FABIANA IBANEZ'S TENNIS DREAMS CONTINUECOMMUNITY NEWS | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY
IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY
SEPTEMBER 26, 2023 | STEVE PRATT
FABIANA IBANEZ'S TENNIS DREAMS CONTINUE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTYCOMMUNITY NEWS
USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
SEPTEMBER 26, 2023
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Fabiana Ibanez’s coaching journey has taken her all over – from the rainy state of Oregon, to the bottom of South America, and finally the sun-kissed North San Diego County suburb of San Marcos, where she is currently teaching the sport of a lifetime for a thriving program that has increased 20-fold in numbers in the short four years since she took over.
A mother of five adult children ranging in ages from 36 to 20, Ibanez is an energetic 60-year-old PTR Level-2 teaching professional who continues to teach for one simple reason. “I love tennis, I always have,” she said recently. “I’ve been doing it since I was 19. That’s 42 years and I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
After 16 years in Salem, Oregon, the Ibanez family returned to Ibanez’s roots of Argentina in 2015 because of a family illness. In 2019, when they returned to the States, they opted for sunny SoCal over the rainy days of Oregon.
They showed up in neighborhood-friendly Vista and Ibanez started her Spin Tennis business and contract work with the City of San Marcos at the modest two-court facility Cerro de las Posas Park. She also started coaching the Carlsbad High team.
“There were literally just six kids when I showed up the first day at the park,” Ibanez said. “And now we have around 130, from 10-and-under to high school to adults. We are bursting at the seams.”
Not even Covid could slow down Ibanez and her growing program as they paused for six weeks, and then ramped back up again with social distancing on court.
A former Division III coach at Willamette University in Oregon, Ibanez has also assisted at Point Loma, a Division II program in San Diego. “I really loved coaching the girls – it was so much fun. But I was driving too much to be there and it was impossible to keep doing it. I need to stay focused on the programs closer to home.”
Court time is becoming an issue and so Ibanez recently helped set up a non-profit CTA, the San Marcos Tennis Organization, in hopes of someday acquiring some land and building more courts.
“The big problem is getting the land,” Ibanez said. “PTR is trying to help us build more courts. I just need the land. I will not give up on this dream. I will keep trying to do whatever possible because we have so many juniors who are getting so good, and I cannot do the high-performance clinics with so many kids on the courts.”
A former top junior with deep South American roots, Ibanez’s dad is Peruvian and her mother from Argentina. “We moved to Venezuela in the mid-1970s because of the situation that was going on in Peru,” she said. “There are no public courts in South America, so when we moved back to Peru my family joined a tennis club and it was something me and my sister and mom and dad could do as a family.”
Ibanez said her dad was a good athlete and a national champion in rowing and that she remembers always being around water and swimming as a child. But once she started tennis at age 7, that became her focus, and she entered her first tournament at age 9. At 15, she was among the top five national juniors in Peru and training at an academy in Lima.
An Achilles tendon injury and other nagging injuries in high school prevented Ibanez from reaching her full potential once the pro tour came calling, and even from accepting three offers from colleges to play in the United States.
“Every time I started playing, I got injured,” she said.
During Hispanic Heritage month, Ibanez is celebrated for the work she has done teaching tennis to all ages in North San Diego County. “Tennis is my passion,” she said. “I love tennis.”
And she loves the diversity of her students. “We have players from Mexico, Asia, Iran, Syria, Italy, Russia – from all over,” said Ibanez, who has worked as a bilingual instructional assistant. “I have some adults who don’t speak English, but we still offer them lessons and it’s great. I think the sense of belonging is important and having a community. It’s very important to empower them too.”
Ibanez has a clear goal for the future, and it of course involves teaching the game she loves.
“I really want to try to work with the city to get the land we need and build courts,” Ibanez said. “We are envisioning a racquet sports facilities where there is more than just tennis offered. We need a place for our youth to gather and where they can be active in sports and have a place to hang out.”