This Month:

  • Sara Komer, Pennsylvania

  • Kristi Boxx, Mississippi

  • Keirsten Sires, New York

  • Abby Brunelle, Georgia

  • Stephanie Meyer, California

  • Amy Brown, California

  • Keva Godfrey, Georgia

  • Bev Buckley, Florida

  • Sara Andrade Mosquera, Florida

  • Liz Baldasano, Pennsylvania

  • Taryn Morgan, Florida

Brought to you by:

I Love My Doubles Partner

Luxury Ladies Tennis Apparel, Bags, Jewels, and Tournaments. 

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If you would like to get in touch with any of the professionals, please let us know and we'll pass that request on. If some of the interview questions look like they are missing context, just know that in most cases we familiarized ourselves with a person with the help of their LinkedIn page.

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We're pleased to introduce Sara Komer

Tennis Professional from Venetia in Upstate Pennsylvania

TCB: Hi, Sara! Where are you originally from?

SK: I'm from the South Hills of Pittsburgh, PA

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

SK: I started playing tennis when I was 8 years old and began competing when I was 12. My mom played volleyball for Penn State, and my dad played football for Juniata. They both wanted to stay active so they picked up tennis and introduced it to me and my sisters.

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school?

SK: I was very competitive as a child (up to the point of throwing the checkerboard when I would lose a game of checkers. Oops!) and this competitive spirit allowed me

to be successful in my early years. Unfortunately, my ranking dropped during my recruiting period after losing confidence from various injuries. Although my tournament success was up and down, I really enjoyed my high school tennis experience. I was lucky enough to play on a great team my freshman and sophomore year and win the State Championship team and doubles title both years. Wanting to experience other sports before I finished high school, I subbed volleyball in for tennis and played my junior and senior year for the high school and my senior year for the Pittsburgh Elite club team. 

TCB: You were a very accomplished college player for the University of Delaware Blue Hens. What is your single most memorable achievement from that time?

SK: I was grateful to have success in doubles with my teammate Brooke Pilkington which allowed us to be selected for the ITA Riviera All-American Championship tournament. It was an awesome experience traveling to Malibu and competing against top teams. We secured a win against UPenn the first round and then lost to a tough Clemson pair.

TCB: After college in Delaware, you moved to Washington and played at Gonzaga University. How did this come about for an upstate PA girl?

SK: I went into my college career with a developmental mindset where I wanted to continue towards reaching my potential. Delaware gave me the amazing opportunity to discover my game while growing as an athlete and a leader. After three years at UD, I wanted to test myself at a top 50 Division 1 program to play against higher-ranked schools. Gonzaga ended up being a great fit. Alongside the uncertainties that come with transferring across the country for a senior year, I also suffered an injury the summer before attending GU. A tree branch fell on my back and fractured three bones on the right side of my vertebrae. This injury prevented me from competing much in the Fall, but I was grateful to recover and play for the zags in the Spring season. 

TCB: And to top it all off, you moved to England and went to prestigious Durham University. Did you play tennis on their team or why did you go there?

SK: After my senior year at GU, I didn’t feel like I was done with tennis yet. I 

wanted to compete more while also furthering my education. I majored in Marketing with a minor in Spanish and psychology, and I knew I eventually wanted to become a clinical psychologist. My coaches directed me to Play Overseas where they connect postgraduates to compete for universities in England. Durham offered me the chance to compete for another university and pursue a master’s degree in Behavioral Science psychology. I met another group of great athletes and teammates who made it an incredible experience.

TCB: What made you go into teaching the sport?

SK: I always loved coaching my younger sister (even if she didn’t like me coaching her) as well as thinking about the game through the physical and psychological lens. Working with different junior, high school, and college coaches allowed me to observe successful and unsuccessful coaching methods. I was constantly thinking about what coaches did well and what I would change if I was in their position. Coaching at the Upper St. Clair tennis center and volunteering for Penn State allows me to coach in the ways I enjoyed being coached or wish I would have been coached. Knowing the impact coaches made on my life and the impact I could have on the next generation of players drives me to work with younger athletes now.

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

SK: I am PTR certified.

TCB: What is the Upper St. Clair Tennis Development? Do you like working there, and why?

SK: I am so grateful to work at USC. I get to work alongside my junior tennis coach, Jan Irwin, who runs the development center. She allows me to lead certain groups and learn from other teaching pros.

TCB: What do you like better, teaching kids or adults?

SK: They both offer such unique perspectives and challenges. The ability to change up what students you work with keeps it exciting and keeps me out of a rut. Teaching kids allows me to enjoy the simple fun of playing the game of tennis. I also enjoy watching them improve quickly. On the other hand, working with adults leads to a more give and take relationship of coaching. You are coaching with them more than for them. Although the improvements are more marginal at the higher level and take longer to achieve, I love the intensity of college players and the psychological aspect that comes with pursuing the next level.

TCB: What are some of the challenges in your job?

SK: The hardest part is figuring out each player’s personality and what coaching style works best for them.

