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USTA Florida is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this September by putting the spotlight on members in the Hispanic tennis community.
We want to introduce you to 53-year-old Miriam Melendez. She was born and raised in Brentwood, New York, and has Puerto Rican roots. Miriam first got involved with the sport just seven years ago when she moved to the Sunshine state and settled in Brevard County – and now she’s a league captain.
What is your current role?
I work with children in an after-school program at Manatee Elementary School in Viera, Fla. I also Captain a Women’s 6.5 combo team and a Women’s 3.0 team. Both teams have won the local league division in 2018 and 2019.
How did you get involved in tennis?
I got involved with tennis through my dear friend Linda Fiorentino. We quickly became friends when I moved to Florida 7 years ago, and that’s how long I’ve been playing! Linda was someone I looked up to and a mentor before she moved across the country.
Does your family play tennis?
My niece Ava and nephew Danny play tennis. Ava has started taking lessons so she can play on a team with me when she grows up.
What do you like most about tennis and your role?
I love that tennis is a sport that everyone can play and enjoy. It’s so much fun and I have built great friendships. I play on a team with an amazing group of ladies who support each other. We win together and lose together.
What message do you have for parents about tennis?
Getting your kids involved in tennis is a great way for them to build their self-confidence, learn good sportsmanship and make new friends. When I was growing up we all played outside. Times have changed and for many reasons, many children spend more time indoors on their phones or computers. Technology is entertaining our youth and they are now growing up with little physical activity. Tennis is a fast-paced sport that can keep children engaged and get them outside.
What do you think about Hispanic Heritage Month and how do you celebrate it?
It’s a good opportunity for people to learn about and experience Hispanic culture. I will be celebrating this year by listening to salsa music and eating all my favorite Spanish dishes. And yes, I love to eat!
To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.