While growing up as the son of a steel worker in a blue-collar, football-loving town in western Pennsylvania, Ron Manilla didnt know much about tennis.
So when a monsignor at the Catholic school he had just started attending as a ninth-grader tried to recruit him to a tennis team that was short on players, Manilla who had played only football and basketball to that point scoffed.
I said, No way Im playing that sport. Thats a sissy sport, Manilla recalled. He said, Why dont you show up at the tennis courts tomorrow and Ill show you who the sissy is.
So I went out there and he just pulverized me up and down I thought I was going to die, Manilla said, laughing. And that was it. I just realized it was a really fun sport, a really tough sport, and ever since that day Ive been hitting tennis balls.
More than a half-century after first picking up a racket, Manilla is retiring. The longtime tennis director at the University of Virginia Foundation-owned Boars Head Sports Club a fixture in the Charlottesville tennis community, on the UVA tennis scene and in the Special Olympics world has announced that March 12 will be his last official day as a full-time teaching professional.
The man with the jovial disposition, the Santa Claus-like beard and the million-watt smile will be missed.
He not only touched the lives of many because of the racket in your hand, but also with the delivery of life lessons along the way, Boars Head General Manager Russ Cronberg said. Without a doubt, Ron has directly shaped the importance of tennis in our community.
When I think of the Boars Head Sports Club and of the people who make that place so special, I think of Ron Manilla, UVA mens tennis head coach Andres Pedroso said. Hes someone who treats everyone with consideration, is so kind to everybody, a friend to everybody in the organization and all the members. He says hello to everybody, is very flexible with everybody and is just a very friendly person who has been a joy to be around.
Hes been a major asset for not only the Boars Head, but also for UVA tennis and the Special Olympics.
Manilla, who has taught tennis to three generations of Charlottesville families, smiles when thinking back to his earliest days in the sport. He grew up in the small steel-mining town of Farrell before attending high school in Erie and then going on to play tennis at Gannon University (also in Erie), where he served as team captain.
The more Manilla played, the more his love for the game grew. His favorite players were Bjrn Borg and Evonne Goolagong.
After graduating with a degree in psychology in 1973, Manilla worked as a guidance counselor for troubled youth in Erie and served as Gannons head coach.
I knew how to play, but I didnt know much about coaching, Manilla said. There werent many books about it back then. I just had to start analyzing stroke technique and that kind of thing and just go from there.
Tired of Pennsylvanias cold weather, and with his older brother, Larry, living in Culpeper, Manilla moved to Charlottesville in 1976. He again worked with troubled youths through Charlottesvilles Community Attention program and taught tennis part-time at the YMCA, as well as in the city and county parks and recreation departments. Manilla combined his passions for teaching tennis and helping kids via a program he helped institute for latch-key children.
I considered myself like a grass-roots pro. I think that was the type of style that I used for the rest of my career, Manilla said. It was about being community-oriented and teaching tennis to as many people as I possibly could.
Manilla started as the full-time YMCA tennis director in the late 1970s. Soon after, he started the Get Acquainted Tennis Club, an adult program that he ran for 33 years worth of Saturday mornings at Charlottesville High School.
We went after players who had played, but who had quit playing due to jobs and raising kids, Manilla said. At times, we had over 200 people coming. It was so cool to help get so many players back to the game.
He was a darn good coach. You could see the quality of his tennis expertise in the way he worked with [players]. He was able to impart to them the tennis guidance they really needed.
- Lloyd Rauppfather of Special Olympics tennis player Chris Raupp
Manilla took over as director of the Atlantic Coast Athletic Club on Four Seasons Drive in the mid-1980s before coming to the Boars Head in 1995. It gave me an opportunity to really expand my career both as a tennis teacher and a tournament director, Manilla said. I had a staff, a beautiful facility and was able to get into a whole new style of teaching.
Manilla has been instrumental in bringing a pair of professional tournaments to the Boars Head that, starting in 2002, Charlottesville community members have flocked to.
Many fans still talk about the womens event held in 2003 that featured Russian superstar Anna Kournikova. Spectators started showing up at 7:30 a.m. for the 5 p.m. match. The place became so packed that some onlookers climbed trees to get a glimpse of the action. The match wound up being the last of Kournikovas career; she retired immediately after.
Over the years, several other high-profile players have come to play in the events including former No. 1 players Jelena Jankovi and Samantha Stosur, recent Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, former UVA star Danielle Collins, teen sensation Coco Gauff, career grand slam doubles winner Leander Paes, all-time aces leader Ivo Karlovic and former top-10 player Jack Sock.
All the players always say he is one of the best tournament directors, said former UVA star Treat Huey, who has enjoyed a successful doubles career on the pro tour since graduating in 2008. Hes always talking to everybody and asking them if he can do anything to help anybody.
