Community Spotlight: Alvin Alaman

As the President of First Serve Santa Ana, Alvin Alaman’s main objective is to continue to encourage the youth in his area to learn the sport of a lifetime – tennis.

As the boys’ and girls’ tennis coach at Valley High School in Santa Ana, Alaman also selfishly hopes the kids he teaches during the popular Saturday Tennis Academy at McFadden Intermediate School may someday suit up and play for him.

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“It’s really difficult to compete in our league,” Alaman said. “We were getting kids who hadn’t touched a racket before coming out for the team. We are starting to see a trickle effect and I’m trying to create an atmosphere where these kids are going to want to come to my high school and play for me.”

Alaman said tennis facilities have never been an issue as he has access to nine courts at Valley High, and 11 more at Santa Ana College. “I went to a tennis teacher’s conference a few years ago at the U.S. Open and everyone was bemoaning the fact that they didn’t have any courts,” Alaman said. “We have a wealth of tennis facilities here, but not the programming.”

Back in 2008, Alaman and two of his buddies decided to do something about it and had the goals of getting tennis into the city’s 30 or so elementary schools. That’s how the First Serve Santa Ana Community Tennis Association was born.

“Darryl Killion was the tennis coach at Santa Ana High and Lewis Bratcher and I had been coaching at Valley High, the crosstown rival,” Alaman said. “We were sitting around talking about what it was like to coach tennis in a soccer town. And we were trying to figure out ways to get kids playing tennis at an earlier age. We set a goal to have a tennis program at each of the 30 or so elementary schools.”

That morphed into the idea of the Saturday Morning Academy where local parents are bringing their children, and staying around for a hit also. “That’s our main focus right now,” Alaman said. “We go from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and have four or five courts active. We use high school players from the local teams to help teach the kids.”

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Alaman gives credit to the one and only Vic Braden for teaching him how to coach. “Vic made me a coach,” Alaman said. “When I took over the program several years ago I was the football coach at Valley High School. I didn’t know much about tennis, but I loved playing. So I went over to a seminar over at Vic’s Tennis College at Coto de Caza.

“Vic was always very benevolent toward us and our program, and we would send him kids to his Junior Ambassador program.”

Alaman relays a classic Braden story: Years after that initial meeting at Coto de Caza, Alaman ran into Braden at that before mentioned coaches’ conference in New York. “I’m there in the lobby of the hotel and Vic comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, Alvin, how are you doing?’ It’s amazing that he even remembered my name after all those years. Just an amazing guy.”

Alaman reiterated that the major focus of First Serve Santa Ana is to expose young children to the game of tennis, so that they can grow up to compete at the local high school level.

“We want to develop feeder patterns from the elementary to junior high to high school,” he said. “We’ve put programs into these schools and we want to start seeing some success in our high school programs.”

To learn more about First Serve Santa Ana, log onto the website at:
www.firstservesantaanatennis.org

 

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