By J. Fred Sidhu
Rancho Mirage, Calif. – USTA Leagues are helping to develop tennis in Puerto Rico according to Hector Cabrera, who is part of the USTA Caribbean Section team playing in this weekend’s 2010 USTA League 4.0 Senior National Championships.
Cabrera, who is slated to become President of the USTA Caribbean Section in 2012, spoke about the state of tennis in Puerto Rico on Saturday morning after his team finished a match at the Mission Hills Country Club.
The 60-year-old Cabrera, who lives in San Juan, began playing tennis in the ‘70s after finishing college. He also plays golf, but prefers tennis because of the exercise and the competitive aspect of the sport.
"This year has been a tremendous year for tennis in Puerto Rico. Tennis is growing in Puerto Rico and the main reason is because of the (USTA) Leagues," said Cabrera, who retired from a pharmaceutical company.
"We have a tremendous enthusiasm for the league and we have many players playing in the various leagues," he said. "We have a lot of kids playing. The Leagues have changed tennis in Puerto Rico for the better."
Cabrera, joined the USTA Caribbean Section board in 2009 after serving as President of the Alliance For a Drug-Free Puerto Rico for seven years.
He currently serves on various committees and heads the committee, which oversee the National Tennis Center in Puerto Rico. Cabrera is also the Tournament Director for the Puerto Rico $25,000 Women’s Tennis Challenger.
When asked what he would like to do when his term as USTA Caribbean President begins in 2012, Cabrera said, "We have a lot of work to do with youngsters in Puerto Rico. We have to develop young, new players. That is one of my main goals."
Cabrera noted some of Puerto Rico’s bright spots in tennis such as its Davis Cup team, which was recently promoted from Group III to Group II in the American Zone and will host Paraguay in 2011. Another bright spot is 17-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who is ranked No. 4 in the ITF Junior rankings.
"We need more facilities. I’m planning on developing the (National Tennis) center and build more facilities and have it as a world-class tennis center," he said. "I also want to bring a men’s professional tennis tournament into Puerto Rico, probably at the Challenger level."
Even though Puerto Rico lacks players in the Top 100 in the professional rankings, Cabrera has plans for a bright future when it comes to tennis in Puerto Rico.
"If we can bring a men’s professional tournament to Puerto Rico, it will be a big boost for tennis," he said. "Of course, I’ll push for league (tennis). (USTA) League tennis has been very important in developing tennis in Puerto Rico."
Cabrera has the same passion and enthusiasm for tennis that many of his fellow players from Puerto Rico when they play league tennis and he is already looking forward to the day when he becomes President of the USTA Caribbean Section.
"I love tennis and the opportunity that it brings me, being the (future) president of the (Section)," Cabrera said. "I feel great about it. I’m thrilled and I’m challenged and I think it’s a great opportunity."