• Fifth Annual AIM for the Stars Gala

    The Fifth Annual AIM for the Stars Gala features a new location at the Cade Museum, dinner catered by Blue Water Bay, and guest appearances by Todd Martin, MaliVai Washington, and Bryan Shelton. We think it will be a fabulous evening supporting a good cause, the Aces in Motion After-School Program.

    For more information, to purchase tickets, and to register for the silent auction, click on the link below or click here.


  • AIM Volunteer Appreciation Party – Dec. 4th

  • Third Annual “AIM for the Stars” Fundraiser

    Get your tickets here for the Third Annual Bryan Shelton Celebration, a fundraiser to benefit GACTA’s Aces in Motion programming for students from low-income families and those with developmental disabilities. The event will be held on Friday, August 19th, 2016 at the Gainesville Woman’s Club, starting at 6:30 p.m. Highlights of the evening will include a welcome by Bryan Shelton, UF Head Men’s Tennis coach, presentations by Aces in Motion participants, and a tribute to Mike Oransky, in honor to his 35 years of service to the Gainesville tennis community. Dinner will be provided by Southern Charm, beer by First Magnitude, and music by South Beach DJ. Come eat, dance and bid at the silent auction!

    Purchase your tickets online @ http://aimforthestars.eventbrite.com or contact Addison Staples @ 352-514-9975 or Addison@nullacesinmotion.org.

  • Alachua County Represented for the First Time in Special Olympics Tennis

    Sometimes it takes a village to get a tennis program started, and in our case, it certainly did. After many months of hard work on the part of organizers, volunteers, and athletes alike, for the first time ever, Alachua County was represented in the tennis competition in the Special Olympics Summer Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

    SO feb 16 18 groupThe journey started when a board member of the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA), Elizabeth Patterson, decided to focus her considerable energy and talent on creating a sustainable adaptive tennis program in Gainesville. She first approached Royce Kamman, the principal of Sidney Lanier Center, which is the only public school for children with developmental disabilities in our community. Mr. Kamman embraced the idea of bringing GACTA’s and the USTA’s resources to the PE program at Sidney Lanier. The center became a USTA Member Organization, and its PE program was registered with USTA. In partnership with the PE teacher, Winston Church, and with the assistance of USTA and the USTA Florida Section Foundation’s equipment and programming grants, low-compression balls, racquets and nets were acquired for the program. Weekly tennis instruction was incorporated into the PE curriculum, using volunteers from the tennis community and the University of Florida. Chris Gonzalez, student organizer of Gator Pals, a UF student-run organization, partnered with GACTA to provide volunteers to help facilitate Special Olympics practices for the tennis athletes. Special Olympics Florida provided a day of on-site training, led by tennis pro Howard Chodek, as part of the Special Olympics coach certification process. UF’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities also provided free training for our staff and volunteers on best practices for working with people with developmental disabilities, including how best to structure practices. A generous local donor established the Aces in Motion Julie E. Best Memorial Tennis Fund to help fund the program, and the USTA Florida Section Foundation continued its support. so area 197

    Another important goal for Elizabeth was to provide the athletes with an inclusive sport experience, and the Project Unify program of Special Olympics provided that opportunity. Taylor Byle, a UF pre-med student, had just organized a Project Unify flag football season for Special Olympics Alachua, and was volunteering as an assistant basketball coach for Sidney Lanier. In late 2015, both Taylor and Mr. Church assisted in recruiting Sidney Lanier students for the tennis program, and they both greatly helped us navigate the paperwork needed for establishing our local Special Olympics tennis program.SO area 2

    Weekly practices for the Special Olympics athletes began in late December, 2015, in the gym at Sidney Lanier, as well as at a city tennis facility. Volunteers came from both our local tennis community and from UF, many of whom formed a strong bond with the players. Athletes of all abilities learned tennis skills and made steady progression into various levels of competition. The athletes, as part of the “ACES” team, formed lasting friendships and became true teammates, cheering each other on in their skills and competition matches.

