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Art Richards working with a blind student

“All my classes are free,” he says. “To better serve all of the community, [having] dedicated courts, specific to players’ needs, is a must. Some communities have dedicated courts, but none for the [special needs].”

For his blind players he tapes down tactile lines, doing so for the fourth straight year in Rotonda West. Last year he received an invitation as a U.S. representative to attend the first International Blind Tennis Tournament, held in Spain.

This year is his 48th volunteering in tennis, starting in 1970 in Massachusetts, and continuing in Florida when he relocated in 2000.

“Dreams, like these people dream, don’t materialize on their own,” he says of his blind and wheelchair students and why he volunteers in tennis. “Tennis is the sport for a lifetime — let’s make it that way for all.”

USTA Florida thanks Art Richards as the May 2018 Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month for his work introducing tennis to and working with special-needs and all tennis players in the Rotonda West and surrounding communities.

 

ABOUT ART

Birthplace: Boston, Mass.
Family Members: wife deceased, five children, 18+ grandchildren, 16+ great grandchildren
Favorite Movie: A Christmas Story
Favorite Food: shrimp with pasta
Favorite Travel: Maui, Hawaii
Favorite Shot: “Backhand crosscourt drop shot from baseline side line, ad court”

My earliest tennis memory was…”Watching [tennis] in amazement at age 12 after church on Sunday mornings. People dressed in whites, hitting white balls, on public courts.”

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…”My deceased wife, my blind student and my granddaughter.”

When I am not playing tennis I am…”Working part-time two days and serving on community committees.”

My best tennis memory is…”Presenting clinics in deaf schools in Massachusetts with a deaf teaching pro.”

I like to volunteer in tennis because…”It’s the best family sport that lasts for a lifetime.”

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