Araya Makes an Impact
Astrid Araya is the Junior Development Pathway Program Director at Genesis in Des Moines. However, her background is a long way from Iowa. She grew up in San Salvador, El Salvador and started playing tennis at seven years old when she was recruited for a program called “Looking for Talents” by the Tennis Federation of El Salvador.
“I come from a single-family home and we did not have much money,” she said. “I was able to play tennis because the Federation provided me with a scholarship. Through this I was able to play and fall in love with the sport.”
At 14 years old, she joined the High Performance Program in addition to the national team, and had the opportunity to play in the ITF Junior Circuit.
“I reached the top 400 in the world as well as representing my country in multiple events including Fed Cup qualifiers,” she added.
In 2013 she was a freshman tennis player at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls and broke many records during her time there. When she graduated in 2017, she moved to the Quad Cities to become a full-time coach at the Quad Cities Tennis Club. She moved to Des Moines in 2018 to start her master’s degree in Sports Management at Grand View University and is also the assistant tennis coach there.
“What I like about coaching is that I have the opportunity to teach people the sport that changed my life and fell in love it,” she said. “Tennis allowed me to learn that in order to be a good player, I needed to work hard by being passionate and enjoying the game.”
Tennis taught her important values that allowed her to grow in the professional world, she said. She also knows why diversity is important in the coaching world and beyond.
“Diversity and coaching in tennis is important because it gives students the opportunity to play with and learn from someone who looks like themselves.”
As far as her future goals, Araya hopes to have a positive impact on the lives of children who had a similar upbringing to her own and show them what they are capable of.