Have you ever walked towards a Seminole County tennis court and thought, “what great public tennis facilities this county has!” I know I have, I have always felt grateful to be able to play there. Much of that gratitude is owed to Cindy Harkins, who at the end of last year, retired from Seminole County after 40 years! Many may not know that Cindy was born and raised in Seminole County. There were no public tennis facilities at that time. Her father drove her to OTC and Rollins College for her junior tennis. C.L. Varner, Hugh Waters, and Norm Copeland were Cindy’s mentors and had a tremendous impact on her life. Cindy was also fortunate to have Marian Green, USTA Florida past president and local tennis advocate, to encourage her to become a USTA volunteer. Cindy started working for Seminole County Parks & Recreation in 1975. Over the span of 40 years Cindy worked in several different capacities at different times as Park Supervisor for Red Bug Lake and Sanlando Park and Head Pro and Director of tennis for Sanlando and Red Bug Lake Parks. The county was just starting to purchase and develop parks in the early 1970s, and at that time Red Bug Lake Park was an orange grove! Cindy was able to influence the county developers to include 6 tennis courts. The first county courts were open in the fall of 1976. Sanlando Park was soon to follow with 6 courts in 1978. Cindy oversaw the development of both tennis facilities, which reached the current court totals of 25 for Sanlando and 16 for Red Bug in 1988. In 2005, Cindy retired as a tennis professional and returned to the park administration to upgrade Red Bug Lake Park and then in 2011 to upgrade Sanlando Park. As if that weren’t enough, throughout Cindy’s 40-year professional career she also served as a volunteer for the Central Florida Tennis Confederation, USTA Florida and USTA National with various programs and committees to help promote and grow the game. Sanlando Park received the prestigious USTA Tennis Facility of the Year award in 1985. Both Sanlando Park and Red Bug Lake Park have received the USTA Florida "Tournament of the Year" award. Seminole County received the USTA Florida and USTA National "Member Organization" of the Year award in 2009 based on the quality tennis facilities, USTA events and diverse programs provided. Cindy received the USTA Florida Female Merit Award in 2009 and the prestigious USTA National Eve Kraft Community Volunteer award in 2011. When asked about the future, Cindy says, “Although my day to day professional career is over, I still intend to be involved in my community and my passion for tennis. I am even looking forward to playing again. See you at the courts!”
The entire Mid Florida region owes a rather large debt of gratitude to this hard-working woman for all that she has done for the sport of tennis over the course of her career! Mid Florida Tennis Association is particularly grateful since Cindy continues to volunteer with us, serving as a Senior Advisor. Thank you Cindy for all you have done, and all you continue to do for tennis in our area. What a difference YOU have made, and what an inspiration and role model you are for others.