RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT: John Van De Water, Treasurer
John, retired from working in finance in the pharmaceutical industry in Michigan and New Jersey, started playing tennis when he was seven years old. His mother and oldest sister played a lot of tennis and their family was lucky enough to grow up pretty much right across the street from a tennis court. Very lucky indeed! John then played his first USTA junior tournament when he was 12.
During each of the first three years that John played USTA League tennis, his team won the Michigan state league playoffs and qualified for the Midwest Sectionals. Due to two moves and lack of playing opportunities, John didn’t make it back to states for 17 years. Six years after that, John’s team reached sectionals again.
“I definitely appreciate it when our team goes to states or beyond.”
So how did John get involved in the RTA? During some of John’s tennis outings with Ed Farley, former RTA Treasurer, they talked about the RTA and its mission to grow tennis in Raleigh. Intrigued, John decided to attend a couple of board meetings to see if it was something he wanted to be involved with. The answer was yes!
John has been an integral part of the Raleigh Tennis Association organization since 2012. He has spent countless hours overseeing the RTA's budget, tax compliance, and overall financial management activities. We could not operate without him.
John says that his tennis philosophy encompasses four things:
Playing your strengths
Sounds like good advice to us!
RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT: Kirk Wroblewski, President
Kirk picked up his first tennis racquet about nine years ago when he and his wife, Anna, decided to take a Raleigh Parks and Rec tennis beginners class at Lake Lynn. Prior to picking up a racquet, Kirk was an avid sand volleyball player. The tennis bug hit him pretty quickly after he started taking those tennis lessons at Lynn Lake, and he hasn’t looked back since!
“I'm enjoying the journey as I get better at tennis and the new challenges it presents along the way.”
Now one of his favorite things to do with his wife is to get out on the tennis court together and then grab dinner afterward. It's a great date night…“especially on the rare occasions that I win!”
When the RTA was looking for new board members, Kirk wanted to get involved in order to give back to a sport that he had come to really enjoy. He felt it would be great to help introduce and grow tennis in Raleigh with players like himself who had taken up the sport later in life.
When Kirk joined the board in January 2016, he and the board felt the RTA could use additional leadership to bring the RTA mission to life and oversee the great work being done by its volunteers and part-time contractors — it was time to bring on an executive director to lead the RTA’s next chapter. It was hiring Julie Dick to fill this new role that Kirk considers one of his greatest accomplishments as an RTA board member.
“Julie has made a significant impact on growing tennis in Raleigh.”
When Kirk isn’t on the court playing tennis at North Hills Club, playing a USTA League match, or supporting the community in his role as RTA President, he works for Deloitte Digital running their modern data platform teams.
Kirk’s "tennis" philosophy as it applies to life:
"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it."
RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT: Roberta Hadley, Vice President & RTA Serves Committee Chair
Roberta Hadley joined the Raleigh Tennis Association Board as Vice President in 2019. For the past ten years, Roberta has worked in Raleigh at Communities in Schools of Wake County and it was at a volunteer training event for work that she met RTA Executive Director, Julie Dick.
Julie knows an opportunity when she sees one and she saw one in Roberta! Julie recruited Roberta to leverage her experience to strengthen RTA’s National Junior Tennis and Learning (“NJTL”) programming and outreach efforts in order to impact more organizations within the Raleigh community. This led to the formation of the RTA Serves Committee which works to support the improvement of all NJTL Raleigh Chapters, expand RTA program grants, offer RTA college scholarships, and help introduce tennis to new faces across Raleigh. Later, Roberta was nominated to serve on the RTA Board of Directors. The rest is history...
In addition to her prior role at DOCTA and current role at the RTA, Roberta is a Diversity Immersion for Volunteer Engagement (“DIVE”) cohort member. DIVE is a USTA initiative to encourage individuals from underrepresented communities to become leaders within USTA.
