If it wasn’t for the popular USTA Tennis On Campus program, it’s safe to say that three young Southern California tennis players would not still be involved in the game they have truly fallen in love with.
Usama Shahid, Joanne Le and Tricia Mar are all perfect examples of how Tennis On Campus (TOC) provides a clear bridge from junior and high school tennis to later joining local USTA Leagues, World Team Tennis, as well as entering numerous Southern California Adult Tournaments.
Here is a closer look at each of the players and their tennis experiences:
Name: Usama Shahid.
College: Tennis on Campus player who played for Cal State Fullerton.
Currently: Plays USTA League Tennis. World Team Tennis and USTA Tournaments.
Shahid started playing tennis 10 years ago in high school.
“Tennis On-Campus is the main reason I still play tennis to this day,” Shahid said. “I quit tennis after high school for three years and then heard about TOC while going to college.”
After re-discovering his competitive spirt and making new friends while playing tennis, Shahid said he wanted to “keep our small group of tennis buddies intact.” So after graduation, he looked into USTA Leagues and created his first-ever USTA team.
“Our team created a pathway for students who graduated after me to find a place they can continue to play tennis on a competitive level,” he said. “So not only has TOC inspired me to continue to play tennis after school but also helped create a streamline method in order for younger students to keep their tennis passion alive.
“I totally agree that TOC is a true pathway to continuing playing tennis after school.”
In high school, Shahid’s tennis team made it to the CIF semifinals, the farthest the team had ever advanced. Earlier this year, Shahid’s USTA WTT team won National Qualifier in Las Vegas beating out five other teams from different states and have now qualified for Nationals later this year at Indian Wells.
Shahid’s future plans include continuing to keep playing tennis and make new friends along the way.
“Even though tennis is fun to play as a sport, for me personally it has done a lot more than that. In high school because of tennis I was able to make very close friendships but after graduation everyone went separately with their career paths. I thought I was never going to discover those close friendships again but because of tennis and TOC I was again able to make those similar if not stronger friendships that have lasted till this day. It’s no longer just tennis but much more than that to build lifelong relationships.”
Name: Joanne Le.
College: Formerly Tennis On Campus Team President for Cal-State Fullerton.
Currently: Plays USTA League Tennis, World Team Tennis and USTA Tournaments.
Hitting the courts with her dad during her freshman year in high school are Le’s earliest memories of playing tennis.
Le’s World Team Tennis team “Frame No Shame” recently won National Qualifiers in Las Vegas this past May, and are going to play in Nationals this November.
“I do think TOC played a huge role in my college life and after,” Le said. “A lot of my close friends now are people that I had played tennis with in TOC. What is amazing is that I not only made close friends at CSUF, but also from other schools as well. TOC was a great way to network. Tennis, in general, has been a great outlet for me and my friends. After we finished school, we all stayed connected and now every week we meet up and hit about 3 to 5 times a week together. Nothing is better than spending the day with great people and getting some good exercise.”
Le counts winning the singles title at the Michael Chang Tournament last year and winning the National Qualifiers this year in Las Vegas as her tennis-playing highlights.
Le said her dream is to one day host her own tournament in Orange County.
Name: Tricia Mar.
College: Formerly Tennis On Campus President for UCLA her senior year.
Currently: Plays USTA League Tennis, USTA Tournaments and ITF Tournaments (starting 2017); In the process of USPTA certification and teaches summer camp at Seal Beach Tennis Club.
For as long as Mar can remember she has had a racket in her hand, first picking one up at age three. She started playing competitively in Satellite and Open tournaments at age 11 or 12.
Mar has been busy all summer teaching at summer camp at Seat Beach Tennis Center, and in the fall will coach the Frosh/Soph team at Los Alamitos High School.
She plays competitively almost every weekend in Women’s Open tournaments, Mixed or Women’s 10.0 League matches, and practices almost every day. She recently traveled to Victoria, B.C., where she played her first ITF tournament and made it past the qualifying rounds and into the main draw.
“Tennis On Campus was the one of main reasons I decided to go back to playing tennis on a daily basis and pursue tennis as a career,” Mar said. “Despite trying different job pathways after graduating, I found that I would always go back to tennis, whether it be playing league matches on the weekends or spending more time with my friends that I made through Tennis On Campus. Tennis On Campus was part of my pathway to continuing to play after school and reminded me of how much I truly love the sport, the people, and the opportunities that tennis provides.”
Some of Mar’s greatest memories playing tennis are leading the TOC practices at UCLA, traveling abroad to compete and various USTA League matches and competing in high-level matches at Sectionals and Nationals. But most importantly it’s been about “spending time with people who also love tennis and training with these people to further our own tennis skills and fitness. I love being able to spend time with my friends while also helping each other grow as people and tennis players,” she said.
Mar’s future plans include coaching at a hotel or resort abroad and playing ITF tournaments in a different country. She was also like to someday design her own line of sports or tennis bags.