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

SK: I will finish volunteering for Penn State after this spring season. I put in applications for Ph.D. programs in clinical and counseling psychology this fall and will hear back by April if I received a position. I hope to stay involved with the tennis team at whichever university if possible. In five years, I would like to be finishing my Ph.D. and starting to find jobs in either sport psychology or counseling psychology settings. In ten years, I would love to be working a job in counseling while also coaching high school sports. I have a feeling I will want to always stay in coaching in some capacity.

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

SK: I would say go for it. You learn so much about yourself by leading and following others. It’s a great way to stay involved in the sport you love while also sharing this joy with younger athletes.

TCB: Tell us about Cutco Cutlery? What are you doing there, and why? Do you like working there?

SK: I started working for Cutco one winter session at UD to make some extra money. It ended up being a great way to grow my sales confidence during my time as a business student. Although I don’t actively sell anymore, you always remain a Cutco consultant.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it?

I have gotten the chance to play pickleball and paddle. I think I would need to learn more about the game before I started coaching, but I certainly enjoy playing.

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

I use the Head MP Instinct Graphene Touch racquet. I have been using this racquet since my sophomore year of college.

TCB: Thank you, Sara.

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We're pleased to introduce Kristi Boxx

Tournament Director and Tennis Coach from Oxford, Mississippi

TCB: Hi, Kristi! Where are you originally from?

KB: I am originally from Grenada, Mississippi.

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

KB: I was 3 years old when I hit my first tennis ball but around 7 when I really started playing. My dad was a big tennis player and really enjoyed it. He got both my brother and me into it.

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school?

KB: When I was 13, we decided if I was going to improve further, I needed to go somewhere other than Grenada so that is when I started attending the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas. There my tennis really developed. I was surrounded by like minded, motivated athletes on a daily basis, and some really great coaching. I reached top 10 in the country in the 14 and under age division and mostly maintained that throughout the rest of my junior career before moving back to Mississippi to play tennis for the University of Mississippi. 

TCB: You were a very accomplished college player for Ole Miss. What is your single most memorable achievement in college?

KB: College tennis was one of the best times of my life. I loved playing with a team, I loved playing in the SEC and the tough competition each week, and I loved my coaches. I had such a great experience at Ole Miss and a lot of memorable moments, it is hard to choose just one! We won the SEC west one year, which is a huge achievement if you know anything about how stout the SEC is! Also, becoming an ALL-American in singles and doubles was pretty cool. 

 

TCB:  After college and with a great singles and doubles record at Ole Miss, you played ITF tournaments for a short while. Were you planning to go on the Pro Tour?

KB: Right after I graduated, my college doubles partner and I traveled for a bit playing tournaments which is also a highlight of my life! We played in Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, the US, just all over. It was such a fun time of playing tennis but also traveling the world. We did pretty well and won some tournaments but it is a grind to be on the road for most of the year so I decided to start pursuing other things.

 

TCB: What made you go into teaching the sport?

KB: After college when I was home between tournaments, different people would reach out to me for private lessons. It was a fun way to spend my time while I wasn't on the road and in between training and when I decided to stop traveling, it just sort of grew. I also had the opportunity to be the Volunteer Assistant Coach for Ole miss for a couple of years so that was also a great experience for me to get into coaching.

 

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

KB: I am USPTA certified. I think all my years of experience and playing at the highest level are great but having the certification gives me an added layer of credibility.

TCB: Tell us where you work right now and what your daily schedule looks like.

KB: Currently, I am coaching at the Oxford Park Commission tennis courts in Oxford, MS. We have 20 courts that are pretty 

amazing and open to the public. Not many places have a super nice facility that the public can use for no cost and for MS we have a pretty big tennis community. When the weather is nice, all 20 courts are taken! I am also the Tournament Director for all of the tournaments that we host so that keeps me pretty busy. 

TCB: What do you like better, teaching kids or adults?

KB: I like them both for different reasons. I really love getting to know the people that I coach and building that relationship so you can imagine the conversation is very different with a kid than an adult but both very fun! I currently coach more kids than adults ranging anywhere from complete beginner to high-performance kids competing in National tournaments. 

TCB: What are some of the challenges in your job?

KB: Our facility is super nice but the one negative is we do not have indoor courts, so during the winter it is challenging to stay on the court in 30-degree weather!

 

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

KB: At this point, I am not sure what is next but I do feel like I will stay in tennis at some capacity for the rest of my career. 

 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

KB: Tennis has been so good to me in many ways! It has given me unbelievable experiences, connected me with amazing people, and now given me a way to make a living. I say if you are passionate about it, go for it!

TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?

KB: That is a hard question but I feel like as a whole the industry is getting better about being more inclusive but I think there is still a long way to go! 

 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it?

KB: I have played Pickleball and I think it is super fun but I think for now that is what it will stay. Just something I do for fun!

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

KB: I have only used Babolat my entire life and they have been very good to me! I am currently using the Pure Storm but I have used different models in the past.

TCB: Thank you, Kristi.

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We're pleased to introduce Keirsten Sires

Founder & CEO of LRT Sports, New York, New York

TCB: Hi, Keirsten! Where are you originally from?

KS: I am originally from Easton, Connecticut. 
 

TCB: Your LinkedIn profile says you played tennis in college. When did you start playing tennis, and who got you into it?

KS: Yes, I played at Skidmore College. I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old, and my mom was the one who got me into the sport. She started playing at an older age and enjoyed the sport a lot and encouraged me to try it. 

