When Highlands Ranch tennis coach Frank Adams first picked up a racket as a 15-year-old in Philadelphia, the closest he’d previously been to playing the sport was Ping-Pong. Now, at 63, he’s …
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When Highlands Ranch tennis coach Frank Adams first picked up a racket as a 15-year-old in Philadelphia, the closest he’d previously been to playing the sport was Ping-Pong.
Now, at 63, he’s being inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.
Adams, who has been the head tennis pro for the Highlands Ranch Community Association for about 20 years, focuses much of his time as a coach on incorporating as many new people as possible into the sport.
“I’ve been raised to look out for other people,” he said. “I’ve tried not to leave people behind.”
Outside of traditional lessons for kids and adults of all ages, Adams also teaches wheelchair tennis. He’s not only a coach for athletes though, Adams also teaches others how to coach both traditional and wheelchair tennis. He also volunteers with organizations such as the HRCA's Therapeutic Recreation program, the Denver Asian Tennis League, the City Park Racquet Club and Colorado Serves, also known as Denver STAR Search, an organization that helps connect Denver’s inner-city kids to the sport.
“The number one thing I try to teach coaches to be is student-centered,” he said. “It’s always about the student … I tell them to make sure (students) have the best experience possible.”
In July, Adams will attend the induction ceremony for the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
The Black Tennis Hall of Fame “honors individuals who have broken through the barriers of race and class to achieve success” in tennis, according to its website.
Adams, the first Black president of the Colorado Tennis Association and of the Intermountain chapter of the United States Tennis Association, is also a member of the USTA Colorado district’s diversity and inclusion committee.
“I think we have a long way to go on that committee,” he said.
In the past, Adams volunteered with the Native American Recreation Center in Denver and helped organize a Native American tennis championship.
When he first tried out and joined the Junior Tennis League as a teenager, that organization was focused on taking tennis “out of the country club and into the streets,” Adams said. Now, he’s continuing that mission.
“Tennis teaches you to problem-solve,” Adams said. “That’s what I’m trying to teach is how to overcome adversity … and it’s the effort that makes you successful, not the outcome.”
One student of Adams’, Jessika Mozia, said that messge was one of her major takeaways from having Adams as a coach at HRCA’s Northridge Rec Center for 16 years. The coach helped her grow both as a tennis player and a person, she said.
“Frank has taught me the motivation I have for goal setting takes me (beyond) just my sport,” Mozia said.
Mozia, who started taking lessons from Adams at age 6, went on to get a full-ride scholarship to play tennis at the University of Minnesota and became one of their winningest players.
“He knew I was very serious about tennis … and from the start we would always map out short-term and long-term goals,” Mozia said, “And Frank held me accountable to those goals.”
Mozia, now 27, saw Adams as “the epitome” of selflessness and was in awe of how much he worked to include people facing all sorts of obstacles in their lives, she said.
“He’s someone you definitely want in your corner,” she said.
When Mozia heard that Adams was being inducted, she said she “thought it was perfect,” and that it “couldn’t have gone to anyone more deserving than Frank.”
When Adams learned he was being designated as a “regional legend” by the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, he was “stunned, flabbergasted and shocked,” he said.
“I look at all the people on the committee and I don’t think of myself as being on that level but more standing on their shoulders,” he said. “I’m very grateful to receive that honor.”
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