At the tennis center she teaches 10-and-under programs, runs entry-level tournaments, hosts USTA Play Days, and directs summer camps programs among other duties. In her “spare time” she serves on committees for charity tennis events, assists the USTA Florida Section with junior team tennis events and Hispanic tennis promotion, helps with “Team-Up” events to attract beginner players, and uses her sponsorship skills to solicit food and beverages for local events to keep costs down.
“The first ROGY I hosted, I advertised on every tennis site I could,” she said of her marketing and sponsorship strategies and successes. “[The company] Pretzel Chip called me and asked if they could set up a booth to promote their product at my event. Of course I was thrilled that this was my first big USTA event that would have a sponsor. The chips were a big hit, as well as the tennis!”
“Hoku volunteers for every event in my area,” says USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Orlando area Shelly Licorish. “She is wonderful with the kids. She is great at getting sponsors to help us save on cost. She is always checking to see if help is needed anywhere. She is at the tournament check in; she is on court helping the little ones, and with set up. She is a team player as well. If you need a local committee to plan an event, she is there!”
A special place in Purcell’s heart is held for kids age 10 and under who come up through the easy-to-learn 10 and Under Tennis format.
“I feel as if 10 and Under Tennis is the most important stage of their game,” she says. “The transition between ‘red ball’ to ‘orange ball’ is huge, and the challenge of getting them from there is my favorite part. I think the 10 and Under Tennis equipment has been a big help in aiding them to understand all the dynamics involved in tennis, especially with the red ball. It’s less intimidating for the kids in red ball to use the mini nets, as opposed to the regular court. I feel that it boosts their confidence and helps them get ready for the 60-foot court.”
While her three oldest children have pursued cross country, basketball and cheerleading, the tennis enthusiast holds out hope for her youngest.
“My little toddler (age 3) plays tennis currently on Mondays and Wednesdays,” she says. “He loves being on the court, whether it’s running or hitting the ball. It’s as if his energy level gets higher and higher every time he’s out there. I see a great love for the game in him!”
USTA Florida thanks Hoku Purcell as the December 2015 Tennis Volunteer of the Month for sharing her great love of the game with children and adults alike in the Orlando area.
Asked to describe her typical volunteer positions, she answers, “Whoever needs my help! I like volunteering because I love the game of tennis, and I love the people I work with!”
Family: “Tasi Purcell (sister, co-worker) my husband Michael, and our kids!”
Favorite Movie: Pitch Perfect
Favorite Food: “Noodles (cooked all ways)”
Favorite Travel: Hawaii
Favorite Shot: inside-out forehand
My earliest tennis memory is…”My first tennis lesson with [Orlando’s] Marcelo Gouts! My mom videotaped the whole thing!”
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…”Jennifer Capriati, Roger Federer, and my mom (she was a pretty good player).”
When I am not playing tennis I am…”Busy with the kids, typical ‘soccer mom’ stuff, driving to and from activities and sport events, going to meets…”
My best tennis memory is…”Making it to the USTA League 4.5 Nationals in Hawaii in 2006 and playing after an earthquake. Had the best time with my team, got to see my family and experience an earthquake. We didn’t win, but 2nd place isn’t so bad!”
I like to volunteer in tennis because…”I grew up in the sport. I also really love the people I’ve met along the way. It’s the best lifetime sport!”