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Pittman Adds Another Honor to his Record

November 20, 2014 03:39 PM

Paul Pittman has accrued a long list of tennis accomplishments during the past 20 years.


He has helped lead tennis programs for at-risk youth in Florence that have introduced the lifetime sport to dozens of youngsters. He also has secured thousands of dollars of funding for tennis programs in and around Florence.

But Pittman will be honored next month by USTA South Carolina not for what he’s done throughout his career, but for how he’s continued to grow tennis during the past year despite personal health problems.

Pittman, 70, has been named the 2014 USTA South Carolina recipient of the USTA Southern State Volunteer Service Award. He will receive the award at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting on Dec. 6 on Isle of Palms.

The annual USTA Southern honor is given to one volunteer in each of the section’s nine states, including South Carolina. The respective state’s executive director chooses the recipient.

“Paul is truly a volunteer, dedicating hours and hours of his time to help grow tennis,” said Graham Cox, who selected Pittman for the honor. “We are so fortunate to have him as an ambassador for tennis in our state.”

Pittman had reasons to slow down his volunteering this year. In July, his right knee was replaced for the third time. Before the surgery, he used a wheelchair for five and a half months. But that didn’t stop him from donating his time locally and throughout the South.

During the recent McLeod for Health Florence Open, he led all marketing and public relations efforts for the USTA Pro Circuit tournament, which was held in October. He and his volunteer committee managed a website and a Facebook page. They also helped Florence media mention the tournament dozens of times.

All the publicity helped the tournament achieve record attendance and raise $8,000 for Susan G. Komen Lowcountry.

“He was instrumental,” said Ed Sprenger, another longtime Florence tennis volunteer who also helped with the tournament. “He helps you any way he can.”

Pittman also has volunteered throughout the South by serving on the board of directors for the USTA Southern Section, which oversees a nine-state region, including South Carolina.

Derek White, who serves on the USTA Southern board with Pittman, said Pittman’s style has impressed.

At meetings, Pittman sits quietly and listens. Then, once all opinions have been shared, he mentions the angle that eluded everyone else. “When something comes out of his mouth,” White said, “you better hang on because there’s a nugget you can use for the rest of your life.”

Despite his health troubles, Pittman continues to serve because he sees tennis as a way to unite people of different backgrounds. The tennis courts, he said, are a “place where you can get along with everybody.”

Next year, Pittman again will serve on the Florence Tennis Association board. And he’ll be ready to help wherever else he’s needed, just as he has been for the past 20 years.