Our Featured Woman in Tennis this month is Kim Bastable, ex-UF Gator, USPTA Elite Professional, then UF Athlete-Centered Coaching Professor, and now Director at UF's new online Professional Tennis Mgmt Program.
Kim was nice enough to answer our questions and elaborate a little on UF's SPM program
University of Florida: "Our goal is to improve the overall quality of life by learning and teaching what leads individuals, families and industry to value and benefit from sports. At the Department of Sport Management (SPM), we study the impact of professional and amateur sports on the personal, economic, environmental, social, and resource infrastructures of society.
"Women are in such demand. Any good woman can win a job over a good man, because of the shortage of women certified pros."
Talking with Kim Bastable
Director of USTA Professional Tennis Management at the University of Florida
Kim provided some additional information that is helping us to understand UF's SPM Program.
About the UF program:
University of Florida’s School of Health and Human Performance currently offers a Master’s degree in Sport Management with a specialization to become a Certified Director of Racquet Sports. Classes for the masters begin this summer, and the program is admitting students currently.
Starting in June, we are also planning to provide a self-paced, online continuing education option to become a Certified Director of Racquet Sports for pros who are already certified and have 3 years of experience.
Future plans for UF HHP include the addition of undergraduate classes in tennis business management. More information can be found at https://sm.hhp.ufl.edu/ or by sending an email to Kimbastable@ufl.edu.
TCB: Where are you originally from? Where do you live and work now?
KB: I grew up in the Kansas City area, in a city called Mission Woods, Kansas, right behind a country club with 2 tennis courts. It was like living with a court and a backboard in my backyard and that location spurred my love of tennis from my early years. I now split time between homes in Kansas City and in Phoenix and can do all of my work virtually for the University of Florida since I’m an online professor.
TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?
KB: I was 6 years old – Mom signed up all of her kids old enough to play because a new coach had come to our club. He had a great personality, stored tennis balls in a large rubber trash can (well before hoppers were invented) and made it very fun. Everyone loved him. My athleticism and drive helped me hit the ball pretty well, even with a cut off, heavy wood racquet. My first tournament match was when I was about 8, against another girl at my club. Neither of us could get our serves in, even from the service line, and it was before tie-breakers, so no one could win. We asked the pro what to do. He said to flip a coin, and I won! I guess that was truly a lucky break!
TCB: You were a Division I All-American and 2-time SEC champion at the University of Florida while getting your degree in Finance/Business Administration. When did you know that tennis is the field you wanted to work in?
KB: I actually wrote a paper in 6th grade for a career assignment, saying that I wanted to be a tennis teaching professional. I was already hooked!
TCB: You started coaching tennis part-time at the University of Kansas. What drew you to teaching the sport?
KB: After playing at UF, I needed some years away from the competition, and I became a sportswriter for a large daily paper. Writing was my second love. After a few years in that job, which was very fast-paced and enjoyable, I interviewed the new women’s coach at Kansas for an article. In talking to him, I realized how much I missed the game of tennis. I was changed almost overnight. I decided it was time to get back into it and he needed an assistant coach, so I took the position.
TCB: You obtained USPTA certification in 1992. Did you drop that membership after 2014?
KB: I have been a USPTA pro since 1992 and never dropped my membership. I am honored to be an Elite pro (formerly a P-1 pro) and I have never been ready to lose that status or lose any connection to USPTA.
TCB: In 2010, you became engaged in mental toughness and leadership coaching. You subsequently got your Master's degree in Positive Coaching at the University of Missouri-Columbia. What got you interested in that subject?
I would say that I didn’t get the most from my playing ability and that was due to my inability to manage my emotions. Sadly, my last move at Florida, after being selected to the NCAA All-America team in 1984, was to quit the team and not return for my senior year. It was a poor choice made out of the fear that I could not handle the expectations that would come from being a returning All-American. I had struggled with anxiety in matches off and on since I was 17, and I was tired of it, so I ran from the stress and decided to quit, graduate and “get a real job.” At least that was my logic. I realized that the stress in tennis isn’t different than stress in life and, in general, you cannot run from stressful situations. Everyone must learn the skills to handle them.
