That is my memory of junior tennis. I would do it all again. I want to do it now.
Recently I glanced at an ID neck badge we received while attending an annual tradeshow held by the USPTA (United States Professional Teaching Association).
My mind scanned time and I envisioned the faces of each tennis instructor I’ve had from my start in junior tennis, to present. As a teen, I was starting the game ‘late’ (as compared to the current ‘diaper development’ movement in tennis and sports); and was too young to know or care what the USPTA was; let alone if a coach was certified; that was my mom’s role. Lucky for me, my folks made many coaches available and I found peace in focusing on and chasing that yellow ball!
Getting burned by passing shots on court in juniors forced me to learn the geometry of the game. And now, it’s the passing of time that’s taught me to respect the business side of tennis and its teaching backbone. Those instructors who work towards a USPTA certification do so to ensure mastery at all levels and desire to make the game their profession. Think about it, they simply want to teach tennis to people like you and I. I respect this great association but am pretty sure a handful of my coaches were not certified. In my heart, that didn’t matter then, nor does it now. Fondly, each spent countless hours on court, each had a proficiency of the game, and each made an equally indelible mark on me (and my body).
My tennis coaches opened tiny doors to:
- Goal- setting
- Winning and losing
- Self discipline and mental mastery on and off court
I couldn’t see any of those tiny doors as a teen. The only thing I did witness was that each tennis coaches’ sole purpose seemed to be to make me sweat and possibly die an early death. Time again has unveiled to me that those tiny doors each instructor was opening, were the BIG doors to lessons both on and off court. I am fortunate to have received such instruction!
I have not stayed in touch with all of my coaches, nor do they know tennis has come full circle by way of my being instrumental in launching Wristpect Sport with my business partner. But maybe after all the drills, sweat and tears they elicited, a company that produces fashionable unique wristbands and sweatbands would not be a surprise to each of them?
Here’s the crew, who along with my parents, taught me how to respect the enormity of those tiny doors and to serve others in life and sport:
(A true professional that dealt with ‘me and the other juniors’ that wanted to live at his club day and night)
(Quiet, strong, consistent and giving. She’s in her 80’s and still teaching!)
(A cool guy who could belt the ball even though he was skinny as a rail)
(My high school coach. His motto to my partner and I: “Whatever you do, don’t split sets!’ We listened and went 37-2 my senior year)
(A cerebrally gifted man who knew the sport and had a HUGE grin on his face)
(This guy put me through my paces and it paid off!)
(Yes, Andrea Jaeger’s father. He was an ex-boxer. Need I say more about court drills with him?)
(This man ‘saw’ Wimbledon with me; we just knew we would get there!)
(The college years. A quirky and extremely competitive man! In the end I think his thirst to compete rubbed off…I’ve grown in my mental game and understanding that it’s o.k. to whoop someone’s !@#!#)
John Ingram III (A true gentleman on and off court. Wimbledon lover. A former mixed dubs partner of mine)
Rob Van Der Schans (A professional that respects my junior and collegiate past and how that translates in the country club setting)
Christy Cook (Creative, scrappy, all athlete and a great one to drill on court with!)
Philip Farmer (I’ve only been in a few of his clinics but having been the former coach of the Bryan Brothers men's doubles team, Philip clearly knows this game! He is a likable and supportive soul!)
What tennis coach (or sport instructor) has made an impact on your life?