USTA Florida celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May by highlighting Kainoa Rosa. He is currently serving his first term on the USTA Florida Board of Directors. He was born and raised in Hawaii and is a Native Hawaiian. Learn more about Rosa, his culture, and background in tennis.
Q: When and how did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis at the age of 4 with both my mom and uncle who were, (and still are) avid tennis players and coaches. Tennis has always been a big part of the Rosa household.
Q: What is your history in the sport?
Growing up surrounded by tennis, I always felt a special connection to the sport. After finding success as a youth, my passion for tennis grew and developed the strongholds for the lifelong connection to the sport I have today. I plan to pass this special history along to my 16-month daughter Healani and her incoming sister Kamea.
Q: What role has tennis played in your life?
Tennis has shaped my character and the lessons learned through victories and defeats have played an instrumental role in both my professional and personal journey.
Q: How has tennis helped you connect with the Asian Pacific Islander community?
As a proud, Native Hawaiian, tennis was always a path back to my roots. My parents made the move from island of Oahu to Washington State when I was young, to give our family a better opportunity for public education. Growing up in Washington State, my ultimate goal was always to return to Hawaii for college and my passion for tennis along with support of my family helped accomplish this goal.
Q: What has been your experience in the sport as a member of the Asian Pacific community?
I grew up in one of the most diverse counties in the country (King County, WA) and also spent a great deal of time in Hawaii. Statistically, both communities have a higher representation of Asian and Pacific Islander influence, and I feel fortunate to have been in leadership positions in both areas. The real fight lies within those states where these communities are lagging and severely underrepresented. Living in Florida now, my intent to serve and develop the Asian Pacific Community is well spent.
Q: What is it like to be part of the AAPI community AND a leader in the tennis community?
Visibility and exposure for those that aren’t aware that tennis can be both a pathway to education and employment should be a focal point for AAPI leaders in the tennis community. Too many of our youth lack the knowledge that tennis can not only cover a college education but also provide a career to support a family. By being visible, present, and receptive leaders in the community, we can impact the future generation of our AAPI community.
Q: How can the sport create more opportunities for the AAPI community to get involved with tennis?
A perfect example is the framework set in place by the Asian American Pacific Islander Tennis Association (AAPITA). Recognizing AAPI achievement, providing mentorship to those in and out of the industry, and educating the broader community on the importance of AAPI in the tennis are all key pillars represented by the organization.
Q: Why did you want to serve on the USTA FL Board?
Grassroot and public park service has always been at the core of my values and as my career has progressed deeper into the private sector, serving with USTA Florida allows me to maintain my vision of the importance of contributing, volunteering, and working to make an impact for those that need it the most.
Q: What goals do you have while serving on the USTA FL Board?
My goal is to bring in a fresh perspective to an organization with great leadership at all levels. It is no secret that I am younger than some of my peers in the organization, but with this comes a different train of thought. I plan to not only support new growth initiatives with the Tennis Advisory Committee, but to draw upon my experiences within both the public and private sector to create an inclusive tennis experience for all.