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When Leony Barosso is recognized as Kentucky’s tennis Volunteer of the Year on Saturday night, there is little doubt that the award is well-deserved.
And that it is probably inadequate to recognize what Barosso, who moved to Anderson County four years ago, has done for the local tennis scene.
“Leony has done more to promote tennis in Lawrenceburg than anyone I know,” says local tennis player Kristen Hamrick. “That is one reason that on any given night, in proper weather, in Anderson County, you will find every tennis court full, often with a waiting line. He has given countless volunteer hours in teaching tennis, promoting tennis tournaments and directing USTA tournaments in the area.”
The United States Tennis Association is bestowing the honor on Barosso in a ceremony Saturday, Jan. 30 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. The Frankfort Tennis Association, of which Barosso is a member and in which many local players participate, is also being recognized as the Community Tennis Association of the Year.
“I feel like Leony has been a tremendous help for Anderson County tennis. His main contribution has just been instilling a love for the game,” says University of Kentucky student Ryan Alves. Three years ago, Alves and his buddy, Bruce Russell, played on the Anderson County High School team for the first time. They went through the season unbeaten before bowing out in regional play.
“It was all because Leony got us interested in practicing and playing. We played every day and he was always there with us. Showing us drills, tweaking techniques and being a friend,” Alves said.
A soft-spoken native of Brazil, Barosso is not one to brag about his accomplishments. He really does not have to. The results speak loudly.
While Lawrenceburg has just four public tennis courts, all at Anderson County High School, Barosso put together a team largely made up of local players – some others from Frankfort joined as well – to compete in a statewide league.
The team, the Capitol City Hot Shots, placed second this summer, its first year of competition.
Barosso has also found time to coordinate a fall tennis league at Juniper Hills in Frankfort, featuring players from six area high schools. He also helped coach two teams from Anderson County in the league.
In the spring, Barosso helps with the Anderson County High School boys team when he is able. His commute to his job with a staffing service in Louisville makes it almost impossible for Barosso to get to Lawrenceburg for after-school practice.
“He does a great job with our kids and is an outstanding fundamentals teacher,” says Bearcat co-coach Steve Rucker. “He gives countless hours to helping our boys’ and girls’ tennis programs.”
Barosso, who played tennis collegiately at Campbellsville University, has sought little in return. He was asked what he got out of his tireless effort to promote the sport in a town where tennis has often been less than an after-thought.
“I like getting people to play tennis,” Barosso said, “to make kids involved. The relationships. Actually, a partnership. I get an opportunity to help them. To me, it is a win-win situation.
“Tennis is a took to accomplish something, to get kids involved in something.”
That, maybe more than anything, describes Leony Barosso’s impact locally. He’s given free tennis lessons through the Frankfort Tennis Association.
Barosso, who plays on two teams and is ranked 4.0, has also gotten several adults interested or rekindled their love for the game.
“I am just trying to open people’s minds to tennis,” Barosso says. “I try to get them to devote their time to the game.
“It is something I hope to do the rest of my life.”
E-mail John Herndon at email@example.com