    This spring, the athletes first competed in County and Area Games in a variety of categories, including Tennis Skills, Red and Orange ball singles and doubles, and Unified Tennis Doubles, in which a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a “neuro-typical” player. Based on their results in the Area Games, seven of our tennis athletes and three Unified partners were chosen to attend the Special Olympics Summer Games, which was held at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in May. The Summer Games provided quite an experience for the athletes– the spectacular Opening Ceremony, two full days of competition, and the closing events, which included a player party and dance. The tennis players from Alachua County were recognized repeatedly, being called to the winner’s platform over and over to receive their trophies and medals.so summer games 16

    Elizabeth commented, “As the adaptive tennis program developer and a certified Special Olympics tennis coach, I was very privileged to train so many outstanding athletes in the Aces in Motion Adaptive Tennis program. I couldn’t be prouder of the team ACES athletes. I am personally humbled and awed by each athlete’s sportsmanship, enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.  I am looking forward to another incredible year!”  

    so area 122Eden, a 16 year-old Sidney Lanier student of Chinese descent with Down Syndrome, was one of the athletes who traveled to the Summer Games. Her mother, Haley, traveled with her and described the experience. She wrote, “This has been an incredible opportunity for Eden! Just the chance to learn the sport and have people invest so much time and energy into her has brought her great joy. This is especially valuable for Eden as she has spent the majority of her life in a (Chinese) orphanage with hundreds of other children. To have an opportunity like this – and then to even be able to go to the State Games — was more than we could have hoped for her.  At Disney she kept telling me over and over and over how happy she was, and it brought me to tears several times. I can honestly say this was probably the happiest I have seen her in the two years since she has been home. And it was such a great chance for me to be able to go with her and just enjoy seeing how incredibly joyful she was. To see her get an opportunity like this – she has come so far — and every person at GACTA has helped build her confidence in herself”

    so area 223

    Haley went on to talk about the program. “The tennis program has meant so much to Eden and our family. We have been amazed by all the volunteers that come out with such great attitudes and by how well they relate to the athletes. They show the athletes that they are valued and that they can accomplish great things. Coach Patterson especially has put so much time and excellence into this program and it shows. We truly couldn’t be more grateful and look forward to Eden growing in her tennis skills even more in the coming year!”

    The tennis program has not only benefited the athletes, but many of the volunteers also felt that the experience was very rewarding. Taylor Byle, who served as overall county coordinator for the Special Olympics Area Games and as a Unified Tennis partner, described his feelings about playing with his doubles partner, JJ. Taylor explained, “Although I have been volunteering with Special Olympics Alachua for more than a year, this was my first opportunity to participate as a Unified Partner. Competing alongside an athlete with intellectual disabilities was very enlightening, in particular getting to experience the process of struggling through something and progressing slowly. I had no previous tennis experience so learning a new sport alongside my teammate gave me some perspective into what Special Olympics athletes go through. Most of the athletes struggle with simple tasks, so experiencing sort of what they go through and being on a level playing field was eye opening. It was also great to see JJ improve over time to become both a better tennis player and a better athlete. As a Unified Partner, you know that someone else is depending on you and you know how important winning is to the athletes, so you put added pressure on yourself to be at your best. Even though we did not win our event, we both progressed very far in a short period of time. I look forward to improving and competing with JJ in the future.”

    so summer games 4

    He went on to say, “The enthusiasm of the athletes made me look forward to going to practice every week. Seeing the smiles on the athlete’s faces during competition and when they receive their medals makes it all worth it. The excitement is contagious and it’s what keeps bringing me back to volunteer.”  




  • The Second Annual Bryan Shelton Celebration of Tennis

    A fundraiser to benefit GACTA’s Aces in Motion Tennis Outreach Program. 


    Evening Celebration

    Friday August 21st, 2015

    Gainesville Woman’s Club

    6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

    Live music by Gosia and Ali

    Food by Southern Charm Kitchen

    Silent Auction and Raffle

    Let’s Make a Racket!

    Saturday August 22nd, 2015

    DB Racquet Club

    9 a.m.- noon (check in 8:30 a.m.)

