Meet Gator Tennis Coach Pat Fragassi (Spring 2018)

L-R: NSSRA Staff Daniel Freres, NSSRA Gator Tennis Players Josh Devries and Stefan Xidas, Coach Pat Fragassi

Tell us about yourself and how you got into tennis. I earned a degree in recreation administration and found my way to the Nielsen Tennis Center at Winnetka Park District as an Assistant Manager. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any experience in tennis. I was certified to teach and learned how to play at the age of 30. 15 years later, I am the manager of the facility.

When did you begin working with NSSRA participants/Gator Tennis athletes, and tell us about how that started. About 15 years ago, I was asked by then-Director Liza McElroy to help with the Gator Tennis program. Since then, there has been no looking back!

What are some of your favorite memories over the years? My favorite memories include working John Ferarra and Stefan Xidas. Two very accomplished tennis players with an undeniable passion for the game and competition. I also have enjoyed watching Gator Tennis players compete at Special Olympics, play exhibition matches at the Nielsen USTA Pro Tennis Championships, and love the excitement that the participants exude when they step on the tennis court on Monday nights in the summer.

What has impacted you most, or what have you learned the most, in teaching and training Gator Tennis athletes? One of the most impactful and motivational moments for me came in working with Stefan Xidas. He told me that when he is on the tennis court, he doesn’t have a disability. I think it is a perfect metaphor for the game of tennis, as we can enjoy a break from our day-to-day challenges for a few moments, while participating in this sport of a lifetime.