At the age of 14, Pablo Sierra of Brooklyn, NY fell in love with tennis, watching legends Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, and Arthur Ashe use smart strategy, precise swings, and agile footwork to become champions of the game.
Those experiences as a child led Sierra to a lifelong passion for the sport, which he shares today as a volunteer with USTA Eastern’s Metro Region. Sierra, who founded the South Brooklyn Tennis Association, has brought tennis to the public at events throughout New York City. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Pablo to talk about his experiences bringing tennis to Latino communities throughout the city. Some excerpts are below:
It all started in August of 2011, when USTA Eastern volunteers and members of the South Brooklyn Tennis Association brought tennis to “Vive Tu Vida! Get Up! Get Moving!”, a health fair sponsored by the Hispanic Federation. We distributed USTA materials to approximately 25,000 people in attendance and I had the pleasure of introducing myself to Helene Velazquez of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Ever since that day we have been developing a great relationship. The next month, our group of volunteers participated in the ADA’s Feria De Salud, a health fair at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, which attracted more than 4,000 people. We set up our USTA Eastern table and started teaching 10 and Under Tennis. After the events, Helene said, I want to put you in contact with Nick Cruz, of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), because tennis is very important and I see that you like to promote the game.
Nick from the UFT has been promoting the benefits of tennis to families and students throughout the Bronx. And this year, we returned to the Feria De Salud in August. After an early morning rainfall the clouds disappeared, and by mid-afternoon the kids came by the dozens to play tennis. It was truly a fun event.
So why are the Hispanic Federation, American Diabetes Association, and other organizations interested in promoting the game of tennis? First off, there is the movement to get people up and moving, and tennis is a great form of exercise. But there is also concern throughout the country about obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
At all the events we have been invited to and participated in, the focus has been on exercise and healthy eating. That is why working together with the Hispanic Federation and American Diabetes Association is extremely important to me; especially, since I found out in 1996 that I was a Type 2 Diabetic. Playing tennis, along with a good diet, will help manage your glucose levels and thus provide a better quality of living.