The Nelson family doesn’t mess around when it comes to playing tennis. In fact, they’re all in.
Anthony Nelson is the Associate Head Pro of PNW USTA Vancouver Tennis Center and his wife Nancy, Essential Oil Associate with Young Living and the Domestic Engineer at the Nelson abode. They both, along with their six children, play tennis regularly.
The Nelson family’s journey to becoming tennis fanatics began with Anthony’s childhood experience. “I grew up in a family that played golf religiously…I broke my left arm playing soccer at the age of nine and decided to give tennis a go,” he explains. “From the first lesson on, I was hooked. Tennis quickly became my number one sport. I started teaching tennis part time in Newcastle, Australia at the age of fifteen.”
Anthony met Becky in Newcastle Australia in 1999, and came to Vancouver in January of 2000 to ask Becky’s father for her hand in marriage. Her parents, Mary and Jerry Richards were active members at the Vancouver Tennis Center and knew Kevin Young and Hector Mendoza, who were the manager and tennis director at the time.
When Anthony eventually gained residency, he began volunteering at the tennis center and building a clientele. By the time he obtained his workers card, he had established a good following and began his official career as an assistant pro.
“This is my twentieth year at VTC and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Anthony. “VTC has always had a great family feel. I’ve enjoyed seeing those I’ve taught as children grow up to be successful adults and players. A few have even begun coaching careers of their own, three of which are on our staff today and coaching my children.”
Becky hasn’t always played tennis. Once all six of their children were playing, she decided it was mom’s turn. “After 19 years of marriage and not ever having played tennis, I decided to swallow my ego and pride and let the master himself teach me,” she explains. “Anthony gave me my first official ‘lesson’ one year ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Becky, who played volleyball and basketball competitively growing up, says tennis has proven to be hard and addicting, and it has allowed her to meet new friends.
She recently joined City League and enjoys cardio classes, Women’s Skills and Drills and Live Ball Clinics. “I don’t ‘love’ competing in match play, but, sign me up for all of the fun classes where I get to cheer on the class and have a good time.”
Anthony currently teaches singles and doubles adult programs, middle school and high school programs, city league, and cardio classes, but primarily teaches private lessons at the Vancouver Tennis Center.
When asked what he loves most about playing tennis he says, that through great highs and low lows, tennis teaches you a lot about yourself.
“I was an avid junior tournament player and doing quite well back in Australia. At fifteen, I dislocated my shoulder and had to have reconstructive surgery which took me out for a good nine months or so,” he explains. “Coming back from that injury was quite frustrating. I was losing to friends that I’d never lost to before. Mentally, I pushed through and continued pursuing my passion. I truly love the game, the sport, the camaraderie.”
Now Anthony enjoys the physical demands of the job and works hard to stay in shape on and off the court so that he can continue teaching and playing for as long as his body will allow.
The Nelson family is at the tennis center 5-7 days a week. Becky says their children have been playing since they could hold a racket. And Anthony says he is grateful that his career has given their kids an opportunity to gain valuable skills and disciplines.
“Our oldest, Elijah, is heading to State for his 2nd year in a row and seeing him handle the pressure with maturity has been something that we could never have ‘taught’ him,” explains Anthony. “Our daughter, Amelia, who is homeschooled, loves the social aspect of tennis and has made lifelong friendships. She’s looking forward to playing for the local high school next year. Micah enjoys playing and competing and is becoming quite a good player in his own right. The three little girls, Ezrah, Aurora, and Matilda are happy bashing the ball around in the programs at VTC.”
According to both Tony and Becky, given the chance, they wouldn’t consider any other sport.