HEATHER ANN DIEGAN
My love for Tennis began when hitting on a wall while my mom played matches in her local ladies tennis league. I was 10 years old and joined local group tennis lessons with the City of Lakeland. By age 11 I was playing in Junior Team Tennis teams and started to enter junior tournaments. Age 12-18 I established a Florida state ranking based on results from both local and state tournaments. I played on my Junior High and High School tennis team in Lakeland, Florida in which I played 1st position. I received a top award for my senior year in tennis voted by my peers for Most Valuable Player in 1990.
As a teen and college student I was mentored by Dave Beerman and fellow pro Ray Shick to teach tennis at the Lakeland City Courts in the summer time where I instructed kids and juniors for 3 years and quickly fell in love with teaching others to learn the game of tennis.
Beginning in May of 2008 I finished my formal certification as a tennis teaching professional with the Professional Tennis Registry and currently hold three certifications as a professional in Adult Development, 10 & Under tennis and Juniors 11-17 years. I was voted Volunteer of the Month by USTA in November 2011. I am currently working on writing a children's tennis book specifically for ages 10 & Under and hope to strive for meeting the requirements to become a Master Professional.
I am the owner and Tennis Director of Saint Johns Tennis Academy where I teach at the local Saint Johns Park and Recreation facility at Mills Field. I first opened the Academy in 2008 with 64 students and 3 ladies league teams. Now 10 years later, 2018 we have 120 students (juniors) and 6 ladies league teams! My heart has always been to give back to my community with the gift and passion I was given in the game of tennis. I love my community and love to give back within the arena where I started myself. Within the academy we are all geared to creating a close “tennis family” environment with the program and the best standard of teaching to all our students young and old.
In 2017 I married my best friend and fellow tennis professional Patrick Diegan and we now run the tennis academy together. We teach with some of the most passionate and best pros in Jacksonville and we mentored 4 of our highest performing tennis players to become PTR professionals themselves.
Being a tennis coach has been the best job I’ve ever had (other than being a mother of 2) and it is my passion to pass along what I’ve learned over the years to make more tennis players in the world for a sport which can be fun for life!
PATRICK TERENCE DIEGAN
Patrick is a British L.T.A. and P.T.R. Professional with over 34 years teaching and playing experience. He is former Director of Tennis at Orange Park Country Club. He is a best selling author in Tennis with his “Coaching and Learning Tennis Basics” book series with 4 books published between 2007 and 2015. He has worked at the academy since 2010. Patrick has coached in the U.K, Spain, Kuwait, U.A.E, and now the U.S. His extensive playing experience include both professional and amateur events in the U.K, France, Crotia, U.A.E, Oman and the U.S.
Patrick has played and won events on all surfaces from outdoor hard, grass, indoor hard and carpet, indoor and outdoor red clay to ‘‘Hartru'“ green clay here in the South East. When in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E he played No. 1 doubles for the Emirate and was selected to play in the National day Challenge cup against Dubai 3 years in succession and also the prestigious “Gulf Invitational” in Muscat, Oman. Patrick reached 2 top 10 Florida rankings between 1997 and 99 with No.7 in the men’s 35s and No. 9 in the men’s 30s. He recently won the men’s 55s singles tile at the 2017 P.T.R International Tennis Symposium.
Patrick coached his son Sean from toddler to becoming one of Jacksonville’s top junior players and a Division 2 scholarship at Florida Tech, 2014. His coaching philosophy is geared to get good fundamentals down as quickly as possible, then allowing his students to express themselves with their own interpretation of stroke production and style of play.
Cheryl started playing tennis at the age of 13 in Pittsburg, P.A. She won 2 mixed and 2 girls doubles state championships in High School. She went on to play Division 1 college tennis at East Tennessee State University. During summers she coached at Lawrenceville Prep School summer tennis camps. Cheryl became a nurse until her kids started playing in which Cheryl coached Creekside High School girls team for 5 years. Her eldest daughter played at Creekside and now plays USTA adult league. Her youngest daughter also played for Creekside at the number 1 position and then went on to play division 1 at the Naval Academy. There Amanda captained her team and played the number 1 singles position.
Cheryl captained and traveled with 3 of our SJTA junior teams to USTA JTT National Championships finals. Cheryl has gone to USTA adult team nationals 6 times since 2001. with 2-3rd place finishes and 1-4th place finish. She has won 1 silver, 2 bronze USTA national balls in ladies 50’s doubles as well as reaching a ranking as high as 2 in the country at this level. She has also won 1 silver national ball in the ladies 40’s division. Cheryl still loves tennis and also plays golf.
ESTELLA DE PAULA
Estella started playing at the age of 9 and became a top ranked junior player in Brazil. She spent 4 months at Sergi Brugera Academy in Barcelona, Spain for intensive training when just 15 years old. A few years later she relocated to Alabama with a full tennis scholarship to play at Auburn University at Montgomery, AL AUM, and played all four years from 1994-1997. Estella reached a top 5 national ranking in the NAIA division and received a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. She also had the opportunity to compete at “Universiadas” which are games played in Palma de Mallorca, Spain in 1999.
Estella currently plays on several local teams in which she has made it to the USTA 5.0 National Championship level 3 times with the last competition played on October 2018. As a tennis professional Estella started teaching while in college. She spent two summers in New York to teach at Future Stars Camp and Point O’Pines Camp; located in Purchase and Brant Lake, NY in 1996 and 1997. She lived in Aurora, IL for 2 years getting her Masters Degree in Recreation Administration at Aurora University and also coached at Rush Copley Healthplex in the year 2000. Estella also coached at the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston, FL from 2005-2008. She currently teaches both children and adults of all levels at different locations in Jacksonville such as Saint Johns Tennis Academy at Mills Field, San Jose Country Club, in private communities and also involved with the Creekside High School tennis team.
Estella is also a certified yoga instructor. She finds that yoga practice is a great tool to keep her body flexible preventing common tennis injuries. Yoga also provides strength and balance helping her raise her teenage son and daughter ages 15 and 13!
When I was 10 years old, I began playing tennis. I spent some of my time at Julington Creek’s tennis club, there I played in many clinics and eventually joined the JCP team tennis team which taught me a lot about match play and scoring. During summers, I played at Saint John’s Tennis Academy under the instruction of Heather Diegan.
I have played for Mandarin High School my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years of high school. In both my Sophomore and Junior years I received the Most Outstanding Player award, and all three years I have received the All Gateway Conference Award. High School tennis provides a unique opportunity to experience the support of a team in an otherwise individual sport. Over the years, I have played many USTA, UTR and ITA tournaments looking to improve, with the long term goal of playing college tennis. These tournaments teach self-control, determination, and good sportsmanship, as well as they prepare one for matchplay that would be seen throughout college tennis years.
I have had the privilege to be mentored as a tennis coach under Heather Diegan. She encouraged me to become Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) certified, and I am now a certified tennis instructor and coach. I thoroughly enjoy coaching kids and want to work with them to achieve their tennis goals.