By Tim Rossi
October 18, 2005
A Long-Lasting Impression
|Florida's Harriet Raffa© Betsy Bender|
As a Junior at Rogers High School in Newport, R.I., in the early 1960s, Harriet Raffa (Holmes) and several of her schoolmates were invited to work at the Newport Casino, now the International Tennis Hall of Fame. They sold programs and helped usher during the men’s tennis tournament held there in the 50s and 60s. They met and socialized with legends like Rod Laver, Butch Bucholtz and Chuck McKinley.
Raffa also met a player from the University of Texas by the name of Mack White.
“You never know when somebody’s going to make an impression on you,” Raffa says of her meeting White.
You see Raffa didn’t know a thing about tennis, so White took it upon himself to explain everything there was to know about the game to Raffa when he wasn’t playing matches. Shortly after, Raffa found herself buying a racquet and playing tennis.
Some time went by and Raffa went off to college, got married and had children. After her third child was born in the 1970s, she picked up that racquet again and started playing tennis – and she hasn’t stopped since.
Raffa is a cancer survivor. She has had breast cancer and lymphoma (she had part of her lung removed) and she has had a full mastectomy. “My tennis girls are the ones who encouraged me to keep playing,” she says. “Every time I had cancer, my partner was right there waiting for me to come back and play.”
After Raffa and her 7.0 Super Senior Women’s team from Deercreek Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., won the regionals in the Florida Section this year, her teammates reminded her to make sure she hopped on the Internet to see their team’s photo. Once she started navigating the Web site, she started to do a little investigating to see if, after all these years, she could locate her tennis teacher and mentor, Mack White.
“Well, I found his e-mail address and I e-mailed him and thanked him for showing me and introducing me to the game,” Raffa says. White, who now lives in Charleston, S.C., promptly e-mailed back his pupil of some 45 years ago. Raffa was thrilled. “That’s what I’m saying…you never know when you’re going to make an impression on somebody and the fact that I had met a fella that was kind enough to explain to me how to play tennis, here I am all these years later being able to play.”
Raffa, now 62, is a resident of Orange Park, Fla. She is a 19-year survivor of breast cancer and she has been playing tennis steadily throughout those 19 years. “I was determined to get back out there and play again…(tennis) does keep you young and it keeps you going.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about breast cancer, click here to visit the Web site of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Good Luck Charms for Grandmas
Lynn Dean and her teammates from the Mid-Atlantic Section were sent off to the Super Senior Nationals with some special good luck charms made by her granddaughters.
Emmye, 9, and Ella, 6, Donahue crafted the bracelets you see in the photo below for their grandmother’s 6.0 women’s team, which they wore to victory at the sectionals. Without any prompting from Dean or her teammates, the girls made the bracelets and placed them in personalized envelopes for each of them.
|MidAtlantic Bracelet Ladies© Betsy Bender|
“They come with good luck kisses too,” says Dean. Although the “luck” from the bracelets did not carry over to the nationals (Dean’s team did not win their flight), perhaps her granddaughters did bring the tournament some good luck after all.
While Tuesday’s forecast called for gloomier weather than Monday, which saw no play due to a large storm, Dean called her granddaughters Monday night and asked them to perform an “anti-rain” rain dance for Tuesday. Turns out Palm Springs didn’t see a drop of rain today. Hmmm.
Playing for almost 10 years together, the troupe is from the Atlantic Coast Athletic Club in Richmond, Va.
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