TCB: Did you play in high school?

KS: I did, I played for St. Joe’s High School in Trumbull, CT. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was a great way to represent my school.
 

TCB: After college, you didn’t continue with tennis? Why not? 

KS: Directly after college, I was in a corporate league and played a couple of USTA tournaments, but I have not been as consistent with it within the past couple of years. Since I lived in New York City, it was not very convenient to play!

TCB: In 2014, you started LRT Sports, LLC, and you’ve been their CEO since then. What made you do it? What is its mission? What does LRT stand for?

KS: Our mission at LRT Sports is Understanding College Athletics™. We allow college athletes to rate their college coaches, so the next generation is more informed. At the same time, we create content around the college recruiting process as well as college athletics. Typically speaking the college recruiting process and college athletics have a lot of mystery behind them, so we focus on putting out firsthand advice and information in order to educate individuals. We are not a recruiting service, which makes us very different than a lot of other companies! 

I was passionate about starting LRT Sports because of the lack of transparency and information out there. Choosing a college is a lifetime decision and adding athletics into the mix makes it a lot more complicated. I love helping the next generation learn while making it possible for current and former college athletes to share their stories and have a voice.

LRT stands for “Locker Room Talk” which is what the companies name was years ago, but some political and negative implications with that term came up in 2016 so we decided to rebrand, but still keep the original name involved. 

TCB: How do you measure whether LRT Sports is successful or not? What is a successful year for you?

KS: The most important thing is helping athletes and families. So we are successful if people are able to find us, learn more about college athletics or recruiting, and use it to help mold their college decision. Or if we can help an assistant coach learn more about a head coach they want to work for. Or if someone reads one of our stories and they learned something through those as well. As far as the true business component, we like to focus on growth of users, as well as growth of ratings. 

TCB: What are the challenges in your business? Do you enjoy working at LRT Sports?

KS: I think the biggest challenge is letting people know we are not a traditional recruiting service. We don’t take part in connecting players and coaches because we strongly believe a lot of that can be done through emailing and calling coaches directly. Our biggest goal is education and information since that is really the biggest part of the recruiting process (or anything in life). The more informed you are, the better decisions you can make, which is extremely important for such a time consuming and monetary decision! I do enjoy it very much. 

TCB: What are your plans for the future of LRT Sports, say for the next five years?

KS: I would love to expand into other areas such as assistant coaches, strength coaches, athletic facilities and create a well-rounded rating system for students and families to be able to come to learn more about from people who have experienced the schools in the most intimate ways. 

TCB: If money were no object, what would you do with your business today?

KS: I think I would do what I mentioned before. I would love to be able to advertise and build out the rating system even more than we already have. 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in the tennis space? Should they jump in?

KS: I think they should!! It’s a great field to be in, and it’s a very close-knit community that is very supportive. 

TCB: Do you still play tennis? Have you played Pickleball? What do you think of that sport?

KS: I don’t play as much as I would like to - but I do play Pickleball quite frequently! I think it’s great for socializing, and I’ve loved to see it’s growth over the past couple of years. I think more and more people are starting to enjoy it. 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

KS: It's the Babolat Pure Storm!

TCB: Thank you, Keirsten.

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We're pleased to introduce Abby Brunelle

Key Account Manager at Unique Sports Products Inc/Tourna

in Roswell, Georgia

TCB: Hi, Abby! Where are you originally from?

AB: Born in New London, CT moved to Atlanta 40 years ago, I call Atlanta home.

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it? 

AB: Our swim & tennis club offered lessons. My parents signed me up at age 7. (see picture)

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to today? Have you ever thought about teaching it?

AB: The apartments I lived in after college, had free tennis lessons. I took from the pro and have not stopped playing. Never thought about teaching. I love to play and compete!

TCB: What did you do after college until 2010? 

AB: I worked in sales with a rep company selling to Atlanta-based Home Depot and also on a sales team for a company in the Home Décor business at the Atlanta Mart.

TCB: In 2010, you started working for Unique Sports Products. What are your responsibilities there?  

AB: Key Account Manager (for Tennis Warehouse, Tennis Express, Mid-West Sports, Holabird Sports, PGA Superstore, and Fromuth Tennis). Also, College/University Tennis team sales, Assistant to our domestic sales manager, main support for our outside sales rep team, direct contact for agents and players using Tourna Grip, and help promote Tourna brand awareness on Social Media. They say I’m Miss Tourna Grip haha.

TCB: Have you ever met John Isner in regards to promoting Tourna Grip?

AB: Yes! I was a big Isner fan before working for Tourna Grip. (see attached at PGA signing with Isner and practice at BB & T tournament )

 

TCB: What are some of the challenges in your job? Do you like working at Unique?

AB: I’d say a daily challenge is making sure I know our products inside and out. Knowing our competitor’s products is a plus too. Yes, I love the sport and feel lucky to work in the industry. Keeping the sport of tennis alive is a big daily goal at Unique. With the Tourna brand, we are very well known. 

TCB: For the last eight years, you’ve been volunteering for Special Pops Tennis. What is this organization, and what are you volunteering for?

