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Chelsea Patton Takes a Swing at Coaching Tennis at UCSB’s Family Vacation Center

The 22-year-old pro returns to her family's old stomping grounds — where her dad played and coached and where her parents met

Chelsea Patton is spending her summer in a dorm room on the same floor of the same UC Santa Barbara residence hall she frequented nearly a decade ago.

This time, however, the 22-year-old is the tennis pro of the university’s Family Vacation Center, and not just another one of the children in families who enjoy an all-inclusive vacation in the San Rafael dorm.

The series of one-week camps — offered between the summer months of June and August — also happens to be the site where Patton’s parents, Greg and Christa, met while both working at the getaway.

Patton is actually working her father’s old gig. Greg Patton, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara, played tennis at UCSB before shifting into the coaching role that has earned him legendary status and work as a former coach for the USA Junior National Team and current head coach at Boise State University, where his son, Garrett, plays tennis.

“It’s very nostalgic,” Chelsea Patton told Noozhawk, her voice a bit hoarse from the yelling required of any good trainer. “I’m a VC baby.”

Patton, who recently graduated from Eastern Washington University, said she shares her father’s passion for the sport and for the Vacation Center, which was created by the UCSB Alumni Association in 1969 to provide meals, lodging, child care, and activities and programs for family fun.

“It’s a big place of carrying tradition,” she said. “It’s the perfect place for every age.”

The Pattons aren’t the only ones who have fallen in love at the camps, which draw about 2,000 guests each summer with a staff of 50 college-age students.

Santa Barbara City College junior Ally Kasper said she fell in love with the camp and with the Central Coast area so much when she visited as a kid from Folsom, outside Sacramento, that she decided to attend school here.

Now she works in the camp’s childcare center, where she used to frequent herself.

“I loved it,” Kasper said. “The weather is perfect. I was never bored. It keeps everyone happy in your family. It’s really fun to work here.”

Patton said she’d also like to end up in Santa Barbara, possibly pursuing a career using her degrees in French or marketing.

Collegiate coaching isn’t out of the question, she said, noting that she’s been hitting a tennis ball with racket since she was 2.

The Vacation Center is offering her a chance to try out coaching, with the trusty advice of the man who made tennis so much fun for her.

“My dad said don’t burn yourself out,” she said, smiling. “Feed off energy and adrenaline. The kids are actually faster learners. It’s so fun.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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