Susan Nardi

Susan is a tennis professional certified with both the USPTA and PTR specializing in creating and expanding many innovative development programs for juniors 10 and under as well as developing high performance players. She creates development programs that ignite children’s passion for the sport and giving them a solid foundation in playing the game.

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Her company, Mommy, Daddy and Me Tennis, has produced dynamic videos and delivers staff training to help clubs in training their staff to deliver this successful curriculum.

Susan played college tennis at Elon College (NC) and Radford University (VA). She was an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, Cal Tech, and at the Irvine Valley Community College.

She coached at the Van der Meer World Training Center on Hilton Head Island, SC, and work with high-performance players. Coach Nardi was the Head Coach at Capistrano Valley High school where numerous players went on to play college tennis on scholarships. She is the only female to be the Head Coach of the All-Army Tennis Team.

In addition, she was the first Tennis Director and Head Coach of Achievable Dream in Newport News, VA. She also was the Junior Tennis Director at the Griffin Club LA where she was responsible for implementing the only Evolution Kids Tennis Program in the western United States.

 

Currently, Susan is the Director of Tennis at First Break Academy: a for impact organization in the underserved community of Carson, CA.

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TENNIS, A FAMILY AFFAIR

By Susan Nardi

Do you remember when you first fell in love with tennis? I do!

For me it was one hot summer in 1976. I was twelve years old and had decided that I was done with competitive swimming. I no longer wanted to go to swim practice. Even when I wasn’t in the pool, all I could hear was the coach yelling at me directives, technical flaws in my stroke, or to swim faster. I felt like a horse being whipped by a jockey.  There was little or no encouragement. In the pool, you couldn’t talk to your friends and I was growing tired of having swimmer ear/ear infections. The beginning of that summer in 1976, I remember making the decision to play tennis. It was something my family did almost every weekend. We would play for hours. I remembered how I loved the double matches… fun, competitive, challenging and lots of smack talk between my sisters. I had been playing since I was 3, taking lessons for a number of years. At 12 years old I decided that tennis was for me and I never looked back!

Tennis today, due to the COVID pandemic, has seen significant growth. According to the latest numbers by Tennis Industry Association, it is up 22%. This is great news as people are again discovering what a wonderful sport tennis is to play! The reality is, we have not had much competition with other sports lately due to COVID. We are the perfect social-distancing sport.

Now that tennis is on the raise again, how are we going to keep those new players in our sport while continuing to attract new players? The answer is what I call, “Family Tennis.”

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For years all I ever heard from coaches is, “I’m a high-performance coach.” Great, so you are not interested in Jones Family because the are just starting out? In my opinion, that is exactly who we should be interested in. I am not putting down any HPC; I’m just saying, as a sport we all need to be invested in growing it, in EVERY facet of it’s play.

Since 2005, I have used the family approach as a successful business model. It all started with program I was instrumental in creating: “Mommy, Daddy and Me Tennis”. Johan Hertlein and I developed the concept after I ran a successful pilot program with Pam Austin at The Riviera Tennis Club in 2004.

The class was to have a parent in the class with each child. We had 6 Red nets set up and up to 20+ children with their parents on a court. The parents learned how to be the perfect practice partners for their kids ages 3.5 to 5 years old. The success of that class led me to develop growing and successful adult beginner classes, Cardio classes, senior tennis (grandparents got in on the act!) and more kids in my “traditional” tennis classes—just off the one Mommy, Daddy and Me Tennis Program. In just six months, all my classes were full and I had to keep adding new classes to keep up with demand. Courts at the local park were seeing more people renting tennis courts while my local pro shop was selling racquets and balls to my students and enjoyed the additional business. I still worked with High Performance players, but 98% of my business had turned to this growing demand of meeting the needs of the family.

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Now that my role has shifted and I am a Tennis Director at First Break Academy (a for-impact organization in the underserved community of Carson, California), my approach is still geared towards getting the family into tennis. At First Break Academy, we encourage our parents to play with their kids before or after their lesson. The kids usually end up showing their parents a few things on court. The smiles on their faces are priceless. Just like before, I have more adults now, wanting to take lessons. Many families have told me on Sundays they are out playing tennis together.

To continue to build and retain players making the sport a “family affair” make logical sense. I highly recommend coaches, directors, and tennis professionals explore opportunities to make Family Tennis a part of their program.

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