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2021 ALTA Executive Committee

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By Emmy Powell

The true backbone of the ALTA organization is the extraordinary effort by hundreds of volunteers. As we kick off our year-long 50th-anniversary celebration of ALTA league play, we recognize those who devote countless hours to organizing and scheduling the ALTA leagues. We will continue to navigate through the uncertainties of COVID and do everything possible to make sure your experience on the tennis courts is safe and positive. It all starts with the captains, coordinators, overall coordinators, and leads to the league vice presidents and top officers who oversee the vast network of volunteers.

This year, we thought we would reach out and ask some more interesting or unusual questions to our volunteers, so you could get to know these outstanding individuals. We hope you enjoy learning these fascinating tidbits about this year’s Executive Committee.

 

Debbie Gaster, President
Place of Birth: Wilmington, Delaware
Career: Habitual volunteer
ALTA history: Began volunteering as a coordinator in 2001 in the Junior Leagues. Served as Junior League VP in 2013-2014. Coordinator in the Thursday Women, Sunday Women, and Mixed Doubles Leagues and was Thursday Women’s League VP in 2019.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Roger Federer, the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), and my dad.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Renovate my kitchen.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? To vacation for a month at an Italian cooking school.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? A family barge trip down the Midi Canal in France.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? Not sure about my favorite, but the most memorable was when I was a broke college student and got a speeding ticket. My brother paid the fine for me for my birthday.

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? My husband.

What is your secret talent? Can’t tell you; it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.

What superpower would you like to have? Teleportation.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? Refer to career choice — Habitual volunteer.

 

Lamar Scott, First Vice President
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia (Emory Baby)
Career: HR Manager with the CDC; Certified Tennis Instructor
ALTA history: I’ve been playing ALTA league tennis since the early ’90s. I’ve served as a coordinator for the Men’s League from 2008-2011, an overall coordinator from 2011-2018, Men’s League VP from 2019-2020, and as the current ALTA First VP.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps as an educator.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? I would get stitches … for the injury I would sustain from passing out!

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? A surprise 50th … being surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones was the best and a birthday I’ll never forget.

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? The Atlanta Falcons!

What is your secret talent? Paella on the Big Green Egg, if that’s a talent.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? ALTA has always provided a fun, competitive, social environment, and it has helped me to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’ve played tennis since I was kid, and I’ve always wanted to give something back to the game. Volunteering with ALTA has allowed me to connect to the community at large and work with other passionate tennis enthusiasts in doing our part to “grow” the game for generations to come.

 

John Lowell, Treasurer
Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career: Consulting Actuary
ALTA history: 1988 or 1989. Started this round of volunteering in 2015.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Marie Curie, Mickey Mantle, Abe Lincoln.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Initially, a New York Yankee.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Buy a winery and hire a great winemaker.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? What’s a vacation?

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? Because I thought I could make a difference.

 

Camille Puckett, Secretary
Place of Birth: Dayton, Ohio
Career: Registered Interior Designer (now retired) – Commercial projects only

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Dixon Hogg, who was my significant other for 23 years and the reason I got involved with ALTA; my dad, who passed away when I had just turned 22; and my mom, who passed away 15 years ago.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Invest it properly and then share it with others.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? A trip to New Zealand, and another river cruise.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? On my 16th birthday, my grandmother gave me a ring that consisted of a beautiful Australian black opal that came back in my uncle’s belongings after he went MIA in WWII; it was surrounded by diamonds from my great grandmother’s wedding ring.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? In 1991, Dixon played tennis at Dekalb Tennis Center with a group of “older” men that played there weekly. Celia Matthews was VP of the Business Women’s League and was short on coordinators. He “volunteered” me and the rest is history.

