Presidents Letter November

Kentucky Tennis Family,

It’s November, the season of thanks.  I love Thanksgiving.  I mean, really…what’s not to love?!  A month-long celebration of simply being thankful for what we have and those we love. For my family, who loves to eat, we rejoice in enough food and desserts to feed an army and follow that with our annual family flag football game.  This year is our 10th annual game, complete with t-shirts, flag belts and a non-stop debate on what the teams will be this year. I have a lifetime of memories of these games and I know that my nieces and nephews will talk about them for the rest of their lives.

Hopefully tennis is on your list of things for which to be thankful! Thankfulness for the friends you’ve made, the lessons you’ve learned and experiences playing this great game has allowed you to have.  Tennis creates a unique bond between family members, friends and even opponents!  We all remember those close matches that we won or lost, those wonderful people who got us involved in the game or kept us playing.  They each gave us a gift…a gift of health, a gift of friendship and a gift of belonging – all precious gifts for which we should be deeply thankful.

So today, I want to say thank you our amazing USTA Kentucky staff.  Jason Miller, Kathy Klein, Bryan Hash, Stacey Croley, Taylor Urquhart, Kim Lonnemann, Maddie Notoris and Tim McCollum make-up what I would argue is the best state staff you’ll find anywhere.  They love tennis and are passionate about growing the game and making it accessible to all Kentuckians.  They are encouragers, inspirers and helpers who are eager to work with me and with all our providers across the state as we all strive to build tennis in our areas.

I am a Parks & Recreation person by trade and I know what it’s like to work long hours, nights and weekends like they do.  I appreciate each one of them and the time, energy and passion they bring to work every day.  You guys really are the best and I hope you know how much you are valued and appreciated!

On a personal note, there are two people I’d like to thank regarding me own personal tennis journey!  The first is Jason Miller, our Executive Director.  Years ago, he was the one who finally convinced me to pick up a racket and actually play the game. After many years as a tennis provider, he encouraged me to just sign up for a program or I’d never actually start playing, so I did, and he was right!  Playing in a 2.0 beginner league in Lexington was an absolute blast and I was hooked!

I also want to say thank you to Nancy Bishof, my adult league captain in Lexington.  Nancy single handedly kept me playing tennis by continuing to send me emails and keeping me in the loop on league registrations, match schedules and more.  Nancy was my first captain in the Lexington 2.0 league and captained most of the teams I’ve played on since then.  Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to play much the last couple of years due to work, travel and injuries, but Nancy, I promise, I’ll be back! Don’t give up on me! ??

There are so many others who have impacted me along the way, and I’m sure you can think of people that have shaped your life through tennis.  I hope you’ll reach out to them to say thank you and let them know how much they mean to you!

Also, in the spirit of giving thanks and giving back, there’s an awesome tournament in Lexington over Thanksgiving Weekend called the “Pavo Loco Tennis Holiday Tennis Tournament.” The format is three doubles courts (men’s, women’s & mixed) with all players being the same level (2.5 to 4.5 ).  This year’s event will be a Vegas theme, so everyone is encouraged to dress like “its Vegas, baby!!”  What happens at Pavo, may stay at Pavo, but the funds don’t!  Over the past 5 years they’ve raised over $50,000 for the Kids Cancer Alliance! 

If you’re looking for a fun way to burn off those Thanksgiving Day calories, make a difference and play Tennis, I encourage you to put a team together and join the fun!  Maybe Pavo becomes YOUR Thanksgiving tennis tradition, if it isn’t already! For more information, please visit their Facebook Page!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions?  Do any of them involve Tennis? If so, we’d love for you to share them and tag us @USTAKentucky #playtennisky!

Lastly, I am thankful for each and every one of you and all that you give to the game of tennis in your community and in our state! I hope that Thanksgiving is a treasured time for each of you, spent with people you love and who love you!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Rainey Johns