News Sunshine State

Bobby Blair: Dear Me

Bobby Blair was born October 24th, 1964 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Blair was an American professional tennis player in the 80s and ranked in the top five tennis players in the United States nationally in the Boys 18 and under, and was a member of the 1983 US Junior Davis Cup Team. He reached the finals of The USTA Boys 18 and under National Clay Courts Championships in the summer of 1983 where he lost a three-set marathon match to future world top-ten player Aaron Krickstein.

Blair was one of the first top-ranked players to be developed at the famed Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy near Bradenton, Florida.  Bollettieri provided a full scholarship and covered all expenses for Mr. Blair from 1980-1983.   In 1983, Blair received a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas, a top-ten ranked Division 1 tennis program.  He was the #6 seed in the 1984 US Olympic trials held at The National Tennis Center home of the US Open Tennis Championships in Queens, NY.  Blair was also a member of the 1986 US Junior Davis Cup College Team and participated in Russia as a member of the American team in the US Goodwill Games.

Blair became All American in 1986 and was ranked among the top-five Division One singles players in the United States. He counts career wins over several former top-10 players in the world including Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash, French Open Finalist Mikael Pernfors, Karl Novacek, Emillio Sanchez and grand slam doubles champion Rick Leach.  He also had career victories over several top ranked ATP tour professionals such as Todd Witsken, Jorge Lozano, Luke Jensen, Robbie Weiss, Jim Grabb, Fransisco Roig, Karl Novacek, Emillio Sanchez, Derek Tarr, Brad Pearce, Steve Devries, Shelby Cannon, Chris Pridham, Christo Van Rensburg and others.

Upon retiring from tennis in March 1988, Blair launched the United States Rookie Professional Tennis Team at the 1988 NCAA Tennis Championships in Athens, Georgia.  The team provided coaching, mentoring and a structured team environment for top-ranked American tennis players for their rookie year on the professional tennis tour from 1988 until US Open Tennis Championships of 1990.

In 1990, Blair was hired to be head coach for Billie Jean King for the World Team Tennis Franchise Wellington Aces for the 1990 & 1991 season. In 1992, Blair was hired as head coach and general manager of the World Team Tennis Franchise Tampa Bay Action.

That same year, Blair started the Bobby Blair Tennis Academy in Orlando, Florida, that coached some of the very best junior players in the United States. In 1996, he hit a pinnacle in coaching as he was hired as a USTA National coach for the best Boys 16 and Under players in the United States.

Around the same time, Blair began his real estate enterprise in Orlando, Florida, in which he specialized in the purchase, renovation and reselling of homes to help first time home buyers achieve the American dream of home ownership.  This led, in 1997, to his hiring by internationally acclaimed entrepreneur monthly Success Magazine to be the National Real Estate spokesperson for the publication, reaching out to real estate entrepreneurs across the world by providing a real estate seminar and workshop platform to educate potential real estate investors. Blair continues to coach and mentor entrepreneurs on the most up-to-date ways to invest in real estate.

In 2007, Blair purchased an LGBT men’s entertainment magazine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with the intention to grow a national LGBT news and entertainment platform. In 2009, Blair launched the Florida Agenda, which today is one of the most well-known and respected LGBT newspapers in the United States.

In June 2012, Blair took over share and board control as CEO of Cybermesh International Corp., an OTC BB public company with stock symbol CYTL. His sole purpose for heading the publicly traded company is to create an LGBT international public media company. The company currently has plans to expand into the Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs markets in 2014.

Blair is currently authoring his autobiography with writer Barry Buss. “I hope to be able to encourage and inspire the next generation of aspiring gay athletes in their journey,” Blair said. The memoir will be published later this year.

Bobby Blair, 48, resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his life partner Brian Neal.


The below is an exerpt from Bobby Blair’s upcoming untitled memoir, out on October 11 – National Coming Out Day. A press conference announcing the book will be held at this year’s U.S. Open over Labor Day Weekend in September.

Inspired by the web and print series “Thriving In South Florida With Bobby Blair”, “Dear Me” will be a new monthly column aiming to highlight members of the community who bravely step forward to share their life stories in hopes that it will inspire and guide fellow members of the community. It encourages the modern day “you” to write a letter to a teenage “you,” giving helpful advice gained through personal experience. If you or a friend have a story you’d like to share (even anonymously), we urge you to send it to [email protected]. Your story could change someone’s life forever.

