RTA Donates 30K to the City of Raleigh for Court Resurfacing
December 4, 2018
The Raleigh Tennis Association continues to promote, administer, and grow tennis for all communities in Raleigh. One of our key initiatives is tennis court advocacy. Typically, this takes the form of encouraging City government to support projects that provide new tennis courts for Raleigh. But this past Tuesday, it took on a different form. The Raleigh Tennis Association donated $30,000 to the City of Raleigh to be used by Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources for resurfacing of existing tennis courts. RTA’s President Bill Edwards and Executive Director Julie Dick presented a check to Ken Hisler, Assistant Director for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, at the December 4th Raleigh City Council meeting. Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced the check presentation and thanked the RTA for the donation and the continued partnership with the City of Raleigh.
It is important that our existing public tennis courts, especially those used for USTA leagues and programming, are maintained in good condition so all tennis players can continue to enjoy the game with good facilities.
The RTA partners with the City of Raleigh, local organizations and private clubs to help make tennis accessible for all players and provide excellent facilities for our growing tennis community.
Below is a link to watch our check presentation to the city council, (which starts at the 8 minute 40 second mark of the video).
Read about Raleigh's 2019 Best Pro of the Year
RRC’S Carlos Garcia and the American Team Win the Amigos Cup
by Gwynn Thayer
RRC’s Carlos Garcia once again crossed international borders to further the sport of tennis and serve as an ambassador of the sport: from October 17-20 Garcia joined his American teammates in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to compete in the prestigious Amigos Cup competition with Team USA against Mexico.
The Amigos Cup was established in 1981 to promote friendship and camaraderie between tennis players from Mexico and the United States. The host cities in the United States have included Huntington Beach, Naples, Palm Beach, and New Orleans, among other venues, and the competition includes both on-court (a planned schedule of 25 singles and doubles matches) and off-court activities, including a formal dinner, all meant to foster international goodwill.
But the roots of this competition go much deeper, and begin with the creation of the International (Lawn Tennis) Club, which was conceived of in England in 1923, not many years after the devastation and chaos of World War I had destroyed the lives of a generation of young men in Europe. The purpose was to bring together countries that had been at war with one another. Its motto: Hands across the net, friendship across the ocean.
After a conversation during the Wimbledon Championships in 1923, former British Prime Minister Lord Arthur Balfour (1902-1905) worked with tennis writer Arthur Wallis Myers to establish an international club in England. Not by chance, the club came into being only several years after the League of Nations was founded in 1920. The League of Nations, the brainchild of Woodrow Wilson, was an international organization established after the Great War to create a forum for resolving international disputes. Both of these organizations -- one in the sporting realm, and the other in the political realm -- sought a noble purpose: to find common ground and peace across boundaries and differing cultures.
The International Club (IC) ultimately proved to be more successful and far outlasted the League of Nations. The IC was officially founded in 1924 in Great Britain, and many national clubs were formed soon thereafter: The French followed in 1929, when Wimbledon champion Jean Borotra (one of the famed “Four Musketeers” of 1920s and 1930s French tennis) was approached by Myers and Charles Earnest Leonard Lyle (“Lord Lyle” of the United Kingdom) to establish a club in France. Myers believed strongly that tennis was a lifetime game and wanted to establish a model for the young in order to demonstrate that it was possible to play the sport for a lifetime.
Other countries followed and established their own international clubs: the United States and the Netherlands in 1931; Czechoslovakia in 1933; Sweden in 1937, and after World War II, many more, for a total of around 40. Most clubs began a tradition of entertaining the visiting team during their country’s major tournament with the emphasis on building new cross-cultural friendships.
But when most of us face our opponent on the tennis court, furthering world peace and promoting international diplomacy may not be foremost in our minds. Tennis is often compared most closely with the blood and sweat combat of boxing, but it certainly has other elements unique to itself; it is a sport that has been described by tennis historian Elizabeth Wilson as “balletic, pugilistic and operatic.”
How, then, does Garcia balance good sportsmanship and the pursuit of international friendships in tennis with the fierce desire to win for one’s team?
This is a question that Garcia has reflected on both as a coach and as a player; he notes that before the matches begin, both teams in an international club competition spend time together and connect through their deep love of the game and their unified interest in promoting the sport. Even if they don’t speak the same national language, “We speak a common language, and that’s tennis. Everyone absolutely loves to play tennis.”
