Mike Lipsey took his love of tennis halfway across the world to teach under-privileged children in Liberia. After retiring from the tech industry at the young age of 45, he found his second career in sports. Lipsey is the founder of TGA of Silicon Valley, which teaches children how to play golf and tennis, his two favorite sports. TGA actually stands for “Teach, Grow, Achieve.”

“It doesn’t matter how many miles kids are apart, sports can make any kid joyful and happy,” Lipsey says. “Sports transcend countries, oceans and borders, a game like tennis can be enjoyed by all races and all types of people. That’s because sports are a universal language.”

Below is a recent conversation SanJose.com had with Lipsey:

When did you start playing tennis?

I started playing tennis in elementary school. I played in high school all four years. I have been playing tennis and golf my whole life. That’s why, when we teach kids golf and tennis, we call them lifetime sports.

How long have you lived/worked in the Bay Area?

Lived and worked here my entire life. I grew up and went to Pioneer High school. Then at San Jose State University I earned two degrees in business and my MBA. I then retired from the tech industry at 45. Golf is now my second job.

What are some of your favorite parts about living in the Bay Area?

I love the healthy, active lifestyle. The great weather makes it perfect for outdoor sports and makes them very accessible to many people. For me, personally, I enjoy playing  golf and tennis, and we happen to have the perfect climate for those two sports.

What is one thing you would change about San Jose?

The traffic is just horrible. We have too many cars on the road. (Editor’s note: Lipsey said this while sitting in heavy traffic on his way home from a round of golf in Half Moon Bay.)

What Silicon Valley event do you most look forward to every year?

I love all the professional sport teams in the area. I have season tickets to the Sharks, so I always look forward to their season. The Warriors, I believe, are the strongest team we have in area.

Where did the idea come from to go to Liberia?

I’ve been going to Liberia for six years now. We sponsor a student at a school in Liberia, which has been just awesome experience. I started the company TGA three years ago, since the kids in Liberia have very little things they can do. Soccer is about the only sport they have. It came together that I teach tennis and traveled to Liberia regularly. I came across the Liberian Tennis Federation (LTF) and sent them an email saying I’d like to teach the kids at the Vision Trust School, but I had no way of getting equipment to them.

Did the children in Liberia teach you anything?

The biggest thing they taught me was that you don’t need material things to be happy in life. They have nothing materially, but they are so happy because they have these tight-knit communities with each other. I learned you don’t need things to be happy. But if you have health and happiness you can have a good life.

Why do think tennis has such a positive impact on children?

I think the reason it has such a positive impact is because all level of kids can play it. If they have a soccer ball they cherish it more than anything—almost no kids have a single ball. If you can get your hands on a ball and a racket, that’s something that is extremely rare in Liberia. They are going to cherish it. Out of the 280 kids we taught, not one had ever seen tennis ball or held a racket. If you have the ability to show them something new, especially something active, it’s a huge draw for them.

It doesn’t matter how many miles kids are apart, sports can make any kid joyful and happy. Sports transcend countries, oceans and borders. A game like tennis can be enjoyed by all races and all types of people. That’s because sports are a universal language.