Lending a Guiding Hand in the Community
Throughout Asain-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we honor those that help grow the sport of tennis not only for the AAPI community but for communities across the Section and beyond. As important as it is to hear the perspective of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic from a player, it is equally as important to hear it from a provider.
Tennis providers in the Mid-Atlantic are at the core of growing the sport within the Section. This week, USTA Mid-Atlantic caught up with a notable provider, tournament director, and director of tennis at StrikeZone Tennis at Onelife Fitness in Falls Church, Va., Chris Tran. Chris is aligned with USTA Mid-Atlantic’s mission to grow tennis and increase access to the sport in the region for all people and helps equip other local tennis providers with the knowledge necessary to succeed as teaching professionals.
Growing up, Chris did not have access to a tennis court, which delayed the start of his tennis journey. He picked up a racquet for the first time at 14 years old, and since then tennis has been an important part of his life. Using the knowledge he gained as a player, he sought to coach his daughter. As she became more advanced with her tennis skills, he became a certified coach to continue to direct her journey as a player as well as influence other players' journeys in the community.
Fast forward to today, Chris is a USPTA and PTR certified teaching professional in the Mid-Atlantic. His goal is to pay it forward and help others in the AAPI
community become the tennis coaches they always dreamed of being.
USTA Mid-Atlantic caught up with Chris to learn more about his journey as a teaching professional and his perspective on tennis in the Section. Here is what he shared in his own words…
I was fortunate to meet a tennis director at an indoor club who hired me as an assistant to help with the program under his senior pros. All pros were USPTA certified so I acquired teaching skills from them, and I also learned more about USPTA. From there I set a goal to become USPTA certified. I spent many months studying and learning while working at the club. Once I received my first USPTA certification I was able to lead my own clinics and have my own private lessons. USPTA not only opened the door for me to other opportunities at that time, but it also enhanced my knowledge and allowed me to help my daughter achieve her goal of playing tennis at the collegiate level – she played Division I tennis on a full scholarship.
After I obtained my first USPTA certification I gained confidence and I started to feel that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I was interested in learning more about fitness and movement, so I went on to obtain an Elite certification from Etchberry. Throughout the years my hunger for learning and becoming a better coach got stronger. It pushed me to get a USTA High-Performance certification. The USTA High-Performance program was probably the greatest tennis achievement in my coaching career at the time. The knowledge, skills, and experience gained through that program helped me set up my next goal, which was to obtain a PTR – Master of Tennis Performance certification. This was the hardest, most informative two years of learning and definitely my greatest educational achievement to date. Looking back, I came to realize none of my accomplishments would have been possible without setting goals and having a plan to follow towards reaching each goal. However, I also must acknowledge my good friend, Bo Gard, who was always there for me to support me. He pushed me and reminded me of my goals when I was derailing from my plan or when I was in danger of missing deadlines. Having fellow tennis professional friends that have the same goal is extremely important as well.
My coaching accomplishments throughout my coaching career were possible with the great support from those around me. Because of this, I would like to pay it forward and help others become the tennis coaches they always dreamed of being. This is the reason I chose to become a mentor for both USPTA and PTR to help young and new tennis professionals raise their standards and be the best coaches so that they can further help the game of tennis. That is why my team and I created the USPTA AAPI Coaches Advisory Group through Facebook.
As an Asian, I feel that many Asian coaches are out there without direction or information from local or national organizations. My fellow Asian tennis pros in my network feel the same. We do not have any Asian representation in the local division and are never invited to be part of any committees or be on the board – apart from two years when my director, at the club I work for, was the president of the division. We are always on our own doing our own thing without any support or guidance. This is why this year I volunteered to be on the USPTA D&I committee. I hope to be able to open a dialog and work with the national committee to help Asian tennis professionals. As paying members these pros need to be treated as valuable members. I was taught by one of my mentors when I was young “don’t be a problem, be a solution” so I am hoping I will be a solution.
Furthermore, every year for the past three years I visited the HCMC Federation in Vietnam and have connected with academies in Hanoi and Da Nang Vietnam. The goal of my visits is to build a bridge that will allow me to return to Vietnam in the near future and share my experience with the coaches there. I would like to build a foundation that would provide opportunities to kids without funding to play tennis and help them play at college or ITF level. Growing the game of tennis is very important to me.
Tennis creates community and Chris Tran’s dedication and commitment to ensure equal access to tennis helps fortify the Mid-Atlantic tennis community. He is on a mission to provide support for other AAPI tennis providers to ensure they have the proper resources to promote and develop tennis programs for all players. We celebrate tennis providers like Chris for going above and beyond to grow tennis in the Section.
As we continue to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we will be focusing on uplifting and amplifying the voices of AAPI tennis players from the Mid-Atlantic region. Make sure to check out our previous spotlight from Alex Chan here or on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and we encourage you to share and join the conversation.
USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.