AB: Special Populations Tennis Program (Special Pops) is an organization that offers an adaptive tennis program specifically designed to share the lifetime sport of tennis with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I volunteer year-round as a tennis instructor and play in tournaments as an athlete’s partner. It’s very rewarding to be able to give back to the community and help out with the sport I’m so passionate about.

TCB: You’ve played a lot of ALTA and USTA League tennis until about 2014. Are you now only playing ALTA? If yes, why?

AB: In the last 5 years, my life priorities have changed. At this time, I’m only playing Alta.

TCB: Early this year, you were lucky to accompany a friend who had won a trip to Paris. What was this experience like for you? What did you like most about the City of Lights?

AB: AMAZING! I had never been to Paris. The Eiffel tower at night was truly magical! We attended the Paris Rolex Masters for two days and had courtside seats to see Dimitrov, Djokovic, Mies, Khachanov, Rublev, and Shapovalov.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? If yes, do you like it?

AB: My father introduced it to us big kids. Yes, I enjoy it. I definitely see myself getting more involved with that sport. (see a recent picture of me above at a local Pickleball court )

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

AB: I was introduced to Volkl a few years ago by one of my sales reps. I play with the Volkl Organix. I also use a few Prince racquets.

TCB: Thank you, Abby.

We're pleased to introduce Stephanie Meyer

Tennis Professional at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, California

TCB: Hi, Stephanie! Where are you originally from?

SM: I was born in Encino, California, and grew up in Simi Valley. 

TCB: When did you start playing tennis, and who got you into it?

SM: I attended UCLA and did not play tennis in college or high school.  Although I was always fascinated by the sport.  I hit against the garage that my dad finally sent me to find a backboard I could ruin.

TCB: What attracted you to teaching tennis, and when did you start?

SM: My fascination with tennis got sidetracked by marriage and kids.  Finally, when my daughter started kindergarten I drove straight to Palisades Park Recreation Center.  

I was crazed!  I would do hours of live ball classes, lessons for myself and my daughter and generally hang around the tennis shop.  At this time I was starting to compete in women's doubles and watch my child taking tennis lessons.  I was interested in teaching children's tennis.  This was happening at the same time as I was gleefully absorbing tennis into my life.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher but did not like the idea of staying inside and sitting all day. I started teaching the youngest children at Palisades Park. I love teaching tennis to children because I feel like I am giving them a gift they can use their whole life to make friends. 

TCB: How easy or difficult was it for you to get into teaching tennis?

SM:  It was hard to get people to hire me as a tennis teacher because I have less experience than the average tennis teacher.  However, I explained who I was and I am a strong 4.0 player with a great demeanor with children and an intense love for the sport of tennis.  This line of reasoning was successful because I have been teaching and developing my craft for almost 6 years. 

TCB: Do you enjoy teaching tennis, and what do you like about it?

SM: I love tennis for so many reasons it is hard to state.  I love the barely veiled competition.  I love the strategy.  I love the subtle and complicated ways one has to hit the ball to make it land in the court.  I love the comraderie and respect one has 

with your opponent.  You cannot play tennis alone.  I am more experienced at doubles than singles.  For me I love the relationship one has to build to be a good doubles team.

TCB: What are the biggest challenges as a teaching pro for you?

SM: My biggest challenge is teaching kids tennis manners. I want them to know they can be strong competitors and have great manners. I guess my biggest challenge is getting them to understand the beauty of tennis. This really is my lifelong goal. 

TCB: What is your long-term career goal, and is tennis part of that goal?

SM: I see myself teaching at Hillcrest until I am very old.  My mission is to teach tennis to kids so that they may experience the thrill! 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in the tennis space? Should they jump in?

SM: I would advise women interested in tennis to jump in. They can go to their local parks, USTA, or local leagues.  I would also advise checking out schools to see about coaching their tennis teams.

TCB: On your LinkedIn profile, you mention ABA Therapy. What is that, and how does it help you in your work?

SM: I studied ABA therapy which is for children with autism.  It gave me certain verbiage and styles of speaking which help with any child or groups of children. 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? What do you think of that sport?

SM: I play and teach pickleball.  It is great fun. I do love it when an adult gets interested in tennis from pickleball!  I have been teaching quite a few adult "cross overs" lately.  


TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
SM: I hit with Babolat Pure Aero Team.

TCB: Thank you, Stephanie.

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We're pleased to introduce Amy Brown

Tennis Professional in Redding, California

TCB: Hi, Amy! Where are you originally from? Where do you live and work now?

AB: I am from Redding, CA. I was living in San Francisco coaching at the Bay Club SF Tennis until recently. I am currently back in Redding working on creating my own junior program. 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

AB: I was 6 years old when I first played tennis at a summer camp. However, I didn’t commit to tennis until I was 9 years old. My coach had a drop out in a local junior tournament and put me in as a substitute. Even though I got destroyed, my love of the game was ignited. 

TCB: You obtained media and arts degrees in college. Did you play on a tennis team?

AB: I obtained a degree in Multi-media communication with an emphasis in Film at Vanguard University and played on my university’s tennis team. Playing on a college team is one of my favorite tennis experiences. I also got to be the assistant coach after I graduated, which was an amazing opportunity.

