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Charlie Garfinkel’s Racket Sports: Brunner to leave Village Glen

John Brunner, one of Western New York’s most beloved and outstanding tennis professionals, will be leaving the Village Glen in Williamsville.

“A short time ago I was offered a teaching position in Atlanta that I couldn’t refuse,” Brunner said. “Most important, I really missed being with my family. Even though I will miss the many great friends and students that I have taught in Western New York I am extremely happy to get the opportunity to work in Atlanta and spend more time with my family.”

Brunner, his wife, Holly, and their three children have lived in Atlanta for the last 12 years, with Brunner commuting to Buffalo the last seven to oversee their JB’s Tennis Shop.

“Phil Primerano and Lisa Noworyta will continue to run the store after I have left Buffalo,” Brunner said. “Without Phil and Lisa we wouldn’t be the success that we have been fortunate to have had. We just want both of them to know how much we have appreciated their hard work and expertise.”

Brunner admits his decision wasn’t easy.

“Overall, I really have mixed emotions,” he said. “I loved the atmosphere at the club, the people I worked with, and the tennis players at all levels that I taught. Jack and Maritza Ruh, the owners of the Village Glen, were great people to work for as were all the members of the staff.”

Emily Gardner is a student in one of Brunner’s groups.

“John Brunner’s patience and passion for teaching tennis are extraordinary,” she said. “He takes you step by step to perfect your shots and makes you successful. He is an extraordinary tennis pro and an even better person.”

Betsy Dexter, an accomplished player who has taken many private lessons from Brunner, said: “John is a very special person as well as a great tennis teacher. What makes him an outstanding tennis pro is his analysis of every detail that can improve your strokes. He adjusts his teaching to the needs of his students.

“What many people don’t realize is that John has been a strong contributor with donations from his store and support for various fundraisers. He will be greatly missed.”

Brunner grew up in the Willow Ridge area in Amherst and started playing tennis at the age of 9. A couple of years later the Rainbow Racquet Club opened and Brunner began playing all year.

As Brunner’s game improved he started playing tennis tournaments throughout the East. He achieved a top ranking of about 10th in the East and played in some national tournaments.

Brunner went to Sweet Home High School where he, Russ Tringali Jr. and Cathy and Debbie DiCarlo were the foundation of one of the stronger public high school teams of their era. Brunner received offers from Bowling Green and Penn State but decided to attend Murray State on a full tennis scholarship.

Brunner more than held his own at Murray State. His outstanding ground strokes, his mental approach to the game, and most of all his wonderful serve and volley game made him the complete player. He played fifth, sixth, second and third singles on an exceptionally strong team that won the Ohio Valley Conference championship four years in a row.

Once John graduated he started to teach tennis almost immediately at the Village Glen.

From the start it was evident that his expertise in the game, his ability to analyze players’ faults and correct them would make him an outstanding teaching professional.

“I was very technical with my own tennis game and this greatly helped me achieve the success I had with my own students,” he said.

In 1994, John and Holly, who also loves tennis, thought it would be a great idea to open a retail store for racket sports.

“Fortunately, the store has been a great success and most of that has been due to Holly, who is much smarter than I am,” Brunner quipped.

In 2004, Brunner and Holly decided that they wanted to live in a warmer climate. John and his family moved to Atlanta and Brunner started teaching at the Windward Lake Club. Brunner noted that he worked with outstanding professionals and experienced other teaching methods that greatly expanded his teaching expertise.

Now, Atlanta will be his full-time home base.

“Another reason I am thrilled to make this move is that I will be able to see my daughter Jenna, who is on the Davidson University tennis team, play some tennis matches,” Brunner said.