Profile: Adrian Moghina

June 3, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

Adrian Moghina■ BY SUE ERWIN
If you love the game of tennis, you’ll enjoy reading about this week’s profile candidate.
Adrian Moghina has been the new head tennis pro at the Boca Grande Club since October. With a sincere passion for and dedication to the sport, he has developed tennis programs in Arizona, California, Nantucket, Mass. and now right here in Boca Grande.
“It’s just something I knew I always wanted to do ever since I was in elementary school,” Adrian said.
He was introduced to the sport when he was nine years old. “I started with a $5 racket from Kmart that my uncle gave me. I remember it had the American flag on it, and I was so excited, because I was actually born in Romania,” Adrian said.
His grandfather was American, and he moved to Chicago with his parents and brother when he was seven.
“I remember we were only able to bring two suitcases with us when we came to America,” Adrain said.
Adrian played both doubles and singles growing up. He played tennis at Gordon Technical High School in Chicago, which at the time was the largest all-boys Catholic school in the nation. The team won the Catholic high school national championship all four years that he attended the school. He also played for Auburn University in Alabama on a scholarship from 1987 to 1991.
“We had a really good team, and we played some of the best teams in the country. We were ranked in the top 25 in the country. It was a great experience, and several players from the team went on to play professionally.”
Adrian recalls hitting the ball around with tennis legend Billie Jean King at a country club in Chicago.
“She came into the club, and I asked if she would hit with me and give me a few tips. I remember she made it look so effortless. She got me excited to learn to volley better. That was a great experience for me.”
He worked as a tennis coach at that same club in Chicago in 1991, and he’s been teaching the game ever since.
He met his wife, Amy, while living in Scottsdale, Arizona. They lived in Scottsdale for almost ten years and then moved to California.
“It’s very different on the west coast, because there are mostly hard courts there, and it’s much tougher on the body. It doesn’t rain there as much, so they don’t have clay courts like Florida has,” he said.
About a year ago, Adrian was talking with a friend who knew Boca Grande Club Tennis Director Jen Fiers. The friend heard that Jen might be looking for a new assistant, so Adrian contacted her and she invited him to come to Boca Grande for an interview. After the interview, she thought he would be a good match and offered him the position.
Before that, Adrian spent seven years in Napa Valley, California, where he developed a ladies’ tennis program and also coached kids. He still travels there each fall to do a ladies’ clinic for the same group he worked with when he lived there.
He said he is happy to be back in the Florida climate. He lived in Fort Lauderdale 20 years ago and always knew he wanted to come back and teach on the clay courts. When he was teaching out west for 10 to 12 hours a day, he really started to feel it.
“I am 47 years old now, and I figured I’d better get back on the clay courts and make it easier on my body. These courts are just softer on the feet, the legs, the knees and the back.”
He said it’s also fun to teach on clay courts, because the ball doesn’t seem to bounce as fast as it does on the hard courts. He also said that the ball doesn’t’ travel as fast while going through the air in Florida because of the humidity, making it a little easier for people to learn the sport here.
“It’s a huge difference if you’ve played on both kinds of courts,” he said.
The tennis pro enjoys working with clients of all ages, from young kids through older adults. Some of the club members here are in their early 80s and still playing several days a week, which he said is a great example that tennis is a lifelong sport. During spring break he was working with a four-year-old one morning and an 83-year-old that same afternoon, stressing the age diversity in the sport.
“It shows there is always room to improve your game, no matter who you are,” he said. He has competed in professional tournaments before, but he said his passion for teaching tennis became more important, and he decided to focus on that.
“I love to see when something ‘clicks’ for a player and they get excited because they are spending so much time practicing their skills – it’s interesting when it comes together, and the body understands what the mind is telling it to do.”
Adrian said the key to tennis is to be consistent and always remain under control.
“If you can use the shots that you learn in practice while you are under pressure and competing in a match, that’s when you know you really got it,” he said.
He said tennis is such a tremendous sport because it teaches you everything you need to know to be successful: hard work, discipline, patience, focus and choosing to never give up.
“It’s all about problem solving – just like in real life. You have to strategize and anticipate how you will win the game.”
Adrian and Amy have two children: Alexis, 12, and Austin, 5 – just enough to eventually have a perfect doubles game, since the whole family enjoys the game of tennis. Amy started playing in Napa Valley seven years ago and immediately was hooked on the sport. Alexis is going to be playing in her first tournament this summer. Austin is also asking to play the game with his dad on a regular basis.
The family has a Shih Tzu named Calli, who joined the family in California, which is how she got her name. The Moghina family is adjusting to Florida very well, but Calli has a severe fear of thunder and lightning. Adrian said that when it rained in California, it usually didn’t come with thunder and lightning, whereas in Florida, the tropical storms are quite different.
He said he and Amy are really enjoying the Florida weather, because the dry heat in Arizona would often bring temperatures in the 100s. “When it reached 110, it actually felt like 130 on the tennis courts, and you could literally feel your shoes melting on the court. You felt like you were in an oven.” So Adrian had to teach most of his lessons very early in the morning and then some in the evenings.
They used to visit Florida every summer, because they love the beach. They’d vacation in Siesta Key, Clearwater and Anna Marie Island. “We always came in the summer to spend a couple of weeks at the beach, and it didn’t feel as hot to us as Arizona.”
He recently took his family to the Miami Open to see the players practice.
“One of my favorite things to do is to watch the practices. You get to see their personality and see them laugh and have fun in a noncompetitive environment.”
Adrian and his family currently live in Venice, and he will be helping out at The Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice as things begin to wind down on the island this summer. He also plans to spend some time this summer coaching in Nantucket, where he plans to return in June.
Adrian said he is very happy with his new position in Boca Grande. “The members are just amazing, and they are super nice. They have really taken me in and treat me like family.”