In their own words: Tito Perez 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 Junior Team Tennis Committee member Tito Perez reflects on what tennis means to him.
My American tennis dream started on Hilton Head Island, S.C., when I was invited to participate in the PTR International Tennis Symposium about 15 years ago. My wife and I had been looking for an opportunity to move from my home country of Bolivia to the U.S., and after a couple of weeks in the U.S., I received two job offers. I chose a job at a tennis club on Long Island, N.Y., called, at the time, World Gym in Setauket.
It turned out to be a great decision (with all credit to my wife, who completely supported our move to the U.S.—without her, I wouldn’t be here). I started as a tennis coach, then became Assistant Director, then was promoted to Sports Manager. Now, I’m the General Manager at the facility, which now is called Long Island Health & Racquet Setauket.
I’ve been playing tennis for 41 years, and teaching the game for the last 29 years, and still, every day when I come to work, I pass through the front door of the club, breathe deeply, and just feel so alive. That’s what this sport does for me. And now, all three of our children play tennis, and that truly makes me happy. Seeing them playing, training and competing makes me realize that they will all be successful in life, and tennis will be at least partly responsible for that success.
I’m very active in the community and with volunteering for this sport on both the national and sectional levels. I was a member of the USTA Eastern section’s board of directors for four years, and I’ve been on different Eastern section committees over the years. At the national level, I’m currently in my fourth year as a member of the USTA Junior Team Tennis Committee. I’m also a USTA and PTR coach developer, and the PTR treasurer.
It has been an incredible 15 years so far—and I can’t wait for what the future holds for me and my family in this sport. I’m constantly excited to share my knowledge, experience and American dream with both the Hispanic community and the tennis community overall. Tennis is truly the best thing to happen in my life, and I hope to be an inspiration for others to take up this sport, pursue a tennis teaching career, and just get out on the court. It can change your life.