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Captain Omar Alcaino’s specialty is uniting entry-level tennis players to form teams. In the case of the men’s 2.5 18 & Over squad from Pelham, Ala., that has led to a berth in the USTA League National Championships.

By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

One man’s love and passion for the sport of tennis has motivated and inspired his players and USTA League teams to reach the highest level in league tennis.

Omar Alcaino is the non-playing captain of the USTA Southern men’s team from Pelham, Ala., which advanced to the USTA League Adult 18 & Over 2.5 National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.

The 53-year-old Alcaino, a club pro at the Pelham Racquet Club, has not only coached beginning tennis players at the club, he has led his 2.5 men’s teams to USTA League Nationals the last three years in a row.

“I have been involved with the USTA for the last 10 to 12 years,” said Alcaino. “Within the last four years, I’ve gotten more involved with teams, putting them together, being [a] captain and coaching them. Putting teams together is something that has always come easy for me.  It’s part of what I do.”

Alcaino, a native of Santiago, Chile, enjoys watching the players he coaches progress not only on the court, but off the court as well.

“When I see someone who never picked up a racquet before and started to compete and learn about the game and then I see them two, three years down the road and they’re still playing,” said Alcaino. ”That means I’ve made a change in their lives and their playing a game hopefully they will play their rest of their lives. That’s the enjoyment I get.”

In addition, the team aspect of tennis has a special place in Alcaino’s heart.

“I like the development, because they become friends,” he said. “Tennis brought them together, otherwise they would just go their separate ways. That is the part about team tennis that I like. I really look forward to have the team together. It’s fun.”

Keeping his third straight trip to the USTA National in perspective, Alcaino said his team is in California to have fun. On the other hand, recent success ought to make the Southerners confident that they can capture a title. In last year’s 2.5 Nationals, Alcaino’s team finished third, losing to the eventual champion Caribbean Section in the semifinals.

And if not that, then a powerful endorsement from their coach should help.

“This year, we’re a little more balanced,” said Alcaino. “We’re very strong in singles, but we [also] have strong doubles. This is the most complete team that I’ve brought here.”

“We are blessed to have Omar as a coach,” said team member Rohen Porbanderwala. “The fact that we are here today, all of the credit goes to him. Speaking on behalf of the whole team, we are thankful to Omar for getting us here. We greatly appreciate him.”

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