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.
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.
A Week on the Other Side
How a week as temporary manager taught me
the importance of filling a player’s emotional tank
By Susan Nardi
I love what I do! Every day, I get the unbelievable opportunity to share the game that I love with a diverse range of people. Most of my time, I am, sharing it with junior players and sometimes adults that are new to the game. Creating new players and enhancing people’s leisure time through tennis is my daily job. It’s not just rewarding for my students and myself, it is literally a blast!
This month though I got to do something completely different; something I haven’t done in a while…. I got the honor of working with a pro player.
Veronika Miroshnichenko is a young lady I met last summer when she came to coach/volunteer at First Break Academy. She’s not only an amazing athlete, tennis player, and student, but she has an amazingly high standard of personal excellence that you would want all kids to model. As a #1 player at LMU she is a leader and has helped propel that team to new heights. Since LMU did not have a season this year due to COVID, she decided to compete in some pro tournaments to keep moving her game forward. She had signed up to play in the UTR Pro-Series Tournament in Newport Beach and needed rides to the event. I was happy to volunteer to take her; I enjoyed hanging out with her in the morning, watch her play, and drive her home.
We were able to talk quite extensively on the road which was both revealing and enjoyable for both of us. Little did I know how this opportunity would enhance my perspective on life and coaching.
My personal communication with Veronika triggered a memory I had, where in a 2006 interview for a position with USTA Talent ID, I was asked to define the types of coaches there are. My answer was there are 3: The Fire Starter, the Technician, and the Manager. In talking with and watching Veronika play, I could see the importance of each of these types of ‘influencers’ we have in the world of teaching tennis.
Fire Starter – This is your first coach. He or she hopefully ignites your passion for the sport. They get you started on your journey and certainly have the opportunity to provide the student with a solid foundation of the game.
Technician – This is the coach that refines your foundation and your game on both the technical and tactical levels. The Technician is the one who helps put the right nuts with the right bolts so to speak.
Manager – At this stage, you’re working with players that are super serious and are playing at the upper junior, college, or pro level. What they often help with are sometimes the mundane and organizational tasks. All the items necessary to help them succeed on the court so they can focus more on their play. By all means, this also includes doing work as a Technician, relatively speaking, less of it. It is helping them be in the right mindset to go out and play their best tennis.
Although I did not get the job with the USTA when I interviewed with them, presenting these three figures in the tennis-teaching industry, (and, that might have been a blessing in disguise), the USTA must have liked my original answer enough to use it as a topic at the 2006 USTA National Teachers Conference in New York.
After many years of being a Fire Starter and Technician, I had a wonderful time in my role as Manager for Veronika. I made sure that most necessary tasks that needed to be done were handled so that Veronika could focus on her performance on the court. I loved sitting back during her matches, watching her grit and determination as she played. I sat back and not only took notes on her match to help answer questions or give a bit of an outside view of what happened, but it helped create objective and meaningful dialogue for Veronika to gain from.
For me personally, it reinforced my Positive Coaching Alliance training of how critical it is to fill players' emotional tanks. We all want to do well, no matter what level we are playing at. Having positive support and encouragement can truly make a difference to a person. In addition, it’s building a relationship of trust and respect.
Veronika had an amazing week at Newport Beach. Lots of fist-pumping, “Come On” fighting spirit got her into the championship match. Although she lost in the finals, it was a great way to spend my Mother’s Day morning cheering her on.
This week, she is off playing in another UTR Pro tournament event. Although I’m not there in person, I still watch every match. I update our kids in the program on how Veronika is doing as they have a connection with her from her coaching them. The kids have been sending her positive encouraging messages to Coach V to let her know we are behind her 100%.
So, when you go out on the court remember how important it is to build that relationship with your kids and your coaching staff. Because it doesn’t matter if they are 5 or 23 or 65-year-old kids-at-heart, they all need that encouragement which could make all the difference in the world.
Thanks, Veronika, for an incredible week and memories for a lifetime. Can’t wait to do it again!
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