Founder Peter Townes
Next Level Tennis and Education, Inc. envisions cultivating a generation of student- athletes who are: disciplined, thoughtful, discerning, and powerful influencers who utilize competitive coping strategies (independently and as members of a team) to expertly manage life and work stress.
“At 14 years old, I decided to play tennis. Like much of my young life, if I put my mind to a thing, I accomplished it. It wasn’t from my mother’s investment, or from my father’s encouragement that I was driven to the courts of D.C. It was because my father left behind a racket, some tennis balls, and the will of an athlete. Arthur Ashe inspired me from the television when he defeated Jimmy Connors in Wimbledon. I looked at him and realized that he was doing something that I could do, so I did it!” - Peter Townes
Questions for Peter Townes
TCB: Peter, where were you born?
PT: I was born in Washington, DC
TCB: Your website states you picked up your dad’s racquet at age 14 and started to play. Did anyone give you lessons?
PT: I took lessons from Bobby Johnson II, he and his father taught both Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson.
TCB: Did you play high school tennis?
PT: Yes, played #2 singles and #1 doubles @Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, DC.
TCB: What happened with your tennis between age 14 and becoming All-American at South Carolina State?
PT: I played 3 or 4 junior tournaments, high school tennis team and trained my butt off for 4 years. After school in the spring/fall 2 hours a day and summertime 8-10 hours a day.
TCB: Why did you go into teaching tennis?
PT: I decided to go into teaching for several reasons; I finally realized I started too late to play at a high professional level. During my 1st year in college, I took a summer teaching job out of state and realized, not only did I love playing, but I loved to teach children, and was good at it! I didn’t realize that you could make a living teaching and decided to get a job with Marriott and eventually went into business for myself as a caterer and bakery owner.
After about 8 years of working for others and myself (totally out of tennis), with 2 kids, I was questioned, “how are you going to pay for college?” This was around 1991. I sold my bakery, started competing on the USTAMAS Jr Vets circuit and taught my own children. During the same time, I took a teaching job with the area's largest tennis/educational 501c3 for 4 years and became one of 3 Head Professionals. In short, I got back into tennis and teaching because I love it and to get my children collegiate scholarships.
TCB: When did you get certified and why did you choose PTR?
PT: Honestly, I chose PTR because their certifications were local and easily accessible.
TCB: You went through some interesting tennis teaching and managing positions. What made you start Next Level Tennis and Education?
PT: I started NLTE after being unjustly fired from the area's largest tennis/educational 501(c)3 (I sued and took a settlement). We were great at getting youth interested and playing the game, but once I got the students good enough to win and compete nationally they didn’t want to keep supporting them, which to me was letting the children down. I started Next Level Tennis to help youth compete on the professional tour and earn collegiate scholarships. About 15 years later and a 13-year stay in Atlanta, Ga, and the Southern USTA, I returned to DC and took NLT to the next level by becoming a Non-profit 501(c)3, NLTE.
Left: Peter's son Gabriel, Director of Junior Development in Georgia. Full scholarship to GA State and Bradley U.
Right: Peter's son Matthews, Director of Junior Development in Maryland. Scholarship to Morgan State. Assistant Men's Coach and then Head Coach at Morgan State.
TCB: NLTE has locations in DC (you), Georgia (your son Gabriel), and Maryland (your son Matthew). Is there a healthy competition between you and your sons?
PT: My sons love the game and teaching. They have other jobs and currently, work part-time for NLTE. When I played the competition with them it was healthy and fun.
TCB: Is NLTE a non-profit?
PT: Yes, NLTE is a non-profit 501(c)3.
PT: Yes, we found 6 students to scholarship that year. What happened? Three of them relocated to Florida, one had to be released for lack of commitment and we are still training two.
PT: Yes. What sets any organization apart from others is the leadership. I’m leading our organization with one mission in mind, the kids! The only agenda is to help our parents raise disciplined, thoughtful, hardworking young citizens who can compete on a world-class stage, whether it’s on the tennis court or in the workforce. We aren’t as big as the other 2, 501(c)3’s in our area, but we are coming!
TCB: What are your future plans for NLTE? Are there expansion plans?
PT: Currently, we are a certified District of Columbia Public School After School Program, and offer programming after school and Sunday programming indoors in school gymnasiums.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
PT: I play and recommend Head.
TCB: Have you played pickleball?
PT: No, I have never played pickleball.
TCB: Any plans to incorporate it into your curriculum?
PT: Once, NLTE builds, buys or leases a tennis facility, of course, we will incorporate pickleball in our programming.
TCB: Thank you, Peter Townes.