Beloved Southern Region TSR
Sandy Hoffman Retires
December 11, 2019
After 21 lively, jam-packed years serving up tennis to underserved communities as a full-time staff member of USTA Eastern, Sandy Hoffman (above, far right, with USTA Eastern Board Member Olga Harvey and USTA Eastern Executive Director Jenny Schnitzer)—beloved Tennis Service Representative of the Southern Region—is retiring at the end of 2019. Sandy’s contributions to the section and the Southern Region are innumerable; she has connected thousands upon thousands of individuals in the Westchester area to local tennis programming.
“My basic guiding principle has always been to make an impact on lives through tennis,” she says.
Sandy herself has first-hand knowledge of the impact the game can make. She discovered the sport when she was just 11 years old through a local parks and recreation program.ADVERTISEMENT
“I remember I went into a stationary store with my dad and got my first wooden Spalding racquet with a press,” she recalls now. “And I just cherished it.”
Since then, the equipment has evolved, but tennis has remained a constant in her life. As an adult, she taught the sport at several clubs and also competed in multiple local leagues. When the USTA began offering its own league product, Sandy stepped up and volunteered to run the program in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Eventually, given her organizational prowess and passion for the game—and the fact that “I basically already knew everybody [involved in tennis in the region],” she notes with a laugh—Eastern approached her about working with the section on a full-time basis.
“It just seemed like a natural next step,” she says.
During her two decades with the organization, Sandy has helped facilitate a multitude of partnerships between local tennis providers and school districts, paving the way for thousands of students to engage with the sport as a part of their regular curriculum and beyond. Kids in districts from all across the region—including Yonkers, Ossining, Mount Vernon, and Newburgh—have picked up a tennis racquet because of Sandy’s efforts.
“Coming in, I certainly had a network of wonderful people that I had dealt with over the years [as an instructor and league player], which was quite nice,” she says. “My whole philosophy has always been to create a community circle…And that’s ultimately what I’ve done, is connect extraordinary people. Programs are only as good as the people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make it happen.”
In addition to her work with schools, Sandy has also bolstered parks programming throughout the region. Parks programs are particularly important to her, considering her own origins in the sport. In 2017, she helped the Port Chester Parks and Recreation Department revitalize its tennis operation. The structured programs she assisted in coordinating attracted nearly 200 participants that summer. Prior to this collaboration, Port Chester residents had to look elsewhere for play opportunities, as there were no public courts in the area.
Beyond her professional accomplishments, though, Sandy radiates warmth and positivity, and her inimitable presence will be missed at USTA Eastern.
“Sandy leads with her heart,” says USTA Eastern Executive Director Jenny Schnitzer. “She is as passionate and as kind a person as you’ll ever find, and those qualities enhance everything she does. When you’re around her or listen to her talk about her work, you can feel just how deeply she cares about the sport and about what she does.”
Seeing all she’s given to the game and all she’s received from it, Sandy’s enthusiasm for tennis is easy to understand.
“Tennis really just brings people together,” she says. “I was walking on the beach [recently] and this woman I played tennis with for many years came up to me. And we were talking about all the teams we were on and then she said, ‘Wasn’t it such fun?’ And that just stuck with me. Yes, it was such fun. Yes, it’s really been such fun.”