Roberta started playing tennis in her 30s when she connected with the Durham-Orange County Tennis Association (“DOCTA”). Several of the DOCTA board members became her friends as well as her first tennis coaches. It was soon after that Roberta joined DOCTA's board and during their 20th-anniversary celebration, she received a well-deserved recognition award. Congrats, Roberta!
As a player, Roberta has competed in her fair share of USTA League North Carolina State matches in singles, doubles, and mixed. She credits her State Tennis Championship medal to Cindy W. Roberta and her partner, Lynsey E., won the 3.5 level of Just Doubles tournament. We have no doubt that she used her favorite shot, the overhead, to help clinch that title!
For years, Roberta and her friends traveled to Volvo Car Open in Charleston, SC as both a volunteer and a fan. She volunteered for the WTA tournament for seven years. A huge fan of pro tennis, she also attended the 2019 US Open.
Roberta feels strongly that “Tennis is powerful enough to change your life.” It’s her “tennis philosophy” and one that she lives by — tennis is the tool she uses to support young people who may be struggling off the court in some way.
“I smile when they smile.”
We do too, Roberta. Thanks for all that you do for the RTA and the greater Raleigh community!
RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT: BARB KELLEY, SECRETARY
Barb Kelley, RTA’s Board Secretary, grew up in New York. Both her parents played tennis and she has fond memories of her dad spending many weekend mornings teaching her tennis on the local high school courts.
Fast forward years later and tennis continues to be a big part of her family culture. Barb and her husband, Ed, play at Raleigh Racquet Club, and their sons, Ryan and Tim, both play as well. Their granddaughters, Adelaide and Cecelia, are taking up the family sport, too! Sounds like a mixed league team in the making!
In the early 2000s, Barb was fortunate to play on several USTA League teams out of the Raleigh Racquet Club that went on to Sectionals. In 2012, Barb was named NC Tennis Senior Female Player of the Year and, in 2015, she received RTA's Sportsmanship Award. Well deserved, Barb!
When not playing tennis, Barb had a successful and impactful career in education. Before coming to the Raleigh area, Barb taught physical education in Bangor, Maine for 29 years. While still teaching, she succeeded North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt as Chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the first teacher to serve in that position. After retiring from teaching, Barb worked for Asia Society's International Studies Schools Network, a network of schools around the country originally established to support low income and minority students in urban centers. She retired (for the second time!) in 2016.
In life, as in tennis, Barb thinks it's important to keep things in perspective. Her favorite quotes are both from Venus Williams, who she thinks has done a great job keeping things in perspective throughout her career.
In Wimbledon in 2004, Venus was ousted by an unseeded player 7-6, 7-6. The Chair Umpire lost track of the score during the second tiebreaker and awarded an extra point to Venus' opponent. She lost the tiebreaker 6-8. Rather than blaming the umpire afterward, she said "I'd like to think that one point doesn't make a difference."
Venus was recently asked if she ever cried after losing a match and she looked at the questioner in disbelief, replying with a laugh, "No! It's only tennis!"
Barb tries to bring the philosophy embodied in those two quotes to her tennis game.
“I think they can be applied to one's perspective about what really matters in life as well.”
RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT: BETH BEAM, PAST PRESIDENT
Beth Beam, RTA Past President and current Sr. Manager at DXC Technology, started playing tennis at age 6. Her grandfather, Frank Love, 2013 NC Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee, was an avid tennis enthusiast who enabled Beth to start playing by taking her to camps at Olde Providence Swim & Racquet Club in Charlotte, NC.
It was at those camps that Beth fell in love with tennis. From then on, she was hooked. Beth was an active junior player; playing junior tennis tournaments in both North Carolina and South Carolina and then on the UNC-Chapel Hill club team in college.
Although Beth took a 12-year break from tennis to raise her children, she’s been back on the court since 2000 and is an active league player. Her tennis achievements are vast and include 2003 NC Fall Combo League Finalist, among many others.
