2010 APTA Board Nominees – Juan Araya, Katie Bliss, Mark Kebe and Tina Houlihan Kelly

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Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 11, Issue 4, March, 2010

Juan Araya is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been playing platform tennis for four years and tennis since he was five years old. He was in the top five in Buenos Aires, and in the top 10 of Argentina, playing with people like Gaston Gaudio (#5 in the World), Guillermo Canas (#12), Mariano Puerta (Finalist of the French Open) and others.

In December 1991, he competed at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, reaching the quarter-finals and losing to Norman Magnus, former #2 of the ATP Tour. He also played every tournament in the COSAT circuit, reaching the semifinals of the Pascuas Bowl in Asuncion, Paraguay. At the age of 18, he played the South American professional tour, reaching several semifinals and quarterfinals.

Later, at the Universidad de Belgrano, he got his degree in Management Information Systems. While at UB, he worked for different companies as a software developer while he was helping the Argentinian Tennis Association, where he used to play with the “Future Stars” as a hitting partner.

In February 2002, Juan and his family decided to move to the United States. His first job was in New Jersey at the Pascack Valley Tennis Center as a tennis professional. For two summers he worked at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT, then at the Greenwich Country Club where he directed and coordinated all aspects of the women’s and junior’s programs. Currently, he is the Director of Racquet Sports at the Aspetuck Valley Country Club located in Weston, CT.

Juan won several APTA National Ranking tournaments in 2009. He is certified in both PPTA and USPTA. He is also the developer of the new interactive Men’s Ranking program on the APTA website.

Juan lives in Riverside, CT with his wife Roxana and their two young daughters Abril (9) and Lola (3) and newborn son Timoteo.

Katie Bliss is a self -professed ‘enthusiastic B player’. Her love for the game began at the now-defunct Apple Platform Tennis Club in New York City, where she met her future husband, Mark. She is the past president of the New Jersey Women’s Platform Tennis League, whose membership includes over 800 women from throughout the state playing weekly from October to February. During her 10 years on the NJWPTL Board, Katie served in several capacities besides her presidency, including Tournament Director of the state tournament. She has also been involved in running the Short Hills Platform Tennis Invitational, the nation’s oldest national ranking and PCQ tournament, for close to ten years; three as the Tournament Director.

A past contributor to the Platform Tennis Magazine, Katie acknowledges that the smartest financial investment she ever madewas her life-time Membership to the APTA in 1990. She resides in Maplewood, NJ, with her husband Mark, also a long time paddle player, and two children.

Mark Kebe grew up in Pittsburgh, where he was introduced to the great sport of platform tennis by Jay Smith. Jay is a commercial painter who created the Peter’s Creek Paddle Club—a club consisting of two courts and a warming hut—behind his paint shop. Mark was in high school at the time and worked two summers on Jay’s painting crews. He learned the game at Peter’s Creek by showing up every Sunday morning to get thumped by the Division 1 and 2 men’s league players. He also was given the opportunity to learn how to scrape, paint and apply grit to the decks (wood planks at the time) and to tighten the screens. He has a true appreciation for the sport.

Mark graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting/Finance. Immediately after college, he played at a local racquet dub where he began introducing friends (includinghis future wife) to the game, as well as meeting a number of the local club players. The game was just beginning to take off in Cincinnati. Since then, he has played in the Cincinnati Men’s League where the participation has grown from less than 100 players to the current level of over 600 players. He has been involved with The Midwesterns, Region N’s National Ranking tournament, for 15 years, acting as Tournament Chairman the last 10 years. The Midwesterns attracts over 200 participants each year. He also was part of the 2009 Nationals Committee.

Mark is still enthusiastic about bringing new people into the sport and when he is not playing paddle or traveling to volleyball tournaments to watch his daughter play, he works as a crisis manager/turnaround consultant assisting companies experiencing various degrees of financial distress. Mark lives in Cincinnati, where he enjoys spending time with his wife, Sharon, and their daughter, Paige.

Christina (Houlihan) Kelly grew up in Westchester, New York, in an enthusiastic platform tennis family, that includes her older brother, Tom, and father, Art. Tina won the 15-and-under Junior Nationals (1978) and 18-and-under Junior Nationals (1980). She graduated from Vassar College (where she played tennis) and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

A former magazine editor and writer, associate producer of film, and college English professor, she is now a free-lance writer and cruciverbalist (she’s had nine crossword puzzles published in “The New York Times”). Tina has served on the APTA board since 2007 and is an active member of the Branding and the Web Site committees. She writes and designs regional APTA newsletters, edits and creates articles and marketing materials, and even uses her creativity to fashion APTA ads.

She is currently working with the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame Foundation and writing a coffee table book about the history of platform tennis which will be published in Fall 2010. Tina, her husband, Bill, and their Boston Terrier, Gussie, live in Ossining, New York She has two stepdaughters and five grandchildren.