Our Serve: The Champions around us
I had an unusual pleasure on a recent trip to Florida — I met up with two tennis industry friends and spent a wonderful few hours talking about tennis history, the business of tennis, and where things seem to be headed. Carlos Goffi has coached for nearly 40 years, mostly junior players, including John and Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carillo and Peter Fleming, among many others; he and Fleming developed a resort in South Carolina into a top tennis destination; and he wrote the tennis bestseller “Tournament Tough” with McEnroe. Marketing and p.r. expert and tennis insider Randy Walker, who is with New Chapter Media, is, well, one of the most knowledgeable people about the sport I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
Over dinner at an excellent Brazilian restaurant in Orlando, Carlos told us about growing up in Sao Paulo, his time on the pro tour, meeting and working with the legendary Harry Hopman (who introduced him into coaching), the time when the students he coached were turning pro (Carlos was the pro at South Orange where Fleming-McEnroe began their dominant career as a doubles team), and the business of coaching and running tennis camps. Carlos clearly loves this sport, and he is extremely proud that his son Josh is in this business as the men’s tennis head coach at the University of South Carolina.
One theme that seemed to run through our conversation is how, in the tennis business, you often keep running back into people you had met years before. Those of us who have been in this industry for a while, like Carlos, Randy and me, see that all the time. It’s one of the nice things about the tennis industry — the good people who keep rotating back into your life.
And that got me thinking about this issue of RSI and our “Champions of Tennis” award winners, and how great it is to recognize those in the tennis business who have been doing some amazing things.
We’re now into our 11th year of these awards, which have grown to 20 categories, and there’s a good chance that you know someone who has won one of our awards over the years. Maybe it’s someone you worked with years ago at a tennis facility, retail store or manufacturer, or someone you currently deal with in a national or local tennis organization.
But sitting with Carlos and Randy, I realized that our “Champions of Tennis” awards are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the great people who “champion” this sport in one way or another. On a practical level for RSI, that can be an overwhelming thought — there are so many great people out there, how do we know who to choose for our awards?
On the other hand, I’m certain we’ll never run out of great people who are truly “Champions of Tennis.”
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.