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The first sport Ronald Landfair ever played on a tennis court was not tennis. That was reserved for daily games of foursquare, a gender-neutral sport punctuated by movement and athleticism played with one of the vinyl balls that you get from the supermarket.


In retrospect it seems incredible to think that as a boy growing up, that tennis courts lay within 60 yards of his front door at Central High School, but he never actually played tennis until he was in the 7th grade.  It wasn't until junior high that he hit his first tennis ball...with a racket! Ronald’s brother and his best friend had somehow become aware of Arthur Ashe's Davis Cup success, and pooled their money and bought a set of rackets and balls from the local " 5 & Dime" store for the then unheard of price of $20.00. The three of them took to the game like ducks to water, and it became part of their regular summer sports rotation that already included football, baseball, basketball.


Once in high school, he had to make a decision about athletics.  His neighborhood was filled with former athletes, whose lives it seemed had somehow taken a turn for the worse, by way of crime, drugs or injuries, while he was a natural athlete, and blessed with a good gene pool.


Throughout his life, tennis was the constant. Whether playing with his brother until it became physically impossible for him in his mid-40's, to his then-brother-in-law, with college classmates,

pickup games or friends, into his 60's tennis was a constant.


He was indeed quite aware of his unique role and presence within the sport as they first looked to become prominent locally, although beating a perennially excellent Okemos team ultimately proved to be too tall a task! Throughout his tenure as both assistant and head coach, he never saw another Black head coach. Not once, ever!


Ronald has served as the only African American on numerous committees relating to High School tennis, including seeding, rules and policy committees.  He has been the face of Black tennis in the mid-Michigan area, as well as statewide at the high school level serving as the first Black board member as well as its first Black President of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association.  He is the second African American to serve on the Board of the Michigan High School Coaches Association and the first to serve on its Executive Committee as its 2nd vice president and eventually, president.  In addition to his time spent as a member of the two statewide organizations previously noted, Ronald held a free two-week summer community tennis mini-camp beginning in 2008 until his retirement in 2017.  Additionally, he hosted numerous NJTL & USTA events at the high school.  He raised funds for the construction of a concrete tennis and storage shed. He also oversaw two major resurfacings and renovations. When not in use by the high school teams, the courts are used frequently by members of the community at-large, as the courts sit adjacent to a four lane one-way street, the busiest one in the city. Ronald made sure the courts were always available for use by the urban community in which the school is located.


Also of note is that the two second place finishes were the highest achieved by any Black Coach in state history in any school Division.  He volunteered for twenty years at the county juvenile detention facilities where he would use lessons learned in tennis as life lessons for the youth who were there for every charge imaginable.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan High School Coaches Association in conjunction with Central Michigan University, Ronald is spearheading “Project Equity”, an all-encompassing review and self-study of high school sport associations and their respective governing boards, executive committees, Hall Of Fames, and coaching ranks through the lens of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with a focus on race and gender.


It was at a Saturday tournament when after noticing that their then assistant coach was absent yet again, Ronald offered to help the then - head coach for the day.  He was an accomplished player and trainer himself and asked Ronald to just help for the rest of the season. That was in 2001, he then became the paid assistant coach in 2002, before applying for (at the players urging) and ultimately accepting the head coaching position prior to the Boys spring season in 2003. He retired from coaching in 2017 as the winningest tennis coach in the City's history. No school in the City's history accomplished more than what they did and he is extremely proud of what those young men did, and what they have gone on in their lives to become.


Ronald feels both blessed and honored to work with young people in many incarnations. Whether in youth ministry, teaching, Boy Scouts, juvenile justice, or athletics, whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally he has tried to serve youth the best that he could.  He has conducted multiple workshops at his annual Tennis Workshop. He has also hosted numerous tournaments and designed the John Paul II Tennis Classic, which spawned a similar statewide annual cross-country meet, hosted by Lansing Catholic in DeWitt, MI.  He stated that he has “Always tried to impart to both his children and his players in both basketball and tennis that the greatest honor is to serve others, be their friends, family or strangers, and none of this would have been possible without his wife.  Ronald’s wife banned football for her sons, so they played everything else. One sport of course was tennis, and their oldest son Ryan took to the sport naturally, making the varsity as a freshman.


Theresa’s support during a nearly 25-year coaching career (Including six years as a middle school basketball coach) has been sustaining, invaluable and under-appreciated by many, including Ronald. The same is true of his children, who lost lots of "Dad-time" to his coaching of others. Their sacrifice is noted and appreciated.


He vividly recalls the joy and fun that his players later had the first time he introduced them to foursquare. There were no medals to be won, no championship trophy to be sought. Just the sheer joy of playing together a game they never knew existed before, and their excitement and laughter is what he will take with him, "For Love Of The Game".


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