Timio Yamazaki, dealing with personal grief, has helped hundreds love tennis by starting his foundation in Australia and with the help of Universal Tennis

In Australia, Honoring Lost Loved Ones by Growing Tennis

Tennis has become a coping mechanism for Timio Yamazaki, despite never playing a match in his life. In 2020, after the untimely death of his son Kent, coach Bob Brett – the former coach of Grand Slam champions Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, and Marin Cilic, among others – encouraged Yamazaki to start a foundation. But tragedy struck twice: Brett passed away from cancer a year later, in 2021.

The Yamazakis met Brett during the 2018 U14 Australian Championship in Melbourne Park. Brett was coaching other players, but Kent, a promising young Australian player, caught his attention. Brett grew close to the Yamazakis and when Kent passed away unexpectedly, Brett kept in touch with Timio Yamazaki.

“When my boy passed away, Bob was so sad,” Yamazaki said. “He saw that I was struggling and suggested we set up a foundation in his honor. Bob saved my life.” 

In May 2020, Brett and Yamazaki co-founded a non-profit that aimed to advance, encourage, and promote the education of financially and/or socially disadvantaged youth. It was especially important because Kent was shy growing up and tennis brought him out of his shell.

After Brett’s passing in early 2021,Yamazaki was determined to keep both his son and Brett’s legacies alive and continued to run the Kent Yamazaki and Bob Brett Foundation. Yamazaki didn’t let his lack of tennis experience stop him from pursuing this passion project.

“From going to tournaments with Kent for years, I know how these events were supposed to run, and we have a lot of volunteers. Kent’s friend's parents help out a lot. I’m not doing this alone,” Yamazaki said. “We also have a scholarship fund for players because we want them to play even if they don’t have the finances for it.”

Yamazaki praised the Universal Tennis platform for its ease and said he’d recommend it to any tournament director.

In the past few years, Yamazaki’s foundation, which has about 1,000 members, has run over 100 events. He typically runs one- to two-day tournaments out of the local high school and club, which donate court time to the foundation. 

“I’ve run fewer tournaments this year because Tennis Australia has partnered with Universal Tennis to make UTR-rated tournaments more accessible,” said Yamazaki. “Tennis is expensive and being able to play locally to get points towards UTR Rating is great and the rating is so accurate.”

Yamazaki added how it’s become even easier since all players in Australia now have a Competitive Player Profile that connects their Tennis ID and UTR Rating.

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