When I became a Mental Toughness Specialist through training given by the Human Performance Institute I realized what had gone wrong in my training and I wanted to help others. I decided to pursue a Masters
in Positive Coaching to further my education and began to coach and mentor young. It has truly been life-giving for me to first, realize what I did wrong in my personal career and second, to be able to coach young junior athletes in all sports so they learn that they don’t have to play with fear and anxiety, as I did.
TCB: As Professor at the University of Florida, you are teaching 'Athlete-Centered Coaching.' Can you explain to our readers what this is?
KB: My course, Athlete-centered Coaching and Leadership, covers the science and practices of guiding people to the pursuit of performance excellence while recognizing the need to value whole person development in the process. In the past (and, sometimes, sadly, still today), many coaches took a dictatorial approach, telling athletes what they must do, often including punitive critiques and athletes had little voice in the process. Research since the 1990s has shown the limits and drawbacks of that approach. This course covers that research’s findings and techniques for coaches to use to work WITH athletes, in order to create the best outcomes more often.
I also teach two courses within the Specialization that UF has to educate tennis professionals to become Directors of Racquet Sports. Those two courses cover the management, finance, accounting, marketing, programming, customer service and facilities knowledge that a pro must know to lead a tennis/racquets business.
TCB: Last year, you became the Director of the UF's online Professional Tennis Management program. How did this come about? What do you like about your position?
KB: In 2018, the USTA approached UF about starting an online Professional Tennis Management program. The online Master’s-level, Director of Racquet Sports specialization is beginning this year and in the coming years, we are planning for online undergraduate classes in tennis instruction and program management. I have always had a passion for helping people enjoy tennis as a sport for life and for teaching, in general. This position gives me the opportunity to coach leadership through my Athlete-Centered Coaching and Leadership class and to inspire a new generation of pros who will keep players engaged and playing. I love it!
TCB: What are some of the challenges in that position?
KB: Online learning is flexible for the student and that is a positive, but it’s hard not to connect with people as much as I would with in-person learning. I like to get to know my students! But I strive to always be available and with zoom and other communication modes, the learning is still effective. And although I love Gainesville and UF, since attending there, I love my flexibility, because I have grandchildren and family around the US and two children and 3 grandchildren currently living in the UK. It’s nice to be able to visit AND still get my work done!
TCB: Seeing that Tyler Junior College has discontinued their PTM program, how did Covid-19 affect you in 2020? How solid is the future for UF's PTM program?
KB: Our online Sport Management masters-level programs have almost doubled in size since the pandemic began. We believe the online nature of our programs vs. other PTM programs around the country make them unique and available to people around the globe. As well, with the success of UF’s tennis team and, in general, the sports programs, it’s an advantage to have an education from UF in sport management. We are excited about our future in this space.
TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?
KB: My future is right here, with UF. I have found my dream job for my life stage and my career – I’m amazed and thankful to have come full circle: as a All-American player at UF to now, a professor at UF, in coaching and in tennis. I look forward to growing the program and positively affecting the industry.
TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?
KB: I encourage teaching tennis as a career to anyone I know who loves the game and is passionate about a career. For women, in particular, I would wholeheartedly push it because women are in such demand. Any good woman can win a job over a good man, because of the shortage of women certified pros (maybe 20% of the industry). Clubs (and parents) want a women’s influence on the court with children and adults. And also, for those who are driven by income, a good pro can start at $50,000 out of a PTM program and a Director of Racquet Sports can make $100,000 to $150,000 to over $200,000. Few people understand that pros have a salary and a commission structure, making it a quite lucrative, as well as an enjoyable career.
TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches?
KB: Encouragement and information about the full career track. People think they have to teach all day – which is a big part of it, for sure. BUT, it’s far more than that and for someone who wants leadership, they can become a Head Pro or a Director in 3-5 years, especially, if they take the Director of Racquet Sports program at UF so they understand the industry fully.
TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?
KB: I have played a bit of pickleball – mostly to engage our large family with it, since it’s so easy to learn and it’s a great social game. I have also competed and I think it’s interesting for a short time, but the points all tend to feel very similar to me. It lacks some of the power and rhythm of tennis, which I really enjoy. POP, Touch tennis, platform and SPEC are all interesting variation games, too. I look forward to trying Padel someday but haven’t yet.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
Most of my career has been with Wilson frames and I currently play with the Wilson Clash 100.
TCB: Thank you, Kim.
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