Ellis was recently honored by the United States Tennis Association as its Professional of the Year. -- Tim Reeves

Selma tennis pro receives honor

Published 10:29pm Saturday, February 5, 2011

Selma Country Club tennis pro Donnie Ellis gets a new step when teaching tennis.

You can see it when he is hitting with someone new, automatically encouraging and teaching whomever is across the net.

Ellis, who has been playing tennis for 42 years, recently was awarded the United States Tennis Association Professional of the Year for 2010.

“I started instructing at Vaughn Fitness Center in 1986,” said Ellis. “I’ve been here at the country club for 20 years in the same office. I still enjoy all of it, still enjoy playing and I feel like I feel pretty well for my age group.”

That maybe a bit of modesty from Ellis, 58, who has been ranked No. 1 for singles in the state in the 40, 45, 50 and 55 age groups and captained Alabama during its first ever Senior Cup win over teams from across the southeast.

Ellis said he also coached Morgan Academy and won two state titles before focusing teaching at the Country Club all while being a member of the USPTA.

“Being a member of the USPTA for the past 22 years has given me the opportunities, education and tools to become the professional I am today,” he said. “I feel honored to get this award mainly because it comes from my peers.”

Presently Ellis serves as regional vice-president on the board of directors for the Alabama Tennis Association, which represents the 14,000 members in Alabama.

Ellis began his tennis career as a junior at Parish High School before going to Troy State University and earning a degree in Marketing and Business Administration.

Ellis said he wasn’t prepared to win the award this year.

“It came as a surprise,” said Ellis. “Everybody’s different. You just have to take the lesson fit to them. You have to make it fun for them.”

“Ideally, we set goals and work toward getting better while reaching our goals, but if we don’t accomplish all our goals, we continue to work toward our goals and hopefully become a better person in the process,” he said.

“You learn so much playing tennis, not just about playing tennis, but about life. One of the great things about tennis is you can play it and enjoy it all your life and meet some great people along the way.”

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