After 17 wonderful years in Pittsburgh, being named the Director of Tennis at Village Glen and the opportunity to returning to my hometown and the club that gave me start was a dream come true. With 27 years in the tennis industry as a High-Performance Junior Coach, Director of Tennis, Division 1 Collegiate Coach, and Tennis Club Owner, I can’t thank Jack Ruh and Mike Manzella enough and am genuinely thrilled to be here.
Because began at Village Glen in 1989 as an assistant pro learning every facet of the tennis business. For seven years, Tom LaPenna mentored me as a high-performance junior coach, and I enjoyed teaching every age and level of player. I next spent three great years as Co-Director of Tennis Operations with David Todoroff. All our hard work was well worth it; we built a thriving Junior Program and truly superior adult clinics.
In 1999, I was offered the opportunity to launch The Pennsylvania Tennis Academy. In five years, we built the largest and one of the most successful junior and adult programs in Western PA. For the next decade, I was able to grow my career and my tennis acumen in Pittsburgh, and in 2010 became part owner and Director of Tennis at Alpha Tennis and Fitness. In 2011, I was named USTA Pro of the year and Alpha was named Club of the year by the Allegheny Mountain District.
In 2012, in addition to my club duties I was named Head Coach of Duquesne University Men's Tennis Team. We went 16-6 and completed the most successful season in school history. A year later, I took over both the Men's and Women's programs. The women improved their win total by 6 matches and are now considered serious A10 conference contenders. I’m fiercely proud of that.
Now, life has come full circle and I couldn’t be happier. With my daughter heading off to college, my future wife residing in Tonawanda, and most of my family here in Buffalo, the timing to have this amazing opportunity at the Village Glen could not be better-timed.
I’m genuinely honored and privileged to join this great team. As your Director of Tennis, my promise is a continue to offer you a meticulous, well run facility and the highest level of personal service from a team dedicated to making your tennis experience second to none, and our clubs your tennis home away from home.
PTR Certified Professional, USTA Certified Professional 1
As the Tournament & Adult Development Director at Village Glen, Russ is a true Adult Beginner/Advanced Beginner guru. That means he takes VG players from beginner to serious player in a flash in our Rally Tennis Group Lesson Program. Additionally, Russ runs both USTA sanctioned and non-USTA junior tournaments and competitions each year.
Russ has been playing tennis for over 35 years earning the titles of NYS SUNY Champion in 1981, NYS Doubles Champion in 1982 and 1983, and ranked the #1 singles player at UB from 1981-1984.
Russ has been a teaching pro for over 30 years, coaching some of the most successful juniors earning national and sectional rankings. He gained recognition and experience as the Assistant Tennis Coach for the University at Buffalo Men’s Tennis program from 1987-1988, complementing his time as the Assistant Pro at Amherst Hills Tennis Club from 1981-1990. Russ accepted the Head Pro position at Village Glen, and we welcome him back to where he gained his formative managerial experience from 1990-2000.
When Russ is not working or playing tennis, he enjoys spending time with his son, Nate.
PTR, USPTA, USTA & Tennis Canada Certified
A performance-based development coach with nearly 20 years of experience, Jason knows what it takes to succeed and guides his students to achieve their unique goals. Managing performance tennis programming, Jason also has over 10 years of experience directing structured 10 and Under tennis programs and worked closely with national coaches in Canada at Niagara Academy, a Tennis Canada recognized Tennis Development Centre.
Jason has worked with national and international caliber high performance players from over 25 countries spanning 5 continents, coaching players on the courts of both the USTA National Tennis Center (NTC), in New York as well as the Canadian NTC in Toronto. At Niagara Academy, he managed Physical-Technical Player Development and helped over 100 high performance tennis players reach their goal of an athletic scholarship. His coaching methodology features evidence-based sport-science training.
Jason has never lost his love of competing, contributing to the Buffalo’s Marsh Cup team since 2003 as well as being a Buffalo MUNY champion. He enjoys long distance running, fiercely proud of his age based Top Ten finish in the 2008 International Marathon.
To learn more about Jason Joseph, a rare competitor and teacher with a burning passion for optimizing player development and coaching education, visit: actionapproach.com.
please welcome erick garcia!
Prior to arriving at the Village Glen and South Towns Tennis Club, Erick served as a coach and Academy Director since 2001 at the Niagara Academy of Tennis (NAT) in Ontario, Canada where he had several ITF junior champions, 3 Canadian National Junior Champions and a few playing on the ITF pro circuits and the ATP Tour. He also serves as the current Head Coach of the Division I, Purple Eagles at Niagara University (Men and Women) since January 2017.
