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This month:

Stephanie Daniel, Philadelphia, PA

Vivian Chan, Hongkong, SAR

Caroline Wheelen, Delray Beach, FL

Nazli Zeini, Toronto, CAN

Michaela Hončová, Bratislavia, SK

Jane Burniston, Headley, UK

Isabella Graf, Ft. Myers, FL

Fanni Fricska, Budapest, HUN

Brought to you by I Love My Doubles Partner

Luxury Ladies Tennis Apparel, Bags, Jewels, and Tournaments. 

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If you would like to get in touch with any of the professionals, please let us know and we'll pass that request on. If some of the interview questions look like they are missing context, just know that in most cases we familiarized ourselves with a person with the help of their LinkedIn page.

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WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Every year March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history.

Did You Know? Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week.

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women's History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

(more: womenshistory.org)

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We're pleased to introduce Stephanie Daniel

Tennis Coach at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education;
Art Instructor/Teacher, School District of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
U.S.A.

"Young girls need and want female role models. 

You can’t be what you can’t see!"

TCB: Hi, Stephanie, where are you from?

SD: I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.

TCB: Did you play tennis as a child?  If yes how old were you and who introduced you to tennis?

SD: As a child, my mother would take me along with her during each summer weekend whenever there was an ATA Tournament in the New England area. She was a constant on the circuit – Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. She was well known, an excellent lefty who no one wanted to face on court. Her name is Barbara Loatman, she is 86 yrs old, and had over 100 trophies when I was growing up (my job was to dust them off). I began playing at age 10; my tennis coach was Mr. Sonny Paige (Henry E Paige) who is in the Tennis Hall of Fame as Boston’s first Black Tennis Pro. (on the right: Stephanie's mom Barbara playing at the Sportsmen's Tennis Club in Boston)

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TCB: Tell us how your tennis life developed until you became a teaching Pro.  Did you play in high school or college?

SD: Living in Roxbury, the place to play was Sportsman’s Tennis Club in Dorchester. Indoor and outdoor courts, hard courts, and clay, I was amongst the first class of juniors, starting at age 12. It was a new program for inner-city kids, in the early 1970s, and I believe every youth-based tennis program that began in other cities after that was modeled on Sportsmen’s. I played NJTL, 14 and 16 and under tournaments in New England, was ranked at some point in singles and doubles, played in local community tournaments in and around Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard where my family went each summer.

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I attended Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, a small all-girls private school, from 4th to 12th grade. I was on scholarship, I did play on the tennis team in high school, but, since tennis and lacrosse were both played in the spring, and I made varsity Lacrosse in 10th grade, I typically chose to play lacrosse instead, because tennis was the game I played all the time at Sportsmen’s, and I really loved Lacrosse.

I was an athlete in school, played all the sports I could, varsity field hockey, softball, and basketball. I had figure skating lessons for several years; we went on ski trips with the school. For a young girl growing up in Roxbury, having all these sports made available to me at an elite school like NCDS was a dream. I loved them all, tried them all.

The junior tennis program at Sportsmen’s afforded me a year-round spot to learn, play and form life-long friendships. Kids from all over Boston, kids who could not afford tennis lessons and racquets would come every Saturday from 9-12noon, our tennis coaches would be teaching pros from the vicinity, and College-age guys who were stars on their respective teams at Hampton University, Harvard University, and other schools. And thanks to Bud Collins, world-renowned sports columnist for The Boston Globe, Sportsmen’s Tennis Club gained recognition and support as a model for youth-based tennis facilities around the country. It is now called Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center.

 

I played on the tennis team at Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY. I was an art major, on a partial academic scholarship. Back then, there were little to no athletic scholarships for women. I was Marymount’s first African American to play on the squad. I played #1 Singles, sometimes doubles. Sister Barbara, the Dean of Students, was an avid player, as well as a few faculty members were frequent opponents for me as the courts were directly behind my dorm.Marymount was a small all-women’s college and we played other similar schools (Vassar, Sarah Lawrence etc.).

