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Lisa Goddard Special Correspondent.
South Florida Sun - Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Nov 5, 2004. pg. 3

Abstract (Document Summary)
PHOTO; LUV IS THE ANSWER: [Ryan Fitzwilliam] conducts a tennis lesson for Match Point Ministries, which promotes a Christian message through tennis. It holds meetings at the Athletic Club of Boca Raton. Staff photo/Jim Rassol

(Copyright 2004 by the Sun-Sentinel)
After years of coaching professional tennis players, including Jim Courier and Tommy Haas, Scott Williams had achieved financial and professional success. But he felt something was missing. A potential career-ending ski accident led him to Jesus Christ.

Williams moved to Boca Raton and turned to God and his friends to find a way to reach others and share his message. There he crossed paths with Ryan Fitzwilliam. An injury and subsequent depression had led the tennis professional down a similar path, and he, too, wanted to share his newfound Christian faith.

The twosome teamed up, and in 2002 formed Match Point Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Christian outreach through tennis programs for children, adults and touring professionals.

"Our mission is to serve the Lord, return his love through prayer and service and approach others about a relationship with Jesus Christ," said Williams, 41, coach of the high school tennis teams at Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton.

"We train people to play tennis, but we want to develop complete players on and off the court, so we reach out through these programs, and we've seen a number of people come to know Jesus Christ," he said.

A group of adults meets weekly at the Athletic Club of Boca Raton to share spiritual music and prayer before playing round robin- style tennis.

"We have about 15 people who get together for fellowship and tennis. The group got started through small groups outreach at Spanish River Church, where I am a member, and I agreed to facilitate it," said Fitzwilliam, 32, a United States Tennis Association-certified coach who played professionally in Europe and still plays in small tournaments in Florida and around the country.

"I started coaching after I was injured, but it didn't fulfill me, and I think God's training me to go and get the Gospel out there in the tennis world," Fitzwilliam said.

Colleen DiCarlo joined the group after hearing about it at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton. "I like the fact that it's Christ-based. We're doing a book study now, along with the fellowship and tennis. Your spirit is filled, you're getting exercise and it just helps you move on with your week," said DiCarlo, 42, of Boca Raton.

Duane Baker, 48, drives up from Fort Lauderdale each week. "Our group is for everyone," he said. "We have beginners, we've had people in wheelchairs, and we pair everyone up according to their ability."

A juniors program, initiated about a year ago, offers weekly fellowship, scripture reading and tennis training. That group meets at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, but may rotate get-togethers at participants' homes and other tennis venues in the future.

"The kids come from different churches. Some are Christians, some are not ...," said Williams. "Our program is more than just reading the Bible and having pizza. We want to reach these kids so that they'll go on one day to impact others for Christ."

Several other coaches assist Match Point's programs, which include a weekly, after-school tennis program for under-privileged youngsters at Veterans Park, west of Boca Raton.

"We have about 50 kids we work with," Fitzwilliam said. "We do open in prayer. Many of the kids are Christians and know we are, and they come to us to talk and ask questions."

Fitzwilliam wants to spend more time reaching out to touring tennis professionals.

"I attend some small and big tournaments. Sometimes I set up a booth and offer materials, and I hold Bible studies for players," he said. "A small percentage of the professional players know about us, but I'm trying to network and promote the ministry so we can expand."

Fitzwilliam has witnessed not only to players, but also their families.

"I make myself available to speak to players, but it goes beyond just reaching the players. I have shared the Gospel and prayed with Jennifer Capriati's mother," he said.

For more information about Match Point Ministries, call 954-610- 5084 or log onto

PHOTO; Caption: LUV IS THE ANSWER: Ryan Fitzwilliam conducts a tennis lesson for Match Point Ministries, which promotes a Christian message through tennis. It holds meetings at the Athletic Club of Boca Raton. Staff photo/Jim Rassol
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