Trailblazer by Action
March 22, 2018
Drawn to tennis by watching her dad play every day, Netherlands native Alex Poorta, has become a professional coach with experience on the WTA tour, college, and junior circuits.
Poorta came across the Atlantic when she was 18 years old, earning a full scholarship to play for Saint Mary’s College. The first player from St Mary’s College to be named conference player of the year and invited to the NCAA Singles Championships, the Amsterdam native was ranked as high as top 25 in the country during her senior season.
A player with an extremely versatile game, Poorta uses her experience on the court to help her students. “If my schedule allows I still play a few tournaments each summer. Being competitive helps me as a coach because it gives me greater perspective on the thoughts and struggles players experience on the court.”ADVERTISEMENT
Coaching in general has been known to be a male dominated industry, with only a few female coaches such as Lindsay Davenport, Mary Joe Fernandez, or Amelie Mauresmo, who surprised a lot of tennis experts by taking on a coaching position with Andy Murray back in 2014. But Alex hasn’t let that stop her, using her own court fighting spirit and resiliency to climb up the ladder. She started her coaching career when she accepted the Head Women’s Tennis Coach position at Dominican University of California in January of 2012. Even though the transition from being a player to being a coach “was a challenge,” Poorta confesses, eventually my professional aspirations took over. “I’m always going to have the desire to play, but I see myself as a coach now and enjoy the process of addressing strengths and weaknesses in the players I work with. Improving and making players better is always a challenge.”
She was able to do just that as she led her team to the conference finals in her rookie season, upsetting Stanislaus State, the No. 20 ranked NCAA Division II team at the time. She then took on the Women’s Tennis Assistant Coach at her alma mater Saint Mary’s College in August 2014, helping the team to another NCAA tournament appearance. In the meantime, she started traveling with professional players such as Zoe Scandalis and Danielle Lao (both former USC standouts), leading the latter to her first $25,000 ITF title in Baton Rouge, LA, in June 2015. Alex also coached current Stanford player Michaela Gordon (ranked No. 17 in the country), and helped her reach the third round of the 2016 Junior French Open. When asked whether she feels like a minority in the tennis coaching profession Poorta pointed out that “I see improvements, but I have also been one of two female coaches in a player draw of 64. It’s not really a focus of mine, to me it is most important that I am there for my players and do my job well,” the Danville resident explained.
Now a National Coach with USTA as well as a Faculty Tennis Coach with USTA Northern California, Poorta can be found teaching four to six hours a day when she is not traveling with her players. Through her own journey, Poorta hopes that it will inspire other women to join the coaching ranks. And for the female coaches embarking on their own coaching journey, the former third-ranked Dutch player is an advocate of being a student of the game. “Start off with really studying and understanding the fundamentals such as grips, progressions, stances, swing paths etc. Then try to find opportunities to work alongside coaches that you admire and you can learn from. Lastly, watch tennis on TV.”
Through passion, grit, and hard work, Poorta consistently moved up the ladder, morphing her from a top player into a sought after coach. Her positivity, determination, and perseverance have helped Alex being as successful as she is today, and along the way, has opened doors for future women’s coaches.