By Dave Thomas
For La Mesa resident Conan Lorenzo, tennis is more than a job.
Currently the tennis director at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club (LJBTC), Lorenzo recently was honored with the Janet Louer Junior Team Tennis National Organizer of the Year at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Awards.
In receiving the award, Lorenzo stood out for his ability to successfully implement USTA tennis programs, generating interest in USTA junior team tennis, creatively developing funding for junior team tennis, promoting community tennis association participation, and increasing the number of participants at the LJBTC from 250 to 1,400. Lorenzo was also active in donating countless tennis balls to after-school tennis programs, hospitals, school classrooms and animal shelters.
Louer, who passed away in 2006, played a key role in developing junior tennis in her lifetime.
Working as an administrator for USTA Junior Team Tennis in Georgia, she turned the state championships into the largest youth team tennis state championships in the U.S. Louer was also instrumental in forming the sectional and national championships for the program.
La Mesa Courier recently caught up with Lorenzo to talk about winning the award and teaching others the sport he loves so much.
LMC: How honored were you to receive the Janet Louer Junior Team Tennis National Organizer of the Year Award?
Lorenzo: I was so honored to be placed in the same sentence as Janet Louer, as she has been such an amazing contributor to the game of tennis for juniors all over the country. It gives me more energy than ever to keep working hard to not only live up to the award and her name but also to increase participation with tennis all over San Diego and so much more. I have learned a few things over these last few months while receiving congratulations and more from so many people. The core message to me is to listen and learn from others, stay humble in everything I do and make sure each day is not a waste, whether it is with family, friends, tennis and my own time.
LMC: How popular is the sport of tennis in the greater San Diego area?
Lorenzo: Tennis is booming in San Diego as there are so many kids playing in our local junior team tennis leagues. Almost every club in San Diego has one team or more playing on the weekends against other clubs. I think this is a huge testament to those coaches who have their own programs, as it is a team effort all across the board.
Before we had around five to 10 core coaches getting kids and parents excited about tennis and now we are up to 25 to 30 clubs who all want to participate with ages 6-18. In fact, some players go off to play college tennis and return back to me and say, “Coach, the best times were with team tennis on the weekends hanging out and competing.” To hear that is something special.
What I really enjoy is to see my very own home club of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club be so active with junior tennis as well. The Beach Club has always had a rich history with our adult inter-clubs and national tournaments and it is wonderful to be a part of the history each year while working and running these events.
What is terrific to see now is that all the Beach Club parents are so excited with tennis and now encouraging their own kids to come out and play. In fact, the Beach Club has gone from one junior team tennis team to over eight teams or more in the last few years.
LMC: For people interested in playing and promoting tennis locally, what advice do you have for them?
Lorenzo: Tennis has always been something I have enjoyed and I always encourage others to seek out something they enjoy that makes them happy. Tennis here in San Diego has so many different offerings and to be a part of it only takes a phone call or more to be involved with a tennis league, committee, volunteer coach, mentor and so much more. My advice to anyone looking to promote tennis or to be a part of tennis would be to go out there and ask any of the following organizations: San Diego District Tennis Association, United States Professional Teaching Association, Southern California Tennis Association, San Diego Umpires Association and Youth Tennis San Diego.
— Dave Thomas is a San Diego-based freelance sports writer. Reach him at email@example.com.