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TOC Grads Work In T-E-N-N-I-S

By: KRISTEN DALEY

Participating in a sport often is a highlight of the college experience, especially when you have the chance to represent your school in competition. Today, more and more USTA Tennis On Campus participants are taking their love of the game beyond graduation and making it a career, buoyed by their experiences as club tennis organizers and players.

Justin DePietrapaolo
Justin DePietropaolo has bridged his
experience with the Penn State Club
Tennis Team into a rewarding career in
tennis industry.
Justin DePietropaolo is racquet-wielding proof that you can never have too much of a good thing.

The 27-year-old from Chester Springs, Penn., has turned his love of the game into his career. Today, DePietropaolo spends his work days and spare time serving the community through the sport, a tradition he began as a student at The Pennsylvania State University.

Although the USTA Tennis On Campus program wasn't as robust as it is today, several universities did have competitive club tennis teams when DePietropaolo and some friends who did not plan to play varsity tennis started the Penn State University Club Tennis Team in 2000. “Penn State has 40,000 people,” says DePietropaolo. “We figured there must be tennis players there.”

They were right. Today, the Penn State Club Tennis Team has grown to 150 members. The founders originally reached out to other players on campus through flyers and informational meetings. “When people asked what the tennis club was, we told them ‘it’s what you want it to be,” says DePietropaolo. “We tried to make it as inclusive as possible,” offering lessons for new players, indoor hours, opportunities to travel for competition, and more.

DePietropaolo served as tennis club secretary and president during his college career. He says that after graduation, the skills and experience he gained by organizing and growing the tennis club helped him get a job at a Fortune 500 company. And his connection to the sport never faltered. Eight months later, he took a job as a high school tennis coach. He has since worked for USTA Middle States, and most recently took a job as a tennis pro at Whitford Country Club in Exton, Penn.

While he says that making tennis his day job wasn’t his exactly what he saw for himself before graduation, DePietropaolo always knew he wanted to stay involved with the sport. “Why would I want to stray from something I’m already good at,” he says.

And now, even as he earns his paycheck on the court, DePietropaolo’s dedication to tennis doesn’t end with the work day—he volunteers much of his spare time to local tennis programs like the after-school program at Lionville Middle School in Exton, the same program he participated in when he was younger.

DePietropaolo also runs the Philadelphia Area Team Tennis Association, which serves 700 children, as well as QuickStart Tennis and Junior Team Tennis leagues. And to stay involved in the collegiate game, he is the Collegiate Chair for USTA Middle States, and also focuses time and energy on encouraging Penn State Club Tennis Team alumni to stay involved with their alma mater and the current club.

And such active involvement is a DePietropaolo family affair—DePietropaolo’s wife Beth runs a USTA Flex League.

One might wonder how he does it all, from organizing and running the Penn State Tennis Club as a student to the myriad programs he dedicates his time to as a professional. “I seem to be pretty good at multi-tasking,” he says. “It’s a matter of time management; planning throughout my day, throughout my week, throughout my year.

“It’s all worth it. I like making a difference.”

Amina Doar
Amina Doar, who started the Washington
State University Club Tennis Team, now
works as a teaching professional in
Northern California.
Amina Doar, 25, started playing tennis in high school, after a friend suggested that she try the sport. “It just stuck,” she says. “It was something that really suited me well. I wanted to be really good, that was my goal.”

It was a goal she achieved, and she was recruited to play tennis at Farleigh Dicksonson University in New Jersey. Unfortunately, Doar’s college tennis career with ridden with several injuries, and the Washington native later transferred to Washington State University, “looking for that big college experience,” she says.

Among the highlights of her time as a social science major was co-founding the Washington State University Club Tennis Team. Reaching out to students through events on campus and other means, the club tennis team attracted 67 players its first year, exceeding 120 in its second year.

“We were a no-cut program, we accepted everybody,” regardless of skill level, Doar explains. “We tried to get as many people as possible playing in matches against other schools. That was part of them being a member of the club—the ability to go out and participate in the same way everybody else could.”

Doar and her club co-founder Will Taylor worked hard to raise funds for the club by purchasing a racquet stringer and stringing racquets for $10. “There were some months when we were stringing 30 racquets a month,” says Doar.

Doar and Taylor never took payment for their work, instead giving all proceeds to the club. “The benefit was knowing our club was going to be successful,” she says.

The WSU team played against other USTA Pacific Northwest schools approximately six times a year. For several years, the team has hosted a tournament attracting five schools to their campus for one weekend of round robin play. When the teams came into town for the tournament, the WSU players opened their homes to the visiting players for a place to stay, and there was no tournament entry fee. “All they had to do was pay to get there and pay for food, (and) bring a case of balls to play their matches with,” she says, adding that the experience “was more about community than it was competition. It became a Pacific Northwest bonding experience.”

Leading the WSU club tennis team was a “total lifestyle change,” says Doar. “I had to learn how to budget money and coordinate people. It develops so many skills, but you don’t even realize it because you’re having so much fun.”

Like DePietropaolo, running the club team also taught Doar a lot about time management, and all of those skills have come in handy in her job as a certified tennis pro at the Meridian Sports Club at Rolling Hills in Novato, Calif. Doar is currently the summer camp director at the club, also juggling online classes to finish her degree at WSU.

Doar feels that she is able to stay calm under pressure, thanks to her experiences with WSU club tennis, including an instance where campus courts were double booked and the team had to shuttle visiting teams to courts at a nearby college in Idaho—with a majority of the visitors none the wiser. “We got in all the matches that were scheduled, and we made it a successful weekend.”

And Doar and DePietropaolo are proof positive that Tennis On Campus can send players in the right direction toward a successful career in the game.


For more information on:

    • Pennsylvania State University Club Tennis Team

    • Washington State University Club Tennis Team

    • United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA)

    • Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)

    • QuickStart Tennis

    • USTA Jr. Team Tennis

    • USTA Flex Leagues

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