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TCB: Why did you become a teaching professional and why did you get PTR Certified?  Did all this happen parallel to your teaching career in Philadelphia? Also, tell us about Legacy Youth Tennis and Education.  How did you find them and what made you work there?

SD: I began teaching tennis purely by fate.  When my daughter decided she wanted to learn to play, I signed her up at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, which was the name before it changed to Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. I was chatting with another parent about tennis, the Director overheard our conversation, and asked if I would be interested in coaching their summer NJTL program.  They had only a few female coaches at the time.  I never set out to become a tennis coach.  So, I said yes.  That was 2004.  A few years later I was asked to coach the after-school tennis program Legacy was doing at a few schools.  Also, I coach a few clinics a few days a week at the center during the school year.  The opportunity to become PTR certified at Legacy was just the next logical step.

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TCB: Do you like working at Legacy YTE?  Are you on court teaching tennis?

SD: I enjoy working with the youth of Philadelphia in many capacities.  Whether it’s coaching on the court at the tennis center or in the neighborhood summer NJTL program, in the gym at an after-school program, or in the classroom as a Visual Arts Teacher.  I have a master’s degree in art education from Saint Joseph’s University and I teach art at Paul Dunbar Elementary School in Philadelphia.

 

TCB: You have a business called Etiquette Matters.  When and why did you start that?  

SD: Etiquette Matters was begun out of a need for our young adults to learn how to conduct themselves in unfamiliar social situations, formal events, and general societal norms such as setting a table for lunch or dinner, formal place settings, personal hygiene, how to conduct oneself in social gatherings.  I was hired, at first, at a few local churches.  Thus began a word-of-mouth business that clearly was necessary in our black communities. 

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TCB: What are your challenges working at Legacy? Is it easy to teach kids about etiquette and having manners?

SD: Many kids do not have opportunities to dine in world-class restaurants.  Kids in group homes have never eaten in a restaurant where there was a cloth napkin and multiple silverware.  Some have never had to introduce themselves to a large group – how to shake hands, what to say.  For the most part, many young people have a casual and unstructured lifestyle, but you never know when you’ll find yourself at a formal event, sitting at a table of ten with multiple glassware, 4 forks, 3 spoons, etc. 

TCB: Which one do you like better, teaching Visual Arts in Philadelphia School or teaching manners to tennis kids?

SD: I do not teach etiquette and manners to my tennis kids at Legacy, just tennis.

 

I enjoy my teaching lifestyle.  I have been blessed with many gifts to share…Creativity, Tennis, and Etiquette.  I am an art teacher to children from kindergarten to eighth grade at Paul L. Dunbar Elementary School.  I coach tennis to both kids and adults. 

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Growing up I had the best of both worlds – education was extremely important, but also learning other cultures via travel, and sports, will always improve your way of life.  I try to share my knowledge of the game with young people in a way that is fun, always telling them it is a sport where you will make friends and you can play tennis your entire life – unlike other sports where you need a team or a group in order to play.  I always tell my students that if you show up at a tennis court with your racquet and a few balls, someone else will show up the same way, looking to hit.  And if you play well, it can lead to a spot on a tennis team, perhaps a scholarship to college – at the very least, tennis keeps you in shape!

As an art instructor, I share my creative gifts and knowledge of art history with kids so that they are aware of the global impact of the styles and techniques of today.  As a kid, if I wasn’t hitting a ball, I was drawing a picture.

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in tennis?  Would you encourage them?

SD: The “glass ceiling” of women in coaching is breaking.  I would love to see more women coaching tennis.  We have to be our own advocates, know our own strengths.  If it’s not actively coaching, perhaps you are a better administrator, leading a tennis organization responsible for hiring more female coaches. Young girls need and want female role models.  You can’t be what you can’t see!!  I am very aware of this fact.  A few years back, I received a grant from USTA Middle States to attend a Minority Women in Coaching Leadership Conference. Nicole LaVoi, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport was one of many speakers.  She made it clear that women, especially women of color, are underrepresented in coaching. We must be positive, have confidence, and believe in our abilities.  I always have.

