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USTA Florida’s mission is “to promote and develop tennis for all.” As a core value, we believe in providing opportunities for everyone to participate in the game of tennis, regardless of skill, age, physical ability, gender, ethnicity, economic background or sexual orientation. As Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the Florida tennis community.
We want to introduce you to Luis Checa, Director of the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation. The 62-year-old is a native of Quito, Ecuador, who grew up playing tennis in New York City. He has worked as a Senior Staff Pro at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club in New York City since 2001 and also served as the Assistant Director at the New England Tennis camp for six years, before moving the Boynton Beach to work with the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation.
How did you get involved in tennis?
My high school offered tennis as one of the team sports.
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
It has taught me that I can be the master of my own future, on court and in life.
For those who may not know, what is the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation all about?
We want to enhance the lives of at-risk children through tennis and life skills.
As Director of Tennis for the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation, what you do?
I provide a friendly, safe and nurturing place on the tennis court to introduce the love of tennis to children that would not be exposed to our sport in their community.
What do you hope the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation provides for kids?
A love of healthy living through sports and tennis.
What do you think are the benefits of tennis?
Tennis promotes individual confidence that can carry over to team bonding.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The biggest reward is bringing out confidence in the meekest children in the class through the success they have in tennis.
What message do you have for parents about tennis?
Tennis a sport that can develop your child’s mind and self-esteem without worries of concussions or injuries that are prevalent in other sports.
What is your heritage?
I am Latino from South America but consider myself an American first. I am fluent in Spanish and English.
Why is celebrating Hispanic heritage important to you?
I feel that celebrating one’s heritage is important for the whole society in general. We are all from somewhere else. Together in the U.S., we are strong in our diversity and no one can pit us against each other if we all celebrate our differences.
How has your Hispanic heritage inspired you in tennis, or, your life in general?
The rich and diverse Spanish influence that we have experienced (good or bad) makes our lives interesting and gives us stories to share with those who are interested. Tennis has exposed me to people from all over the world. We all have stories to tell. My story happens to be Hispanic.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in general, as well as in tennis?
Most Latinos that I know think that baseball, basketball, football and soccer are the best sports. They think that tennis is only for the “rich”. Today it is for everyone!
Why is it important to not only support and celebrate other cultures, but be inclusive to all?
When we support and celebrate other cultures, we imply that no one culture is more important than another. All people are equally interesting and complicated, and exciting.
If you had to share your message of unity, what would it be?
In unity we can find commonality, acceptance and peace.
To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.