» News

Got a Minute?

February 4, 2014 10:55 AM

Larrichio_gives_pointers_(2)Don Larrichio has been a familiar face on the Albuquerque tennis scene for four decades. He was a competitive player for many years and soldiered tirelessly for USTA. He spends much of his time these days coaching seniors. This is Larrichio’s second year heading up a USTA-sponsored senior program titled Super Senior Tennis, or SST. Larrichio took on SST in 2013 after it had successful runs under a different name and was guided by Wendy Thomas and Gordon Gunn.

What do you like about working with seniors?

I’ve coached at the high school level and in middle school, but I love working with seniors. Maybe that’s because I’m one myself.  I’m 72 after all.  I really enjoy watching seniors progress and get better and have fun with tennis. I try to improve technique and enhance their quality of life.  Being active is what I preach.

How can someone find out about SST?

They can call me at 296-8527, 452-6069 or contact me at dlarrichio@aol.com  By the way, our SST program, which is offered at six sites across Albuquerque, begins Saturday, April 5, with a kickoff party at the Jerry Cline Center.

Are you a native of New Mexico?  

I’m from New Jersey. The western part, near the Delaware River and Pennsylvania.  Little place called Alpha. Farms and immigrants mostly.  My grandparents came from Italy.

Did you play tennis as a boy?

There were no tennis courts in Alpha.  I played baseball through high school.  One time in my teens my brother and I went over to Easton, Pennsylvania, to Lafayette College and got on courts there. We tried to play but we kept hitting the balls over the fence so we left. We really didn’t know what we were doing.

What brought you to the West?

I was stationed in the Army, at the old Sandia Base, from 1960 to 1963.  After the Army I went back east and attended Moravian College for a couple of years. Then I returned to New Mexico and received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from UNM.  

What kind of work did you do?  

I was a purchasing director for UNM for a while and then worked for Sandia National Laboratories for 20 years, mostly in purchasing. My last position was international procurement director. I retired in 2004.

Do you remember when you first played tennis in Albuquerque?

It was 1976. I took a series of lessons at the Mountainside YMCA on Comanche.  Those courts are gone now. Tina Barthel, a teenager, she taught me.  

Did you start playing right away?

I was working at UNM so I started playing at the Lobo Club at 5:30 in the morning and would get to work by 8. This would have been about the late 1970s, when the Lobo Club had a trailer for a clubhouse. In time I started to play in leagues. I was rated 4.0 and then moved up to 4.5 and then back to 4.0, which was my last rating.

But you gave lessons, too, didn’t you?  

I did programs for the City of Albuquerque. I ran all over the city teaching.  I worked at Jerry Cline and I was everywhere in the summers.

You were a busy guy.

I really loved tennis.  Soon I got my PTR certification.  Professional Tennis Registry.  I had to take written tests and on-the-court tests.  I would go for conferences once a year to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Weren’t you a club pro at one point?

Yes, I served as a pro at Tanoan and at Highpoint.

Are you still playing?

I stopped playing USTA leagues about four years ago. I played every league there was—World  Team Tennis, adult leagues, Super Seniors.  I have been so busy teaching—clinics and individuals—I didn’t have time to join a league.  Every now and then I go to Highpoint and hit with some guys.  I played a lot of mixed doubles with my wife Sandy.  Sandy’s a strong 4.0 and she still plays in leagues.  I’ve got a house full of trophies because of her.  Everyone in our family played. My son Tom played at St. Pius. He was a 5.0.  My daughter Dina played at Eldorado and La Cueva. We were named Family of the Year in the NNMTA in 1987.  

You’ve held USTA positions, haven’t you?

I was on NNMTA board for several years.  I was president about five years ago.  In the Southwest Section I represented NNMTA on the Adult Competitive League play.  

Will you ever give up tennis? Maybe go to golf?

When some of friends did that it crossed my mind. But really, golf is too slow for me. I still like the speed of tennis.

If you know someone who might be a candidate for the Got a Minute? feature, contact tobysmith68@gmail.com and tell him why.