He does such a professional job with those tournaments, UVA womens tennis head coach Sara OLeary said. I think whats amazing is all the great players who come to play in them because he runs them so professionally and does such a great job. Players know these are great tournaments and are so well-run.
In 2008, Manilla started the Xperience Special Olympics tennis tournament at the Boars Head.
We could have no better champion for Special Olympics than Ron Manilla, David Thomason, vice president of advancement for Special Olympics Virginia, said. Ron has opened so many doors for us in the Charlottesville community and far beyond. He opened the doors of Boars Head Sports Club for sure, but, as importantly, he opened the doors for connection with a community that, at his prompting and through his example, has enthusiastically and generously embraced Special Olympics Virginias core values of respect, inclusion and unity, and allowed people of all abilities to succeed on the court, in school, at work, and in the community.
Rons approach has exemplified what we want to achieve at SOVA using sport as a catalyst for attitudinal and societal change.
In 2018, Manilla served as the Special Olympics coach for Virginia at the USA Games in Seattle. The next year, he was a national coach at the World Games in Abu Dhabi, Dubai.
Local resident Chris Raupp, a Special Olympian who has worked in food preparation for Aramark at UVAs Newcomb Hall dining room since 1992, played under Manilla on those teams, winning a gold medal in doubles at the World Games.
He was a darn good coach, said Lloyd Raupp, Chris father. You could see the quality of his tennis expertise in the way he worked with [players]. He was able to impart to them the tennis guidance they really needed. He was able to work with them psychologically as well calming them down mentally and physically. And he would yell, too. He wasnt wishy-washy about it. He was there to get [players] to play the best that they could.
At the singles event in Abu Dhabi, Chris Raupp finished fourth and didnt medal after coming down with an illness.
We saw Ron consoling him afterward and telling him, Hey, you did good. You are the fourth-best player in the world. Dont you forget that, Sue Raupp, Chris mother, said.
He and Chris are best friends, she added. He talks about how he loves Chris, and Chris loves him.
Manilla has four children of his own with his former wife, Diana Marchibroda. At one point, all four worked in tennis, and in 2008 the Mid-Atlantic United States Tennis Association named the Manillas the Virginia Family of the Year.
At the time, Manillas oldest son, Dominic, had just graduated from Old Dominion University and was starting his career as a coach; Danny, who also played at ODU, was teaching tennis in Leesburg; Anna, who played for Western Albemarle High School, was working as a USTA league coordinator; and Joey, after also starring at WAHS, was playing at Christopher Newport University.
That was the coolest thing that could ever happen to a dad whose life is tennis, said Manilla, breaking into a wide smile. That was really cool. All four of my kids stayed in tennis. It was very humbling to me that theyd want to do it.
Treat Huey still gets a chuckle when he thinks back to the time UVA played a match against ODU. A normally staunch supporter of the Cavalier teams, Ron Manilla was cheering loudly for Dominic, a player on the Monarchs team.
He was a really big UVA fan, but he wasnt that day for sure, said Huey, laughing. And I thought that was really cool.
Manillas talent as an instructor was recognized in 2013 when the Professional Tennis Registry named him an International Master Pro, a distinction tantamount to a lifetime achievement award.
Tim Rose, the chief executive officer of the UVA Foundation, which operates the Boars Head Resort, said Manilla helped elevate the clubs tennis reputation on the East Coast.
Manilla also gave Rose his first-ever lesson. I was jumping up to swat my serve, emulating what I had seen on TV, Rose recalled. Ron suggested we start with just trying to get it over the net!
Rose said Manilla has been a teacher, a colleague and a friend.
Members of the Boars Head staff likely share a similar sentiment. Around the club, its commonplace to see them immersed in deep conversation with Manilla.
Pedroso said Manilla always seems to be in a good mood.
Every time you see him, he says hello genuinely, Pedroso said. And he stays relaxed. Ron just kind of takes everything in stride. He just has a special presence about him where you want to be around him. He lightens the mood and makes being around him very pleasant. I think thats why hes been around for so long. People want to be around people like that.
During a recent workday, Manilla gave a lesson to a 3- and a 4-year-old, then followed it up with a session with a woman in her 90s.
Manilla still plans to give lessons when he can and will stay involved in hosting the clubs professional tournaments, as well as the Xperience, but at age 70, he will no longer be on the court feeding balls to players for 27 to 30 hours a week.
When you turn my age, you start to think about things that you should be doing, Manilla said. Ive done this for so long. Is it that Im tired and just ready to quit? No, because I still have a passion for it. Do I really want to give that up? Well no, I really dont want to, but thats all Ive ever done feeding balls to people. And its been wonderful. Ive created great friendships.
