Captain Paul Rodusky channels his years serving in the U.S. Navy to competition on the tennis court, utilizing tennis as a way to stay in shape after a major health scare.
© Garrett Ellwood
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – As team captains checked in prior to the start of the 2013 USTA League Adult 55 & Over 7.0 National Championships at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex, one captain stood proudly with a cap that bore the letters, “N-A-V-Y.”
His name is Paul Rodusky, the leader of the USTA Midwest section men’s team. The 71-year-old from Massillon, Ohio, served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1963.
During that time, Rodusky took part in a dramatic episode of not only U.S. military history, but world history as well. After finishing sonar school in Key West, Fla., he was assigned to a destroyer boat. The ship traveled to Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, North Atlantic and up and down the east coast of the U.S.
On a Sunday afternoon in Newport, R.I., in October 1962, alarms rang out. Rodusky and his crew were immediately sent to the Caribbean during a time that would be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The event is generally regarded by historians as the moment in which the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union came closest to turning into nuclear war.
“We were the first ship to interdict a Russian freighter carrying missiles (to Cuba),” Rodusky said. “We instructed them to stop and show us their cargo.”
According to Rodusky, after the order was given, the freighter turned back: “We had our guns trained on them the whole time. We meant business.”
Rodusky remained in the Caribbean during the Cuban Missile Crisis for approximately one month.
“We were working on the blockade,” he added. “Our main job was to surface submarines, which there were numerous in the area. After it was all over, most people didn’t know that the Russian general in charge of troops in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons. Of course, they pulled them out, so we were fortunate.”
Rodusky was honorably discharged from the Navy when he was in his early 20s. Two decades later, he began playing tennis.
“I wasn’t very good at golf. I hated walking around the woods for two hours looking for balls,” said Rodusky. “Tennis is a little bit easier to find the balls.”
After recovering from a serious health scare in the 1980s, Rodusky bounced back into better physical shape largely by dedicating himself to improving his tennis game. He took lessons and eventually began playing in USTA League. This weekend marks the first time Rodusky is playing in a USTA League National Championship.
“It’s fantastic – I’ve got a good crew of guys,” said Rodusky said of his players.
Being part of a crew, united for victory – Captain Rodusky wouldn’t have it any other way.
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