Kathy & Ron Woods
Ananother tennis celebrity couple that needs little introduction. We did it anyways. Please see short bios below and then scroll down for the interview.
Thank you, Kathy and Ron, for giving us a peek into your life and your new venture 'Woods Coaching Strategies, LLC."
Director of Tennis at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida from 2016 until 2020, Kathy has directed tennis programs in Key Biscayne, Florida, Princeton, NJ, and Westport, CT. From 2004 until 2016, Kathy has been the Director of Tennis and Manager of the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg.
Ron Woods, PhD is an Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Science and Human Performance at the University of Tampa since 2004. Before that, he was a performance coach for the Human Performance Institute in Orlando. Ron spent 20 years with the United States Tennis Association, serving as
Kathy served as President of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) from 1994-1996 and was inducted to the USPTA's Hall of Fame in 2018. In 1995, Kathy was the recipient of The International Tennis Hall of Fame, Educational Merit award. Throughout her career, Kathy has trained teaching professionals and has been a featured speaker at national forums and conferences for tennis coaches and professionals. She is co-author with her husband Ron of 'Playing Tennis After 50.' Kathy is a graduate of the University of PA and was inducted into the school's Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017.
director of the community tennis programs with a major focus on the USA Tennis Plan for Growth, a massive project to increase tennis participation in the United States. He also initiated the USTA Welcome Back to Tennis campaign for players over age 50.
For the 10 years prior to that, Ron was the USTA's director of player development, a program that develops top junior players into touring professional players.
Earlier in his career, Woods was professor of physical education and men's tennis coach at West Chester University for 17 years. During his time at West Chester, he also served as dean of the School of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics. He has been inducted into West Chester University's Athletic Hall of Fame.
A graduate of East Stroudsburg University and an inductee into their Athletic Hall of Fame, Woods received his PhD from Temple University with an emphasis in sport psychology and motor learning. The International Tennis Hall of Fame awarded Ron the Educational Merit Award in 1997. He was honored by the USPTA as 1982 Nat'l Coach of the Year and named a master professional in 1984.
Questions for Kathy & Ron Woods
TCB: Kathy, Ron, we don't know any tennis teaching and organizing couple longer in the sport than the two of you. How did the two of you meet and were you already active in tennis by then?
KRW: We met as counselors at the Chase Tennis Camp in Westtown, PA in the 70’s. Chase was the first sleep-away tennis camp in the United States and the tennis instruction was led by Ed Faulkner, former U.S. Davis Cup coach and men’s tennis coach at nearby Swarthmore College for over 40 years. He was our tennis mentor and shaped our teaching and coaching philosophies. So yes, tennis was already in our DNA and the Chase Camps our beginning as a couple.
TCB: When did you both become USPTA members and why did you choose that organization and became active in it?
KRW: Ron joined USPTA in the early 1970s at the urging of Ed Faulkner who was a charter member of the organization in the 1920s. He became immediately active at the division level (Middle States) as an officer and eventually division president which led to national involvement primarily in coach’s education through written materials, conferences and academies.
Kathy joined in the late 1970s, became editor of the division newsletter, an officer and eventually division president. She moved on to the national board of directors and was elected national president in 1994, the first and only female (to date) to serve in that role.
In 2018 Kathy was inducted in the national USPTA Hall of Fame. Our involvement with USPTA pre-dated the formation of PTR in 1976.
TCB: Looking at your various high-profile positions and activities in our sport, what was the most fun for you?
RON: One of the roles I have treasured the most was the personal life-long relationships with former team members in nearly 20 years of college coaching. The most challenging and intriguing task was being chosen the USTA first director of player development. At the time, U.S tennis was struggling at every level and a blue-ribbon national committee led by volunteers Arthur Ashe Jr. and Bumpy Frazier after consulting widely developed a plan. Our goals at that time were to attract more players of every level to tennis, insure that present players were given every opportunity to improve their skills and performance and initiate more training and playing opportunities between our top young players who demonstrated potential for successful professional careers.
I was fortunate to be able to attract an initial staff of national tennis coaches led by Stan Smith, Jose Higueras, Tom Gullickson, Lynne Rolley and Nick Saviano. Through both regional and area training centers along with enhanced coaching education based on the latest sport science information, we embraced a national effort to promote discussion, cooperation and enhanced training among coaches, players and sport scientists. Establishing a national headquarters in Key Biscayne, Fl at no cost to the USTA for office space, a variety of tennis court surfaces and a fitness laboratory was an important key to success but a daunting political challenge.
KATHY: Accepting the role as director of tennis at the USTA National Campus was the most fun because it was a chance to use all of my professional and interpersonal skills, and I needed everything I’d ever learned. The immediate challenges were to recruit, hire and train a diverse coaching team (50% male/female) and with them conceive, publicize and operate tennis programs to serve every potential client in the local community, the sectional and national level. The intent was to create programs that could become a model for other tennis centers in the U.S. while testing new innovations using technology, equipment and teaching methods. Within the first year, our coaching staff numbered 38 certified pros to meet the customer demand for lessons and programs.