TCB: Traveling the world, working as a photographer and in multi-media, you started Inoproductions in 2008. How did this come about and what do you do there?

AB: After college, I was offered a position creating documentaries and photography for a non-profit in Switzerland. I was recommended by a mutual friend and it was an amazing adventure. 

TCB: In addition to Inoproductions you started your own DJ business in 2010. Is that something you were planning to do going through college?

AB: I never expected that I would start a DJ business. I met someone looking for an assistant and second DJ for gigs. After one gig I loved it and started my own business.

TCB: And then, in 2013, you began coaching girl's a high school tennis team. How did this come about?

AB: I was invited to be the assistant coach from the head coach of a high school because he knew me back when I was a junior. When he didn’t return the next year I was offered the position. 

TCB: When did you obtain USPTA and PTR certification?

AB: I was PTR certified at 18 years old. My coach wanted me to work for him and I got certified so I could coach during the summer. I became USPTA certified when I started working for the Bay Club in 2013. 

TCB: Since 2014 you worked part-time as a tennis coach at the Bay Club. Inoproductions, DJ, and tennis coach. How do you do it?

AB: My coaching was usually during the week and weekend mornings. My DJ business was usually on weekends in the evening. I eventually invested my whole time in coaching.

TCB: What do you like most about each of your jobs?

AB: What I love about coaching is sharing my passion for tennis with others. Also, the relationships I create as a coach, especially with my juniors. What I loved about film, photography, and being a DJ was the autonomy and creativity.

TCB: What are some of the challenges in your positions?

AB: When I decided to coach full time I wanted to add creativity into my job. For example, during summer camp we would have a theme for each week, Star Wars, cartoon characters, anime. I would decorate the lunch room and the pros and kids would dress up on Fridays. 

I also started to do more digital artwork and marketing for the junior program, so I was able to still use my creativity in an athletic field.

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

AB: My long-term goal would be to travel and promote the sport. I want tennis to be accessible to everyone, everywhere. 

TCB:  What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

AB: I started coaching at 16 years old and I was lucky to have my coach encourage me to make it a career option. I think coaching tennis is such a rewarding job. I have kids I coached call me years after they graduate to catch up. I still meet up with my old coach and call him for advice. Coaching tennis doesn’t require anyone to be an ex-pro player or the most technical instructor. You can coach in a way that works for your personality and your students. 

TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?

AB: I was the only female coach out of 16 coaches for 6 years at my club. The full-time tennis pro 

schedule is difficult since you typically work 6 days a week, evenings, and weekends. That schedule can be tough for anyone (man or woman) who wants to start a family. What I think could improve women’s interest in the tennis industry is better maternity leave and childcare options. I was the interim head coach at a university while the head coach was on maternity leave. I was thankful she asked me and also glad that I could support her and her team for a short time. I encourage women in the industry to continue to make changes for the new generation of coaches.  

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?

AB: I have never played Pickleball, but it looks like a lot of fun.

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

AB: I love my Babolat Purestrike 16x19.

TCB: Thank you, Amy.

We're pleased to introduce Keva Godfrey

Tennis Professional in Atlanta, Georgia

TCB: Hello, Keva! Where are you originally from? Where do you live and work now?

KG: I am originally from the Bahamas, and I live in the metro Atlanta area in GA and work at Agnes Scott College

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

KG: I started tennis at 9 years old, and my track and field coach at the time who also coached tennis got me into the sport.

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school and college?

KG: My dad took over my coaching when I entered high school and I would train six to seven days a week as well as travel to South Florida to train with a private coach there.

TCB: You received an MBA in Criminal Justice and Corrections at Clark Atlanta University and subsequently worked for a half year at Atlanta PD. Then you began coaching Clark's Women's Tennis Team. How did this come about?

KG: While I was receiving my Master’s degree at Clark Atlanta, I interned with the Atlanta Police department, working with the detectives there; during that time, I was considering going into law enforcement in some capacity. However, my mentor, who was the head coach at Clark, was leaving; in my mind, a great opportunity presented itself because not many people can say that they both played and coached at their Alma Mater, so I decided to interview and accept the Head Coach position at Clark.

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

KG: I am USPTA certified

 

TCB: What do you like about working as a College Tennis coach?

KG: I love working with my student-athletes, developing relationships with them, and just watching their games transform over the years.

 

TCB: In 2017, you also began coaching the Women's Team at Agnes Scott College. How did this come about? Were you able to take on this additional workload?

KG: I left Clark Atlanta in September after a national search and applied to and selected to lead the tennis program at Agnes Scott. It was a growth opportunity for me to experience Division III life and a different work environment from the one I grew up in.

TCB: What were some of the challenges in your positions?

KG: Some of the challenges being hired mid-season was getting to know my athletes as well, with any transition learning protocols and procedures of the intuition. A challenge I face on a day-to-day basis is adjusting to the many different learning styles of my players. I'm constantly learning and researching about different techniques and communication styles to connect to each player.  

 

TCB: How did Covid-19 affect you in 2020?

KG: Unfortunately, our season got canceled due to Covid-19 and we were in hopes that we would return to play in Fall of 2020, and that did not happen. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

KG: I plan to stay in college athletics, and I would like to win a national championship title then transitioning into college administration.

