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OCC tennis coach inducted into Hall of Fame

June 19, 2007 02:38 PM

John LaRose has spent four decades coaching tennis at the junior college and high school levels, accumulating more than 300 victories along the way. The National Junior College Athletic Association recognized his contribution to the sport recently by inducting him into its Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame.

"I was almost speechless when I received this award," said LaRose, whose Onondaga Community College Lazers won the Region III championship this season and then finished seventh in nationals. "Receiving this award is kind of the pinnacle. Of the highlights of my career that were mentioned during the ceremony, the one that stood out in my mind is the number of former players of mine who have gone on to teach or coach tennis at the high school and college levels. That is the greatest legacy a coach can have."

LaRose has been coaching men's and women's tennis at OCC for 20 years. His men's teams have won four regional titles and finished second eight times, won five conference titles and finished second in the nation in 1999. In addition, they are involved in several community tennis programs that attract 2,000 participants at all levels.

LaRose, a retired teacher from Onondaga Central High School (34 years), coached high school tennis for 20 years with 10 league championships. He is a former District 13 Director for the United States Tennis Association and a former tennis instructor for the Town of Onondaga. Presently, LaRose is an admissions assistant at OCC, physical education instructor and coordinator of all community-based tennis programs on campus.

LaRose was inducted into the Hall during the national tournament in Plano, Texas, where Ryan Sadowitz (Faith Heritage) captured first place in the backdraw tournament at second singles and Matt Johnson (Onondaga) placed second in the consolation tournament at third singles. Justin Snyder (Oneida) also placed second in a backdraw tournament, and AJ Rizzuto (Holland Patent) placed second in the consolation tournament at fourth singles. Travis Bulluck (Pulaski) lost in the quarterfinals.

"I told the players in the audience (during the induction ceremony) that they were there because they have reached that level of play that affords them coming to a national tournament and that they have a love for the sport of tennis," LaRose said. "I told them to remember to give back to the sport at some time in their life, either through playing, teaching or coaching."