Scaggs US Open 2

Centennial tennis coach Teri Scaggs shows of the view outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the U.S. Open of tennis, during her time serving as a player escort in New York City.

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Teri Scaggs and a group of friends attended the U.S. Open, one of four annual majors in professional tennis, each year from 2005 through 2012.

Never did the Centennial tennis coach believe she’d do anything more than watch.

Lo and behold, Scaggs has stepped away from Champaign to serve as a player escort for the showcase, which finished up its qualifying stages this week.

“I don’t know at this point in my life if I’m ready for a big career change,” Scaggs said, “but it was an incredible opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

Scaggs ultimately will be out of town for more than a month, as she partook in a family cruise before heading directly to New York for her duties.

While stepping aside from coaching at Centennial and her full-time job at the AssuredPartners insurance brokerage firm, Scaggs is receiving a helping hand from multiple folks.

Among them are first-year Charger girls’ assistant coach Melody Chiang and longtime volunteer coach Randy Cetin.

Chiang never before led athletes at the high school level, but the 26-year-old eighth-grade social studies teacher was intrigued by this opportunity.

“They were upfront (that) this would be the situation,” Chiang said. “It’s important to see challenges as opportunities, and the girls have been very welcoming.”

Centennial’s 2019 campaign opens Saturday with the Charger Invitational at Lindsay Courts.

Scaggs no doubt will want to hear how her competitors fared. But she’s also balancing her work at the U.S. Open with her AssuredPartners work — while setting up a draw sheet for an upcoming tournament at Atkins Tennis Center.

“Everybody knows my love for the game of tennis, and if everybody’s on board, my nerves started to subside a little bit,” Scaggs said of accepting the U.S. Open gig while managing her other responsibilities. “It’s overwhelming when you first start thinking about (it). ... I talked to a few people, and they said, ‘This is an incredible opportunity for you.’”

Scaggs was required to attend three days of training before any tennis actually was played at the U.S. Open.

The basic job description has Scaggs leading players to and from courts, as well as elsewhere around the Arthur Ashe Stadium facility.

“I’m just there to get them from one place to another,” Scaggs said. “Not wasting their time and just (making) things a little more efficient.”

Before departing Champaign, Scaggs said she’d most like to escort Roger Federer.

She received that chance last Thursday, snapping some photos of Federer practicing afterward.

But it isn’t only the well-known stars Scaggs is aiding.

“Players playing in our local pro tourneys sometimes end up here in qualifying rounds and the main draw,” Scaggs said. “I have seen a lot of familiar faces that I first saw in Champaign. (I) wish I could make people realize how lucky we are to have this talent in our own backyard.”

Meanwhile, the Centennial girls will get their season going while Scaggs soaks in the U.S. Open.

It affords Chiang the chance to enhance her own coaching portfolio.

“When I’m out on the court with the girls and watching them play out a few points and really get into the drills, I’m having so much fun,” Chiang said. “Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s the greatest game in the world. It’s fun to give back to the sport and the game in this really special way.”

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).