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Post Graduate Tennis
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There is much talk about the lack of fresh, young blood in the tennis teaching profession. It appears the millions of new beginners that the USTA says have entered the tennis ecosystem last year have created that big void that needs to be filled if many of those new players are expected to stay in our sport.
We think that the college players that do not take the pathway to play professionally are a large reservoir of very good players who could potentially become certified tennis coaches. While most PTM programs are already involved in getting their graduates employment, other colleges do not. So, we want to address those graduates and give them a chance to explore the possibility of going into full-time or part-time teaching tennis.
Rich had a nice conversation with Tim Russell, Chief executive Officer of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). He learned that Tim is also a Music Director and Conductor. Amazing, because Rich considers himself an "Armchair Conductor."
Tim is supporting our efforts regarding Post Graduate Tennis and he's working with longstanding ITA partners UTR and especially the USTA on creating a strategic plan on the very subject. We have since been able to communicate with Mike Dowse, who is now on the ITA Board, and Tim Cass (USTA head of college Tennis) to be in the loop for information and to learn of the game plan.
This month, we'll read an article by David Span titled 'Keep an open mind and jump with both feet in." David is both PTR and USPTA-certified and a graduate of the USTA's High-Performance Coaching Program. He also holds a certification as Tennis Technical Analyst by Tennis Analytics. As former Varsity Academy Director and hitting partner of ATP and WTA tour players, David is no stranger to dealing with college players and helping them get ahead in the world of tennis.
The USTA's Head of Collegiate Tennis and former General Manager of the National Campus in Orlando comes with a background that includes a wealth of coaching and business operations experience at the highest level of collegiate athletics. An all-American player at the University of New Mexico, Tim coached at the University of New Mexico and at Texas A&M. He was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the University Of New Mexico Hall Of Honor in 2012. He was also recognized as one of the 40 most influential persons in the sport of tennis under 40 years old by Tennis Industry Magazine in July of 2000.
Tim is giving us a very brief summary of the USTA's Collegiate Certification Initiative.
David is the owner of Skip Span Consulting: Providing mentorship and remote coaching services.
From 2014-2019, David worked for Kansas City United Tennis (KCUT) player development. He was the driving force behind KCUT’s Varsity Academy and its coaching philosophy.
David helped over 30 players see their goal of continuing their tennis at the NCAA collegiate level.
He was awarded Outstanding Contributor to High Performance, USTA’s Missouri Valley/Heart of America District in 2016.
He also served as a coach for a junior Grand Slam singles finalist and five junior players who have reached the top 10 in the USTA national rankings, along with being a practice partner for players on the ATP Tour & ITF Pro Circuit.
Keep an open mind and jump with both feet in
By David Span
Tennis… the game of a lifetime. I, like many, got my start in tennis through playing at public parks with my Dad and my brother. I caught the tennis bug, and soon the junior tournaments followed. Tennis carried me through some of the highest levels of American junior tennis, followed by the collegiate level, and then a short stint playing in the minor leagues of the US & ITF Pro Circuit.
And then, like many, I was wondering… what is next? I proceded to get my head back into the textbooks as I prepared to take my graduate school entrance exams. But my former coach convinced me to teach tennis on the side, in order to help put some money back in my pockets while I prepared for grad school. Nonetheless, I found my calling and true passion — giving back to the game of tennis, which had truly given so much to me in my playing days.
Too often, I see that teaching tennis is a “bridge job”, that college players & graduates take part in while searching for their next career and position. Is coaching difficult? Absolutely. Are there long hours? Definitely. However, with the right mentorship, coaching can be one of the most self-rewarding careers that tennis players and tennis advocates can make for themselves.
As players, we tend to be selfish, thinking of how we can better ourselves as players, and what can others do for us. As coaches, however, we have to flip the switch and go completely unselfish and put the players in the best scenarios in order to progress and have fun. And this is an extremely difficult task to do!
For those who are passionate about the game of tennis and other racquet sports, and are either in college or post-graduates, please reach out to your tennis buddies and coaches from the past (as long as you’re still on good terms with them!). Seek out information from former coaches on how you may be able to contribute and/or give back to the game. You’ll be amazed at how tennis can bring people full circle — the tennis world is extremely small, and the network you’ll create will stay with you for many years to come.
I wouldn’t exactly say a career in coaching was what I had in mind as I was a student-athlete — I believe coaching found me, and I am most grateful for it. As I see some of my colleagues making huge strides to grow the game of tennis and racquet sports, I am dedicated to being a student of the game while mentoring others, and hope to continue pushing this industry to newer heights.
For those who aren’t totally sure about coaching, keep an open mind and jump with both feet in. Let’s help make a difference.
USTA's Collegiate Certification Initiative
Thanks for the opportunity to provide details on our collegiate certification initiative. First of all, through USTAU, our goal is to work with the USPTA, PTR, and ITA on this initiative. The USPTA and PTR are the USTA accredited certification bodies, and they will deliver the certification. The ITA is a partner organization of the USTA and very supportive of this goal.
Our plan for this initiative is to support collegiate tennis by setting up workshops on college campuses around the country. We will target the diverse makeup of the 20,000 Varsity and 5,000 plus Tennis On Campus athletes so they can learn the basics of coaching and teaching tennis to use as a springboard into a career in tennis.
The USTA will support the workshops which will be conducted by dual-certified, USPTA/PTR Coach Developers. To qualify for a certification, they would go through the same requirements for Level 1 certification - workshop, online courses, SafePlay, and background screen, in addition to First Aid/CPR. Our goal is to keep costs to a minimum for these student-athletes while providing them a new skill set as they consider career options.
Head of Collegiate Tennis
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