Middle States

A Coach that Gives Back

In her first year as head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Moravian University, Mariana Freitas had a lot to be proud of. Not only did her teams make it to postseason competition, but the work they do for the community is making a difference. 


Although this was Freitas’ first year as head coach of the Greyhounds, she is no stranger to the program. She had been the assistant coach for seven years. 


Moravian University, Freitas, and her teams take great pride in giving back to the community. In 2016, the university created its first Heritage Day.


“Every year faculty, staff, and students dedicate a full day to serve the community around us,” Freitas said. “There are no classes on this day, and our teams are able to come together and volunteer for a few hours either on or off campus. It's probably the best tradition that we have at our school.” 


In an effort to find more opportunities for herself and her team to give back to their community, Freitas began making connections with local schools and businesses. Over the past eight years, the teams participated in many events at Marvine Elementary School, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Cedarbrook Nursing Home. 


One experience at Cedarbrook Nursing Home led to a connection that no one would forget. In 2016, when Freitas brought her players to Cedarbrook to play games and talk with the residents, they met a former high school tennis coach named Mike.


“He was kind, sweet, and we all shared a love for tennis,” Freitas said. “He would ask my players so many questions about their playing style and he asked if he could attend one of our home matches.” 


This kind request became a reality, and with the help of a nurse at Cedarbrook, he became the guest coach for the day. There, he interacted with the players and offered positive feedback. Through conversations, the team learned Mike was a fan of ping pong, but Cedarbrook did not have a ping pong table. Freitas made some calls and a local sporting goods store agreed to donate the table.


“We scheduled a date to bring the teams to the nursing home and we presented the table to Mike,” she said. “I remembered that day like it was yesterday. That was the best experience that I have ever been a part of as far as giving back to the community and one that I will never forget.”

Freitas feels connecting with her community began at a young age and was passed down from her mother.  


“When I was 12 years old, my mom bought a tennis club in Portugal, and right away she started several initiatives within the community to grow the game of tennis,” she said. “She would many times offer free lessons/clinics to low-income families. I remember helping her and the coaching staff with several events within the community; we would take a bunch of tennis nets, racquets, and tennis balls and we would go to different schools and neighborhoods and introduce the sport to hundreds of children and their families.” 


Freitas' own tennis career began on her hometown courts in Portugal at the age of 6. By the time she turned 10, she received a call to represent the Portuguese national team at a tournament in Spain. Freitas continued to travel around Europe representing her country with other talented Portuguese tennis players. 


Freitas received a full scholarship to play tennis and study in the United States in 2007. She played for the University of West Alabama, then transferred to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. It was at Tarleton she worked as a graduate assistant and fell in love with coaching. 


The impact that Freitas is making on her community and her players will certainly last a lifetime. 


“Coach Mariana’s drive to give back to the community is inspiring and motivating to our team of young adults,” said Moravian co-captain Cristina Merone. “We are very lucky to have a coach who shows us the importance of community service, and how it can impact not only the lives of others, but also our own. Her passion for giving back is contagious and personally makes me want to take up more opportunities to do so.” 


Cruise Control Gear has joined USTA Middle States in sponsoring our Unstoppable Women in Tennis series, highlighting the incredibly strong women who are forces on and off the court in our Middle States community.
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