City of Irvine
tennis professional extraordinaire
by Rich Neher
Steve Riggs, 54, born
in Los Angeles and raised in Indio, has great hand-eye coordination.
How else can you explain that a man who started playing tennis
at age 14, and never took a lesson, ended up a teaching professional
and Program Coordinator for the entire city of Irvine with 87
After playing varsity
tennis for Indio High School, Riggs joined the Air Force and
spend 3 1/2 years in Germany. Based in the Frankfurt area, he
played singles and doubles club tennis and satellites. After
returning to the US he played for College of the Desert in Palm
Desert. At age 28 Riggs started his full time career as teaching
pro at the Indian Palms Country Club & Resort in Indio. After
4 years in Indio he worked at the La Habra Tennis Center, became
Director of Tennis at the Diamond Bar Country Estates, and after
stints in Virginia and Hawaii returned to Southern California
to work at the Palisades Tennis Center as Assistant Director
of Tennis under Steve Bellamy.
From 2002 to 2004 Riggs
worked as the Head Professional for the Safe Passage Tennis Program
in Los Angeles, before moving to Orange County as Director of
Tennis / Program Coordinator for the City of Irvine. He says,
"We have the #1 city run tennis program in the nation. Irvine
is a great city to work for, with more parks per square mile
than any other US city and - tennis courts are free to the public."
Irvine is an affluent
suburban city in Orange County, California, with a population
of about 223,000 people. Steve Riggs oversees all tennis activities
and programs at 17 facilities with 64 all-lit courts, plus 3
high schools with 23 courts. Kids programs are his passion, especially
because two of his children are already playing tennis. He and
his wife, Malou, have been blessed with two sets of twins, Mikayla
and Patrick, Julianne and Cathrin. The older ones, Mikayla and
Patrick, are already playing tournaments.
Riggs raves about a new
city project that was approved on the grounds of the former El
Toro Marine Corps Station, most of which is planned to be converted
into the Orange County Great Park. The project includes a new
25 court tennis facility including a stadium court, to be finished
by the end of 2015.
Why does Steve Riggs love
his job working for the city of Irvine so much? "I love
being able to affect and enhance the Irvine tennis community,"
says Riggs. He adds, "We are active at the SCMAF (Southern California Municipal
Athletic Federation), host umpire training, PTR conventions and
seminars, and our own tennis conference, which is in its 4th