Beth got involved with the RTA when former RTA Community Coordinator, Susan Flanagan, encouraged her to apply for the board. And we’re so glad she did!
In 2015, Beth was nominated by Raleigh Parks & Rec for the 2015 Fred Fletcher Outstanding Volunteer award. Beth was President of the RTA when we won the first-ever USTA North Carolina Community Tennis Association of the Year Award. Way to go, Beth!
In addition to working with the RTA, Beth spent 6 years as a member of the NC Tennis Board of Directors and 4 years on the Board of Directors Management Committee. She has also been fortunate enough to have been selected to serve on committees at the USTA Southern Section level for the last 6 years and at the USTA National level for the last two. Congrats on your achievements, Beth!
“Success is a journey, not a destination” is Beth’s tennis philosophy. She still feels strongly that you can never rest on your laurels, you need to continuously improve and reinvent yourself. If you don't, you don't stand a chance on the court or in life to succeed! We agree!
BILL EDWARDS, IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
RTA Board of Directors Immediate Past President, Bill Edwards, grew up as a competitive swimmer. It wasn’t until college when Bill took a tennis class that he became hooked on the sport. During this time, he also worked part-time for Cy King at Millbrook Tennis Center.
While tennis remained a constant in his life, Bill also led an incredibly successful career in Electronic & Computer Engineering. He founded and operated an engineering services company before selling it and partially retiring a few years back.
Although he claims he has no major tennis accomplishments, his record indicates otherwise. He played on a World Team Tennis league team that competed in the National Tournament, and he has played in several USTA League teams that competed in the State Tournaments.
Bill’s commitment to tennis is not just evident in his playing skills but also in his contribution to the growth of the sport. He served as the President of the Raleigh Racquet Club' Board of Directors for several years and Interim General Manager for a short time. Until this past year, he served as President of the RTA Board of Directors for a four year tenure. Currently, he operates the Raleigh Pro League.
He had this to say about his service to the tennis community.
“It is so rewarding serving tennis communities in Raleigh. I truly believe it is a sport that can help kids live a more gratifying and successful life. I am so appreciative of the opportunities to grow the sport.”
In addition, Bill encourages others to dedicate some of their time to introduce tennis to more people and help make it more accessible for all Raleigh communities.
Bill’s tennis philosophy is “Stay active, stay focused, and keep moving!” As Bill says, this “works for tennis and works in life to be successful and enjoy the time you are given.”
Thank you, Bill for all you do for tennis in Raleigh!
JESSICA MILLER, JUNIOR COMMITTEE CHAIR
RTA’s Chair of the Junior Committee, Jessica Miller danced for 8 years before she discovered her passion for tennis. It was when she and her siblings participated in a NJTL camp that she first realized she enjoyed the sport. Because her Dad played tennis, her family frequented the courts.
With tennis at the advantage and dance classes out, Jessica focused on competitive play in her rural town of Virginia. She traveled for USTA tournaments and led the varsity team at her high school. After high school, she joined the club tennis team at NC State University.
Jessica’s attributes her impressive playing record to her perseverance and persistence during game play.
“I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories."
A VA State Finalist in 2009, a four-time Southern Valley District Player of the Year from years 2008 to 2011, and three-time Regional Player of the Year from 2009 to 2011 are just a few of Jessica’s accomplishments. In addition, she ranked #6 in VA, placed in the top 25 in Midatlantic Region in 2010, and was named City/County Student-Athlete of the Year in 2011. Through the years 2015-2017, Jessica was a Tennis on Campus National Qualifier. She was also a Raleigh Pro League Finalist in 2018 and a Raleigh Pro League Champion in 2019.
Aside from her incredible skills on the courts, Jessica also has a passion to give back to the tennis community. In 2019, she served as a liaison to the RTA Junior Council and in 2020, she became a RTA board member.
With much fondness for what the sport gave her, Jessica says “I'm thankful to tennis for all the wonderful memories it gave my family as I grew up!”
