What started as a way to keep an energetic 10-year-old busy while on a family vacation, turned into the sport of a lifetime for Kerri Britt.
“My parents were looking for an activity to keep my sister and I busy on vacation while allowing us to have fun and be active. That’s when I started playing tennis,” recalls Britt, who grew up in Long Island, N.Y.
Tennis has played an important role in Britt’s life since that family vacation at Terra Verde Resort. She was a competitive junior player in the state of Florida who played high school tennis for St. Petersburg High School, where she won four district titles and one state title. By the time she wrapped up her junior competitive play, she was ranked No. 18 in the state. She received a full tennis scholarship to the University of Memphis in 1991 and went on to play collegiate tennis all four years.
“Tennis has played a major role in my life for as long as I can remember,” she says. “Playing, coaching, and just being surrounded by the sport I love has consistently provided me with an outlet when life has presented challenges or difficulties.”
Since college, Britt has coached on and off. For the past four years, she has worked as an assistant coach at Vita Tennis at the JCC Cohn Campus in Tampa. She also volunteers her time to serve as the assistant coach for the Sickles High School boys tennis team.
“Coach Kerri does not do this for the money. She devotes hours and hours of her time to coach young kids and high schoolers at Sickles High School and does not get paid,” says Antony Valencia, head coach of the boy’s tennis team at Sickles High School. “She makes a huge difference on and off the court in these young men and it’s commendable.”
Valencia is the head coach at Vita Tennis and has been coaching high school teams for more than 12 years, with the last five being with Sickles High School.
“As most high school coaches know, the time commitment it takes to run a team well can be daunting,” adds Britt. “He [Valencia] asked if I was interested in volunteering and assisting him in running the team. This is now my third year as the assistant coach, and it’s a privilege to work alongside Coach Valencia and have the opportunity to guide and mentor the players.”
As a former competitive junior player, Britt believes there is no better experience than participating in high school tennis. She considers it a privilege to be entrusted with each player’s tennis and personal development by Coach Valencia and the parents.
“Interacting with these players gives me hope for our future as I am always floored by their intelligence, their commitment to their sport, and their commitment to each other and the team,” she beams. To me, having the opportunity to mentor these players means I can help them pursue their goals not only athletically, but personally and professionally.”
It’s clear that for Britt, it’s not about getting a paycheck. It’s about sharing her passion for tennis with others. After being presented with amazing opportunities solely because tennis was part of her life, she felt it was only right to give back to the sport that helped her develop into the person she is today.
“There is no better way to show my love and appreciation for this sport than to give back and hopefully spread the power and joy of tennis with others,” she shares. “It fills my cup with hope, positive energy, and joy and keeps me focused and moving forward with an optimistic attitude.”
Tennis now also plays a large role in the life of someone she holds near and dear – her daughter Taylor.
“I raise my daughter with the hope she will be a kind, compassionate giving person who values hard work, commitment and appreciates the opportunities she has and will be presented with,” says Britt. “There is no better way to do this than to show her these things in action. As a single parent who works three jobs, it would be easy to say volunteering is not important or takes too much time. However, I know and hope to show others that volunteering is without a doubt one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you can do.”
Now as the parent of a competitive junior tennis player, the sport is allowing Britt to develop a one-of-a-kind bond with her daughter as they navigate the highs and lows of junior tennis together. In a journey that has taken Britt from a player to a coach, to a mentor, to a volunteer, to a parent – the role of tennis continues to evolve in her life.
“Just having the opportunity to teach tennis is rewarding. We all dream of having a job that we are passionate about, but unfortunately not many of us have the opportunity to do that,” she says. “I love having the chance to share a sport with people that I love.”
Birthplace: Long Island, N.Y.
Family Members: Mother Fran Britt; Sister Heather Horn; Daughter Taylor Allcott
Favorite Movie: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Travel Spot: Hawaii
Favorite Shot: Forehand
My earliest tennis memory was… “Playing tennis with my sister at Tierra Verde Resort in Tierra Verde Florida.”
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be… “Rafa Nadal, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams.”
When I’m not playing tennis I am… “Coaching tennis, being a mom, traveling to tournaments with my daughter, working my corporate job, enjoying living in Florida.”
My best tennis memory is… “Winning the state high school championship in 1989.”
I like to volunteer in tennis because… “I’m giving back to the sport I love. I had coaches and adults throughout my junior career who we willing to give me opportunities I may not have been able to afford without their willingness to assist.”
Interested in volunteering in tennis? Visit www.USTAFlorida.com/Volunteers to learn more about available opportunities.