April 6th, 2021
Florida Coaches Named Tennis Channel Topspin Top 50 Coaches; in Running for America’s Top Coach
Who do you think should be named America’s Top Coach?
Tennis Channel’s “TOPSPIN” is celebrating the best tennis coaches in America – those with uniquely inspiring personalities and a special passion for teaching and growing tennis. Players across America nominated their favorite coaches within their regions, and after counting the nominations and a panel of Tennis Channel judges, the Top 50 have been chosen. Seven of the Top 50 coaches represent Florida in the Southeast category.
Jackie Bohannon – Sarasota, Bird Key Yacht Club
A certified USPTA, PTR, and Tennis Canada Tennis Professional, Bohannon is the Director of Tennis at Bird Key Yacht Club. Coaching has been the perfect hybrid of two of her lifelong passions: tennis and helping others. She discovered her interest in coaching while attending Stetson University. Her official teaching experience began with Nike Tennis Camps at Rollins College, before she moved to the US Military Academy West Point. She has volunteered and donated lessons, clinics, and equipment to several organizations and community programs, including Junior League, Boys and Girls Club, Operation Kindness benefitting Wounded Warriors, and Save the Seabirds.
Kara Borromeo – Palmetto Bay, Coral Reef Park
Borromeo, a USPTA and PTR Certified Tennis Professional, is the Director/Head Pro at Coral Reef Park in Miami. She, alongside her late partner Lee Pettis and their chihuahua mascots (Cisco, Azul and Mozart), love to deliver fun programs that build character and serve all ages and abilities in one of the most diverse and demanding communities in Florida. She gives back to the sport by volunteering for programs like Special Olympics and helping college students become community coaches. During the pandemic, she implemented safety protocols to get players back on the courts, and she mentored five students who are USPTA certified instructors and now teach at the park.
Laura Vallverdu – Miami, Miami Beach Tennis Center
A native of Valencia, Venezuela, Vallverdu serves as the Director of Player Development/Academy Manager at the Miami Beach Tennis Center, where she has been able to share her love and passion for the sport with anyone interested in playing. Her community inspired her to create her own company, Between Lines, a platform that provides education about tennis. She is also the Associate Head Coach for the University of Miami Women’s Tennis Team and consults for junior players trying to navigate the junior/college pathway. Her passions are female coaches’ relevance, junior career management, mindset development, coaches’ education, and elevating the tennis culture.
Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix – Delray Beach, Love Serving Autism
Pugliese-LaCroix is a USPTA and PTR Elite Certified Tennis Professional and a Speech-Language Pathologist in Autism. She created the non-profit Love Serving Autism in January 2017, which provides a therapeutic experience for adaptive athletes on the court with an adaptive tennis pathway and integrates speech, occupational, physical & behavioral therapists into the programs. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she created a virtual tennis program that teaches fitness, hand-eye coordination, & social skills for players with Autism. Her organization partnered with the American Tennis Association in 2020 to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry.
Rita Dotson – Pensacola, Roger Scott Tennis Center
Dotson is a PTR Professional/USPTA Elite Professional, who serves as the Director of Junior Tennis at the Roger Scott Tennis Center. She is also the President of Tennis-4-Everyone, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 that provides free year-round tennis instruction and academic tutoring throughout the school year to local youth. She serves on the USTA Florida Board of Directors, is a Special Olympics and Love Serving Autism Coach, and has won a variety of awards throughout the years for her dedication to tennis and coaching.
Andrei Daescu – Palm Beach Gardens, Ballenisles Country Club
The Head Tennis Professional at the Ballenisles Country Club, Daescu is a former competitor on the professional tour, reaching a career-high of No. 126 in doubles and No. 655 in singles. The highlights of his professional career include playing in the Davis Cup representing his native country of Romania and participating in the 2015 US Open. At Ballenisles Country Club, Daescu is heavily involved with managing the adult team tennis program and was an important factor in the development of a junior program. He is involved with the Ballenisles Charity Foundation, supports the Play for Pink and Tennis Thanks the Troops Foundations, and assists with Love Serving Autism in South Florida.
John A. Richards III – Orlando, Fort Gatlin Tennis Center
Richards is a jack of all trades in the Orlando area. He serves as the Director of Tennis at the Fort Gatlin Tennis Center, the President of Central Florida Tennis Management Associates, the Vice President of the Posh Rock Tennis Foundation (NJTL), a Head Tennis Coach for Special Olympics Florida (Orange County), and the Boone High School Tennis Coach. Richards’ goal is to grow the game of tennis in all areas, as well as help bridge the gap between the African American community and the sport. He was selected to head the National African American D&I task force for USPTA and is also an integral member of USTA Florida’s Amplify initiative.
You can support our USTA Florida coaches by voting once a day through April 11.
The Top 10 coaches will receive 1-year paid USPTA or PTR membership dues, plus special edition Tennis Channel apparel, Amazon gift cards, a 1-year subscription to Tennis Channel Plus, and prize packs for their home clubs. The final round of voting for America’s Top Coach will begin April 19.