sput team

Our Team

Meet the Dedicated Staff and Board of Saint Paul Urban Tennis


Gunnar Liden

Executive Director


Gunnar has a long history in youth development, including 17 years as Executive Director of Youth Farm where he helped to create impactful programs for social change, environmental justice, community engagement, and leadership development. As a graduate of the University of Minnesota, board member of local community organizations, public speaker, published author, and youth sports coach, Gunnar has collected a wealth of experience and knowledge in youth development in the Twin Cities. We are excited to see him bring this same level of dedication and innovation to SPUT. Outside of work, Gunnar is a passionate supporter of University of Minnesota athletics, particularly Gopher Football, as well as all the sports teams from his hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys watching his kids play sports and has a newfound passion for gravel biking. Gunnar lives with his wife Kate and two kids, Kahlil and Sage, in West St. Paul. 


Bayley Ehlinger

Director of Marketing and Communications


Bayley joined SPUT in February of 2023 bringing with him a wide range of skills in everything from web design to youth development. Growing up in Avon, MN, Bayley spent his summers working in daytime programs for kids. In college he worked in group homes for young adults, and continued his journey as a paraprofessional in K-12 schools. Bayley attended St. Cloud State University where he earned his degree in both English and Filmmaking. His passion for the creative arts is what brought him into the digital marketing world, first as a writer and then a designer. The desire to work in both marketing and youth development is what led him to discover Saint Paul Urban Tennis. As the Director of Marketing and Communications, Bayley strives to expand our outreach, optimize our web presence, and showcase all of the amazing work our team puts together every day. When he’s not working on that, you can find him mountain biking in Battle Creek, rock climbing at MNCC, or playing pickleball in a court near you.

cha lee yang

Chalee Yang

Eastview Manager


Chalee Yang, a recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, joined the team full-time in September 2022. After spending his first summer with SPUT coaching in our summer youth program, Chalee emerged as a full-time candidate for SPUT’s Warrior Leadership Academy and Employment Plus Program Coordinator position. Chalee attended High School at Park Center Senior High School in Brooklyn Park and obtained a Psychological Science degree from Gustavus in 2022. Before beginning this position, Chalee aided his family’s farming business and served as the manager of the Thursday Farmers Market in Brooklyn Center. Unlike other farmer’s markets, he had not only produce vendors but also food trucks, local businesses, and non-profit organizations in attendance each week. When asked what he loves most about SPUT, Chalee acknowledged his love for working with you. “I love that I get to work with students ranging from elementary to high school. Serving this position, I not only can impact the lives of youth, but they impact me as well.” In his free time, Chalee enjoys spending time with friends, playing tennis and volleyball, and going on runs.

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Laura Fedock

Associate Director


Laura joined the SPUT team in December of 2015 after managing student services, programs, events and marketing communications at the diverse Minneapolis Community and Technical College. A Des Moines, Iowa native, she played tennis for Hoover High School and attended the University of Iowa—a proud Hawkeye. She spent her early summers teaching tennis to youth and adults and managing a city park site for the Des Moines Tennis Association. She also taught youth tennis for the University of Iowa’s Upward Bound Program and played on a USTA Women’s Team Tennis team for several years in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa. Before moving to Minnesota, Laura promoted the achievements of K-12 students at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland as Director of Public Affairs. Laura lives with husband, Bill, and son, Andrew, in Burnsville.

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Vilai Vang

Tennis Director


Vilai began his journey with SPUT in high school when his coach, Koua Yang, asked him and his teammates if they would be interested in a summer job as a tennis coach. Knowing nothing about coaching at the time, he thought it would be an excellent opportunity to play tennis and make money. Since then, he has been coaching for SPUT on a part-time basis. Vilai graduated from Harding High School in 2006 and then attended the University of Minnesota Duluth for Mechanical Engineering. Before accepting the SPUT position, he worked for Affinity Plus as a Technical Analyst (IT) for seven years. While he loved his job there, Vilai’s true passion is tennis and helping others. Vilai loves SPUT because of its youth center focus that strives to teach tennis and equip kids with life and leadership skills.