    Community Tennis Clinic

    Refreshments by Bagel Bakery and Mojo Hogtown Barb-b-que

    Buy Tickets

    Evening Celebration: $50

    Saturday Tennis $30

    Both Events: $75

    Saturday Spectator: $10


    For more information, please contact Addison Staples, Executive Director GACTA, at Addison@nullacesinmotion.org or call 352-514-9975

  • “Hit Away the Nukes” Community Tennis Event!

    Logo+peace+signThe Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association, River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding and Eli Meyer Studio would like to invite you to attend a community event, “Hit Away the Nukes” on Saturday April 18th, from noon-3 pm at Westside Park.

    We will be meeting at the Westside tennis courts to hit a total of 16,000 tennis balls, each ball symbolizing one of the 16,000 nuclear weapons still in existence in the world today. Tennis experience is NOT necessary, and all ages are welcome!

    We join with Global Wave 2015, a world-wide series of events calling upon governments meeting in New York this April and May to cooperate on a process to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons. Links to descriptions of our event can be seen at http://www.globalwave2015.org/news-2/2015/4/8/hit-away-the-nukes and http://www.april6.org/en/take-part/upcoming-events/hit-away-the-nukes.html

    A video will be made of this local event, and it will be shared on a global platform, so come be a part of the action to “Hit Away the Nukes”.

    We hope that you can stop by and hit a few balls! We plan to take a group photo around 1 pm.

    For more information, contact Addison Staples, Executive Director, GACTA, at addison@nullacesinmotion.org or text 352-514-9975.

    Please note: This is a local event to bring global awareness and not a fundraiser.


  • GACTA Hosts Successful Fundraiser for Aces in Motion Program

    On Saturday, August 23rd, a morning community tennis event at DB Racquet Club and an Evening Celebration of Tennis were held to support the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association’s Aces in Motion Tennis Outreach Program for at-risk children. The fundraiser, the The Bryan Shelton Celebration of Gainesville Tennis, Past and Present, was very well received by the Gainesville tennis community. The morning and evening events both sold out, and approximately 200 people attended.

    In a first for Gainesville, Don Blair of DB Racquet Club recruited tennis teaching pros from almost all the tennis clubs in town (including Fort King Tennis Center in Ocala) to come together and teach in the community tennis clinic. The UF Men and Women’s Tennis coaches also participated in the clinic, jumping on court along with tennis players from the community. Thanks to all the teaching pros who gave up their Saturday mornings to provide the “best Gainesville community tennis clinic ever”!

    Following the clinic, an exhibition was held, featuring Roland Thornquist, the UF women’s head coach and Bryan Shelton, the UF men’s head coach, who joined forces to compete against a former UF player, Chris McDonald and Tracey Smith Begley, a former FSU player.  Players from the community were then randomly selected to join in friendly tiebreakers with Bryan and Roland. To end the morning session, Bryan Shelton shared his thoughts with the crowd on the importance of the Aces in Motion program.

    The evening event featured Bryan Shelton, program directors Addison Staples and Chris McDonald, and participants in the organization’s Aces in Motion program, as well as live music and a silent auction. Attendees could also walk through a display of the highlights of Gainesville’s illustrious tennis history. As a part of the event, the Dr. John Ross Pre-Collegiate Scholarship was established, to honor the memory of Dr. Ross, a long-time Gainesville resident, beloved pediatric neurologist, and tennis advocate and enthusiast.



  • The Bryan Shelton Celebration of Gainesville Tennis Past & Present

    Saturday August 23rd, 2014

    A fundraiser to benefit the GACTA’s Aces in Motion (AIM) tennis outreach program.

    Click Here to Purchase Your Tickets Online Now!

    • Morning Tennis: Adult: $25; Junior (under 18): $15
    • Morning Tennis–Spectator only: Adult: $10; Junior (under 18): Free
    • Evening Celebration: Adult & Junior: $40
    • Both Events: Adult: $60; Junior (under 18): $50


    Morning Tennis
    Time:  9 am – 12 noon (check-in is 8:30 am)
    Location: DB Racquet Club, 5100 NW 53rd Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32653

    Activities include: Tennis clinics by area pros, Pro-Am, and Exhibition, Silent Auction, Music and Refreshments and Award for “Best Dressed” in Vintage Tennis Attire.

