Tennis Helps You Develop Skills for Life
USTA Mid-Atlantic believes that tennis creates community and can bring people together no matter their background. Our tennis community is beautifully diverse and that is something we honor in the Mid-Atlantic. We celebrate the voices and contributions of the Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community on tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region.
During the month of May, USTA Mid-Atlantic is celebrating Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month by spotlighting our AAPI community members who enrich our section in so many ways. This week, we are highlighting staff member Alex Chan who recently led a USTA Mid-Atlantic staff conversation on AAPI issues. Alex opens up about how tennis has contributed to his life. Here is what he shared in his own words...
My name is Alex Chan, and I want to share with you how tennis became the vehicle for so many wonderful opportunities in my life.
First, let me tell you about how it all got started. I was introduced to tennis relatively late when I was a freshman in high school. One day that year, a friend asked all the guys in my math class if they would be interested in joining the varsity tennis team. The team wanted more players so they would not have to forfeit any matches. Since I needed an extracurricular activity, I went for it. After I joined the team, I soon grew to love the sport and in my senior year, l became the captain of the team.
I continued playing tennis throughout college on the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Tennis on Campus (TOC) club team. I was the founder and president of the club and led the team for all four of my undergrad years. Additionally, by forming the TOC team, I was able to help create a community of club tennis players who enjoyed the sport as much as I did.
Another benefit of participating in TOC was that I was introduced to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. USTA MAS supported our program through in-kind donations and organized opportunities to play. After graduation, I stayed in touch with USTA staff, and several job applications later I landed a role as a Community Tennis Representative in June of 2010.
I have been with USTA for over a decade in various roles. Currently, I am the Associate Director of Community Engagement & Sales covering Maryland and Washington, DC. I am grateful for the opportunity to have a career in an industry I have a passion for, as I know this is not something many others can say about their work. I have a lot of people to thank for helping me get to where I am today, but I absolutely need to give credit to the great game of tennis for setting me along this path.
In addition to providing a career for me, tennis has been the vehicle for growth and development in my life. Here is a sample of what I have learned:
Life Skills - My resilience, assertiveness, emotional intelligence, creative/critical thinking, decision making, and communication skills would not be anywhere close to where they are today without the experiences from tennis. I can share numerous examples of how these skills developed from my time playing on the court, running Tennis On Campus, and my work with other tennis organizations during my USTA years. However, if I did, then this article would become a short novel so I will summarize it this way; tennis definitely helps you develop the skills for life off the court.
Mental Wellness - Most people know tennis is an excellent physical sport that tests your endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance. However, what often gets overlooked is how much tennis can benefit us mentally. Recently, with all that is going on in the world, playing tennis has been the ultimate stress reducer for me. On the court, for a moment, I feel like the weight of the world is lifted off me. My mind is clear as I hit and chase a ball around the court. These momentary escapes have been impactful to my mental health, to say the least.
Friendships - When I look at who are the closest people in my life, tennis is more often than not how they came into my life. Once strangers, these friends have become my support system, my mentors, my groomsmen, my travel buddies, my most trusted confidants, and more. Tennis can bring so many different types of people into your life, which in turn can make your life so much more rewarding.
Tennis has shaped me for the better in so many ways. I will continue to let tennis be a crucial part of my life, and I hope to continue to connect with as many people as I can to demonstrate all the valuable things tennis can do for them as well.
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. You can find those spotlights 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.
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