Umang Chadda is out to make the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet & Fitness Club a standout facility for tennis players.
The game of tennis is for all ages, so Chadda is gearing up to get youngsters interested in the game. He wants to encourage young players to stay involved and discover all that tennis has to offer them.
And Chadda wants it to be known that he appreciates the adult players – at all levels – for their commitment to the game.
“I don’t get up and think I don’t want to go to work or I’m in the wrong field.
I love being at work every day because I’m passionate about this industry,” said the racquet sports manager.
The club, at 2920 W. 183rd St., has 10 indoor courts and a racquet ball court, as well as 30 outdoor courts scattered throughout Homewood and Flossmoor parks.
The club has always had a good reputation within the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, but interest has waned some. Chadda said he wants the racquet club to be recognized “as the place for tennis” and he’s confident that over time he will meet that goal.
“I would like to open my programming options to all age brackets, starting as little as 3 and 4 years old, the young athlete all the way to senior in all capacities of their level of play. It could be someone brand new; it could be someone at an intermediate level or somebody as advanced as playing professional or college tennis,” Chadda said.
He knows first-hand how tennis can be a benefit to people of all ages. He first started taking tennis lessons at age 7 in his native city of Ahmedadad in Gujarat, India. His parents were supportive, and by his teen years, Chadda was one of the top players. He represented India in the World Youth Cup in Japan in 1995. At age 16, he won the top rank in the 16-18 age category and the men’s open.
He went on to compete for several years. As a college student, he was in the top 20 in NCAA rankings for singles players and 12th in the U.S. in doubles. He has been a hitting partner for Pete Sampras and Jennifer Capriati.
For Chadda, his love of the game is personal, but his message can be universal.
“The sport of tennis has made me a very disciplined person. I would also say the sport of tennis makes you challenge your smartness: you’re not relying on your team member like in soccer or basketball. You have to make decisions and improve decisions. It made me a better thinker,” Chadda said.
“It improved my education in terms of getting better grades. I was very disciplined to be on time, follow guidelines of my coaches on fitness on and off the court which required me to sleep on time, make proper choices on the health perspective,” such as a proper diet, he explained.
“Today there are a lot of opportunities for young athletes to play college tennis. I played college tennis and was a college coach at Western Illinois University. There are enough opportunities for a full college scholarship, full free education for undergrad. I was able to get a free American education and free master’s education. So tennis has rewarded me education-wise,” Chadda stressed.
Professionally, he has worked for a private sports consulting firm and traveled the country offering advice. He’s worked for an exclusive country club and for park and recreation facilities. His job before coming to the Homewood-Flossmoor area was as a director of tennis operations and then general manager for a club similar to the racquet club.
Chadda stepped forward to take on a new volunteer position as vice president for the Illinois chapter of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, a worldwide professional group with more than 15,000 members. He has been a certified Elite Professional with the organization since 2004-05, and previously held positions while working in Kentucky.
He will serve as vice president through the 2018-19.