| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

“I was introduced to tennis 40 years ago this year through the efforts of tennis players giving back to their sport,” said Joe Arias, district board president, Long Island Region Suffolk County delegate, president of Arias Tennis Corp., USTA High Performance coach, USPTA Certified Pro 1 and specialist in competitive player development.

“Tennis was a life-changing experience for me then and continues to be so every day. I’m proud to be a part of the USTA Suffolk County District volunteer team ready to share our passion for tennis with the Suffolk County community. The USTA Suffolk County District Board has developed a menu of initiatives and programs designed to do just that.”

Collectively, the USTA Suffolk County District board aims to promote tennis throughout Suffolk County by pooling resources, establishing a network of volunteers, and growing USTA membership and the number of players in the area.

Jim Donnelly was recently selected vice president of the USTA Suffolk County District board and is the owner of Grand Slam Tennis in Commack, N.Y.

“I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to learn and play the great sport of tennis, and also be able to educate others in how the proper racquets, strings, sneakers and clothing can help them enjoy playing tennis more and increase their level of play,” said Donnelly.

“I started playing USTA adult league tennis 12 years ago and have enjoyed the new friendships and lifelong relationships of my fellow teammates,” said Donna Arias, district board secretary, area sales representative for Bolle Tennis Wear, Jet Pac Tennis Bags and DIMR’s, apparel buyer and sales for Grand Slam Tennis in Commack and active USTA Adult league player. “I’ve also been fortunate enough at the 3.0 Level to compete at Nationals in Tuscon, Ariz. What’s great about league play is you can compete at any level and age. Tennis is now a major part of my life, and I’m enjoying every moment of it.”

Jimmy Delevante is a USPTA-certified tennis professional who also has a master’s degree in psychology from The City University of New York.

“It can be difficult to discuss things like focus, mental toughness and emotion regulation during lessons because of the complex nature of these topics,” said Delevante, who trains junior and adult tennis players year-round and emphasizes the mental aspect of tennis which he feels is often overlooked. “However, these aspects of tennis are present at every level of the game and shouldn't be neglected. A player’s ability to regulate their emotions during play is a skill that can be developed through proper training. Players who can better understand their emotions and use them to their advantage ultimately have a better chance to succeed at their level.”

Joshua Wolfson is a New York State-certified physical education teacher and a certified New York State health education teacher.

“It is my experience that a player’s physical fitness level plays a big role in their overall growth and production as a tennis player,” said Wolfson. “Players of all ages are susceptible to various types of injuries on the tennis court. Basic fitness training not only improves strength and endurance on and off the court, but it is also plays a crucial role in injury prevention, assuming the focus of your training is perfect form. Wouldn’t it be nice to play tennis and not have to worry about sore knees and tennis elbow?”

In addition to his teaching career, Wolfson has pursued certifications from the ISSA as a certified fitness trainer and the USPTA as a certified tennis instructor.

John Cook is a nationally-ranked adult tournament player and USPTA professional who has spent more than half of his life teaching tennis.

“I truly believe that athletics, in particular tennis, and education are mutually beneficial partners,” said Cook. “While most people accept the importance of a ‘good education,’ they often marginalize the term to encompass only a classroom education. In truth, life is an ongoing process of learning and growth with the whole world as a ‘classroom!’ And tennis, I would argue, is a microcosm of life.”

Cook added, “The ancient Greeks, in particular, believed that athletics were essential to the philosophical development of their youth, strengthening such qualities as enthusiasm, serenity, patience, concentration and fearlessness; qualities which few people would deny are as important today as then. I would further suggest that the sport of tennis touches on every single possible subject studied in an actual classroom, from geometry and physics to philosophy and psychology, with its own language and history to boot! The lifetime process of learning worthwhile things is, by definition, ‘education,’ and tennis with its many worthwhile things to teach is, I believe, a perfect educational compliment!”

The USTA Suffolk County District board of John Cook, Joshua Wolfson, James Delevante, Joe Arias, Donna Arias and James Donnelly gather for a photo