However, once the competition starts, “You see everyone getting their game faces on. It builds through the weekend, but it’s ‘game on’ right after the anthems are played. The switch is flipped.”
Garcia acknowledges that “we’ve gotten really good at learning how to turn it off and learning how to turn it back on. There was some serious competitiveness this (past) weekend. Everyone got their game faces on very quickly.” This year, Garcia contributed one winning point for his team in a victorious singles match; he battled through another one which ended in a loss, but this hard-fought match nonetheless offered Garcia opportunities to try new strategies in his game that he might not otherwise have attempted if the match had been an easy win. But the American team was victorious, 12-10, and took home the Amigos Cup.
This is not the first year that Garcia has played for the American team. While he was working at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, as the men’s tennis coach, he was invited to join the International Club in 2014 -- a tremendous honor in itself, with membership dependent on a nomination from one member and then two additional supporting votes. He was asked to join by Jeff Snow, who had led the American team in the Sorlien Cup competition against Canada. Garcia has played in the Amigos Cup -- once called in the Rafael Osuna Cup -- since 2017.
2017 was in fact a seminal year for Carlos Garcia in international competition: not only was it his first year to join the Amigos Cup team, but he was also awarded the Mexican tie in an important celebratory ritual which is integral to the spirit of the competition. “I had some epic battles in 2017 at the Amigos Cup, some of the most physical matches I have ever played,” Garcia recalls. “I’m happy as I can be if I win and I’m devastated if I lose, but at the end of the day we talk about the match afterward and share stories.”
After the two teams spend on-court and off-court time with one another, during a formal evening dinner celebration, each team selects a member of the opposing team whom they feel has demonstrated the most sportsmanlike behavior that represents the highest ideals of sport of tennis. Garcia explains, “Based on what you bring to the event -- the energy you bring to the team, the energy you bring to the respect for your opponents, your play, and how you carry yourself,” one individual from each team is selected to receive the honorary tie from the opposing team.
Exemplary behavior is expected. To be sure, one of the non-negotiable rules in the International Club is to behave with dignity on the court. As Garcia points out, “There is no racket throwing, no outbursts. You play hard, you play fair, and if you don’t, you don’t come back!” One must always treat one’s opponent with respect.
Garcia places great importance on abiding by these ideals. In fact, when Garcia was awarded the Mexican tie in 2017 -- the first year he was even a team member -- “It was one of my fondest memories of tennis and one of the greatest moments of my life.”
For Garcia, earning the tie was especially meaningful because of his own Mexican heritage and his family’s lifelong love of tennis. Garcia grew up in Tennessee in a large family (he was the youngest of seven children) that all loved and played tennis; his father was Mexican and his mother was American. Garcia’s father, Dr. Joseph Garcia, was a tennis player and the founding director of the Cedar Bluff Racquet Club in Knoxville. He was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994.
Garcia explains, “I felt like the Mexicans felt my passion for the Mexican culture because of my father’s background. My father was Mexican. For him, that would have made his day to see me being awarded an honorary member of the Mexican team, and they (all) knew that. A lot of my stories were about my family. But they can tell that I’m raw, because I don’t speak the language, and with a name like Garcia, it is embarrassing.”
Garcia emphasized that the men he played with in Puerto Vallarta are an “exceptional group of gentlemen in terms of how they treated us. They are some of the nicest men I have ever played with. (But) they are in it to win it. They know the importance of how you respect their game. I learned a lot about their professionalism, and how humble they are to their opponents.”
Tennis in Mexico is in fact in a transitional phase. Mexico’s most famous player, Rafael Osuna, for whom the Osuna Cup is named and who at one point was ranked number one in the world, died tragically in a plane crash in 1969 at the age of 30. The heydey of men’s tennis in Mexico has not been matched since; Garcia points out that Mexico in recent years has had a difficult time getting professional players into the top 100 in the professional tour. Tennis facilities in Mexico are not as large or well-funded; a typical club might have four courts rather than 25-30. Still, despite these challenges, the Mexican players competing for the Amigos Cup were able to put together a formidable team that gave the Americans a challenge to remember.
Garcia hopes to continue playing with the International Club and to compete for the Amigos Cup for years to come. Serving as team captain is a dream of his, as is continuing to play for the team for as long as he can, despite a lingering knee problem. “I have a lot left that I plan on doing,” Garcia smiles. If Garcia isn’t on the courts at RRC coaching a player or leading a clinic, he’s probably traveling around the world to further his game and promote his deep love for tennis.