Erick's passion for tennis began at the age of 8 in Oaxaca, Mexico at the Club de Tennis Brenamiel. A few years later, at the age of 15, he earned a full scholarship to the Centro Tenístico Guido Lorandi, an elite boarding tennis academy in Puebla, Mexico. He played juniors at the National Level earning a ranking of as high as 8th in the nation in the boys U18 (1999). Erick also competed in the professional tennis league in Mexico (AMTP) and several Futures Qualifiers in Mexico, Canada and the US.
Additionally, Erick was also a team member for the Purple Eagles (Niagara University) from 2001-2008. During his time there he reached Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference finals twice.
Erick's love for tennis and his passion for helping people reach their goals is what keeps him excited to be on the court.
Pro Garcia holds a Masters Degree in international Marketing. He currently resides in Wheatfield, NY with his Wife Kendra, and two children, Beau and daughter Sonora. He can't wait to start this new journey in the Buffalo area.
When Mark started playing tennis with his dad at the age of 5, he couldn’t have imagined becoming the Buffalo 12 and Under champion at 11. He benefited from great instruction and it’s a tradition he proudly continues. During the summer months he played and was taught by Bea Mastmen, a Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame member, along with the great Joe DiCarlo, Norm Millard (Champion Kensington High School Tennis Coach) and Bill Moncarsh, UB Tennis Coach.
Ahrens also played baseball and pitched for Amherst throughout his high school career and continued playing in the Cheektowaga Classic League and the News Suburban League into his forties. He always loved to compete and that continues, as well.
Mark began playing USTA league tennis in his forties and continues today at 62. Blessed to have played with some terrific people over the years in what he calls “ a great sport with great people”, he’s played in 7 National Championships including Men's and Mixed Doubles.
An invaluable member of the Village Glen Staff, Mark’s unique expertise is "Strategies of Winning in Doubles.” Mark and "Tommie Guns" Lapennaare still undefeated as partners at Nationals!
In one of his drill clinics or match plays, Mark stresses what’s most needed mentally and strategically, adding his belief to never stop taking lessons. It’s not just words, Mark still takes 2 lessons a year. When asked to explain why, his simple: "With time comes bad habits.” Attend one of Mark’s clinics and learn what it takes to be a winner!
A former Team Captain for the Canisius College Men’s Tennis Team where he played first singles and first doubles coached by Terry McMahon, today Rich Anderson is a PTR Certified 10 and Under Professional and a rare Adult Independent Teaching Instructor.
He understands what it takes to compete and win, having participated in numerous area tennis tournaments over the last 30 years. Most recently, in 2014 he played in the USTA 55+ 8.0 League National Championships held in Surprise, Arizona.
For the past few years, Rich has been one of Village Glen’s High Performance and Junior Program Coaches. He is a dedicated instructor of adult and junior players of all levels including an advanced-level adult drill clinic, intermediate-level junior classes as well as private lessons.
Rich’s passion for coaching and teaching goes beyond tennis, having coached youth soccer, basketball and hockey teams for several years.
As Founding Partner and President of Think First Serve®, Inc., a management training and consulting company specializing in the use of creative-thinking, problem-solving and performance improvement methods, Brian Dorval helps groups and organizations find new ways to grow. It shows in 23 years of successfully helping people, teams, and organizations significantly improve their personal performance and business results.
Brian has delivered over 450 creative problem solving, management coaching, and performance training sessions for companies in 20 countries, and has published over 50 articles, chapters, and books on topics related to creative thinking, problem solving and performance improvement.
A USPTA-certified tennis professional specializing in the mental and strategic aspects of the game, Brian has worked with regionally and nationally ranked junior and college tennis players and adults at all skill levels to improve mental toughness and enhance their performance in competition. By applying the results of his unique performance-focused research, he helps people, teams and organizations develop high-performance practices to stimulate growth and success. Brian holds a Master of Science in Creativity & Innovation from the International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo, NY, and is the Head Tennis Professional for Western New York’s Shining Stars adaptive tennis program for children with autism.
USPTA Certified & USTA ITA Official
David Filipski is a USPTA certified Tennis Pro, a USTA ITA Official and has been teaching tennis at Village Glen Tennis Club for almost 15 years. Formerly, for 10 years the Head Coach of the Pembroke High School Tennis Team, he is also a long-time educator having taught Regents History, AP History and AP Psychology there for three decades.
When Village Glen ran the Summer Tennis Program at Park Country Club (2007-2010), Dave was one of the key on-site facilitators. He is currently one of Village Glen’s High-Performance Program Coaches and runs many adult leagues, lessons and drill clinics.
Bryan learned the foundation of the game by taking lessons from Neeru Gupta when he was 13 years old. Joining the Village Glen Junior Program at 15, he began to play tennis competitively, falling in love with the game and developing an appreciation for great coaching. Training with Tom LaPenna, Ross Nwachukwu and other great tennis pros during his junior and collegiate careers, Bryan still considers Tom and Ross his coaches.
