Wilmington Community Coordinator; Coach, Wilmington Clinics
A tennis player for 50 years, Billie Fitzsimons has dedicated her spare time to teaching her favorite sport at camps, public parks, and private clubs. Eight years ago, Billie began coaching athletes with intellectual disabilities in the Wilmington area. Billie’s team was having so much fun on the court that they wanted to play tennis all year long. Billie hooked up with Abilities Tennis of North Carolina and began holding tennis clinics for her team every Thursday afternoon. If you stop by the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex (Empie Park) between 4:30 and 6:00 year-round, you will see anywhere from 10 to 20 athletes practicing skills, short court, and full court doubles and singles, with lots of volunteers helping out. She also hosts a yearly tournament, Swing into Spring, at the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex. In order to raise funds for the athletes to travel to tournaments in North Carolina and other states, Billie also hosts a fundraiser tournament called the Great Pumpkin Smash each October at Holly Tree Racquet Club.
Greensboro Community Coordinator; Coach, Greensboro Clinics
Jinni has been active in the tennis world, playing USTA leagues and playing at Gate City for over 15 years. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with a major in Therapeutic Recreation and has worked with special needs athletes since high school. She is the Abilities Tennis and Special Olympics coach for Guilford/Greensboro area where she hosts clinics from August to May. Jinni is a board member as well as merchandising chair for Racquets for a Cure (an annual tennis tournament to raise money for the local Komen Foundation). Jinni has also worked diligently to coordinate and promote the fundraiser, Dancing on the Diamond, which benefits the ARC of Greensboro.
Chapel Hill Community Coordinator and Coach
Rich enjoyed playing a lot of tennis growing up on Long Island, for the University of Vermont, and on USTA Teams in New York and North Carolina. Rich serves on the Special Olympics NC Tennis Sport Development Team, coaches Special Olympics in Orange County, and trains and certifies Special Olympics NC Tennis Coaches. The most fun Rich has had playing in a tennis tournament was when he partnered with Kevin Olin to represent NC Abilities Tennis in the 2019 USTA National Adaptive Tournament in Orlando, Florida. Rich loves working with Abilities Tennis and Special Olympics, especially when athletes, families, and volunteers have so much fun being together at events and on the tennis court. In his other life, Rich works for an investment company, plays Platform Tennis, and enjoys learning to play the Sitar.
Greensboro Community Coordinator; Coach, Greensboro & Mt. Jubilee Clinics
Charles is a tennis enthusiast who has been enjoying the sport for more than 50 years. He has played USTA League tennis and continues to play regularly but finds his current role as tennis coach for Special Olympics of Forsyth County and Abilities Tennis most rewarding. Charles began coaching and playing unified doubles with his son, Justin, in 2009 and joined Abilities Tennis at its beginning. "Just watching the growing success and confidence of my son and so many of our friends in Abilities Tennis has been an absolute joy! I have met some of the best people in the world through Abilities Tennis and look forward to its future of continuing to develop and celebrate their ABILITIES!”
Apex Community Coordinator; Coach, Apex Clinics
Jessica Rigney received her USPTA Recreational Tennis Coaches Certification in 2009 and has four years training in the LA84 and Quick Start tennis programs. She went on to develop and run Youth and Family Tennis Programs for the United States Navy’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department in San Diego, CA. After moving to Fuquay-Varina in 2013, Jessica took an Abilities Tennis training and found ways to continue teaching tennis in surrounding towns. She has been running an Abilities Tennis clinic in Apex since the summer of 2015.