 

Mitch Falkin, Men’s League Vice President
Place of Birth: Long Island, New York
Career: Residential real estate broker
ALTA history: Long-time player, captain, coordinator, overall coordinator, VP

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? It would actually be with four people: my dad (now deceased) and his three brothers, whom I never got to know. They grew up in Brooklyn, but before I was born, my uncles all moved to Seattle, and we only visited with them a few times. Then I left home, went on with my life, and never got to know them. Apparently, they were quite the troublemakers! It would be neat to see my dad and his brothers reminisce about their old days.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to go to the University of Vermont and become a marine biologist. I loved being outdoors, hiking in the woods, and looking at plants and animals. That didn’t happen, but perhaps that explains my interest in birds and plants to this day!

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Nothing different; life is good!

What is the best vacation you have ever had? First ski trip to Lake Tahoe with my family. When I got off the ski lift at the top for the first time and saw that beautiful, deep-blue lake sprawled across the landscape, I knew it was a special place. But I’d pass on the cross-country skiing activity we tried; that didn’t go over well with my two small daughters!

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? A gift I gave: a surprise trip to the US Open for my wife to visit a friend of hers who moved to New York.

What is your secret talent? I can sit down and play piano by ear.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? I have been playing ALTA for over 30 years and always thought it was a great idea — to have a team from your neighborhood play teams from other neighborhoods. When one of my long-time friends and playing partners, Terry Godbold, asked if I would be interested in being a coordinator, I didn’t hesitate at all. It just sounded “right” to me to get involved in the organization. I’ve enjoyed it ever since.

 

Keri Beck, Thursday Women’s League Vice President
Place of Birth: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Career: Retired – Revenue systems manager, Sprint
ALTA history: Player since 1997, volunteer since 2011

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Andrea Bocelli, Rafael Nadal, and Steve Martin.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Buy a home on the ocean in Maine.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? A trip around the world.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Three weeks in France, Austria, and then Northern Italy for cooking school.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? My son, on my 33rd!

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? Bird watching.

What is your secret talent? Writing fiction.

What superpower would you like to have? Time traveling.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? Because I fell in love with tennis and enjoy working with people.

 

 

Linda Shepherd, Sunday Women’s League Vice President
Place of Birth: Freeport, New York
Career: Facilities management
ALTA history: Started volunteering in 2003 as a coordinator being recommended by Barbara Ingram. I continued as an overall coordinator, ALTA Foundation Secretary and later President, and now the highlight of my career as a volunteer is serving as the VP of Sunday Women’s League.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Kate, and Prince William.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A nurse.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Give to my church and my children.

If time and money were not obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? The Holy Land.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Wimbledon.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? An Angel Pin my son bought me at a Christmas Secret Shop with his money.

What is your secret talent? Being a good neighbor.

What superpower would you like to have? Being able to read peoples’ minds

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? Tennis is a game that combines all the things I think are important: exercise, laughter, and friendships.

 

Cathy Gonzales, Senior Day Leagues Vice President
Place of Birth: Montgomery, Alabama
Career: High school guidance counselor for 32 years
ALTA history: Began playing tennis after retiring. Served as a team captain and as a coordinator for Thursday Women, Mixed Doubles, Sunday Women, Senior Day Women, and overall coordinator for Senior Day Men and Senior Day Women.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Dream dinner with my husband, Ron, my mother, and my father, all of whom have passed away.

If time and money were not obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? I would go snow skiing with my Ron again and take the children and the five grandchildren.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? When I submitted my answers for Net News, it was my birthday, November 19. That day, I got a text of my three little grandsons in California singing Happy Birthday to me.

What is your secret talent? My secret talent used to be a photographic memory. Now, it is my paintings on canvas with acrylic or oil paint — or pastel.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? I became an ALTA volunteer because I kept getting asked to be a volunteer.

 

Roger Dennington, Senior Leagues Vice President
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia
Career: Retired
ALTA history: Captain, scorekeeper, coordinator, overall coordinator, Senior League VP. Started in 1984 at A6.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An airline pilot.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Set up a trust for family.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Two weeks in Spain.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? A car.

What is your secret talent? I can shoe a horse.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? During a match, a situation occurred, and I knew the correct answer. I was playing against a coordinator. He thought that since I knew and understood the rules, I could be a coordinator.