But you just get to this point where you [realize] you havent done much of anything else. It was a hard decision to make, but I feel it was the right thing to do. I want to see my grandkids and get involved in their lives and be able to drive down to Norfolk and watch ODU [where Dominic is now head coach] play every single match.
I consider myself very lucky to have had all the experiences that Ive had. I just feel very grateful for everything.
Read the original post:
A Lifelong Love Affair Is Coming to an End for This Revered Tennis Teacher - UVA Today
- Fauci: Paul doesn't know what he's talking about | TheHill - The Hill - July 27th, 2021
- Should the US return to the gold standard? No - The Daily World - July 27th, 2021
- Should the US Return to the Gold Standard? InsideSources - InsideSources - July 27th, 2021
- TEXAS Thumbs: Texas Dems in disarray and Houston gets snubbed HOUSTON CHRONICLE - Houston Chronicle - July 27th, 2021
- VAERS reports may initiate investigations into potential associations between a vaccine and adverse events, but on their own cannot prove causality -... - July 27th, 2021
- Selected Quotes And Seven Lessons From The Hard Money Mini-Documentary - bitcoinist.com - July 27th, 2021
- POLITICO Playbook: Is McCarthy prepared for Trump's wrath about the Jan. 6 committee? - POLITICO - Politico - July 27th, 2021
- 'Wet Hot American Summer' cast 20 years later: Where are they now? - Wonderwall - July 27th, 2021
- Sen. Rand Paul wades into Texas governor's race against Gov. Abbott - Houston Chronicle - July 23rd, 2021
- Ron Paul: 'Ed-Exit' To Protect Your Kids From Critical Race Theory OpEd - Eurasia Review - July 23rd, 2021
- Thirty Years After Slacker, the Film Is an Austin Time CapsuleAnd a Hopeful Tribute to Its Spirit - Texas Monthly - July 23rd, 2021
- Cornyn Joins Letter Urging Biden Administration to Abandon the Tax-Hike Proposal on Farmers and Ranchers - Senator John Cornyn - July 23rd, 2021
- Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of July 23 - ECM Publishers - July 23rd, 2021
- Letters to the Editor: July 22, 2021 - TCPalm - July 23rd, 2021
- It will be remembered: Trump allies cross him in special election - POLITICO - July 18th, 2021
- Sens. Rick Scott, Ron Johnson and Colleagues on Democrats' Partisan Spending Bill: America Needs to Invest in Infrastructure Without Out-of-Control... - July 18th, 2021
- Lifting the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba Will Create Wealth and Prosperity for Both Countries - Energy & Capital - July 18th, 2021
- Wild and the Expansion Draft: What you need to know - BlueJackets.com - July 18th, 2021
- All-time City Golf champions - The Herald-Times - July 18th, 2021
- Want to Buy a Luxury Watch? Read These 7 Pro Tips First - The Wall Street Journal - July 18th, 2021
- What issues will guide the 2022 election? Check ads from GOP senators - Deseret News - July 18th, 2021
- Sunday's letters: Blame unvaccinated for pandemic, women stand against abortion ban, more - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - July 18th, 2021
- Daye looks back on over 40 years as local banker - Wilkes Journal Patriot - July 14th, 2021
- Golfing with Wynn: Could there be a dynasty forming in the Tuesday Men's League? - St. Albans Messenger - July 14th, 2021
- Sports for the Record: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Sports News | tulsaworld.com - Tulsa World - July 14th, 2021
- The Point, July 14, 2021: 'The Bay Is Really Hurting': Red Tide Kills Thousands Of Fish In Tampa Bay - WUFT - July 14th, 2021
- COVID Community Test Sites In Mpls., St. Paul, Bloomington To Close By End Of The Week - CBS Minnesota - June 28th, 2021
- Around the County - Runnels County Register - June 28th, 2021
- Pride Parties, Openings, And More FOMO-inducing Events From The Weekend! - Daily Front Row - June 28th, 2021
- Trump isnt the dictator: Wisconsin GOP inches away from Trump - POLITICO - June 28th, 2021
- Lets run Selective Service up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes - The Boston Globe - June 28th, 2021
- The Life And Career Of Ron Johnson (Complete Story) - Browns Nation - June 28th, 2021
- Rease and Keshequa made winning a habit - pickinsplinters.com - June 28th, 2021
- Ron Paul: Let Bitcoin Compete With the Dollar - Yahoo Finance - June 4th, 2021
- Former congressman Ron Paul: Bitcoin is money and should be taxed the same - Cointelegraph - June 4th, 2021
- Bitcoin 2021 conference: Speaker line-up and what to expect... - The US Sun - June 4th, 2021
- Ron Johnson is still weighing whether to run for a third senate term next year, but says he's 'panicked' for the nation - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - June 4th, 2021
