Sue Aery and Gerri Viant Hall of Fame Induction
We are proud to announce that Sue Aery and Gerri Viant have been inducted into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame. This is the highest award that can be earned in platform tennis.
It is presented to individuals who have achieved distinction in the play of platform tennis and/or who have otherwise contributed to the growth, development, and administration of the game through the Association. Recipients have also demonstrated a high level of integrity, sportsmanship, and consideration for others and thus earned the respect and admiration for their endeavors in platform tennis.
Hall of Fame Induction for Sue Aery and Gerri Viant
The following is the speech that was given by the presenter Patty Hogan at the induction ceremony.
We are here today to honor the winningest team ever in the history of women's platform tennis. Between 1990 and 2002, this team won 8 national championships. Twice, when they didn't win it all, they were the runner-ups! They even retired for a year or so to let everyone else practice and returned to reach their last final together in 2004.
They are past winners of the 40's nationals together and each has won at least one mixed national championship.
All totaled, when you add up their national titles, you get 23!
But the 8 together in women's play is what sets them apart; think about it 8 national titles!
That's what makes them special and that is why Sue Aery and Gerri Viant are entering the platform tennis hall of fame!
How did they do it?
Was it their motivational song, "When we were Kings"?
Maybe it was because they ate the same meals during tournaments?
Maybe, it was the placement on the court of their water bottles and tissue boxes that brought good luck.
Maybe it was their Wilson paddles!
Or maybe it was because of their talent!
Sue still holds the school record at Colgate for the highest batting average for her four seasons of play on the softball team and Gerri is the only person I know in this room who has won a Ping Pong tournament in Adelaide.
So I'm going with talent!
They both have amazing rackets skills; they both have an uncanny ability to make unbelievable shots at unbelievable times!
They covered the court like no other team! Gerri rarely missed any shot and Sue ran around the court with a unique ability to make one of a kind gets due to her uncanny timing, which is really amazing if you have ever seen her dance. There is no correlation!
But their real talent as a team and what set them apart was in playing the game with an amazingly disciplined approach. It started long before they ever got on the court.
They studied tapes of matches. They ate the right foods. They worked out in the gym to be in better shape than their opponents. They drilled and practiced and prepared constantly throughout the course of a season. Nationals would roll around in March and they were ready to excel, knowing it all came down to that one tournament each year and they were always ready!
Proper positioning and consistency were the benchmarks of their success. They played a game that looked effortless; Gerri sliced and diced you until Sue got the opportunity to deliver the knock out blow!
Gerri was often the on court leader. This seems to fit, given the information I discovered. I did a bit of digging and found out that according to her fourth grade report card, while Gerri was a student at the Cabra School in Adelaide, her teacher wrote the following: "Gerri is a natural born leader but is leading other children in the wrong direction." Evidently, before she knew anything about physical fitness, Gerri smoked cigarettes; this resulted in many trips to the principal's office in an effort to get her on the right track. I think it worked!
Sue and Gerri's on court successes are rivaled by their individual professional accomplishments. Gerri has been the paddle and tennis pro at the Nyack field club for 22 years and besides running one of the most successful year round programs in terms of member participation, also works as the club's manager. Sue retired from a successful teaching career four years ago and is now working as a chiropractor in North Carolina.
Together, they founded Performance Paddle Camps in 1997, which pioneered the idea of a traveling camp for platform tennis. This helped to grow the game in two ways: first, by offering high-level instruction in areas of the country where there were no paddle pros and secondly, by teaching tennis pros in these areas how to teach and promote the game of platform tennis.
Gerri was a charter member of the PPTA and is a current officer. Sue devoted many hours to the PPTA during her days as a teaching pro. Gerri served on the APTA Board and was also a long time member of the players' committee.
The Hall of Fame Charter states that the award "is presented to individuals who have achieved distinction in the play of platform tennis and/or who have otherwise contributed to the growth, development, and administration of the game through the Association". These two individuals definitely fit this description.
If I were a betting person, I would bet that Sue's dad is looking down on this day with a huge smile and like her Mom and Gerri's parents is extremely proud. I also would bet that this honor means as much to Sue and Gerri as all their national titles combined!
Congratulations to Sue Aery and Gerri Viant. They are the recipients of the APTA's highest honor, the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame Award.
For more on the Induction Ceremony click Platform Tennis Hall of Fame.
On hand for the ceremony were Mike Gillespie, Jay Fraser, and Christi Hayes.