- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

Former tennis pro Eleni Rossides has scored the top position at the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, a D.C. nonprofit for at-risk youths.

Ms. Rossides, who declined to give her age, is the executive director, overseeing the foundation’s six tennis and education programs for low-income children.

The tennis programs are conducted on courts in Northeast and Southeast and at the foundation’s center on 16th Street in Northwest. The foundation works with 23 public schools.

In addition to overseeing the programs, Ms. Rossides heads up the foundation’s fund-raising development, which includes grant applications, private and corporate donor drives, and special events. The foundation, with a $2 million annual budget, instructs and assists about 1,500 children each year.

“We believe tennis is the hook to grab kids to come into the program. Then we make the academics interesting,” Ms. Rossides said. The nature of tennis teaches children life lessons, she said.

“If you’re on the court by yourself, you have to figure out how to win or survive, and that’s what a lot of these children are doing every day,” she said.

Ms. Rossides comes to the foundation from Black & Decker Corp., the Towson, Md., toolmaker, where she served as a senior manager. Ms. Rossides also spent a decade on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour from 1989 until 1999, when she enrolled at Northwestern University to pursue a master’s degree.

Ms. Rossides, who has been with the foundation since August, said her two main goals are capitalizing on the foundation’s 50th anniversary this year to land more donations and locate a spot for the group’s second tennis center.

The second site, which already has funding for its first five years of operations, probably will be located in Southeast or Northeast, she said.

James L. Ritzenberg, the foundation’s board president, said Ms. Rossides was a regular volunteer for the group long before becoming executive director.

“Eleni is a wonderful example of a caring and wise professional whose love for the game of tennis is matched by her sincere commitment to helping young people achieve their full potential,” Mr. Ritzenberg said.

Ms. Rossides lives in Kensington with her husband, Nikolas Bezianis, and their son.

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