When the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus opens, the state-of-the-art tennis facility will bear the name of celebrated and beloved area tennis pro Mitch Gornto.
Over the course of his more than 50-year career in tennis, Mitch Gornto competed against some of the biggest players of the time: Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs, Pancho Segura, Johnny Van Ryn. He played at Forest Hills and was part of a tennis exhibition at Yankee Stadium. Yet his greatest legacy to the sport is found in those he taught how to play the game.
The head pro at the Bath & Tennis Club in Palm Beach for 43 years (1955–1998), Gornto served up his special brand of instruction to more than one generation. His philosophy of teaching sometimes drew the skepticism of other pros.
"I had the theory that everybody didn't have to hold the racquet the same way," he says. "I said give them the basic strokes and go from there and encourage them."
Paul Van der Grift of First Serve of the Palm Beaches, a longtime friend of Gornto's, says, "Teaching young people how to be successful through instruction, mentoring and example is how Mitch Gornto did it for generations.
"All this time we thought Mitch was teaching us about our serve. He was actually teaching us that, in order to be truly successful, we must serve," Van der Grift continues. "That's why he's the right person to name this tennis center after."
The Mitch Gornto Tennis Center, which is slated to include 13 courts, is being designed by MPA Architects along with world-renowned tennis court designer Sheldon Westervelt.
"This facility will be used not just for intercollegiate competition but for enhancing the lives of children in the surrounding neighborhoods," Van der Grift says. "Through the Workship program, PBA students and staff will be mentoring and tutoring local kids there."
NOTE: Naming opportunities are available in regard to this facility. Click here to find out more.