Maiya Tanaka began playing golf at the young age of 11. It all started when Maiya's father stumbled upon a local First Tee program, where he enrolled Maiya along with her siblings. Maiya shot a hole in one on her first hole of her very first golf tournament -she was hooked! Soon after she was participating in a non-profit organization called Pro Kids Golf Academy. It was there that she learned the fundamentals of golf and sharped her short game on the par 3 golf course. Maiya went on to compete and successfully win in local tournaments, qualifying for the U.S.G.A. Girls Junior Championship of the Year (2000) as the youngest competitor on the West Coast to qualify. As she continued to display her ability and poise on the course, Pro Kids Golf Academy named her Sports Person of the Year in 2000. She was fortunate enough to travel to Taiwan in 2001 and 2002 for the Trans-Pacific Cup, and the Junior America's Cup team for multiple years as well.
Maiya attended high school at Mira Mesa in San Diego, playing for her school’s male golf team. Despite being the only girl on the team, she was the number one player and helped qualify the team for the boys C.I.F. Championship that year. Unfortunately, she was unable to participate due to her gender. It was this that inspired Maiya and her coach to create Mira Mesa’s first female golf team. The following year Maiya was back in action leading the girls’ team to C.I.F. Championship.
Maiya was not only proving herself in the golf world but was succeeding in academics as well. She was accepted to her dream school, UCLA. It wasn’t till her junior year when she was afforded the opportunity to join the team. She quickly recovered her game after three years off, playing in 6 tournaments, 19 rounds, and posting counting scores towards the team’s number. In 2006-07 Maiya placed 20th at the Pac 10 Championships and qualified to play in NCAA Regional’s and National’s, posting an even par first round at Regional's and ending up tied for 65th in the nation at nationals. Maiya also was selected to represent UCLA for the All-Star team that traveled to China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea in 2008. All the
while, she continued to be on the director's honor roll while playing for UCLA and earned many honors such as NCAA All-Central Region Honors, and voted Most Improved Player by the UCLA team. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Sociology and Human Complex Systems.
Determined to make a name for herself, Maiya enrolled in the LPGA qualifying school in 2013. She began at the first stage in Palm Springs, CA and competed well enough to advance. Maiya gained momentum at the second stage located in Florida by shooting eight under par. By the final stage at the LPGA course in Daytona Beach, FL she was awarded full status on the Symetra tour. The 2014 Symetra Tour was Maiya's first full season. She is looking forward to 2015 and states she is just getting started! Maiya plans to compete in the CN Canadian Tour, Cactus Tour, Symetra, and LPGA Qualifying tournaments in 2015.
She has been featured on Northwestern Mutual’s 2009 Financial Strength & Consistency commercial, the reality show Big Break: Sandals Resort 2010, The Amazing Race in 2012, a Japanese magazine called Waggle Golf in 2013, and Big Break Invitational 2014 tournament.
When she’s not on the golf course or driving range you can find Maiya on the hiking trails, painting and drawing, or spending time with her family.
Maiya is looking forward to the future and hopes to someday contribute to the same youth programs that ignited her passion for golf.