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Gary Horvath is a USPTA master pro, founder and past president of the USA Professional Platform Tennis Association, charter member of PPTR, a certified coach with USA Volleyball and a long-standing member of the Wilson Advisory Staff. 

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Tennis Club Business

His experience as a tennis pro has covered the entire spectrum from grassroots to college tennis. In addition, Gary Horvath has conducted extensive business and economic research that has largely supported the state of Colorado's economic development efforts.

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TENNIS PROFESSIONALS WITH AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO THE INDUSTRY

Tennis professionals with an emotional connection to the sport can strengthen the foundation of the sport and demonstrate they are worthy of respect for their leadership in the tennis industry.

By Gary Horvath

Emotional Connections Drive the Tennis Teaching Profession

During the tennis boom of the 1970s, the perception of tennis professionals was less favorable than in 2023. Right or wrong, teaching "pros" were portrayed as ball-bangers with a foreign accent, a shiny sports car, long sun-kissed blonde hair, three Arthur Ashe Comp racquets, matching headbands and wristbands, and a 95-mile-per-hour serve.

 

The certification bodies slowly changed this assessment of tennis “pros” by conducting tests that measured a potential “pro’s” business acumen, understanding of tactics, techniques, and the mental aspects of tennis, grips, knowledge of the rules, history of the sport, ability to teach a lesson, and overall understanding of the sport.

 

The perception of tennis “pros” evolved more favorably as small groups of "pros" distinguished themselves by expanding their knowledge and experience beyond the basic certification process. These professionals demonstrated their emotional connection to the sport by:

  • Creating, updating, and communicating their personal coaching philosophy.

  • Showing commitment to professional development.

  • Providing leadership and service in the tennis community.

  • Emotional Connections Drive the Tennis Teaching Profession

  • During the tennis boom of the 1970s, the perception of tennis professionals was less favorable than in 2023. Right or wrong, teaching "pros" were portrayed as ball-bangers with a foreign accent, a shiny sports car, long sun-kissed blonde hair, three Arthur Ashe Comp racquets, matching headbands and wristbands, and a 95-mile-per-hour serve.

  • The certification bodies slowly changed this assessment of tennis “pros” by conducting tests that measured a potential “pro’s” business acumen, understanding of tactics, techniques, and the mental aspects of tennis, grips, knowledge of the rules, history of the sport, ability to teach a lesson, and overall understanding of the sport.

  • The perception of tennis “pros” evolved more favorably as small groups of "pros" distinguished themselves by expanding their knowledge and experience beyond the basic certification process. These professionals demonstrated their emotional connection to the sport by:

  • Creating, updating, and communicating their personal coaching philosophy.

  • Showing commitment to professional development.

  • Providing leadership and service in the tennis community.

Creating, Updating, and Communication of Coaching Philosophy

coaching philosophy is equivalent to an elevator speech for a company or a product. It includes a coach's beliefs, values, guiding principles, knowledge, and experience. It is dynamic and may change with time.

 

A coaching philosophy may be one sentence or one or more paragraphs. Individuals have different coaching philosophies because they have distinct backgrounds and experiences.

Short List of Questions for a Coaching Philosophy

 1. What motivates you to coach?

 2. Do the athletes in your program have fun?

 3. How do you define success and winning?

 4. What are your thoughts about losing?

 5. What is the relationship between practice and competition?

 6. What adjectives define your coaching demeanor?

 7. How can you improve your skills as a coach?

 8. Do you reward results or effort?

 9. What is the role of sports in teaching life lessons?

10. How do you feel about change?

11. Who is more important, the athlete or the person?

12. How do you feel about continuous learning?

Examples of coaching philosophies follow:

  • Over the years, I have developed a coaching style that fits my experience and personality. I believe in it because it allows me to communicate and motivate the athletes. In two words, I want athletes to "always compete" in everything they do. They must learn to compete on the field and in life.

  • Our program teaches winning tennis. It meets the unique needs of each athlete. We are results-oriented. In fact, we are obsessed with results. Minute details are critical because they determine the outcome of a match.

  • Our program is comprehensive. It meets the needs of individual players based on extensive research in human movement.

  • I love tennis! I teach tennis with the intent of helping others develop that same love for the sport. We may sing and dance while we hit tennis balls. Most importantly, we have fun. During an average week, I teach beginners, adaptive players, competitive athletes, and a player on the pro tour. No matter who I teach, we have fun playing tennis.

 

With twenty-four million players, there is a demand for teaching professionals with different coaching philosophies.