 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

KG: I would say go for it, coaching is very rewarding especially if you love your sport and you can impart your knowledge to athletes and watch them grow and develop as people.

 

TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?

KG: Equal pay, as well as athletic departments being family-oriented so coaches do not feel like they are choosing between their work and their family.

 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?

KG: Yes, it is really fun to play.

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

KG: Wilson Pro Staff

TCB: Thank you, Keva.

We're pleased to introduce Bev Buckley

Tennis Professional in Winterpark, Florida

TCB: Hi, Bev! Where are you originally from?

BB: I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa.

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

BB: I was 11 when I started taking lessons at our country club in Des Moines. My dad signed up my twin sister, Barbara, and me.

TCB: How did your tennis develop throughout high school/college?

BB: As I started competing at age 12 and continuing to progress, my dad found a private instructor to work with me. I won three consecutive Iowa State High School Singles Championships and went 51-0 while attending Roosevelt High School. That record also earned me a spot in Sports Illustrated 'Faces in the Crowd' in 1971 as well as a HOF induction at the high school.

I competed for four years as a top 4 singles and #1 doubles starter at Rollins College. Senior year our team was ranked #1 in the Nation and my doubles partner and I were seeded #1 in doubles as we had gone undefeated for the regular season. I turned pro following graduation and my first event was the '75 US Open at the Westside Tennis Club on clay. I ended up playing all four Slams during my pro career and reached a career-high 110 in the World.

TCB: What made you go into teaching the sport?

BB: When I graduated from Rollins in 1975, I told my college coach to please call me when she retired because I wanted to return to my alma mater to coach. I knew that my playing time was limited, and I wanted to stay in the sport that I loved, so it was a natural transition for me to go from player to coach. I wanted to pass on my 'passion' for tennis to college-level players hoping that they might also choose to stay in the sport for a lifetime!

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

BB: I joined the USPTA in 1986, and my membership level is Elite Professional.

TCB: You are in your 34th year coaching at Rollins College. How do you do it? What gets you up in the morning?

BB: I am actually in my 35th year. I have continued coaching because it's my passion, each day is another opportunity to inspire change & progress in my student-athletes as they continue to challenge me to be the best coach that I can be. 

TCB: What do you remember as your single best moment in 35 years of teaching college tennis?

BB: My favorite 'on-court' moment was when my team won the 3rd/4th place playoff at the 1995 DII NCAA tournament. We lost a heartbreaking match in the semis 5-4 that got down to the last match which we lost 7-5 in the third set. I have never been so proud of a team to come back after a tough loss like that and win the following day against a conference opponent who beat us in the Conference tournament just weeks before the NCAAs. My favorite 'off-court' moment was when a former player, who I, unfortunately, had to ask to leave our program following her junior year, returned for Alumni Weekend five years later and not only apologized for her behavior but handed me a very generous check for the program! 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

BB: I would absolutely do it again because it has been so fulfilling! It's so much more than competing and wins & losses. It's about the lives you touch and the life lessons: learning to be resilient, thinking on their feet, learning to problem-solve, and working with others to reach a common goal. These are the kinds of skills that companies are looking for and they know that student-athletes- in particular tennis players - possess these skills.

TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?

BB: I think that the 'industry', in particularly the ITA, is already working to attract female coaches by highlighting their careers and podcasts on their web site. The USTA is also working to hire more female coaches at all levels of coaching in their organization. Colleges can do a better job of attracting female coaches by opening up the applicant pool to more females.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it?

BB: I have not played but I may in the future. I'll stick with my college tennis coaching.

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

BB: Babolat now. As a junior I was sponsored by Wilson then I moved to the Head aluminum frame in college.

TCB: Thank you, Bev.

We're pleased to introduce Sara Andrade Mosquera

Tennis Professional in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area of Florida

(Photos: Justine Berges)

TCB: Hi, Sara! Where are you originally from?

SAM: I am originally from Vigo, one of the essential urban tourism destinations located in Galicia, Spain.

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis and who got you into it?

SAM: I started playing tennis when I was 6. My dad was the one getting me into tennis. He taught me how to play, compete, and love the sport.

TCB: You were a tennis coach in Spain and you played for/coached in College. What made you go into teaching the sport?

SAM: I love the sport of tennis, and I think that is my main motivation. I had an amazing experience playing college tennis and I would love for kids to have the same opportunity. Tennis is not just a physical sport. It teaches you values that will help you in your professional career and in your life.

TCBM: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

SAM: Yes, I am a USPTA Professional Certified.

TCB: You are a Tennis Program Assistant at the Royal Palms Tennis Club in Miami. What does that job entail?

SAM: Royal Palm Tennis Club is such a great place to work for where I help with the tennis program. The staff there; director, manager, coaches, maintenance staff, are amazing and they made Royal Palm a pleasant place to work for and play tennis! I am so grateful to be around professionals every day and to learn something new from them every day. The tennis program is growing and I would recommend everyone to be part of it.

TCB: How easy was it for you to find that job in Miami?

SAM: It was not easy and it continues to be a challenge. I am an international student with Visa and it is hard for a company to hire you when your workdays are limited. In addition to that, I graduated through COVID times. I was selected for a lot of interviews but I got rejected for not having any Work Visas available at this time.

