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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.
Manuel Rosales can be found on the courts of Viera High School, where he coaches the boy’s tennis team. No stranger to the Viera tennis community, Rosales has also served as a private tennis coach and coaches several USTA teams in Brevard County. Rosales was born and raised in Valencia, Venezuela, and currently lives in Melbourne.
Tennis is clearly a big part of your life. When did you first pick up a racquet?
I used to play soccer and baseball before I started playing tennis at a private club in Valencia, Venezuela. I was about 11 to 12 years old. I took a couple of lessons before I decided to take on tennis as my primary sport.
What do you love most about tennis?
Tennis is a very satisfying individual and team sport that you can play all your life. The tennis movements and swing mechanics are aggressive and determined, yet have elegance, grace and coordinated fluidity. Furthermore, the tennis community provides friendships with like-minded people and social activities.
You are the coach of the Viera High School boys tennis team – how did you get started with them and how long have you been with the team?
About ten years ago, my son played for the school and I started getting involved with the team. In addition, I am a private tennis coach in the local community and many of the Viera High School players trained with me. After about five years of being involved with the team, the school’s Athletic Director offered me the head coach position.
What does it mean to you, to be able to serve as a mentor for your high school players?
I work with many talented players and my job as a coach and is to help them improves their tennis skills. However, even more important is the ability to mentor and counsel those players on how to navigate difficult situations and how to become problem solvers. Many times, I assist players in developing leadership skills and becoming part of a team.
What successes has the Viera High School Tennis Team had in recent years under your coaching?
During the last 5 years, the Viera High School tennis team is on the shortlist of “top teams” in the Melbourne area. During my tenure, we have won districts on three occasions and were the runner-up in 2021.
What is your heritage?
I was born and raised in Venezuela. My family and extended family lived in Valencia in close proximity to each other.
How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?
My heritage and cultural identity are embedded in the person I am today. My past experiences and values are prevalent in my personality and are reflected in my understanding of any other cultures as well. When I was an engineer, I had the opportunity to travel all over the world. This unique combination of experiences has given me a unique perspective on teaching, coaching, and communicating with my clients and students.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in general, as well as in tennis?
The celebration of Hispanic heritage is an important recognition to all Hispanic Americans. During this significant time, all cultures in the U.S. recognize the countless contributions, influence, culture, and achievements Hispanic Americans have brought to the United States.
If you had to share your message of unity, what would it be?
The United States of America is for everyone and we are stronger together as a team.
To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.