In their own words: Carlos Cruzaedo on Hispanic Heritage Month
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the USTA also celebrates those in the Hispanic community whose dedication to the sport as USTA volunteers helps to keep our game growing strong. There are more than 350 national volunteers from all 17 USTA sections, and while it would be difficult to recognize every Hispanic leader here, we’re thrilled to be able to highlight these volunteer leaders, in their own words, whose contributions, influence and enthusiasm continue to push this organization and this sport forward. In this installment, USTA Pro Circuit Committee member Carlos Cruzaedo reflects on what tennis means to him.
I’m a product of public park tennis courts. My older brother and I both started learning the game from our grandfather when we were each around 5 years old, mostly on California public park courts in Inglewood, Westchester, Echo Park and Griffith Park. Tennis lessons weren’t cheap for us, so to this day, we’re thankful to have had the opportunities that the USTA and the communities in our area were able to provide on public courts.
As a junior, I was a ranked singles and doubles player through the Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) public parks programs. All of this led to me playing No. 1 singles and doubles for an NCAA Division I school, then having the amazing opportunity of playing ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in Europe.
From 1988 to the present, I’ve been a USTA and SCTA-ranked adult tournament and league player.
But tennis is very much a family affair for us: Some of the most satisfying times have been playing with my children: in Father-Son and Father-Daughter events, I’ve been ranked with my son Andras and daughter Gabriela. And, in 2019, Gabriela and I won the Father-Daughter Whittier Open. I also enjoy playing in a combo league with my wife, Eva. This year, I’ve been on eight league teams, including as captain of a 5.0/5.5 men’s team.
We live in Torrance, Calif., and for more than 25 years, I’ve been a private, part-time junior, adult and camp tennis coach. I’m also the co-founder and director of Tennis Lovers for Charity (TLC), a national 501(c)3 nonprofit that focuses on high school and wounded veteran tennis players, which has been in operation for the past 15 years. In addition, I’m the USPTA Southern California executive director.
As a USTA volunteer, I’ve been a member of the Pro Circuit Committee since 2010, including as vice-chair. I’m also a member or past member/chair of a number of USTA Southern California committees, including Junior Competitive, Diversity, Hispanic Outreach, Investment, Adult, Collegiate, Wheelchair and League. Currently, I’m also on the SCTA Executive Committee and I’m an SCTA Foundation board member and volunteer. In addition, I'm an SCTA CTC Junior Team Coach in Los Angeles and an SCTA SoCal Pacific Exchange coach.
Outside of tennis, I’m on the Board of Regents at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and on the Board of Trustees and a volunteer for two local churches. I’m also a student at LMU in the graduate theology program.
I started volunteering with the USTA when I was in high school, simply because I loved this sport and wanted to be around tennis. My volunteer work, though, is much more than that: I enjoy giving back to this great sport, which has given me so much joy and so many wonderful benefits over the years. I truly believe that in my volunteer work with tennis, I gain more than I give, and I hope to continue to be involved. In 2019, I was honored and humbled to receive a USTA National Volunteer of the Year Award.
I believe we have an obligation to continue to showcase Hispanic players and professionals as a way to help inspire more youth to take up tennis. This is especially important here in Southern California, where we have a huge opportunity—for players, communities and the sport.