Brian Hamilton can’t pin down just one reason why tennis is so important to him. The sport, to him, is so much more than just a game.
A USTA volunteer and frequent player in the Philadelphia area, Hamilton sees tennis as a motivator and social tool. It’s an opportunity and a community.
It even helped him lose more than 150 pounds.
“Tennis, to me, represents more than just a sport because of the way it’s helped me with some challenges and obstacles in my life,” said Hamilton, 27. “Tennis has provided me with a community where I finally felt like I belonged at a time where I did not have the luxury of having friends and family as a daily part of my life.”
It all began for Hamilton after graduating from college. He decided to make a shift to a more healthy lifestyle, and began biking around Philadelphia to stay active. Eventually he found his way to the public tennis courts at a Philadelphia park.
“I was drawn in by watching the local players, and noticed that a lot of the same people were there every single day,” he said. “After a week or two, I gathered enough courage to bring my racquet to try to find others to play with. I quickly learned that an amazing tennis community existed at the park, as it was always busy day after day.”
Hamilton began playing with the 30-plus regulars who showed up on a daily basis, and was hooked on the game. When he began dropping weight, his tennis addiction grew even more.
“As someone who has no motivation at the gym, tennis started as an enjoyable way for me to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, which turned my weight loss challenge into something I loved to do,” he said. “From the time I started actively playing, I became much stronger both mentally and physically.”
Soon after building a group of tennis contacts in Philadelphia, Hamilton moved to a city suburb, West Chester. There, he realized he needed to start a new group of friends to play with. So he connected with Dung Tran, who organized a tennis MeetUp.com group in Philadelphia.
Hamilton then began his own MeetUp.com group based in West Chester that gained more than 250 members in less than a year. Hamilton organizes the group, which promotes tennis to beginners and advanced players, and has become involved with USTA and other groups in the area.
“The sport continues to be my reminder of how much I’ve changed from being shy and self-conscious to confident and outgoing,” he said. “Tennis is not only a part of my life, it has become a big part of who I am.”