Nan Pongsriwat, the USTA league coordinator for Eastern Connecticut, has been named League Coordinator of the Year by USTA New England!
This honor, awarded to the person who has shown exemplary initiative in growing tennis in the local area, is long overdue. Nan has volunteered for USTA New England for 11 years. And year after year, she has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to building up the USTA league programs in our area.
Nan first started playing tennis with the encouragement of Janet Rogers. They were both living in New Hampshire at the time when their husbands were on the USS Alexandria for the Navy. When the boat returned to Groton, Nan looked for a tennis club so she could continue playing. She decided on Lyme Shores.
According to Nan, “When I moved to Connecticut, I found no one wanted to play with beginners, and there was no league to play in. Thames Valley league was more for advanced players. That is what gave me the incentive to start the USTA League for our area.”
Due to Nan’s passion and persistence, the fledgling program developed into what we have today. Eastern Connecticut now has over fifteen different leagues that include various age ranges and rating levels for men, women, and mixed.
The expansion and coordination of all the leagues require a tremendous amount of time, effort, and skill to pull off. Nan collaborates with club managers and captains to schedule court time for all the teams at various clubs. She serves as a liaison between the USTA New England and league captains, fielding questions about ratings, rules, and regulations. Her main goals include responding to emails within 24 hours, working closely with new captains so they get a good start, ensuring new players get placed on teams, and starting more levels (4.5 and 9.0 e.g.) so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.
According to Paula Passarello, a USTA league veteran, “It is not just Nan’s talent for organizing all these leagues that make her so important to USTA. We all know tennis players are not the easiest people to satisfy. But Nan has a gentle, persuasive personality to bring a calm solution to any tennis crisis.”
And for the past few years, Nan has done all this from Washington state and California! When her husband Rex was transferred by the Navy to the west coast, Nan continued volunteering as Eastern Connecticut’s league coordinator. Throughout the year, she stays in touch via phone and email, and at least once a year, she makes a trip back to Connecticut to convene face-to-face with captains and USTA New England officials.
Victor Niezrecki, Nan and Rex
“As Navy life happens, we were again forced to move.” said Nan. “I could have easily just said goodbye to the Eastern CT coordination. However, the friendships I developed were so strong that I was determined not to forget the people here in New England, both our tennis players and my USTA New England contacts. That motivated me to continue to serve as the USTA Coordinator in CT. It made my job a little harder, but I was determined for the people here to make Eastern CT the best USTA league. And now I have experienced the leagues in Washington and California and how they conduct business. That experience has brought even more to the table of what I can offer to Eastern CT.”
Lyme Shores and the other Eastern Connecticut clubs are lucky to have such an asset. Nan’s dedication to the sport and to the people in the area is a true force.
“My experience with the Eastern CT Leagues has meant so much. I am so grateful to the players that recommended me for the award.” said Nan. “In the traditions of Thailand where I was born and grew up, friends are not just here one day and forgotten the next. I hope that my friendships here continue and grow with new people. Some day I will move back to CT and when that happens I know I will have a great family here to enrich all of our lives.”
A big congratulations to Nan!