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Asian American Pacific Islander Month Highlight: JT Nishimura
In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Month, USTA NorCal is celebrating local players and professionals around Northern California. In this article we are highlighting JT Nishimura. Having started playing tennis at 8 years old, JT not only played through 18s and competed in various USTA tournaments, but national and international tournaments as well.
Along with these accomplishments, JT also participated in team events, Junior Team Tennis, Zonal, Intersectional, Maze Cup, and the National Junior Team. After playing 4 years for the UC Berkeley Cal men’s team and spending 1 year as their assistant coach. JT graduated from Cal, and went on the be Director of junior development at a tennis club for 3 years. Currently, JT is working and traveling with Bianca Andreescu on the women's WTA Circuit on a full-time basis.
Q&A with JT Nishimura
Q: In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, why do you think it’s important to have diverse representation within the tennis community?
A: Diversity at all levels is really important and beneficial. Regardless of race, gender, age etc, I think the more diversity you have, it promotes creativity, different perspectives on life and the world, and new opportunities.
My college teammates were from France, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and from the U.S. We had an amazing time supporting each other but also learning from each other. We were different because we were raised in different cultures and countries but though we spoke different languages, and had different upbringings, we were like brothers with the same passion for tennis and competing. That was what was awesome about the team experience. We were diverse and at the same time, we were one and the same. We learned that we are more alike than we are different.
Q: Who has been a asian/pacific islander role model or inspiration for you?
A: I don’t know that I’ve had any specific role model, but what inspires me is
that any individual no matter their race, background, age, or physical makeup can excel in the sport of tennis. Hard work, focus, discipline and perseverance can level any playing field.
Q: Why do you think it is so important to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month?
A: I think it’s important to celebrate the customs, values, and traditions of all cultures. My mom, and my dad’s parents were born and raised in Hawaii, so I have a strong family connection to Hawaii. We traveled there often when I was growing up. Whenever we visited my relatives, I enjoyed the Hawaii culture. Hawaii is a melting pot of ethnicities so I learned to celebrate the traditions of the local people who were largely a mix of Asian and pacific islanders.
Q: Can you describe your experience in tennis as an asian/pacific islander individual?
A: Tennis has afforded me the opportunity to travel and experience many different cultures (Asia, South America, Spain, Italy, Germany, Great Britain). I realize that there is much more to learn about all cultures and that diversity brings people together from different backgrounds and we learn from each other.
Q: In what ways do you celebrate your culture and heritage during AAPI Month and/or year-round?
A: As I’m traveling across Europe with my current team, in honor of AAPI, I am taking the time to learn something new about the culture of each country that I am traveling to. I believe we can honor our own culture by learning about others, and then maybe along the way, I can share something about my Asian/pacific islander heritage.