Mary Pat Faley

Teaching Pro Tennis Spotlight – Mary Pat Faley

Christmas came early for the kids at Harvard Park / Jackie Tatum Recreation Center in South Central Los Angeles as a crew from Calabasas led by popular teaching professional Mary Pat Faley descended on the facility mid-December bearing gifts.

Mary Pat Tennis ProIt was all part of the fourth annual Holiday Kids Tennis Celebration started after Marty Woods met Anne Star, a friend and club member where Faley teaches at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, during a Vijay Amritraj Foundation Pro-Am.

Star had donated some clothing and shoes, but told Faley she wanted to do more. Faley immediately saw she could help and organized gifts and donations, as well as gathering area teaching pros to help with a clinic.

“It’s really turned into two events as we have an Adopt a Family event now, as well as the tennis clinic,” said Faley, who has been teaching in Calabasas for the past 37 years.

“I have students of mine who offer to write a check, but I tell them they really have to go down there and see the expression on the kids’ faces,” she said. “There’s nothing like that no matter what kind of check you send.”

Mary Pat and Sports BugFaley, who was named the Southern California 2011 USPTA Tennis Pro of the Year, said she was assisted by around 25 SoCal teaching pros and eight courts were going simultaneously for different levels of play.

Tennis-Warehouse donated $3,000 worth of product and Faley said there were 12 to 15 long tables covered with gifts, around 2,000 in all. “We hit for prizes and you could barely see any green,” she said. “We had gift bags and rackets for the all the kids.”

Last year, Faley was able to help raise enough money to purchase a new stringer and this year helped raise $1,700 for a new ball machine. “A couple of our older kids went down there and showed them how to use it so now they are stringing rackets,” Faley said.

Faley moved to the San Fernando Valley from Chicago as a child, and immediately began playing at Warner Center. She led L.A. Pierce to a state championship before transferring to the University of Alabama on scholarship.

She recalled a funny story about Pierce men’s coaching legend Paul Xanthos. “I asked him if I could practice with the men and he said I would never play with the men,” Faley said. “So I became a pain in the butt and worked as the T.A. in his tennis classes. Finally he broke down and said, ‘You can now practice with the men.’ I had to wear him down because I had to get good fast. I was the first woman to practice with the men.”

Faley has an impressive list of high-profile clients she instructs, including actor Rainn Wilson, singer Brandi and Olympic basketball champion Lisa Leslie.

Faley is the author of the popular book: “Winning in Tennis And Life” which can be purchased online and through her website at:

Faley is a noted speaker, as well, and is currently taking reservations for a special Force of Three Weekend Retreat taking place Feb. 27-March 1, at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage.

The weekend retreat is open to men and women of all levels of play and includes fun time on the court learning about topics ranging from doubles strategy to nutrition and footwork.

For more information on Faley’s weekend retreat, call her at (818) 601-5926 or email: You can also follow her on Twitter @tenniswhisperer.

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