Tennis association serves winning programs
By Kelli Shiroma
If there’s one thing Ron Romano has learned over the years, it’s that not everyone knows what USTA — United States Tennis Association — stands for.
“Sometimes, we assume everybody knows who we are and what we do,” admitted Romano, the executive director of USTA Hawaii Pacific Section. He cleared things up by explaining, “Our mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis. We have something for everybody — whether it’s beginner, intermediate or advanced (levels). Everything we do is either very affordable or free; we’re just trying to get everybody involved in tennis as a healthy, lifetime sport.”
USTA, which has 17 sections nationwide, officially began in Hawaii in 1973. However, Romano said an unofficially organized group has promoted tennis events in the Islands since the early 1900s.
“We’re one of the smallest sections, but we’re very creative and innovative,” he said. “We’re like a laboratory — sometimes our ideas work, and sometimes they don’t — but it’s a good learning experience. We never fault or criticize anybody for failing.”
For USTA employees, having a positive work environment — especially one that welcomes new ideas — is important to Romano. He said that’s one of the main reasons why longtime USTA staff members still love coming to work.
“Our employees are talented and good at what they do, but they don’t only have a passion for their job,” he explained. “They have a passion for tennis, and that’s a big part of it.”
In recent years, USTA Hawaii Pacific Section staff members have collaborated more on events, which has increased both camaraderie and efficiency, according to Romano.
“A lot of companies have departments that work in individual silos, but they never cross over,” he said. “A few years ago, we started to do more team events and work together on different projects. We got better because of the different strengths and weaknesses everybody has.
“Both nationally and locally, USTA has a strong sense of diversity,” Romano added. “We try to hire diverse people — in terms of age, ethnicity and ideas — to help bring different perspectives.”
USTA Hawaii Pacific Section offers a variety of programs to the public, ranging from youth competitions to adult leagues. Its year-round Play to Learn program, in which individuals learn the basics of tennis, is especially popular.
“It’s an affordable group tennis lesson program (held) at about 25 park sites,” Romano stated. The latest season began Oct. 30, and these types of programs usually run for about six weeks.
Romano said USTA also hosts special events and runs at least one professional tournament each year.
“Next April, people can look forward to our PowerShares event,” he said. “For the first time, the Power-Shares Series will be coming to Hawaii. We’re going to have four of the former No. 1 players in the world come to the Big Island. John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang and Andy Roddick — who have all won several Grand Slam tournaments — will do clinics and play exhibition. We think the event’s going to be sold out quickly!”
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COMPANY: United States Tennis Association Hawaii Pacific Section
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NOTEWORTHY: United States Tennis Association Hawaii Pacific Section will host PowerShares Hawaii, a competitive tennis circuit, for the first time in spring 2018 on Big Island.