 

Tammy Copelli, Junior Leagues Vice President
Place of Birth: Hauppauge, New York
Career: Registered nurse
ALTA history: Player 1989-2009, team manager Junior Boys, scorekeeper 1994-2004, Junior Boys fall coordinator from 2006-2014, Junior Boys spring overall coordinator from 2014-2020, and Junior League VP in 2021.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Don’t tell anyone and give out secret gifts.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? Bringing my grown children on a two-week sailboat cruise in the British Virgin Islands (That was the second-best vacation we ever had, but it would be even better with our kids).

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Club Med Family ski vacation in the Italian Alps.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? My mom always had wind chimes at her home. When she died, my dad bought me and my four sisters a set of silver wind chimes. Over time, they rusted, and I put them away in the garage (couldn’t bear to throw them out since my dad had also passed by then). One birthday, my son had refinished them (unbeknownst to me) and wrapped them up as a gift. It was quite an emotional gift. Now I can’t put them out because I don’t want them to rust.

What is your secret talent? Kindness, it usually fixes everything.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? Because Peggy Brown, a coordinator of my son’s teams, was relentless at asking me. I was always the scorekeeper during the years my sons played, so we spoke at least once a week. Back then, we called in the scores — how funny is that?

 

Brenda Maddaleni, Junior Challenge Ladder Vice President
Place of Birth: Arlington, Virginia
Career: North Atlanta Tennis Academy business manager
ALTA history: Began at C7 in Fall 2002. City Winner Fall 2006, Fall 2009, Fall 2013, Spring 2014. Captain of 10U Boys Spring 2014 City Winner.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I do not remember my aspirations as a child, but when I started at the University of Miami, I was in the nursing school. After one semester and a disaster in the biology lab, I found my home in the business school to study finance.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? As an accountant by trade, I tend to be fiscally conservative. I would figure out how to best accept the award with the least possible tax effects. I would pay off all of my debt, create a trust for each of my children and donate 10 percent to charity. The remainder of the funds I would invest to buy a dream home somewhere on the beach accompanied by a convertible to replace the van I currently drive.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? I would spend an entire year traveling the world. I would focus on the areas that I have not traveled to: India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Croatia, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. I would take a month in each country and spend many days in each city to get the feel of the place.

What is your secret talent? I never forget a face or a voice, but I am known to forget someone’s name!

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? I started as a volunteer in 2016 for the ALTA Junior Challenge Ladder. I also served as a co-captain of a Junior Boys ALTA Team in 2014. I volunteer to help out the organization that is serving my family as one of my sons participates in ALTA. It is a means to give back and also to better understand how the organization works. I particularly like to volunteer with kids, which is fulfilling when you observe them competing, working hard, and learning from their experience.

 

Eric Behning, Special Programs Vice President
Place of Birth: Pensacola, Florida
Career: Second career – property management
ALTA history: January 2010

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? My grandfathers and my wife.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A forester.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Give a large donation to ALS.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? Australia.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? A skiing trip to Germany and Austria.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? A mini bike with a snow ski instead of a front wheel.

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? Volunteering.

What is your secret talent? Cooking.

What superpower would you like to have? Precognition.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? I started out by playing in Run ‘N Roll. I quickly found that it is not volunteering, but great tennis. I wanted to give back to support these folks.

 

Barbara Ingram, Media Vice President
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Baptist Hospital)
Career: Retired – Acct. Ex. Parfums Givenchy (25 yrs.) and Independent Contractor at America’s Mart both Gift & Apparel mart showrooms as manager; Atlanta Director for Natl. Tradeshow Co. providing talent for tradeshow booths (24 yrs.)
ALTA history: Captain and scorekeeper, 3 years; Sunday Women coordinator, 15 years total, 7 as overall; Mixed Doubles coordinator, 7 years; Senior League coordinator 12 years, 3 as overall, and VP; Presidential appointee, 1 year; Media VP, incoming for a 2-year term.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Paul McCartney, Terry Bradshaw & Dolly Parton.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Take a month’s vacation at a quiet beach and think about what I want to do with the money.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? Dubai.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? I was a December baby, so our family tradition was to buy the Christmas tree on my birthday (they let me think I got to pick it out ) and begin decorating. Loved it!