Bryan played 1st, 2nd and 3rd singles for Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, quickly making a name for himself by winning the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) Rookie of the Year. Throughout his college career, he proved to be a key member of the team on and off the court. After graduation, he moved back to Buffalo, NY, but stays in touch with friends and his coach Andy Findlay. Bryan and his wife Deanna privately believe their daughter, Alaina, just might win the US Open in 20 years or so.
Today, still chasing an ATP ranking, Bryan continues to compete in Open level, National and Future level tournaments. Working for many years with the Village Glen junior and adult development programs, he genuinely enjoys sharing his experience, new techniques and strategies of the game to help them reach their full potential.
Greatness as an athlete, is defined as maximizing your talents that you were given. Bryan views his job as helping you to do that and reach your full potential as a player.
James is a former Division I head coach, leading Men’s and Women’s programs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. There he guided the 2015 Men’s team to the Northeast Conference Championship match and coached the Conference Men’s 2015 Player of the Year.
James’ head coaching experience also includes notable success at Division III Elmira College in Elmira NY, earning the 2013 Empire 8 Conference Coach of the Year for Women’s Tennis. Leading the Women’s team to the Empire 8 Conference Tournament, the Soaring Eagles Women best regular season conference record ever and, in 2013-2014, he coached the 2013-2014 Elmira College Men’s team to their most wins in at over a decade.
James is a 2011 graduate of Western Illinois University in Macomb Illinois, where he was Team Captain for the 2009/2010 season, recipient of the Art Peterson Leadership Award in 2009, and attained the Fighter First award in 2008 and named to the Summit League All-Academic team in 2010. Prior to transferring to Western Illinois, James also played at the University of Rhode Island where he recorded a team-best 19-10 singles record as a freshman. He also recorded 17 wins in doubles play as a sophomore.
While James now calls Buffalo home he grew up in Pittsford, NY where he was a 2006 New York First-Team All-State selection from Pittsford Sutherland High School, and a finalist in the doubles competition at the 2006 New York State High School Tennis Tournament.
Truly passionate about the game she has been teaching tennis in Buffalo area for nearly 30 years, Neeru Gupta is a local tennis legend. Starting in 1984 at Buffalo Racquet Club, Neeru later taught at Transit Valley Country Club, and then for eight years worked as the Head Pro at Westwood Country Club. Since 1987 she has directed the Tennis Program for Williamsville Community Education. At SportsPlex, Neeru ran her own Quick Start and High-Performance program and for several years the Buffalo-Niagara Junior Team Tennis League (JTTL).
It all began with Neeru teaching her own children, Anjeli and Anil. Both progressed to playing First Singles for Williamsville High School Teams, their college teams and both were ranked nationally Top 10 in ETA and Top 128, More recently, Thomas Navarro, Priya Bommaraju and Michael Rusk are among the latest of Neeru’s students to excel.
Neeru also know competition. As a player winning in MUNY’s many times. She played in USTA Women’s 4.5 League. Her teams went on to the Sectionals numerous times and once made it to the National.
Neeru’s Village Glen relationship dates back to her own participation in Team Tennis and development of her children tennis under Tom LaPenna and Rob Gregoire. Joining Village Glen in September 2015 as a Pro, her extensive teaching experience with students of all ages and USPTR Certification for Ten and Under makes Neeru an invaluable addition.
In a story in the Buffalo News, Charlie Garfinkel quoted Dennis Behr, well-known in Western New York for his passion for tennis: ”Neeru doesn’t just teach tennis. She takes an interest in each of her students, not just as a tennis player, but as a person. She is always positive, treats youngsters and adults with equal passion, and always goes the extra mile.”
We’re excited for you to meet Tom Harty, a newer addition to our staff at both Village Glen and South Towns Tennis Clubs. Tom comes to us with many years of experience coaching and playing the game at the collegiate Division 1 level.
As a high school player, in his senior year at Amherst High School, Tom won the High School Section VI singles championship. He followed this by going on to play 5th singles/3rd doubles for four years at Boston College and during his senior year was named team captain. During his summers at Boston College, Tom directed the tennis program at the exclusive Cherry Hill Club.
Upon graduating from Boston College, Tom directed the program at Park Club and had the opportunity to coach in the Middle East for 7 months. Additionally, Tom also coached the men's varsity tennis team at Bentley College in Boston before moving on to Dartmouth College in Hanover NH where he ran the community tennis program for 4 summers.
Ross Nwachukwu grew up playing junior tennis and Men’s open tennis tournaments in the Buffalo area. Finishing many years ranked #1 in Western New York among all of the men’s open tennis players from 1990-2005. Ross was a two-time National High School Tennis All-American in 1989 and 1990 and inducted into the Bennett High School Hall of Fame with a career tennis record of 110 wins and 5 losses. Later, Ross was also a four-time Buffalo Municipal Men’s open Champion.