Commitment to Professional Development

Significant changes have occurred in the tennis industry since the tennis boom caused by the Battle of the Sexes and Title IX. The global popularity of tennis has risen. Tennis-specific research changed the way the sport is played and coached. Technology affected both those areas, as well as tennis viewership. Federal and state policies have impacted participation more than the actions of tennis industry leaders. Tennis balls were changed from white to optic yellow to make them easier to see, and rule changes shortened the length of matches.

 

The magnitude of changes increased the demand for professional development for tennis professionals.

Change has Increased Demand for Professional Development

1. USTA – For better or worse, the USTA dominates the sport.

 2. Globalization of the sport – Americans no longer dominate.

 3. Athleticism – Athletes are bigger, stronger, and better trained.

 4. Money – Prize money for men and women has increased.

 5. Periodization – Mental, strength, tactical, technical aspects.

 6. Racquets – Athletes can hit the ball harder and with more spin.

 7. Tennis Channel – Coverage of tennis is available 24/7.

 8. Technology – Hawkeye, AI, video/charting capabilities.

 9. Title IX – Legislation helped and hindered market segments.

10. Groundstrokes – Open stance, western grip, rotational swing.

11. Independent Contractors – Changing the role of tennis pros.

12. COVID Policies– Increased interest not created by industry.

The magnitude of changes increased the demand for professional development for tennis professionals.

Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, summed up the situation when he stated, “When you stop learning, you stop growing.” Professional development is a high priority for tennis professionals who are emotionally committed to the industry. A sampling of professional development activities follows.

  • Enroll in tennis-related webinars, courses, or conferences.

  • Participate in business, leadership, economics, accounting, education, or technology short courses.

  • Submit articles or commentary for publication (printed, online, podcasts, or social media).

  • Participate in online tennis groups as a follower or contributor.

  • Stay abreast of the impact of regulations on the tennis industry, such as workforce and economic development, tax issues, and energy-related policy.

  • Learn how to incorporate photography and video into the learning process. 

  • Conduct research to improve facility utilization or the efficiency of instructional programs.

  • Remain active in tennis! Learn to play another sport for a change of pace. Experience the joys and frustrations of the learning process.

  • Observe the way tennis professionals and coaches in other sports teach their athletes.

The list of opportunities for personal development is endless. Personal development is a necessity for tennis professionals at all levels.

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PRESENTED BY WTCA

The Challenge: Tennis needs more coaches.

The Answer: Women's Tennis Coaches Association.

Having female coaches in tennis is not just about gender diversity; it's about providing equal opportunities, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment, and harnessing the unique skills and perspectives that female coaches can bring to the game. It benefits both the sport and the individuals involved, helping to develop a richer and more diverse tennis community.

The WTCA is the first organization of its kind, solely dedicated to advancing women’s tennis through thoroughly educated coaches. The global hub for coaching women’s tennis, the WTCA has resources in medicine, coaching, and athletes in order to assist and educate all coaches.

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With instructional videos, mentorship programs, conferences around the globe, and educational coaching courses, the WTCA both educates and inspires passionate tennis coaches with the one goal of enhancing the world of women’s tennis. Our online courses come with certifications, helping coaches to both learn and draw in more athletes. Members will have unparalleled access to WTCA material on both our website and our social media pages. 

Help us grow.

Start your path to coaching career success now!

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Leadership and Service to the Tennis Industry

Leadership and service to the industry are a derivative of personal development. Everyone wins when professionals are servant leaders. Examples follow.

  • Serve on boards or committees for local or regional tennis or recreation programs.

  • Share knowledge or presentations with tennis associations, recreation, or high school organizations.

  • Promote the profession at career workshops.

  • Participate in letter-winner programs for alma maters.

  • Support local high school and college programs and their booster clubs.

  • Encourage adaptive programs and programs for underserved players.

  • Support local tennis charities and fundraisers.

Emotionally connected professionals will have a longer and more creative list of ways to provide leadership and service for the industry.

 

Emotionally Connected Tennis Professionals

The following are characteristics of emotionally connected tennis professionals.

  • They have evolving coaching philosophies that reflect their values and meet the needs of their athletes.

  • These professionals have different priorities for personal development because they have distinct experiences and knowledge.

  • They live in communities with different demographics and opportunities. They will likely have distinct opportunities for leadership and service to the industry.

 

Despite these differences, tennis professionals with an emotional connection to the sport have one thing in common. They have expanded their spheres of influence beyond the metrics of the certification process. Through those efforts, they will strengthen the foundation of the sport and demonstrate that tennis professionals are worthy of respect for their leadership in the tennis industry.

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