The wind blows as storm clouds push closer towards the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Long Beach, California. It's not a typical day in the beach city but despite the dreary weather, Celia Quintero is smiling from cheek to cheek with her tennis racquet in hand. She's come a long way because of that piece of gear. Tennis has taught her resilience, toughness, dedication and most importantly love throughout her career. It's been a journey and Quintero wants to show others the opportunities this sport has to offer as the customer service and operations manager for Break the Love.

The company founded by Trisha Goyal in 2019 is all about connecting communities across the country through the sport. Lessons, clinics, coaching and events can all be found in one place. Just recently, the company expanded their offerings into what they call "Clubs." These groups are dedicated to bringing specific players together, everything from "Pet Parents" to "Founders & Funders" can be found.Most recently, Quintero helped create the "BLK Tennis" club, where Black players can come together on the court.


Having experienced hardships growing up, often being the only person of color at tournaments and tennis clubs, she wants to change that narrative for other Black players.

"There were some eyes on me, definitely a lot of pressure, pressure to lose honestly," Quintero tells Baseline. "They see a girl with a different skin color and think they are going to bagel her, they gave me dirty looks. I felt a little bit attacked, there was a lot of clicks in the tennis community. It was hard."

Feeling isolated and overwhelmed was an all too familiar state when stepping onto the court, and the BLK Tennis Club looks to create a welcoming environment for all its players. The 27-year-old has a strong passion for the game and is using it to open more space for diversity in the game.

The "Clubs" are based on interest, level and location and the BLK Club is the company's first raced-based club. With it being Black History Month, Quintero saw this as a perfect time to not only pay tribute, but bring the community together. This concept has weighed heavily on her mind and to see it come to fruition through Break the Love has been the most rewarding experience.


Now that it's out in the world, there's still much work to be done and she sees a wealth of possibilities for the club. She's looking forward to not only the tennis, but also is working on panels that focus on Black coaches, athletes, former players and their expertise and experience in the field. She hopes to see the sport touch as many lives as possible, because it sure did for Quintero. Traveling the world, making connections, winning titles and even acting?

Standing on the set of All American Homecoming, a new series on the CW that features the sport, Quintero remains humble and is embracing every minute of it.

"It is honestly a dream come true, I wouldn't have even thought I would have been an actress or tennis player when I was younger. Now, I get to do both. It's the best thing ever," she says.

The BLK Club is currently available for sign up and will be in cities such as, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Austin, Houston, Miami and more.