Buddy Up Tennis Gala Honors Locations, Coordinator, and Coaches

  • March 30, 2018

On Saturday, February 24th, we celebrated a Decade of Difference at our annual Benefit Gala. As we were celebrating ten years of Tennis, Fitness, and FUN, we honored five individuals/teams for their hard work and dedication to Buddy Up Tennis in our tenth year, 2018. We honored two locations of the year, a Coordinator of the Year, a Coach of the Year, and our Columbus Coaching Team.

Buddy Up Tennis Orlando was the first Location to be honored as 2018 Location of the Year. Janet Caramello brought Buddy Up Tennis to Red Bug Lake Park in January 2017 after participating in the Buddy Up Tennis interactive demonstration at the 2016 NDSC Convention. The USTA asked us to go to the National Campus in Lake Nona and Janet wanted to offer a second location within the Orlando area. It was a perfect match! We are so grateful to have Janet, her DSACF team, and our Orlando/Red Bug and Orlando/Lake Nona teams as part of our Buddy Up Tennis family.

In early September, we reconfigured our Buddy Up Tennis Grand Rapids team and they truly took the ball and ran with it. Coach Doug enlisted his friends to form a strong coaching team and Coordinator, Nancy worked with the Grand Rapids community to revitalize the Athletes and Buddies. In just a few short months, the two transformed our Grand Rapids location. Nancy and Doug are an amazing team that truly care about bringing the best of Buddy Up Tennis to our Grand Rapids Athletes!

Nancy and Doug were introduced by Nancy’s daughter, Petra (13), Athlete of Buddy Up Tennis Grand Rapids as 2018 Location of the Year. Petra spoke about her love for Buddy Up Tennis and how thankful she is for her mom and Coach Doug and all that they do to bring Buddy Up Tennis clinics to Grand Rapids each Saturday.


Buddy Up Tennis Grand Rapids Coach, Doug Cooke speaking as Grand Rapids was honored the 2018 Location of the Year and Coordinator Nancy Spanski and family celebrating at our Benefit Gala, “Buddy Up Tennis, Celebrating a Decade of Difference.”

We honored Katie Finke, Buddy Up Tennis Naperville Coordinator as 2018 Coordinator of the Year. Katie’s son, Owen is seven and has Down syndrome, and as an tennis player herself, she was more than excited when approached about Buddy Up Tennis in Naperville. In her first year of clinics, Katie held a Spring Fling Fundraiser for the location that brought in over $5,000 in funds and awareness throughout the Naperville community. Today, the Naperville location is one of our largest locations and will be the third location to hold a Buddy Up Tennis Summer Camp, this summer.

Katie’s daughter Madalyn (11) and son Owen (7) introduced their mother as 2018 Coordinator of the Year. Together, the sibling duo shared their mom’s passion for Buddy Up Tennis, and their love of Saturday mornings filled with Tennis, Fitness, and FUN at Five Star Tennis Center.

Buddy Up Tennis Naperville Siblings Madalyn and Owen introducing their mom, Katie as 2018 Coordinator of the Year and the Finke Family celebrating at our Benefit Gala, “Buddy Up Tennis, Celebrating a Decade of Difference.”.

From day one, Coach JP has stood out among our Buddy Up Tennis Coaches. In December 2014, teaching tennis to individuals with Down syndrome was not new to Coach JP, but Buddy Up Tennis was. She quickly established herself as a knowledgeable resource from our Sarasota location on everything adaptive tennis and fitness. Coach JP works her Athletes hard on the courts, but her love and support for our Athletes and their achievements extend beyond the tennis courts.

Sarah Davis (21), Athlete from Buddy Up Tennis Sarasota and Allison Davis, Founding Coordinator of Buddy Up Tennis Sarasota introduced Coach JP as 2018 Coach of the Year. Sarah and Allison spoke about Coach JP’s unique coaching style, the energy, the excitement, and the hard work that she brings to the courts each Saturday in Sarasota, Florida.

Buddy Up Tennis Sarasota sisters, Allison and Sarah introducing Coach JP as 2018 Coach of the Year and Coach JP accepting the honor.

In addition to honoring our Orlando Location, Grand Rapids Location, Naperville Coordinator, and Sarasota Coach, we also honored our Columbus team for all that they have done for Buddy Up Tennis over the years. Our Columbus location is the home of Buddy Up Tennis, and for the past ten years, has been the place where our Coaches have developed our tennis and fitness curriculum, created tips to share with our 19 other locations, and fostered the energy and excitement of Buddy Up Tennis clinics throughout the nation.

The Columbus team was introduced by Buddy Up Tennis founding Athlete, Will Gibson (13), who spoke about how amazing our Columbus Coaching team is on the courts.

Buddy Up Tennis Founding Athlete, Will Gibson introducing the Buddy Up Tennis Columbus team, and our team of Coaches from Columbus that were being honored.

Click here to see more photos from our Benefit Gala, “Buddy Up Tennis, Celebrating a Decade of Difference.”

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