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Southern

Greg Rymer Program Endowment Fund

Ron Cioffi | August 23, 2021

The Southern Tennis Foundation (STF), the charitable arm of United States Tennis Association (USTA) Southern Section, announces the establishment of the Greg Rymer Program Endowment Fund. This endowment was established by Greg’s wife, Katie, to honor her late husband, who passed away in October 2020. Most recently, Greg was an Assistant Teaching Tennis Professional and founding Pickleball Professional at St. James Plantation in Southport, N.C.

 

The Greg Rymer endowment will be used to fund grants to National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) chapters, making it possible for underserved children to enjoy the life-affirming benefits of tennis. “These grants will bring tennis to kids who might never have played, encouraging them to adopt healthier lifestyles, motivating them to do well in school and setting them up for success in life,” said USTA Southern Director, Diversity, NJTL & Grants Cee Jai Jones.

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Although he played in high school, Greg reignited his love of tennis in 1985 after setting a speed record at a Janzten Fast Serve contest. From there, he joined various adult leagues and participated in several tournaments, often reaching quarters and semifinals in his age group.

 

With some encouragement from his wife, he began his coaching career at Butler Country Community College, then joined Lakevue Athletic Club in Valencia, Pa., as Director of Junior Development in 1997. During his 20-year tenure at Lakevue, Greg was dedicated to building junior programs and drove continuous enrollment increases. This sparked his passion for working with junior players. 

 

“I recently heard a quote that I feel represents Greg’s impact on others. ‘A good coach can change a game; a great coach can change a life,’” said Greg’s wife, Katie. “Back when Greg first started coaching junior players, he would come home after seeing his students improve and mature, and it gave him purpose and encouragement to continue his work. It truly was the origin of his passion for the sport and coaching. He seemed to live for the moments when something clicked within his students, and they understood what he’d been teaching them, but he never boasted about it. I admired the pure joy he got from nurturing their talents, as well as the long-standing connections he created from mentoring these players. Because of the years he dedicated to teaching junior players, we felt it was a natural fit to create an endowment fund in his name to support underserved young tennis players throughout our community.”

 

While at Lakevue, Greg was also Tennis Director at Wildwood Golf Club in Allison Park, Pa., and Tennis Professional at Alpha Tennis and Fitness in Pittsburgh. In 1999, he became Tennis Coaching Assistant for the boys’ and girls’ teams at Pine Richland High School, where he helped lead the teams and players to multiple WPIAL and PIAA state finals and championships.

 

"As a lifelong student, hitting partner, and friend, I cannot think of a more fitting way to carry on Greg's legacy than creating this endowment in his honor,” said Brett Warren, Greg’s former tennis student at Pine Richland. “This fund will empower a new generation to share in his love and passion for the sport."

 

Outside of tennis, Greg was an avid cyclist and competed in multiple bike races and triathlons. He completed a Half-Ironman in Finger Lakes, N.Y. 

 

Southern Tennis Foundation Chairman Derek White said, “We are so happy and proud to work with the Rymer family in establishing a program endowment to recognize a standout tennis professional like Greg. We thank Katie and her family for their generosity in honoring Greg.”

 

Here are additional remembrances from family and friends:

 

Tom Lynch, one of Greg’s friends, former tennis partner, and father of his former student, said, “Greg was a pure athlete who excelled as a cyclist, platform tennis and pickleball player, but, most importantly, as a tennis professional. I’ve had the honor of being associated with Greg and his family for over 28 years. Greg started coaching my daughter when she was 8 and put her on the path to play for a Division I college her freshman year. Greg was invested in all of his students and created a teaching strategy that nurtured their talents. He instilled a love of the game in each, and, in my opinion, he was the best teaching professional in the Pittsburgh area.”

 

“For Greg, seeing a student implement his lessons in the heat of a match, especially to turn a losing game into a winning plan, was incredibly rewarding,” he added. “The results he achieved are well documented, and he positively impacted so many individuals over the years. He is missed, but his spirit lives on with everyone he was associated with.”

 

“Greg was always the fun relative. As a kid, you were frequently dragged from different relatives' houses, and, most of the time, you don’t really want to go. That was never the case when it was time to go to his house,” said Adam Jones, Greg’s nephew. “I have many great memories of spending time with him as a kid -- the fun level was off the charts. He was someone my siblings and I always looked up to as being stronger than the rest. Thanks for being such a great influence for us.”

 

“I feel privileged to have been one of Greg’s many friends and teammates on several USTA League adult teams,” said Kevin O’Connor, a former teammate of Greg’s at St. James Plantation. “Greg always displayed incredible energy and, win or lose, you could count on him to see the good in his teammates. While he will be sorely missed, this endowment fund is a great way to continue his life’s work.”

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