Thank you, Jessica for all you do for tennis in Raleigh!
CHARLES PERRETTI, BOARD MEMBER RTA Board Member Charles Perretti picked up tennis after Hurricane Charley raged through his hometown two weeks before his senior year of high school. With the destruction of the nearby basketball courts, Charles was unable to return to the sport that he loved.
He found the tennis courts near his house to be miraculously untouched by Hurricane Charley’s wrath. Destined for a future in tennis, Charles watched as his neighbors played the game. Before he knew it, he was “shanking forehands with the best of them.”
With an optimistic and lighthearted spirit, Charles is bound to realize his ultimate tennis dream of “making it to USTA Nationals without playing a single match in the playoffs.” He cheers, “here's to all the bench warmers out there!”
Aside from his big dream for playing the sport at the national level , Charles, an Operations staffer for Cisco and a US Army Reserve, serves the tennis community as a RTA Board member.
“For me, RTA offers an opportunity to be around the game I love while working alongside others who are passionate about the game and our Raleigh community.”
We are grateful to have Charles on “board” with our mission to positively impact the community through opportunities to grow and play the sport.
And, what’s Charles’s tennis philosophy?
“What stands in the way becomes the way". As with life, we can never predict the outcome of a tennis match; instead, it helps to focus on what we can control and the attitude we bring to the table.
Great words of wisdom! Thank Charles for what you do for RTA and the community it serves.
FAYE HOOKER, FUND-RAISING CHAIR
RTA BOARD Spotlight RTA’s Chair of Fundraising, Faye Hooker learned to play tennis so she could practice with her children who started the sport at a young age.
As her children’s skills progressed, with the coaching help from the pros at the Ebony Racquet Club, so did Faye’s skills. She refers to herself as the “tennis practice mom”, and she practices twice a week to sharpen her own game play.
However, Faye’s devotion to the sport expands beyond just helping her children master the game. She also works tirelessly to serve the tennis community. When the Raleigh City Council voted and approved funding for additional courts to be built at Biltmore Hills Park, Faye took action on behalf of the community when concern mounted on whether the courts would actually be built.
As an advocate for tennis in Raleigh, Faye serves on the RTA Board where she contributes to the promotion and growth of tennis through fund raising for RTA grant, scholarship programs and outreach initiatives which brings tennis opportunities into the entire community.
Her tennis philosophy is a great one.
“In the game of tennis you have to be willing to make adjustments depending on the challenge your opponent presents if you want to win. Life is very similar, you have to be willing to make adjustments as you run into different obstacles in your life's journey if you want to be successful.”
Thank you, Faye for all you do for tennis in Raleigh.
BRIAN ROSENTHAL, PAST PRESIDENT RTA BOARD SPOTLIGHT RTA’s Past Board President, Brian Rosenthal learned
to play tennis at just four years old. His father taught him the sport from their living room, and Brian has never looked back!
Brian ranked top 5 in the USTA-FL section as a junior, and he was named Florida High School Player Of The Year in 1996. Nationally ranked in the Top 50 as a junior earned him an athletic scholarship to NC State University. He was named All-ACC academic team in 2000 and 2001. Most recently, his team “RDUTennis” won the 2019 Raleigh Pro League.
Brian’s commitment to tennis not only serves him well on the courts but also the tennis community. Brian served as RTA’s 2nd Board President in 2009-2010, and he continues to help tennis thrive in Raleigh.
While the Director of Tennis at Brier Creek Country Club, Brian discovered that there was a need for tennis programming at various schools, parks and recreation departments, subdivisions, and country clubs in the area. With two facilities on board, Brian established RDUTennis, LLC in 2007. As of 2020, RDUTennis oversees programming at more than 30 facilities in North Carolina, 15 school programs in Washington D.C. and several programs in Central Florida.
Brian’s tennis philosophy is “Sometimes less is more!” We are grateful for Brian’s service to the Raleigh tennis community, and for what he does for the sport.