It was fun because the vision, commitment and sheer size of the USTA campus required that I collaborate with enthusiastic and talented professionals in every USTA department including facility maintenance, marketing, diversity and inclusion, collegiate and player development. Some of our most rewarding programs were those to serve children with special needs including Down Syndrome and Autism. As professional team we all worked together to create some very cool tennis magic. At the same time, I was constantly challenged in new areas and immersed in daily problem-solving.
TCB: How difficult is it to run a tennis facility with 100 courts?
Kathy: It was certainly an enormous challenge to effectively coordinate our front desk operations staff, back of house technical and administrative duties, and daily court maintenance. From the first day, the pace was intense, the hours-long with new challenges as our role developed and expanded. In the first year, we served more than 600 youth and 600 adults every week primarily from the local community.
In addition, we had a large unknown population of drop-in customers who expected the ultimate tennis experience and hospitality for playing tennis, improving their technique, or just enjoying the thrill of playing on superb courts.
When all 100 courts on the campus were in motion --- professional players training, sectional juniors in training camps, collegiate athletes competing, and our local programs in full swing, it was really an unbelievably electric atmosphere. It was a three-dimensional view of why tennis is so amazing. Players of all ages, shapes, sizes, and ability levels can enjoy this game. And the campus showed it all at once. I am
grateful I had the opportunity to be part of such an amazing effort.
TCB: We understand you are both not ready yet to retire. Kathy's LinkedIn page mentions a new venture: Woods Coaching Strategies, LLC. Would you mind elaborating on this?
KRW: This is a perfect time in our lives to share our knowledge and experiences in tennis while allowing us to gain some flexibility in our work schedule. Together we have a unique blend of experience in collegiate coaching, facility management, player and program development from recreational to the highest professional athletes, coaches education, hiring, and customer service.
TCB: How is Woods Coaching Strategies able to grow the game of tennis?
KRW: Our ultimate mission is to help players and coaches of all levels find a higher level of fun and
enjoyment playing tennis or in their tennis career. That begins with positive coaching to improve skills and tactics, better control over mind and emotions that can interfere with performance, and develop each person’s approach to tennis that will develop a sense of competence and self-confidence. Satisfied player-customers will continue to play tennis for life.
TCB: As a facility owner, why would I want to hire you?
KRW: Owners and directors of tennis can take advantage of our experience to help shape a thriving, enthusiastic client-player base with a high rate of participation and retention. As an outside resource, we can provide sound advice in a non-threatening way to facility owners, administrative staff, or coaches. Similarly, we can spark player interest and reinforce facility program opportunities for involvement and improvement that often get lost in the daily routine.
TCB: Is Woods Coaching Strategies ready to go to work for clubs or when are you planning to launch it?
KRW: We hope to begin offering our services face-to-face (physically distanced) early in 2021 depending on the challenges presented by COVID-19. Until then, we are willing and able to consult electronically with coaches, adult or college teams, or facility operators.
TCB: Is your new venture local to Saint Petersburg, Florida or can you see yourself working it nationwide?
KRW: Until travel becomes safer and more convenient, face to face training will be limited to the state of Florida, but we can organize “virtual” sessions anywhere in the world.
Email us at: WoodsCoachingStrategies@gmail.com
TCB: Is Ron continuing to teach at universities?
KRW: Ron plans to continue to teach two courses at the University of Tampa since teaching and coaching have been his life-long passion.
TCB: Are you still playing tennis and what are your racquets of choice?
KRW: Yes, we both enjoy playing tennis regularly. Kathy plays with the Wilson Blade and the Clash. Ron enjoys his mighty Weed racquet.
TCB: Have you played Pickleball and what do you think of it?
KRW: We’ve both played Pickleball and can appreciate its attraction especially for older adults with limited mobility. In fact, we’ve been enthusiastic about all racquet sports and have enjoyed them all depending on our location, available facilities, and local customs. At different stages of life, squash, badminton, and platform tennis in the snow were intriguing diversions. For now, we both still love striking a tennis ball, working out tactics, and trying to cover the court while getting a terrific workout with our tennis buddies.
TCB: What is your secret of staying together for as long as you are?
KRW: Ron likes to joke that we have always set aside two nights out every week featuring candlelight, soft music, and delicious food. Ron typically goes on Tuesdays and Kathy goes on Thursdays :) Seriously though - we are so grateful that we have been able to share love, friendship, tennis, parenting, grandparenting -- and we never tire of collaborating and talking shop. It has made our 40+ years of marriage fly by! We are also each other’s most dedicated and loyal supporter in all the challenges we have each embraced.
TCB: Thank you, Kathy & Ron.