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USTA Georgia
116 Marble Mill Road
Marietta, GA 30060
Tax ID 58-1309245

Linda Gordon Turns Retirement into Full-time Volunteering in Columbus
By: Rick Limpert, Special for USTA Georgia

"It all started when I retired." That was Columbus, Ga. educator, Linda Gordon's famous last words as she retired from 33 years of teaching at the middle and high school levels. Little did she know at that time, "retirement" would be anything but sitting around looking up at the sky or watching the grass grow.

"I had always done some volunteering," smiled Gordon. But that would soon turn into "more volunteering" with her additional free time.  

LindaGordon_pics02Gordon is one of the many volunteers that helps make the USTA, Columbus Regional Tennis Association (CORTA) and all of the efforts work.

"I started helping with one tournament and kept coming out and helping. Then I saw a request that help was needed in the CORTA office; I volunteered and I've been here since."

The energetic Gordon has been playing tennis since 1985, when she was teaching school and tennis was suggested as a staff development exercise. She then took lessons, played in a tournament, stuck with it and grew to love the sport and the people that play it on all levels.

CORTA is the non-profit tennis organization in Columbus, and Gordon serves in many roles.  She is a member of the Board of Directors where she serves as Volunteer Chair.  

"We depend so much on volunteers," admits Gordon.

Under Gordon's direction, CORTA even makes is easy to volunteer with numerous mentions on its website.  Whether you are a teen looking for volunteer hours or even a non-tennis player, we have an opportunity for you to help. No matter the position in which you may serve, our goal is to interact with patrons, determine their needs and do our best to deliver. We want every person leaving our events to leave with a great feeling.

Gordon also serves as tournament director for numerous events, including the “Luck of the Irish” Southern NTRP Clay Court Championships, the popular Banana Open, and the USTA Georgia 55 & Over League State Championships.

Over time, she's learned the varied duties of being a tournament director.  “There are some tournament director challenges” sighed Gordon.  “This year, the Banana Open ran very well, but then we had unusual things happen at the other events, including medical issues, weather with torrential rains and more!”

Gordon holds the distinction of being the main volunteer in her family. Her husband, Wayne, worked for the phone company for years. Her son is a physical therapist, and family supports her endeavors as they come out and watch. What makes Gordon smile even bigger is when she brags that her grandson took up tennis just this summer.

She is also proud that CORTA has turned into one of the largest tennis organizations in the state.  She said Columbus has come a long way as a tennis city and isn't sure if it is underrated anymore.

"We have a lot of good things that people don't know about until they come here. Our public facility, Cooper Creek Tennis Center, includes 12 -78’ hard courts, 4 – 60’ hard courts and 39 clay courts. I'm a clay court person, and we are so fortunate to have public clay courts! We have also been fortunate to have been able to move the CORTA offices in a new building which we share with Columbus State University.  We have a beautiful upstairs terrace with TVs, tables, and chairs, which overlook both hard and clay courts and offer spectators great view of tennis matches.”

Organizations sometimes need to get creative when it comes to securing help. CORTA even offers "rewards" for volunteering.  An example of this:  CORTA rewards each hour of volunteer service! Volunteers receive $1.00 credit (per hour) towards the purchase of tennis merchandise, lessons or a Cooper Creek Tennis Center membership! Redeem rewards for the following:  Private Lessons, Cooper Creek Membership, select merchandise from local Columbus country clubs & CORTA branded merchandise from the CORTA office.

Gordon spearheads efforts to find volunteers to do everything from sweeping the clay courts, helping with the tournaments and spreading the word about upcoming events.

"It's a community effort," says Gordon.  "Along with our adult volunteers, we have teens from area high schools who come and volunteer at some of our many programs, as well as sweeping courts during our tournaments.”

Quickly into her tenure as a volunteer, Gordon realized it's a pleasure to belong to a well -run organization and great community.

Gordon says her "tennis volunteering career" has been nothing but positive.

"I'm thankful that I was asked to volunteer.  When I was just a player, I came out played my match and left, but it amazes me how much goes into organizing and helping with tennis. I've learned a lot about people, including you can't please everybody all the time.  We have a vibrant tennis community. It's great to see all the players support each other."

Note: If you are in the Columbus area and want to volunteer your time, contact Linda to get volunteer sign up alerts or if you see a specific way you would like to help! Thank you for your interest!





Tennis Trivia

Last week's answer was 2 (Bryan Brothers French Open titles). What did Ivan Lendl keep in his pocket for use during his illustrious career?