Ed Tiong, 51, of South Riding, Va., has been named the first USTA League Captain of the Month. Tiong is the founder of the Filipino American Tennis Organization of Northern Virginia (FilAm Tennis), which he started in 2004 and is based out of the Skyline Sport and Health Club. Since its inception, FilAm Tennis has evolved into a USTA Community Tennis Association (CTA) that provides many different kinds of tennis programming, including USTA League teams for adults, Recreational Coaches Workshops (RCWs), QuickStart Tennis workshops and Junior TeamTennis for kids, as well as many different kinds of tennis social events.
Tiong has been a USTA League captain since 2005, and his 3.5 Mid-Atlantic men’s team finished runner-up at the USTA League National Championships in Tucson, Ariz., last October. He also is the captain for 7.0 and 8.0 mixed teams and coordinates many other teams throughout the year.
Tiong is a full-time medical technician and, with his wife Maricor, is actively involved in his local church. He has also started several Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) tennis programs in his area, and his three children, Paolo, Nathan and Samantha, all play tennis.
USTA.com: Who is your favorite tennis player?
Ed Tiong: Rafael Nadal, because of his passion for the game while also being a humble person.
USTA.com: What is your favorite surface to play on?
Ed Tiong: Hard courts are my favorite.
USTA.com: What is your favorite tennis tournament and why?
Ed Tiong: The Grand Slams are my favorites because with best three out of five sets for the men, they really show the most physically and mentally fit player.
USTA.com: What kind of racquet do you use?
Ed Tiong: Head Youtek Midplus 98 but have been looking to try the Head Youtek Prestige Midplus.
USTA.com: What is the best part of your tennis game?
Ed Tiong: Net play.
USTA.com: Who are your favorite professional sports teams?
Ed Tiong: The Washington Kastles for tennis, the Washington Redskins for football and the Washington Wizards for basketball.
USTA.com: How honored were you that your team members nominated you for Captain of the Month? Did they tell you they were nominating you, or was it a surprise?
Ed Tiong: I had no idea they had nominated me. I have this little thing they gave me, an award they gave me from our first district match. They gave me this captain’s award for dedication. It is really neat to show their appreciation. I didn’t find out about being named Captain of the Month until I got an email from the USTA. When I read it, I was surprised, but I was honored. I said, ‘I wonder who are the people who elected me?’ I think it is a good program that the USTA is doing to show the human side of the captain. It is not all about the game but, behind the scenes, who is running these events. There are people with their own stories, and it is nice to put a human aspect behind the name. It is a good way to get more in depth as to why people do the things they do.
USTA.com: How long have you been playing tennis?
Ed Tiong: When I was in college, my friend showed me how to play tennis with a wooden racquet. After that, I didn’t pick it up again until 2004, so it was awhile before I played again, about 20 years. The thing is that it is a great way to meet other people, whether you play with or against them. It provides an opportunity to have a social aspect and a competitive aspect. There was so much into what we started that I didn’t realize what I would get into. League tennis I was doing, I just had a 3.0 team and a 5.0 team (at first) and the FilAmTennis, being involved in the community and going back to our parishes. What we did was put together teams so these kids at our churches would have the opportunity to experience a sport, be part of a league, which they never had before, and the adults had a chance to give back to the community what they had learned. CYO programs were the first Junior TeamTennis teams that I organized.
USTA.com: How many teams do you captain or oversee throughout the year?
Ed Tiong: I oversee many teams throughout the year as a coordinator, but I put myself in as team captain for the 3.5 and 4.0 men’s, as well as the 7.0 and 8.0 mixed. I am playing on those teams, as well as being a captain. As a team captain, part of what I do is make sure we pay our bills that everyone pays and that, the bottom line, everyone gets a chance to play. I coordinate a lot of other teams, but the 3.5 men’s, 4.0 men’s and then mixed 7.0 and 8.0, I also play on those, so I captain them a little more closely. For other teams I coordinate, I have different groups I assign to each team because I can’t be at all the matches for each team. It is all balancing tennis with your family, your kids, and my dad was diagnosed with cancer recently, and the players have all been very supportive.
We want to have a good reputation that we are not just about winning. We want to separate ourselves from other teams because we are a CTA. We have programs other teams do not offer, from RCW, to being involved with the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, QuickStart programs and Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) programs. These are some of the unique things, besides the league season, that we do.
USTA.com: What is so challenging and so rewarding about being a captain? How special was taking your first trip to Nationals last fall?
Ed Tiong: It was back in 2005 that I started with USTA Leagues, and I was first on a 3.0 men’s team. I captained one team, and when we grew, my other friend captained another group. You want to have some balance and order to the way you run things. I do administrative stuff at night. I use a management software, and I load all the information for the matches, including time, location, date, so I know people’s availability and who can play a particular match.
My 3.5 men’s team went to the National Championships in Tucson in October. We lost in the finals, but it was our first trip to Nationals for me as captain. For us, it was the first time we won our section and district and the first time we went on to Nationals. It was like a dream. Before that, just thinking about going to Nationals, for me, it was only a dream; it seemed so far away. But now it changes things once you get there. Once you experience Nationals, you want your teammates and your teams at least once experience it, as well.
The best part about being a captain is that I gain a group of new friends. You need time with your peers, getting to know people, so it is not just about tennis. There is the human aspect of it, the social part. There is a mutual respect for each other, and you all appreciate what you do. It is rewarding.
USTA.com: You founded the Filipino American Tennis Organization of Northern Virginia (FilAm Tennis) in November 2004 and have been a USTA League captain since 2005. How did you first become involved with organized tennis and come up with the idea to start the organization? How has it evolved into a CTA with so many different kinds of programs and activities?
Ed Tiong: I got together with some guys who played tennis at a local club, the Fairfax Racquet Club, and the idea came from there. The guys loved getting together, people wanted to play, and we had enough players interested. From there, it led from one thing to another and it branched out into a CTA in small steps. As the name implies, I was doing some programs in our community to promote the sport, including some tennis block parties, doing tournaments and those kinds of things, as well as having some cultural events. It was sort of more culturally based at the beginning, but I think now we are more immersed into the USTA programs.
We have more league programs, more RCWs, more Quickstart workshops and are working through the grassroots with our players. It has expanded from being more culturally based, and we have a lot of teams now. We also have lots of tennis socials, and people can sign up for programs. For our league teams, players have come from all different avenues of life.
USTA.com: How do you balance all the different aspects of your life, from your family and full-time job and being involved with your church to FilAm Tennis and all the programs and events that go along with it?
Ed Tiong: I want to look at tennis as something that is a part of who you are and what you are. What I do, sometimes it is hard to balance things out. I am involved with the church, I am a family man -- how do I incorporate this into my life? Having my kids, being involved with the church and with tennis, it all works together hand in hand.
Coming back in the fall and summer, we are going to do RCW, QuickStart and all of those programs, and hopefully then people can spread what they learn to their own groups in their own parishes. I think that it where the grassroots is very important. You can run programs and still have your own family, have kids who love you and still be involved with the church. Having the balance is key, having everything work out with all the different parts. The support of the family is what makes it happen. Without my wife's support, I wouldn’t be able to do all of this.