    “AIM for the Stars” Evening Celebration
    Time:  6:30 pm – 9 pm
    Location: Gainesville Garden Club, 1350 NW 75th Street, Gainesville, FL (behind Red Lobster)

    Come and enjoy the:

    • Displays of Gainesville tennis history
    • Presentations by UF Men’s Head Tennis Coach Bryan Shelton and AIM participants
    • Live music provided by the Killer B’s
    • Silent auction and raffle
    • Dinner catered by 4 Rivers, appetizers, desserts, refreshments

    Any questions, please contact Addison Staples, Executive Director, GACTA @ adstennis@nullgmail.com

  • Gainesville Men Finish Second in USTA Super Senior Event


    Special to Gainesville.com
    Published: Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.

    Gainesville’s men’s Super Senior 6.0 team that finished second in the country in the USTA tourney included, from left to right, Alex Kesler, Russ Metler, William Lee Wiltbank, Albert M. Guarino, Malcolm Maden and John William Johnston. (Photo courtesy of USTA)

    The men’s team from Gainesville, representing the USTA Florida Section, finished second at the USTA League 6.0 Super Senior National Championships held at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz., last month.

    The Gainesville team lost to a team from San Juan, Puerto Rico, 3-0 in the championship match. Gainesville had defeated a team from Bluffton, S.C., 2-1 in the semifinals. They advanced by winning their round-robin flight.

    The team was captained by Patrick Phelan and features Alex Kesler, Russ Metler, William Lee Wiltbank, Albert Guarino, Malcolm Maden and John William Johnston and plays at the Jonesville Tennis Center.

    The top four teams in order of finish are: Caribbean Section, Florida Section, Pacific Northwest Section and Southern Section.

    This year’s USTA League 6.0 Super Senior National Championship drew the top 23 teams (eight men’s and 15 women’s) from throughout the nation.

    USTA League was established to provide adult recreational tennis players throughout the country with the opportunity to compete against players of similar ability levels.

  • Wheelchair Tennis Makes Its Mark at Super Senior Nationals

    April 21, 2102

    By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

    Surprise, AZ


    The evolution of wheelchair tennis continues.
    John Johnston, a 63-year-old tennis wheelchair player, made his second career appearance in a USTA League National  Championship this weekend.
    The resident of Gainesville, Fla. represented the USTA Florida Section Super Senior men’s 6.0 team and helped his team advance to the semifinals at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
    Johnston, a Vietnam War veteran, began playing wheelchair tennis in the mid-1970s and went on to become a world-class wheelchair tennis player, traveling around the world and achieving a career-high singles ranking of 24 in the world.
    In 1990 Johnston captured a doubles title at the Japan Open with Brad Parks, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, who is considered one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis.
    Johnston became the first wheelchair player to play USTA League tennis approximately 20 years ago and played in his first USTA League National Championship at the Senior level in 2004.
    “I was the very first one to play able-bodied USTA League Tennis. I started telling other guys in chairs about it, trying to get them involved,” Johnston said. “There are not many of us. I would say probably 10 to 15 at most.”
    When Johnston plays with able-bodied players, he wants to show that he deserves to be on the same court.
    He told the story of his first match against an able-bodied player years ago who said he wouldn’t hit the ball hard at him. On the first point of the match, Johnston set the tone as he slammed a shot at his opponent who had approached the net.
    Johnston has seen wheelchair tennis evolve since he began playing and is impressed with the high level of the sport today. “The Open (wheelchair) players now are playing unbelievable,” Johnston said. “The level has risen immensely and the quality of play is incredible. It’s a specialized sport.”
    Johnston sees a bright future for wheelchair tennis. “It’s only going to get better and better. The kids are younger and stronger,” he said. “They’re training for it. They’re going through the regular routines that the pros do now. They work out three times a day and do cross-training with weights. They’re top athletes.”
    When it comes to promoting USTA League tennis, Johnston has a message for his fellow wheelchair players – “You’ve got to get out there and play. It’s a game of a lifetime. You can play with your friends and family,” he said. “I want them to take advantage of it because it’s going to help their game all over. I would hope that a lot more would do it.”