pick them for my team every single time. Like each of you, they love the game and put their hearts and souls into making sure that tennis programming in our state is not just excellent in quality, but also in opportunity. They believe, as do I, that every person should be offered the chance to reap the benefits of our game, regardless of race, socio-economic status or disability.  This is hard work, but they dig in, think creatively and look for ways to put tennis where it isn’t and at the same time pushing us to do the same.

Thank you to my tennis community in Woodford County and the parents, players, instructors and captains that have made running tennis FUN!  When I started at the Versailles-Woodford County Parks & Recreation Department over 21 years ago, I was completely new to tennis and our tennis offerings were minimal – a few lessons in the summer and that was about it.  Today we offer junior programs for ages 5 to 18, including Kids’ Tennis Clubs, entry level programs, Junior Team Tennis in the summer and Middle School & High School interscholastic in the fall.  We’ve worked with our surrounding communities to grow our game across 5 counties and lots of kids in Central Kentucky have had the opportunity to play because of that. We offer Adult Tennis Apprentice, are working to add Wild Aces this year and have partnered with Midway University to offer an adult & junior tournament in late summer.  With only 6 courts and no lights, that’s not too shabby!

I couldn’t have done any of that without the buy-in from our community and support of our families. Their support, encouragement and belief that we could build something special here in little ole’ Versailles has kept me going and there are few things in my professional career that bring me more pride than our Parks tennis program.  In truth, I would never have been asked to be part of the USTA Kentucky board or your President without what we’ve done in Woodford County!  A very special thank you to my boss, Mr. Richard Pictor, for allowing me the opportunity to be part of something so special, even though it would require travel and time out of the office. He did not have to give me the freedom to do any of this, but he did, and I’ve grown tremendously personally and professionally because of it.

And finally thank you to my friends and family, who have supported and encouraged me along the way. From watching the dogs, getting my mail, listening ears and encouraging me to step outside my box and do something I never thought I could do, I can’t say thank you enough. I love you guys!

Thank you for giving me the space to acknowledge these folks. You’ve heard me say it before…none of us lives in a vacuum.  We are connected, we need each other and if we want to really want to grow the game of tennis, we have to do it together. I hope that each one of us will continue to “Find Our Serve” in life and in tennis for the betterment of our families, our communities, our state and our world.

Please welcome your new President (and Hall of Famer!), Mike Eden with the open arms and support you’ve given to me. I know that he is going to be a wonderful representative for you and our state, and under his leadership I’m confident that 2020 will be the best year yet for Kentucky Tennis!

With a grateful heart,

Rainey Johns
USTA Kentucky President