Tom Boulay

Program Specialist 


Tom Boulay inadvertently began working with SPUT in 2008 when he volunteered to help out at one of the 3-hour winter practices that Song Thao, SPUT’s current Executive Director, was working all by himself. Since then, Tom has been a champion for SPUT’s winter tennis program and dedicates himself to the kids every year. Tom grew up in Edina, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. degree in Secondary Education. Tom has served as a USPTA Teaching Tennis Professional, coached the Stillwater Girls Tennis team since 2010, and been a foundational member of SPUT. He owns his own promotions company, Thunderbird Marketing, which sells branded merchandise to corporations and non-profit organizations. Tom has been instrumental in starting the Warrior Leadership Academy back in 2013 and creating Discover U, the beginning of SPUT’s Leadership/Life Skills Mentorship program. He strives to build world-class tennis and leadership programs for SPUT, saying that his primary goal is to help SPUT’s exceptional young people become successful in their lives.

Marta Royaal

Marta Royaal

Program Director 


Marta joined SPUT in March of 2023 after spending the last 4 years helping youth and young adults at Tree Trust learn employment readiness and social emotional skills. She has been working with youth for the past 15 years in various settings, including 5 years as the head girls basketball coach and 10 years as the track & field throws coach at Central High School. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2008 with a degree in Sociology after playing Division 1 college basketball. She then worked at an organization in Boston called Tenacity, which taught tennis, literacy, and life skills to middle school youth across the city. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master’s degree in Social Work, and spent the next 5 years working and coaching at Central. Marta is very passionate about youth development and helping kids reach their full potential and feels like she has come full circle working at SPUT after working for Tenacity right out of college. Marta lives with her wife Toni and their 3 kids in St. Paul.

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Ethan Thao

Outreach Coordinator


Ethan Thao had his first encounter with SPUT in the summer of 2013. While playing on the Eastview playground, Laura Fedock, SPUT’s current Associate Director, approached him with a SPUT summer program flier. That summer, he decided to participate in the Junior Team Tennis (JTT) program at Phalen. At the time, Ethan was dreaming of being the next Lionel Messi, so tennis wasn’t at the forefront of his mind quite yet. He returned to the JTT program in 2016 and participated for the next two years. Ethan graduated from Tartan Senior High School in 2018. He then served as an Operations Manager at a local OfficeMax. Currently, Ethan works for SPUT as the Program Coordinator for JTT and WTT and as a full-time coach for our youth program. He also attends Metropolitan State University. Ethan appreciates SPUT’s ability to build and maintain connections with the youth in Saint Paul. In his role, Ethan hopes to preserve and strengthen relationships with SPUT program youth well after they become alumni, “I want to see the youth I have impacted grow, flourish and follow their passions.” Outside of SPUT, Ethan enjoys playing tennis, watching anime, attending music shows, and line dancing.

Program Coordinators

SPUT programs are lead by a mix of teachers, certified tennis teaching professionals, and high school/college students (age 16-25). We intentionally recruit, train and support over 70 student workers to coach with us in the summer months. Our team of trainers and program coordinators that supervise youth workers and manage programs include:

Ayoub Nigatu

Summer Program Coordinator

Kia Yang

Summer Program Coordinator

Touger Xiong

Summer Program Coordinator

Meng Thao

Summer Program Coordinator

Board of Directors

The success of any non-profit organization is largely due to the strength and ongoing support of it's leadership.  SPUT is no exception to this rule. We are fortunate to have a dedicated volunteer board that invests time, talent and resources to making SPUT successful. Members include:

Collyn Iblings


Marti Estey

Vice President

Marc Stingley


Sue Saunders


Noah Lipschultz

Julian Dehn

Anne Cullen Miller

Linda Sauber

Stephen Warch

Kelly Ciapetta

Emily Blodgett

I Jin Lee

Mel Yasis

John Brekken

Nina Tuttle

Ann Mullholland

Kang Lee

Heidi Johnson