 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball?  Do you like it?

SD: I don’t play Pickleball, I don’t care for it.  We have a popular local Pickleball Association here, very active in the summer.

 

TCB: What is your racquet of choice?   

SD: I play with a Wilson or Dunlop.

TCB: Thank you, Stephanie.

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We're pleased to introduce Vivian Chan

Licensed tennis & swimming coach. Tennis player and Triathlete. Open-water rescue and lifeguarding.

Hongkong SAR

"I believe being creative, flexible and resilient  are the key to survive during this pandemic."

TCB: Hello, Vivian, where are you originally from? Where do you live and work now?

VC: I was born and raised in Hong Kong.  I am working as a full time swimming instructor at an international school.  I also teach tennis every Sunday.

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

VC: My interest sparked when I saw Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi play at Wimbledon on TV.  My parents never played tennis and they hired a coach for me and my brother when I was 14 years old in the summer holiday. I played other racquet sports too but not as keen as tennis.  My uncle who is now 85 years old, still plays tennis till his late 70’s and we play double together too.  When I was little, I was his ball girl at the court!

TCB: Did you play high school and college tennis?

VC: As for most of the Asian parents, academic results are far more important than sports achievement in their eyes.  I put my racquet away for a long period of time and spent many years competing in open-water swimming and triathlon events locally and overseas after I graduated. But then,  I know my passion for tennis is still in my heart and I miss the game of tennis so much.  Now, I am a League B player and compete in community tennis matches, open tournaments and Summer & Winter leagues for my team throughout the season.

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TCB: After achieving a Bachelor degree in Science at the University of Kent, England, you had professional jobs in Hongkong until 2016 and then came a monumental change. You started to obtain a large number of licenses and certifications and began to coach swimming and tennis. How did this come about? And why the combination of swimming and tennis?

VC: I achieved great career success working as a sales and business specialist in different business sectors for more than 20 years.   I enjoy playing tennis and swimming a lot but also want to promote or teach both sports to young people, so I always wanted to try out some coaching.  In 2016, my mother in Canada was very sick so I quit my job and stayed with her.  After six months, I came back to HK and began my search for something that would be more fulfilling and different. So I started to obtain my first tennis instructor certification and with luck, I  got a teaching opportunity at school and in some private setting soon after I was certified.   I obtained the swimming teachers’ certificate and at the same time, I work as a tennis and swim instructor.  Right from my first interactions with those sweet little children, I realized teaching was where my heart was especially to young learners!  In addition, learning how to swim is a life-saving skill and it is a sport that is always in high demand for female coaches in HK.

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TCB: On LinkedIn you listed an atpca tennis certification. Did you go to Australia to obtain it?

VC: I was certified as a ATPCA Level 1 tennis coach in HK in 2016. There is a representative/assessor who offers training and certification locally.

TCB: What do you like about working as a tennis and swim coach?

VC: Fun, exhausted and busy!  Good in summer, as you can dip into the pool after a hot day on the tennis court!  If it’s a long day and I am too tired, I would ask the tennis kids to get a kickboard at the tennis court, and a racquet for the swim kids at the pool!  I don’t drive so I can make over 20,000 steps a day when classes are packed the whole day just to travel between courts and pools!

What’s more, swimming is good for all sports in terms of rehab, prehab and as a preventative exercise against injury.  I also believe there are a lot of similarities to the mental side of tennis.  For tennis, swimming is particularly good for joints and shoulders. Tennis players are always changing the surfaces they are playing on and the majority of those surfaces are hard, so working in the pool keeps the body loose.  Swimming is low-impact and is the complete opposite to tennis, which is why it’s so good. So I would encourage my adult students to do swimming in order to keep their body in shape.

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TCB: Do you work at a tennis facility in Hongkong? How many courts and what surfaces are they?