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

SAM: would tell them that teaching tennis is rewarding. It is the best feeling to know that you can change people's lifestyles.

TCB: From 2013 until 2019 you went through 6 years of college graduating with 2 BA and an MBA. Now you work at a tennis club. What is your game plan?

SAM: I have a lot of dreams regarding my job and my future. However, as I mentioned before, due to the immigration situation it is not easy to know what can happen to my future right now. Visas are difficult to get, and sometimes even if you work hard is impossible. I have two bachelors and one MBA from the US but sometimes is not enough to stay in the country. I worked hard through college and I try my best every day but finding a company willing to help you out is difficult due to the times we are in. For international students like me, the days keep counting and our main goal becomes finding a Visa to stay instead of trying to find the job we love.

TCB: What do you like better, working in tennis or at an office?

SAM: I think I would love the combination of both. I love being outside and enjoy the sport but I would love to have the opportunity to apply my business knowledge to the Sports industry.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it?

SAM: I never played but I would love to! In Spain, we play "Padel" which is a super fun and social sport!

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

SAM: I do not have any preference for racquet brands. I think a good player makes a good racquet. Right now, I just started playing with Tecnifibre and I am really happy with it.

TCB: Thank you, Sara.

.

We're pleased to introduce Liz Baldasano

Tennis Professional in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

TCB: Hi, Liz. Where are you originally from?

LB: I'm from the Washington DC area.

 

TCB: Your LinkedIn profile says you played Varsity Volleyball in college. When did you start playing tennis, and who got you into it?

LB: My dad got me into tennis…I was maybe 11… He played in college; he taught me the fundamentals.

TCB: On your website, you describe your life as "… from collegiate scholar-athlete to career-driven single woman, wife to working mother and lawyer, stay-at-home mom and work/life advocate to self-employed doing work I love (Certified Professional Tennis Instructor, Work & Life Coach and serving on a board of directors)." Were you planning your life that way? LB: No. Things evolved that way over time. I knew I wanted to have a career, and that I wanted to have a family. How to put it all together over time has really been “The Work”.

TCB: What made you obtain a law degree? Were you planning to work as an attorney?

LB: I was working in business after graduating college, and wanted more specialized education. I chose the law after considering an MBA, as a way to leverage my business background and to have a standalone profession. I planned to work as in-house counsel.

 

TCB: In 2009, after years in the corporate world and being a stay-at-home mom, you decided to become a tennis coach and get PTR-certified. What was the basis of that decision?

LB: At that time, I was considering what was next for me. Of course, I thought, “maybe I could pick up tennis again!” I started playing recreationally every week, and really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed watching my daughter in her clinics, and thought, “I’d LOVE to do that!”. I looked up PTR. Teaching tennis was my next adventure!

 

TCB: Tell us a little about Tennis Haven. What is it, and what is your weekly workload with that program? Do you enjoy doing it?

LB: Tennis Haven is my tennis program development and teaching business. I provide programming/teach at local townships, a home owner’s association, and community tennis association (CTA). It’s outdoor/seasonal (April - November), about 10-20 hours/week. I enjoy teaching tennis, and love being able to work when and how much I want and own my own business.

 

 

TCB: What are your challenges running Tennis Haven?

LB: None, really. Maybe unpredictability with weather…the outdoor tennis season has its share of cancellations from scorching hot days or rainouts. Quite the programming juggling act!

 

 

TCB: Where do you want to take Tennis Haven in the future? Is this something you can expand statewide or even nationwide? LB: I’d like to teach tennis (and maybe even pickleball, the next frontier!) for the foreseeable future. I’ll take it with me wherever I land.

 

 

TCB: As a registered 'Net Generation' provider, what is your experience with that USTA program so far?

LB: Net Generation is one of my go-to resources for new material, particularly in the 10U space.

 

 

TCB: You created TENNIS FOR FITNESS®. Would you mind telling us what it is and what you do with it?

LB: TENNIS FOR FITNESS® is an exercise class that I developed in 2012. The format is well rounded… not everyone is at the same level of fitness or is focused on a single metric when exercising. I saw a gap in the recreational space and wanted to create an environment where participants experience the many benefits of exercise using my favorite modality, tennis! I own the trademark TENNIS FOR FITNESS® and offer the class as part of a comprehensive site program. It can also be delivered separately at special events or clubs. Check out tennisforfitness.com.

TCB: In 2013, you took your coaching career to another level and added life coaching by obtaining ICF-ACC certification. Were you not busy enough teaching tennis, or why did you do this?

LB: I had been active in a non-profit dealing with work/life issues, and wanted to start my own coaching and consulting practice in work and life integration, business and executive coaching.

TCB: On your website, you state that you're looking at coaching holistically. Can you expand on this a little? Does that apply to both life and tennis coaching?

LB: My holistic approach includes not just uncovering what’s working (or not) in a client’s work and life but also helps the client discover what really matters to them, now and for their future. From this awareness, the client can make resonant choices, get support in making changes, and set a fulfilling work and life trajectory. As tennis coaches, I believe we take a “holistic” approach when we meet players where they are…noting their strengths, weaknesses, potential, and goals, in service of their growth and performance on court. We also encourage values such as sportsmanship, mental toughness, being a good teammate, discipline, and commitment. All this considers the whole athlete.

