Neil ThakurCurrent Location:  Long Island, NY

Current Title/Organization: Regional Representative/USTA

How did you become interested in this field?

I played racquet sports such as ping pong and badminton while growing up so when I was introduced to tennis after college, it was a natural progression.  Working in the sports industry was always a goal of mine so when I got this job over a year ago, it was like a dream come true.

 

What is working for the USTA like? Can you give us a few highlights?

Working for the USTA obviously gives me exposure to the professional events such as the US Open and other tournaments.  That has its own charm but even more interesting is working with schools and local communities to introduce children to tennis at a young age since it is a lifelong sport.  Based on the vision of Arthur Ashe, we also have the USTA Foundation whose mission is to bring tennis and education together to change lives and that is a very rewarding part of my job.

How has being a South Asian impacted your career in sports (positively/negatively?)? What is it like being one of the few South Asians working in sports?

Being South Asian has had a positive impact.  I bring a different perspective to my job since I didn’t grow up with only the typical American sports.   Tennis is an international and diverse game so I believe being one of the few South Asians in sports is an asset.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase our participation on the court/field and in the sports industry?

The South Asian community has mostly focused on education but not so much on sports.  I think they go hand in hand and we should encourage the next generation to participate more in sports even at a recreational level because it teaches great life skills, discipline and develops better social interaction.  We need our children to be more well-rounded which will make them even more successful later in life.

What advice do you have for other South Asians who want to break in to the sports industry?

I would say go for it and follow your dreams.  The sports industry is growing and like any other industry, it requires highly skilled and educated individuals who are passionate about what they do.  South Asians are highly respected for their work ethic so I see increased opportunities for us to impact the sports industry in the future.

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