Vero Beach seeks top tennis recognition

Vero Beach is in the running to be named the ‘Best Tennis Town in America’ and claim a $100,000 prize from the United States Tennis Association.

Gaby Dwyer and Michele Modica of the Riverside Racquet Complex are leading the effort to get Vero Beach on the list of 10 finalists, which will be determined on July 16. If Vero is chosen as a finalist, a 10-day online voting period begins immediately at

“The $100,000 first-place prize perked up some interest,” Dwyer said. “The mayor (Sabe Abell) was onboard with it from the beginning. He was very excited about it, as we were.”

Dwyer and Modica were joined by Tom Fish from the Windsor Country Club and the Mardy Fish Foundation; Jim Buck from the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club and the Indian River Tennis Foundation; Brad Leu from the Sea Oaks Beach & Tennis Club; and Ron Perry from the Boulevard Village & Tennis Club to help push the promotion. The list of contest co-sponsors eventually grew to thirteen tennis clubs and two tennis foundations.

The committee was required to produce a five-minute video “highlighting the passion their community has for tennis” and solicit “five letters of support from local politicians and community members.”

The video is a collection of vignettes with pros and casual players of all ages.  Andrew Butz and Kendra Higgins represented the emerging tennis stars nurtured in Vero. Butz is about to enter his senior year at St. Edward’s as the reigning Class 1A  state singles champion. Higgins won the state doubles championship as a junior at Vero Beach High. She is now the defending Division III NCAA doubles champion coming off her freshman year at the University of Chicago.

Fish believes the contest “reinforced the pride and respect we have in our area. We have a strong pro exhibition series, really active leagues for men and women, and fantastic facilities. The pros work together to make this a better place. There is a huge tennis following. It would be wrong if we didn’t win.”

Representatives from the top three finalists will attend the U.S. Open in September. That would be a fitting reward for the two people who ran the show.

For further information, contact Gaby Dwyer at (772) 231-4787 or [email protected]

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