Local Tennis Pro Engages Kids in Tennis

Alex O'Brien is a professional tennis player and started his career on the tennis courts in Amarillo and from there has built an extensive resume.

"I started when I was six years old, and I basically started because my older brother played,"  Alex O'Brien, founder of the Alex O'Brien Foundation said.  "He was my hero growing up and that got me into tennis, and basically I never stopped. I never looked back."
Alex went to Stanford and won three out of the four NCAA tournaments in individuals and singles his senior year.  He went pro and played nearly ten years.  He was a US Open Doubles champ, played in the Olympics, won New Haven in singles, made it to 30 in the world in singles and number one in doubles.  He also played Davis Cup five times for the United States.

While Alex was on the pro tour, he wanted to share his love for the game with Amarillo kids. So he started the Alex O'Brien Foundation. 

"The idea was to help underprivileged kids and we've expanded it to just help kids period in Amarillo," O'Brien said.  "We're trying to grow tennis in Amarillo."

Now, the Foundation's providing another opportunity for junior tennis players.  The Match Play Challenge gives the kids a chance to set goals and give them a competitive edge.

"We need more kids playing matches because they're always out taking lessons and not playing enough matches," O'Brien said.  "We came up with the idea of rewarding points for each set played."

The challenge matches the players up in their age division and gives them credit for each set played.

Player Ethan Ruppanner likes to keep an eye on the leaderboards.

"You have to go to the leaderboards to see what place you're in and you have to go to the match play to put in your matches," he said.

"It's a great way to find out where does your game stand. When you play a tennis match you find out your weaknesses you find out your holes,"  O'Brien said.  "It's a great way to get kids to interact with one another."

Juan Pacheco is currently the leader and says the match play gives him a chance to play the sport he loves. 

"Not only does it help us with our tennis game, of course the better you get but all the prizes that come with it can really help us and it will improve your game all around."

Garner Currie has also seen improvement physically and mentally. 

 "The Alex O'Brien Match Play experience is good for anyone," he said.  "Amarillo's tennis program's going to improve a lot."

To sign up for the  Alex O'Brien Tennis Foundation Match Play Challenge, visit www.aobtf.org before August 1st.  Entry is $15


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