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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 Robert Gomez, a jack of all trades in the Miami tennis community! The 54-year-old Miami Beach native is the Professional Tennis Operations Supervisor for the City of Coral Gables, the Head of the Florida Coaches Commission, a member of the Florida Junior Competitive Counsel and an USPTA Elite Professional. Gomez has run professional tournaments, traveled the world to coach in other professional tournaments and has received a slew of accolades for his contributions to the Florida tennis community and beyond.
How did you get involved in tennis?
I was introduced to the game when I was around 11 by my aunt Ines, but it was my uncle Dan that really got me playing at around 15 years old.
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
I love that the game is rich in tradition that dates back hundreds of years. I really enjoy how the game involves offense, defense, fitness and a lot of strategy.
What is your current role and what do you do?
I am the Professional Tennis Operations Supervisor for the City of Coral Gables. I manage two tennis centers: Biltmore & Salvadore Park Tennis Centers. I am responsible for all the tennis operations including instructional programming, competitive programming, social play, expense/revenue budgets and maintenance.
As Head Coach of the Coaches Commission, what has been your proudest moment or achievement?
I am generally proud of the fact that we have been able to bring together a team of coaches that are all talented and successful with the purpose of raising the bar with our junior players. Tennis being an individual sport for the most part hasn’t always lended itself to working together, but we in Florida have forged exactly that, working together for a common good.
Why do you volunteer?
Tennis has blessed me with so many opportunities. Education, a career, friendships… heck, I met my wife in New York because we were both there for the US Open. The least I can do is share my time to elevate the game that has given me so much.
Does your family play tennis?
Yes, my wife plays for our 4.0 USTA team typically at number 1 singles. My daughter Ana is competing at state level events in the girls 14’s age group and my youngest daughter Ava is playing entry level events in the girls 12’s divisions.
What message do you have for parents about tennis?
Tennis is one of the best sports for your child to play for many reasons. One of those reasons is that you can play for the rest of your life. Its tremendous fun and you can make friends that last a lifetime.
What is your heritage?
My father and family are from the Dominican Republic. My mother was born in Argentina with Chilean and Colombian roots.
Why is celebrating Hispanic heritage important to you?
As a Hispanic American, I believe that our culture has so much to offer the world. Music, sports, culinary, finance – just to name a few. We are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the U.S., and we need to be recognized.
How has your Hispanic heritage inspired you in tennis, or, your life in general?
Growing up, Guillermo Vilas was the top Hispanic player and with my mother being from Argentina, I obviously was impressed. His countryman Jose Luis Clerc’s style made a big impression on me and I wanted to play like him. Growing up in Miami with a strong Hispanic culture and seeing Miami grow into the metropolitan city that it is today helped me believe that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in general, as well as in tennis?
I think it’s important to celebrate because of its rich history. Hispanics are a richly talented, athletic and passionate culture in sports and by celebrating this we can ensure that they are recognized and future generations can be inspired.
Why is it important to not only support and celebrate other cultures, but be inclusive to all?
Our country and the world for that matter is made up of amazingly talented people from diverse backgrounds. It is important for our youth, who will be leading us one day, to see that people that look like them are key components to the success of our planet.
If you had to share your message of unity, what would it be?
Together we can do anything, divided we will stagnate.
To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.