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? Logic

What is your secret talent? Decorating — home and commercial displays

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? After captaining for three years, then winning SW city finals, I was asked to become a coordinator. I accepted since I had nowhere to go but down as a captain winning city.

 

Mimi McFall, Appointed Member
Place of Birth: Stamford, Connecticut
Career: Retired commercial banker
ALTA history: I joined my first ALTA team in 1999 and have been playing with essentially the same group ever since. We started at C5 and made it as high as AA2. Last season, we played at A1.

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? My father (deceased more than 25 years), and my two adult children. They were too young when he died to remember him.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? I have been fortunate to have enjoyed some nice vacations. If I have to pick, I would say it was Provence, France.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? The purple, Stingray bicycle I got when I was a girl. It was a brand-new bike just for me, and I rode it everywhere.

What is your secret talent? I’m not sure I have one, but I have enjoyed knitting mittens for all of my ALTA teammates over the years.

What superpower would you like to have? I would love to be able to fly.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? When I moved to Atlanta 22 years ago, I had two young children, and my husband and I had decided that I would quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom. I was in uncharted waters. I learned about ALTA, and joined a team. I had no idea at the time that my teammates would become such a big part of my life and life-long friends. When asked to be an ALTA volunteer, it was very easy to say yes and give back to an organization that has given so much to me.

 

 

Sandy Depa, 2020 President
Place of Birth: Lincoln, Nebraska
Career: Property management/accounting
ALTA history: Coordinator in Junior, Mixed Doubles, Sunday Women, Senior Women, overall coordinator, vice president, president.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A veterinarian.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? I would put in a pool because I miss our backyard with a pool and water.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? Austria, Poland, and Czech Republic.

What is the best vacation you ever had? With my kids and grandkids. We have taken trips to Brazil and Cabo San Lucas, and I always enjoy any beach trips with them.

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? Knocking out walls in a house to open it up.

What superpower would you like to have? I would love to be able to heal children who have cancer so they can live their life that was taken away from them far too soon.

 

 

Cameron Turner, Mixed Doubles League Vice President
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia
Career: Nonprofit fundraising and development
ALTA history: Played ALTA since 1988

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Abraham Lincoln, Cate Blanchett, and Lauren Bush (CEO and co-founder of FEEDS Project).

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A nurse.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? The Maldives.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Scotland.

What is your secret talent? I am ambidextrous.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? I became an ALTA volunteer 12 years ago to help grow the organization and to create change that will propel the mission and future vision of ALTA.

 

 

Bill Price, 2019 President
Place of Birth: Greenville, Pennsylvania
Career: FinTech executive
ALTA history: Men’s and Mixed coordinator, Mixed overall, Mixed VP, ALTA President, ALTA BOD

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A high school band director.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Retire.

If time and money weren’t obstacles, what would be your dream trip destination? Remaining six of 50 U.S. states I’ve not been to yet.

What is the best vacation you have ever had? Baltic Cruise including time in Russia.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? A puppy for my eighth birthday.

What is your secret talent? Framing art.

 Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? After years of enjoyment playing ALTA, I want to give back to the organization and the Atlanta tennis community.

 

Rita Maloof, ALTA Foundation Rep
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia
ALTA history: Member since 1981. Team captain, scorekeeper, Junior Leagues coordinator, Junior Leagues overall, Junior Leagues VP, ALTA Foundation Secretary

If you could have a “dream dinner” with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? The Property Brothers (is that one or two?), the Williams Sisters (is that one or two?), and my dad.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Retired!

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do? Buy a new beach house.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? My mother’s diamond cocktail ring when I turned 21.

What are you interested in that most people aren’t? Gardening.

What is your secret talent? Party planning.

What superpower would you like to have? Teleporting, so I’d never have to sit in traffic again.

Why did you become an ALTA volunteer? My friends volunteered with ALTA, loved it, and convinced me to give it a try. That was in 2009. The rest is history!