PACE — Rick Cuny is a United States Tennis Professional Association-certified instructor who has been trying to popularize the sport in Santa Rosa County for the last seven years.

This is not an easy task, according to Cuny. Tennis has to compete with the popularity of football, baseball, softball and basketball. However, he does see new players coming to tennis as multi-sport athletes.

Cuny is the director of tennis for the nonprofit group called the Pace Area Tennis Association. PATA, formed in 2009, is described on its website as an organization of tennis enthusiasts who want to bring tennis to Pace and surrounding communities in the county.

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Cuny is a certified USTPA instructor and in his role with PATA oversees a current agreement between the county and the organization on the development of tennis programs at the Santa Rosa Sports Plex. The programs are to include tournaments, camps, clinics and league play according to their webpage.

"This is a sport you can play all your life," Cuny said as he volleyed with his student. He said his youngest student is 5 years old and his oldest is in his 70's.

Cuny said he "looks for heart," when he evaluates a player.

"It's a facial expression,” says Cuny. "When they have just hit a perfect shot, their facial expression changes."