On Saturday, October 21, Coronado Tennis Pro Emmanuel “Manny” Mensah and Director of Retail Services Moises Orozco successfully hosted a tennis event for youth from Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla & Cupeño Indians and La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians. Before Saturday, the young players had never had an opportunity to play tennis.
The genuine smiles, cheers of accomplishment, and peals of laughter provided evidence that the event will be joyfully remembered for years to come. As shared previously, Mensah and fellow tennis pros Angélica Gavaldón and Joel Myers generously donated their time and resources to support the players. Orozco, through Mensah’s nonprofit foundation and his own resources, equipped each child with a care package containing a tennis racket and shoes. The players rotated on the courts among Mensah, Myers, and Gavaldón, learning a new skill at each rotation. Mensah exclaimed, “Some of them were better than me when I started!”
Orozco shared that “getting to know each other is the answer to so much bad that happens in the world. We did our part here today, becoming friends with the kids. We are no longer strangers. My heart is full.”
Mensah added, “The highlight of the day was seeing all the kids smiling and being happy on the court.” He added his thanks to those who came out to support the event as well as those who donated before the event.
In 2022, Mensah founded the Emmanuel Mensah Tennis and School Foundation. He believes that the Foundation’s work has just begun. Next up is a trip to Mensah’s hometown of Korle Gonno, a neighborhood about 30 minutes from Ghana’s capital, Accra. There, Mensah will bring donated rackets, gently used shoes, and financial contributions to cover everything from tournament fees to school tuition to tennis balls.
On Why Manny Gives Back
Mensah is on a mission to give back to his childhood community as a result of the success he achieved through tennis. The youngest of seven and the only male, Mensah fell in love with tennis at the age of 7. Manny and his friends, all avid soccer players, found the asphalt tennis court in his hometown and began to play. First, they improvised with pieces of wood resembling tennis rackets, eventually acquiring wooden and then aluminum rackets.
He recounted, “Growing from that, that’s what I’m trying to give back to the kids that are playing right now.” Mensah and a few of his friends persisted with tennis. He shared, “Some of us were like, ‘I’m in love, with tennis. So I’m not going anywhere.’”
He continued, “As you know, tennis is expensive.” You have to pay for the racket and shoes. “So most of the kids like me, we couldn’t afford to go on a tennis court to play.”
Mensah credits his tennis development and opportunities to his mentor and coach, Henry Quansah Afarku. Afarku provided free training, a racket, and access to tournaments when he was young. That training paid off. Mensah represented Ghana at the African Junior Championships. In the early 2000s, he represented Ghana in the Europe/Africa-Zone Davis Cup Competition and All-African Games. Mensah toured and played professionally in Africa and Europe before relocating to the United States in 2008.
Afarku continues to support young tennis players in Korle Gonno. He needs help to provide rackets, balls, shoes, and fees for the players. Mensah’s foundation has stepped in to meet this need. Mensah would love to see others from his hometown experience the spark he found in tennis and follow in his footsteps. He hopes that “five to ten years from now we have at least one or two players on the Ghana National Davis Cup team. That would be something big.”
He expressed his happiness with the foundation’s efforts because “growing up we all wished that someone would have done that for us. We had a little bit of support, but not as much as [the foundation] is doing right now.”
Mensah shared his deep appreciation for the Coronado residents who have already supported the foundation.
On Why Mo Gives Back
Moises “Mo” Orozco has Erb’s Palsy that resulted in limited mobility in his left arm. Mo shared that, growing up, he was always chosen last for baseball and kickball teams due to his inability to catch the ball with both hands. His left arm was of little use.
But then Mo discovered tennis. Mo and his older brother would head to a local court on weekends to play. It was there that Mo fell in love with the sport. Mo explained, “I realized that I just needed to toss the ball up and I could do the rest with my right hand.” Tennis gave Mo an opportunity to participate in sports. In fact, he played so well that he earned a spot on Patrick Henry High School’s tennis team.
When asked about why he took the lead in organizing Saturday’s event, Mo shared, “I think that generosity has a long arm and compassion has a long arm. So I don’t have to know these kids to know that we can do something that will expose them to something that’s been so positive in my life.”
Two Lives, Now Connected, Touched by Tennis
Mensah and Orozco’s shared passion for giving back has roots in their distinct journeys, both of which were shaped on the tennis court.
Readers can donate by clicking on the “Donate” button at teammannyfoundation.org. Mensah, with Orozco’s assistance, is also accepting tennis rackets and gently used tennis shoes through December. Readers can drop off donations at the Pro Shop at the Coronado Tennis Center, 1501 Glorietta Boulevard, Monday through Thursday, 8 am – 7 pm, Friday through Sunday, 8 am – 6 pm.