- Sen. Rick Scott Doubles Down on Call for Congressional Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19 | SENATOR RICK SCOTT - Senator Rick Scott - June 4th, 2021
- Ron Onesti: "Have I told you " - Chicago Daily Herald - June 4th, 2021
- University of Michigan to retain name on Weiser Hall, president says - MLive.com - June 4th, 2021
- Bird Droppings: Arizona Cardinals start OTAs, Kyler Murray leading the way, Cardinals sign new punter, PFFs - Revenge of the Birds - June 4th, 2021
- Will The Bitcoin Miami Conference Be A Catalyst For Recovery? - bitcoinist.com - June 4th, 2021
- Entertainment Leaders Call on Celebrities and Influencers to Stop Spreading Misinformation about Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - PRNewswire - May 18th, 2021
- Last Call for 5.17.21 A prime-time read of what's going down in Florida politics - Florida Politics - May 18th, 2021
- Election filing week kicks off with a few surprises - The Columbian - May 18th, 2021
- Paul Bettany Answers Every Question We Have About A Knights Tale - Vulture - May 16th, 2021
- Utica man producing film about the history of radio - The Oakland Press - May 16th, 2021
- Gov. DeSantis appoints three to the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board - Florida Politics - May 16th, 2021
- Twin Cities' biggest film fest includes 'Claw,' hits from around the world - Minneapolis Star Tribune - May 16th, 2021
- Max McLaughlin wins first super feature as Tyler Thompson runs out of fuel in Oswego - syracuse.com - May 16th, 2021
- Remember to say thank you before it is too late - The Daily Times - May 16th, 2021
- St. David and Benson win Baseball Championships - All Sports Tucson - May 16th, 2021
- Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | TheHill - The Hill - May 14th, 2021
- Twin Cities playwright and critic William Randall Beard dies at 64 - Minneapolis Star Tribune - May 11th, 2021
- Joy calls Tucker Carlson and Ron Johnson are the absolute worst for spreading COVID disinformation - Yahoo News - May 11th, 2021
- The 25 Worst Animated Movies, According to Critics - Newsweek - May 9th, 2021
- St. Paul man who helped burn down Third Precinct sentenced to prison and $12 million restitution - MinnPost - May 9th, 2021
- Willmar Stingers: Gardy set to appear in Willmar - West Central Tribune - May 9th, 2021
- Ron Bumblefoot Thal: Every time I do an acoustic version of something, I realize how beautiful the song is at its core - Guitar World - May 9th, 2021
- God rejoices in the truth | Religion | gettysburgtimes.com - Gettysburg Times - April 25th, 2021
- Do donors have too much influence over universities? - University World News - April 25th, 2021
- Five States Where Republicans Are Trying to Block Marijuana Legalization - CelebStoner - April 25th, 2021
- Here's Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email during the 2021 Legislative Session 4.25.21 - Florida Politics - April 25th, 2021
- Fredrick Brennan Is the Founder of 8chan. Now He Wants to Take It Offline. - Jacobin magazine - April 21st, 2021
- Party Politics: The Politics of Scandal - Houston Public Media - April 19th, 2021
- Ron Price's coaching longevity will be tough to eclipse - Los Angeles Times - April 19th, 2021
- Rekha Basu: I've had a vaccine 'passport' since childhood. What's all the fuss about? - desmoinesregister.com - April 19th, 2021
- How to improve policing in Florida and beyond | Letters - Tampa Bay Times - April 19th, 2021
- Winter's return, threat of new health restrictions tough blows for businesses - Winnipeg Free Press - April 19th, 2021
- Stephen Colbert Goes Off On Ron Paul Wearing 'Daisy Dukes' Shorts In Interview - HuffPost - April 15th, 2021
- Can You Get a 'Vaccine Passport'? And Other Questions, Answered - The New York Times - April 15th, 2021
- The Lessons of the Afghan War - National Review - April 15th, 2021
- Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift | TheHill - The Hill - April 15th, 2021
- This Florida Man may lead the GOP out of the wilderness | Column - Tampa Bay Times - April 15th, 2021
- Recent UW grad, an Afghan Kurdish poet, wins $90,000 scholarship for immigrants with exceptional potential - University of Wisconsin-Madison - April 15th, 2021
- Ron Paul: Why Is Biden Administration Pushing Ukraine To Attack Russia? OpEd - Eurasia Review - April 6th, 2021
- Ron Paul Warns of Government Crackdown on Bitcoin 'The Government Is the Threat' Regulation Bitcoin News - Bitcoin News - April 6th, 2021
- "The government is the threat" says Ron Paul on Bitcoin - Techstory - April 6th, 2021
- Ron Paul: The government is the threat against Bitcoin Explica .co - Explica - April 6th, 2021
- Kane Honored With Senate Joint Resolution For His WWE Hall Of Fame Induction - Wrestling Inc. - April 6th, 2021