Tennis Tuesday is a content series curated by the New York Empire that will feature some of the game’s greats and New York’s finest tennis coaches, administrators, and fans. This week, we chat with former World No. 1 doubles player and new Executive Director of the Cary Leeds Tennis Center, Liezel Huber.
1. You’re a Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 doubles player. How are you enjoying life off of the WTA Tour?
I am so blessed to have had such a long career. Tennis has given me so much. I came to America at age 16 with a suitcase and a dream. Never did I think I would actually represent the US in Olympics or Fed Cup. I am an extremely proud American on and off the court. I was never the most talented player, but for sure a very hard worker. I have always believed that hard work pays off. Life off the WTA Tour is not much different. It’s in my DNA to keep busy and that is what I am enjoying now; new challenges.
2. Do you miss any aspects of playing professionally?
Of course, I miss competing. I also miss the wonderful people I have met along the way. I have formed friendships with tournament volunteers, local families that housed me and more senior players that acted as my role models who let me practice with them or hit with their coach. I don’t miss living out of a suitcase or restaurant food. I do love sleeping in my own bed and cleaning my house!
3. Tell us about your new role at Cary Leeds Tennis Center.
I have been given the role as Executive Tennis Director at Cary Leeds Tennis Center. I am so proud of the NYJTL and what they stand for. My ranking has never defined me as a person, what it has done is it has created a platform for me to stand on to make a difference. Here I can touch people every day. We have huge goals and are dreaming big. I am so fortunate to lead our team.
4. How do you see the programming Cary Leeds offers benefitting youth in the community it serves?
Our motto is simple and powerful: Life skills gained through tennis are the catalyst for long-term growth. We “grow with the game”. Having a world-class staff is a game changer. We are not just focused on putting rackets in peoples’ hands. NYJTL has designed a platform for community program and Aces after school players to achieve great excellence in tennis and life. We have created a continued pathway for players to earn college scholarships. We want to touch peoples’ lives and what better place to do it than right here in the Bronx! Cary Leeds Tennis Center is a jewel and we will keep polishing it.
5. You played World TeamTennis many times. What was your favorite aspect of the format, and do you think it’s abbreviated style could be incorporated more throughout the year?
I am a huge fan of WTT. I have been on the winning side and of course when I started out, on the other end too. All terrific memories about camaraderie, team, highs, lows, fun, you name it! I wish everyone to play it and enjoy watching it. Tennis is a sport of a lifetime. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity and want to pay it forward!