He had an illustrious college tennis career at Division 1 Drake University, where he was an eight-time Missouri Valley champion both in singles competition and doubles amassing an incredible 273 career singles and doubles wins during a remarkable four years. He helped Drake qualify for the NCAA championship as a team in 1992, 1993 and 1994, and also qualified for the NCAA singles championship in 1994.
One of only three Drake Men’s tennis players named to the Missouri Valley Conference ALL-CENTENNIAL TEAM, in 1994 Ross earned his bachelor’s degree from Drake in business management.
Ross went on to play numerous satellites, futures, and challenger events during his pro tennis career posting notable victories over players ranked in the top 200 in the world.
During the 1995-1996 season, Ross was Drake University’s assistant men’s tennis coach, assistant men’s tennis coach for the University of Kansas in 1999-2000, and named head assistant men’s tennis coach for the 1999-2000 season and then became the head men’s tennis coach for the 2000-2001 season. Ross also served as the assistant women’s tennis coach for the University of Buffalo during the 2002-2003 season. From 2002-2006, Ross worked at the Village Glen Tennis club as a USPTA certified tennis instructor giving private and group lessons. After teaching tennis at SportsPlex from 2006-2011, Ross has returned home to the Village Glen.
Front Counter Staff
Deb Castellan Horne
Known affectionately as “the court reporter”, Deb Castellan, was hired in 1994 as a Front Desk employee. Over the years she has worn many different hats; Front Desk Supervisor, Contract Court Coordinator, Operations Supervisor, Child Care Supervisor, Member Services Representative, Marketing and Advertising Assistant, Buffalo Bills Tennis Futures Tournament (Presented by Channel 2) Director’s Assistant, Vending /Pro Shop Inventory Representative, and even Maintenance Crew Member! We can’t imagine the club without her.
Armed with rare wit and gentle sarcasm, Deb expertly manages the Front Desk along with a wide range of covert, behind the scenes operations. Earning her nickname in all the right ways, Deb is the “Court Reporter” and also the “VG at A Glance” email culprit.
Besides her genuine pleasure greeting customers’ smiling faces, Deb is happy to be playing tennis, cheering on her tennis friends, visiting her family in Rochester and spending time with her husband, James Horne and their kids/aka monsters, Zoey, Max, Lexie and Christian.
Kate started at the VG in April 2018, bringing an Associate degree in Humanities and Social Sciences, focusing on Theater. Little wonder she has many alter egos, ranging from superhero to princess. Kate spends most of her free time volunteering for local charity groups and playing her favorite characters.
Danielle earned an Associate degree in Liberal arts and Sciences from Windward Community College and on her way to becoming a licensed veterinary technician, is currently attending Medaille College to achieve her bachelor’s degree. Danielle plays on the Medaille women’s tennis team and USTA. She has 2 children, Noa and Shadow.
Jessica joined our VG family in February 2014 after graduating from Villa Maria with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Loving the theater, she often travels to NYC to take in performances. Jessica is also an event photographer for weddings and parties, a freelance modeling photographer and somehow finds time to design book covers for authors. In her free time, Jessica participates in many Superhero Alliance Charitable Events as a photographer and as a character.
Krissy has been with VG since September of 2016. Admittedly, she discovered tennis a bit late, but happily she has come to the right place! Know that if she offers to be a stand in on your court, to put her on the other side of the net if you’re looking to win!
When she isn’t buried at the front desk, you may find her reading, modeling, drawing, or studying, so feel free to ask her what she’s up to. Krissy loves performing for charitable services as your favorite Disney and Marvel/DC characters and is always ready to chat and get to know the many faces that come to the club.
Back Office staff
Tracy began working for Village Glen in 1997 as a front desk receptionist, but was never one to waste time. It wasn't long before she was assisting in the back office with filing, mailings, memberships cards and more. By the end of 1999, Tracy had a full-time position of daily processing and contract courts, and by mid-2000 demanded still greater personal challenge taking on billing, bank reconciliations, and Front Desk Manager Duties. In September of 2008, Tracy was promoted to Assistant Tennis Director of both Village Glen and South Towns Tennis Clubs.
Fast forward 20 years since starting at Village Glen, Tracy has created lasting friendships with coworkers, pros and members. Although it took her working at the Village Glen for over ten years to discover the magic of tennis, at last, she gets it, playing in a USTA 2.5 women's league the summer of 2008. Her team was undefeated and made it as far as Sectionals. True to her nature, Tracy quickly moved up the ranks and is currently a 3.5-level player and has captained many USTA league teams; some of which have gone to Regionals and Sectionals!
Tracy and her husband, Jamie, enjoy playing tennis, boating and spending time with their children, Jayden, and Jessica. Tracy has also recently embarked on an all- new endeavor as a Thirty-One Sales Consultant.