TCB: If money were no object, what would you do with your business today?

LB: Nothing different, really. I’m looking at the next segment of my life and what place the business holds in it, and how I will continue to learn and grow.

 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in the tennis space? Should they jump in?

LB: It’s hard to know whether anyone “should” do anything. Putting on my coaching hat, I’d first ask them, “what’s stopping you?” :) Then I’d ask, “What appeals to you about working in the tennis space?” Then, we’d be off to the races…! For me, teaching tennis part-time and helping establish a CTA was a great way to stay active while doing something I love, and do it on my terms. It fit my work-and-life integration formula.

TCB: Would you recommend more tennis coaches should also look into getting certified for life coaching? If yes, why?

LB: Not necessarily. This is an interesting question - I don’t see life coaching as natural progression in teaching tennis, more so as a standalone practice with some overlapping skills. The coaching frame applies in both contexts. Tennis is much more directive than pure life coaching. If tennis coaches are wondering what’s next, that’s a great place to get some personal coaching to discover what that might look like, and what they could do to start the change process. I’d be happy to talk with anyone who’s interested in finding out more about the life coaching profession and point them to resources to explore.

TCB: Do you still play tennis? Have you played pickleball? What do you think of that sport?

LB: I still play tennis recreationally. I’ve played pickleball, and I like it. I rely on my partner to help me keep track of scoring. I’m in the kitchen way too often. And the balls are loud. Other than that, it’s great!

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

LB: Prince.

TCB: Thank you, Liz.

We're pleased to introduce Taryn Morgan, Ph.D.

VP, Athletic & Personal Development at IMG in Bradenton, Florida

TCB: Hi, Taryn. Where are you originally from? Where do you live and work now?

TM: I'm originally from Okahumpka, Florida – now live in Bradenton, Florida, and work at the IMG Academy

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it? TM: I was 4, my dad was an auto mechanic and exchanged work on the local tennis pros car for tennis lessons for me.

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school and college?

TM: Developed at first in lessons with coaches in the Eustis, Florida area, was able to make it to #1 in Florida and then my dad started coaching me. He taught me a lot about situational play, the what-if moments, and creativity in the game. I continued playing juniors and was as high as #9 in the nation in the 14’s. I then didn’t play as much because of financial hardship and also started playing other sports, including 4 in high school (volleyball, basketball, tennis, and softball). I knew I wanted to go to college and was able to go to Stetson University and played both tennis and volleyball there.

TCB: You started teaching at Stetson University. What did you like about that?

TM: I loved figuring out what worked for each person. It was different for each player on the team. I also found that I coached the technical, but more so ended up coaching the mental side, which led me to really pursue the mental training side of it.

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not?

TM: No, I’m CMPC as my focus became mental coaching instead of tennis coaching. CMPC is Certified Mental Performance Consultant and is from AASP, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

TCB: In 2006 you were hired by IGM as Director, Athletic and Personal Development. What did this position entail?

TM: I started as a Mental Conditioning Coach in 2006 at IMG Academy. This entailed working with athletes to teach them how to be mentally stronger using tools that enhanced their performance in and out of sport. It was made up of group sessions, individual sessions, workshops, being out on the court doing live mental coaching, working with coaches, and helping the athletes think better to perform better.

TCB: A month later you were promoted to Vice President. How did this come about? You must have done a terrific job in your position.

TM: Sorry timeline may be a bit off on the Linked in 😊 – I was a mental coach for a while then I was Program Manager, Assistant Director, Director and then VP. It was a journey over 14.5 years. Apologies if that timeline wasn’t correct on there. All of it came about because I am always willing to step up and take on challenges, to do more and I want to help others. My passion is making a difference in other people’s lives. I also have an organizational mind so that assisted and I’ve learned more and more about the business side each step of the way.

TCB: What does a weekly work schedule look like for you? TM: A variety of meetings, projects, working with the staff, hiring, sometimes I still do some mental work with athletes or corporate groups, figuring out how to grow the business and made our department the best it can be.

TCB: What are some of the challenges in your position at IMG?

TM: There’s always a ton going on and things change quickly so remaining agile and adaptable is a key for success. Also, making sure that communication is as good as possible.

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

TM: I want to grow APD and IMG to be the world leaders in youth development and to continue impacting others. I think there’s so much more we can do with the amazing team we have and the opportunities we get every day to make a difference.

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

TM: Definitely. I learned so much about myself and my style of coaching and also it’s a great challenge to learn how to interact and coach a variety of athletes. It helps build skills like listening, empathy and awareness. You definitely want to have a passion for helping others to do it.

 

TM: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?

TM: Outreach to players in college and creating training specifically for female coaches. Also, using great coaches as mentors for younger ones, maybe a mentor-type program at various clubs/academy’s.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Is IMG looking at adding it to the curriculum?

TM: I just learned it over Thanksgiving! It was so fun. We haven’t added it yet, but it’s not a bad idea. We always do some cross-training for the athletes to develop them as complete athletes.

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

TM: I always got a wide-eyed look at this one but I loved it for the power – Wilson Hammer 2.7 😊

TCB: Thank you, Taryn.

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