News Release on Five Seasons’ Manny Velasco Caps Small-World Story-Telling Connection

If you stay at something long enough, fun interweavings come about.

The first story that I ever got paid to write, nearly 27 years ago, appeared in the Marshfield (Mass.) Mariner. It was a feature on Chris Lapriore, a star tennis player from my high school. A two-time state champion, Chris was about to enroll at the University of Illinois.

A few years ago, as I was doing some PR on Hall of Fame tennis player Monica Seles’ visit to Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Northbrook, I chatted with the club’s head tennis pro, Manny Velasco. In the course of our conversation, I discovered that Manny (pictured below, with Monica) had played with Chris at Illinois.

So it was especially satisfying, and with more than a little feeling of nostalgia, that I wrote my most recent tennis piece last week: a news release on Manny’s receiving Coach of the Year honors in the USTA’s Chicago District.

Makes me wonder what stories I might be telling in the year 2038.

Monica Seles: Class Act Comes to Five Seasons

After reading her wonderful and courageous new book, Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, I sensed that tennis great Monica Seles was a kind, warm person who possesses tremendous inner strength and wisdom borne of adversity.

So I was intrigued over this past weekend, when she visited Five Seasons Sports Club in Northbrook, to discover whether she would project the same qualities in person. Much to my pleasure, she exceeded even my high expectations with a genuine, others-centered demeanor.

Among other things, she posed for “just one more” photo scores of times–including one that I quickly snapped (see above), my left arm extended, a few moments before she departed.

You can read about her visit, which supported a charity tennis tournament, the 10th Annual Handzel Open, at

I also shot video of some of her opening remarks, which you can find at my YouTube channel.

Below is her response to a question I posed: