Tennis prodigy eyes 'return of racquet sports' to Southland – Chicago Tribune

Umang Chadda began his tennis career at age 8 and in 1995 he was selected to represent India in the World Youth Cup, now known as the Junior Davis Cup.

Now he’s bringing his passion for the sport to the Southland as racquet sports director at the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet & Fitness Club in Homewood.

The club, operated by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, will host 12 tennis tournaments in 2018 as part of Chadda’s strategy of reaching out to former and potential players.

“My goal is to bring back racquet sports in our community,” said Chadda, who established monthly tennis team “mixers” in November to promote “the social aspect of tennis.”

Chadda said the get-togethers enable members to “play tennis with new friends — to have fun in a nonthreatening environment on the 10 indoor courts — and then to sit with the new friends and have dinner.”

But more importantly, the former child tennis prodigy is bringing his unique combination of experience, skills and education to bear on nurturing and improving players’ skills — no matter how old or young, emphasizing discipline, focus, and a positive approach.

Supported by a Homewood-Flossmoor staff certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association and the Professional Tennis Registry, Chadda said he relies on analytical skills to detect and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of individual players.

Chadda is a United States Professional Tennis Association Elite Professional who has passed the written Elite exam, which covers business, programming, sport science and tennis operations, Elite stroke analysis exam and the Elite-level on-court exams.

All that means, Chadda said, is he’s able to determine “the grass root of the problem” and to “try to help you play better.”

For the past four years, Chadda used a similar approach to revitalize a private facility in southern Louisiana, earning formal recognition as the 2016 Professional Tennis Registry Louisiana Professional of the year.

A native of the western India city of Ahemedabad — once home to Mahatma Gandhi — Chadda’s youthful successes included sweeping the 12-and-under, 14-and-under, 16-year-old and 18-year-old brackets in state competition there.

By 1996 the then 17-year-old was a top-ranked junior and national champion in India. Chadda’s parents allowed him to travel alone to the United States where he obtained further training in Florida and was a hitting partner with Pete Sampras, Jennifer Capriati and other WTA touring professionals when not training or competing in professional tournaments around the world.

In 1999, Chadda obtained further training in Kentucky, strengthening his game and encountering team playing for the first time. “I enjoyed the team atmosphere, the team unity and the fun side,” he said.

Chadda would later taste the professional side of group action, playing with the Springfield Lasers, a World Team Tennis franchise in Missouri.

Along the way, he earned bachelor’s degrees in information technology and accounting and a master’s degree in sports management, as well as experience in coaching tennis teams. He recently was appointed the Illinois Vice President of the USPTA.

Chadda credited his parents for allowing him to follow his heart to American tennis courts.

“My parents have let me continue to work in an industry that I’m very passionate about,” he said. “My parents never ever stopped me from following my dreams. I’m very fortunate to be doing what I’m doing today.”

Dennis Sullivan is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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