Three years ago, Amy Lopes became only the second player from a DODDS-Pacific school to win a singles championship in the history of the Far East High School Tennis Tournament.

Earlier this month, the former Kadena High School standout and soon-to-be college freshman earned her certification as a teaching professional.

Lopes was certified as an associate instructor by Professional Tennis Registry, the world’s largest organization of tennis teachers and coaches. Lopes will instruct at Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, Mass.

The 2004 Far East girls singles champion says she owes a debt of gratitude to then-Kadena High School coach Hoa Nguyen, Kadena Air Base’s 18th Services and its teaching pros and members of the Okinawa Tennis Association for her success.

“I was very lucky,” Lopes said in response to e-mailed questions. “Being a teaching pro is pretty cool.”

Nguyen “got me interested in tennis,” Lopes said. “He was really into the game and loved the competition. The professionals at (Kadena’s) tennis center gave me the skills to play at another level, which really helped me. And the OTA gave me a means to practice with people at all levels, something one needs in order to improve.”

After winning the Far East title, Lopes transferred with her father, Phil, then an active-duty Air Force senior master sergeant, to Arizona. Lopes earned a No. 38 ranking in the U.S. Southwest region and won several events, including the 2005 New Mexico Junior Open.

Last spring, she took a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Amy received her teaching pro certification after taking PTR’s five-part written and on-court examination.

Amy says her certification should send a message to other DODDS-Pacific student-athletes: “Get involved,” she said.

“The programs offered on base and within the schools are really top-notch,” Lopes said. “By working hard and taking advantage of the many opportunities provided, you can become proficient in any number of fun and rewarding sports.”

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