By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Gilford native, Laconia resident and USTA ranked tennis player Tim James is a Parks and Recreations kid. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was the only place the son of a single mother could play the sport.
This year, James joined the ranks of Andre Agassi in Nevada and Serena and Venus Williams of California for being named this year's New Hampshire hero by Tennis Magazine for his donation of $10,000 to the Lakes Region Tennis Association, which is a group that works to teach tennis to area youths at no cost to their families.
"I learned to play tennis through the free lessons offered by the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department," said James recently. "I used to work on my ground strokes by hitting the ball against the side of the high school."
James credits tennis with being one the stabilizing forces in his young life. As a senior in high school, he earned a scholarship and attended Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. He said he remembers a 12-year-old Monica Seles playing him, an adult at the time, to a tie-breaker.
"She was using a two-handed forehand and back-hand at the time, but boy was she quick," he said, with a laugh.
From there, he attended Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, which gave him the education, self confidence and ability to start his own software company.
Now, James is a semi-retired consultant and devotes much of his time to youth tennis and other civic causes including being a board member of the local Humane Society. He said he was saddened to see a participation decline at the high school level in the sport he loves so much and for which he credits with helping him become a disciplined and successful businessman.
"This is all about exposing kids to tennis," James said, who said he was prompted to do something when the Laconia High School stopped having a boys tennis team.
"Now we work on the next steps," he said, which include bringing tennis into the middle school and expanding the combined education and tennis program at the Laconia Boys and Girls Club to the Concord and Franklin Boys and Girls Clubs
His $10,000 contribution for seed money to the Lakes Region Tennis Association has allowed the program to obtains grants and expand to where 247 children, many of them from backgrounds similar to his own, have been able to learn to play the forever sport of tennis.
James said his favorite quote about tennis, youth, his relationship with the game comes from LRTA president and his great friend Robert Ronstadt of Gilford.
"'Keep kids on the courts, to stay out of the courts,'" he said.
Tim James and his niece, Abigale. (Courtesy photo)
Tim James teaching tennis (hoping to get a larger file)
Coach Bob Rondstat and Coach Kamal Gosine work with Anna on her serve during Laconia Boys and Girls Club tennis on Nov. 16. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 1232