Diana Seggie has been serving up good will within the tennis community since she was a young woman. This year, the tennis world showed its appreciation by honoring Seggie as the 2012 Professional Tennis Registry Humanitarian of the Year.
Seggie, who is a native of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and a resident of Sun City Hilton Head, was chosen out of the tennis professional organization's 14,000 members in 117 countries. PTR is the largest global organization of its kind and is based on Hilton Head Island. Seggie received her award in February at the organization's international tennis symposium in Orlando, Fla.
"I was amazed," Seggie said about being this year's recipient. "I had never thrown it up to people about what I do. I just did it quietly on my own."
Seggie has been a teaching professional for more than 45 years.
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She has traveled throughout the U.S. and world giving free tennis lessons and clinics to underprivileged children.
In her native Zimbabwe, and later in South Africa, Seggie helped inner city children and disadvantaged school children from ages 4 to 19 learn how to play tennis. She also helped establish the Zimbabwe Coaches Association and founded the Di Seggie tennis school in South Africa in 1986.
Her family history in tennis dates to the late 1800s when her English grandparents had a box at Wimbledon. Her mother and aunt both played at Wimbledon.
Seggie, who is 71, began playing tennis and field hockey as a young girl. Because of financial difficulties, Seggie relied on the generosity of family friends, who gave her racquets and equipment. Seggie has never forgotten her roots and has spent a lifetime giving back.
Her garage is filled with donated racquets, tennis shoes and clothes that she gives to players in need. The space is so packed with recycled items, her husband, Michael Seggie, refers to it as Di's Thrift Store, she said.
Before moving to Bluffton 12 years ago, she and her husband lived in Stewart, Fla., where Seggie was director of tennis at the Island Dunes Country Club. When moving to Sun City, it didn't take long for Seggie to begin working with young players in Bluffton.
Over the years, she also has helped children in Ridgeland, Hardeeville and Lincoln, Ga. On many afternoons, she volunteers as a teacher for the Bluffton High School boys and girls tennis teams. She also teaches tennis at Sun City. Seggie, who is rated 4.5, still plays doubles, despite two hip replacements and a knee replacement.
"Di Seggie is a humble giver who works tirelessly behind the scenes for the good of others without recognition. Even those of us who know her well, do not know the full extent of her reach," said Peggy Edwards, PTR director of communications.
Seggie also sits on the board of the Bluffton Benevolent Fund and started a scholarship fund at Sun City that allows children to continue playing tennis. As the recipient of the humanitarian award, she received $2,500 from the PTR Foundation to be used to continue her work.
"When I watch the kids playing tennis, if I notice somebody has talent, I make sure they get any equipment they need," Seggie said. "I want to give them a chance to carry on with the sport."