In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, held Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, USTA Florida will recognize members of Florida’s rich Hispanic community whose talents and dedication help to grow the great game of tennis every day — at every level. We applaud them all for making tennis a better and more inclusive sport, and for making the face of our game more accurately reflect the dynamic diversity of our country.
Aldo Burga is a master of working double duty — the 52-year-old splits his time between Florida and New York serving as a Tennis Director at both the Legacy Golf & Tennis Club in Port St. Lucie and at the Ausable Club in St. Huberts. During his junior competitive career, the Lima, Peru, native was ranked as high as No. 7 in the ITF Junior World Rankings and he traveled the world to compete in several international tournaments. Burga has also coached many national high-level junior ranked players in the U.S., and many have gone on to play Division I tennis at prestigious colleges and universities around the country.
Tennis is clearly a big part of your life. When did you first pick up a racquet?
I began playing at five years old at a local club in Lima, Peru with my father as a mentor. I spent hours as a youngster hitting against the wall waiting for a chance at playing with adults at my local club.
What do you love most about tennis?
The way it brings people together. Friendships are made on the tennis courts. In many instances, these relationships last a lifetime. In a way, tennis provides an extended family for many people that play this wonderful game.
Does your family play tennis?
My father and my brothers played tennis and the entire family would be involved on a regular basis in all tennis events related.
You serve as a dual Director of Tennis working double duty both here in Florida and in New York. What does that entail?
I have the privilege to be a dual Tennis Director. During the winter I am at the Legacy Golf & Tennis Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and during the summer I work out of the Ausable Club in St. Huberts, New York. Both positions are completely different. At the Legacy Golf & Tennis Club, I am responsible for every aspect of the tennis operations including marketing, membership sales, programming, lessons, social events and overseeing personnel. My responsibilities at the Ausable Club are more focused on member satisfaction through management of the tennis program. I also teach lessons and clinics. The nature of managing both clubs is quite the contrast.
Being a dual Tennis Director has given me a unique perspective in the industry. I am very lucky to have both opportunities as I am able to reach more people and share the love of the game.
You’re also the Vice President of the Treasure Coast Tennis Foundation, can you share a little about what the Foundation does?
The foundation was the brainchild of Karin DeCoste, a fantastic tennis professional in our area. As a team that includes kind and gifted individuals with the support of USTA Florida, the foundation promotes tennis awareness at the local level on the Treasure Coast and raises funds so that we can promote the sport. We aim to reach young and old tennis players as well as beginners and seasoned players. We host area events involving local adult players, provide monetary grant scholarships to local high school players, and grant summer tennis camp scholarships to local children who otherwise couldn’t afford to learn tennis. Our latest project involved researching local, run-down tennis courts to see if we can rehabilitate them to teach weekly free lessons to children.
What was the moment you realized how much of an impact the foundation has on the community?
Last April, I had the opportunity to present a grant scholarship to a local high school player in Fort Pierce. I was able to see firsthand how this small token of recognition can boost a young person’s morale and confidence. It made me pause and reflect that beyond being involved as a tennis coach, we can make a difference on a bigger scale in our community.
What is your heritage?
My family has an interesting mixed heritage. Myself, my parents and my siblings were born and raised in Lima, Peru. My grandmother’s side is German, and my father’s lineage is traced to Spain.
How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?
Growing up in Peru and traveling all over South America as a young competitor, has provided me with a great appreciation of the world. Growing up in South America, opportunity was a bit scarce. I am very appreciative of everything that I have been able to accomplish in my modest life here in the U.S. Now that I have been living in the U.S. longer than I did in Peru, living in a modest environment has given me a large amount of gratitude for what we have.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in general, as well as in tennis?
The Spanish community has grown by leaps and bounds in the U.S. in recent decades. Tennis can be a conduit to integration in any society. Many Latin American communities may feel comfortable being included with the celebration and recognition of Hispanic talent not only in tennis but in any area. America is a great country, and assimilation and fusion (in some cases) is an essential part of moving forward as a nation.
Why is it important to not only support and celebrate other cultures, but be inclusive to all?
We can never underestimate what other cultures can contribute to our great nation. I believe all cultures contribute and influence our daily lives. Anywhere from the culinary, to the arts, and to our values — we are all a compilation of many cultures in many ways. A society that values all of its citizens and celebrates other cultures creates harmony. With harmony, we coexist and function peacefully. There is room to grow for everyone and thus we advance together as a nation.
To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.