I was on the ESPN website the other night and saw this new section of essays titled ‘Dear Me’, where top stars write letters of advice to themselves  as young athletes. Tennis player Andy Murray was featured as well as out-of-the-closet MLS soccer player Robbie Rodgers. The few I read were quite  unremarkable, obviously written by the athletes themselves. It wouldn’t have been the worst time to put their publicists to work and pen some poignant and inspiring words. Either way, I love the concept and I hope they keep it alive. Then I got to thinking: “If I could write a letter today to myself as a coming of age athlete, what advice would I give a young me?”
Dear 15 year old Bobby Blair….
How ya feeling there big guy? Little confused? Little scared? Little concerned about feeling so different? Yeah. I wish I could tell you some 30 years later conditions were different for up and coming athletes like yourself.  I mean, conditions are a little better in the sports world. We’re actually on quite a roll these days in society, rolling back a whole bunch of backwardness by the day. But as for what advice I would have for you?
You know how you don’t quite feel all the feelings all the guys keep talking about regarding  the girls? Yeah, you’re gonna wanna start getting used to that because  that ain’t changing anytime soon. And you know how you like to hang out  with your guy friends when they’re carrying on about the girls, not  because you want to learn what they are sharing, but because you just feel this different kind of connection to them than the girls? Yeah, you’re going to want to start getting used to those feelings too, cause that’s the way it’s going to stay buddy. The Good Lord didn’t do you any favors orienting you so, but let me be perfectly clear: You are not a victim and if you refuse to give up on yourself, you can live a life of courage and dignity like few others, but I’m not going to sugarcoat this to you. You could have been dealt an easier hand.
As for your tennis, first thing I would say is don’t quit Little League. This tennis stuff is really tough. Regarding your tennis career, I suggest losing the “playing super consistent, never miss a ball thing.” Not taking risks, playing it safe, playing not to lose, will only take you so far, and by the time you realize the limitations of that style, it will be too late to do anything about it. You will  have spent countless hours on the court in that particular mindset that even if you developed the skill set to play a high risk high reward game, I’m not sure you’ll have the time to develop the trust in it to implement it. So playing it safe for fear of losing will eventually catch up to you on the tennis court.
Off the tennis court, it’s the same. If I could tell you that you will lose everything in tennis and business, not from being found out, but from your own fear of being found out, would that matter to you? And that all the things you thought you had acquired and achieved as a young man were merely an illusion. The closeness of the friendships…How close could they ever really be hiding your true self so? You are going to need to take some risks with your off court life, and I think you know where I am going with this.
WC Fields once said he would never be a part of a club that would have him as a member. Well I would never want you to call yourself a member of a profession that would refuse to embrace you as you truly are. Whatever gains you think you are protecting by keeping your orientation in the closet can not compare to the freedom and dignity you will feel in living an honest and authentic existence. I know, I know. You think I’m crazy for suggesting you come out about your sexuality, but you’re going to do it eventually and there never is a right time. To every gay man I have spoken to and met in my life,  they all wish  they would have come out earlier and that there were more mentors out in society that they could look to for guidance and support. And if some reject you out of fear, that’s infinitely better than you rejecting you and remaining hidden in the closet for the opposing but equally wrong reasons of you fearing them.
For when times seem toughest, you will just have to trust in God’s love and the goodness in your fellow man, for we are truly all from the same stock. They are composed of the same loving and compassionate heart that you are, and they will understand why you hid your true self. There will never be a good time to come out and there will always be a great deal of fear around the decision. You don’t need to cry yourself to sleep, or rehearse what you would say to all the loved ones in your life if you could just muster the courage to do so. The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable…I know all of this, but you must trust in the goodness of our fellow man. You must trust that he will love you unconditionally just as God does.
Being Gay is just a small part of who you are, and it doesn’t make you different  from straight people. It makes you different: like straight people. Try, my young friend, not to fall into the trap of the “it’s us against them” mentality, for not all of “them” are against you, and yet not all of us are for you. Many will not have your best interests in mind either, and just because you share a sexual orientation with someone does not mean you share the same values with that person. An asshole is an asshole no matter which way they swing. Remain wary  at all times.
People will want to define you and label you, and that is real, my friend. Try as you might, you will smell the fear, hear the smears and feel the hard cold shoulder of rejection far more than any young person should ever have to. It won’t seem right, and it won’t seem fair, but get over it, for there are no sure things in life. Life ain’t fair for a whole lot of people, a lot less fortunate than you. If you want people to respect you, you have to respect yourself first. You’re going to do things in your young life for all the wrong reasons, just like every straight person you will ever meet; but doing those bad things does not make you a bad person any more than it does anybody else, for we are all perfectly flawed in our human condition.
Finally,  start preparing for life after you’ve hit your last competitive ball,  for there will still be quite the haul to go.  Start looking around early and often for ways you can make a difference. Winning fame and fortune on the tennis court is great and all, but nothing compares to improving the quality of another person’s life, day after day after day.  There will be those who confront you and oppose you no matter what  you do. And how sadly steeped in ignorance they are. You’ll have infinite choices to apply to your finite energy reserves. Will you employ your best self? I say follow your heart, my young friend, oppose hate with love, and pray instead of retaliating. Focus on opening hearts instead of minds, for that’s where the love’s at. Try to make a difference as you grow up into the person you will yearn to have in your soon-to-be tumultuous youth, and become that loving mentor guide to the next generation of young Bobby Blairs who will need role models to look to. Hopefully just like you.
Bobby Blair