VC: Yes, I do.  Most coaches in HK teach at public tennis facilities.  I also work at a mini-tennis indoor centre in which red, orange balls and 19”, 21” or 23” junior rackets are being used.  As of 2020, we have 252 tennis courts across the territory which are accessible by the public.  The overall utilisation rate is 62% and even though the tennis courts at present generally meet the needs of hirers as reflected by the utilisation, however coaches and recreational players always have problems in securing their court and quite often coaches overbooked the facilities.  

 

The major court surface in HK is hard court.  They are found usually at the parks, resident clubhouses and the Hong Kong Sport Institute. We have a number of synthetic clay courts, indoor courts and synthetic grass courts at private clubhouses such as Ladies’ Recreation Club, Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, American Club, HK Jockey Club, Chinese Recreation Club, Indian Recreation Club, HK Golf and Tennis Academy and Craigengower Cricket Club, they are accessible by membership or corporate nominee membership only.

TCB: Do you teach both sports to kids or to adults? Are they the same clients or totally different people?

VC: Some of the tennis kids are my swim kids too, but never the other way round as I teach cirriculum swimming at the school.  I teach kids aged from 3.5- 6 years old and it is absolutely my favorite age to teach.  I establish good bonding and connection with the kids and their parents.  They both know me quite well from the tennis class so the parents are very comfortable putting their kids to swim with me.  They like to see familiar faces and so kids are more adaptable to my way of teaching and style, it also saves time and effort to look for the ideal swim instructor!

 

When I first started, I coached adult beginners too. From time to time, I gain inquiry and referrals from word of mouth for swimming classes (both kids and adults).  But what I enjoy most is to introduce these two sports to those youngest learners.

TCB: What are some of the challenges in both positions?

VC: I think managing parents' expectations is one of the challenges when their kids are not progressing well.   Sometimes I think there’s a need for educating parents to take part in the learning process too.  The other one is drop out from the sports when the kids reach age 6 years old - Parents in HK like to introduce the child to a variety of sports or activities, music instruments, art & drama and language lessons.  Some parents treat their kids as a “little adult” and the schedule is packed after school and even on the weekend!  

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TCB: How did Covid-19 affect you in 2020?

VC: I believe being creative, flexible and resilient  are the key to survive during this pandemic.  Swimming pools and tennis courts in HK were reopened for 5 weeks in May/ June and closed again between July and September last year.  The courts are just reopened in February after 8 weeks of closure..   The government  provided four rounds of “One-off grant” to registered sports coaches whose coaching and teaching services have been seriously affected by the COVID-19. 

 

And during COVID time when the courts are allowed to open, coaches and students at indoor tennis facilities are required to wear masks throughout the lesson  and for outdoor courts, masks have to be put on right after the lesson finished.  I find it difficult to breathe and feel dizzy sometimes after 3-hours lessons. It takes some time to adapt to it.

 

COVID-19 definitely changes the mode of learning as well as the way to deliver lessons to students. At school, we run zoom lessons (Yes!  Teaching swimming and water safety topics in Zoom) and produce asynchronous videos for home-learning.  We also want them to stay fit and active when there’s no access to the water, so we create an “Aqua Fit-Board” which introduces them to dryland exercises.  We incorporate games and exercise together in our lessons, so in Zoom we played an online jeopardy game and SNAP with the students. And they love it!  All tennis classes are suspended and some coaches offer private or semi-private strength & conditioning programs or fitness classes.  They also make use of the social media page by posting home-based exercises that are tennis-related.

 

During lockdown, I attended the online tennis symposium and revisited the fundamental teaching skills, psychology, biomechanics, physical conditioning and parental series through ITF Academy online platform.  Speakers are unable to travel like they normally do and it’s great that they have live broadcast and recording.

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

VC: I believe I have changed my career successfully 4 years ago, I enjoy what I am doing every day and I see this as a viable career.  I am currently on course to complete my Master’s in  Sports Medicine and Health Science with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  In the course, I have continued to expand my professional growth and knowledge in the area of  Medical aspects of sports and exercise, Sports injuries prevention and management, Sports physical therapy and performance psychology which will continue to inform and guide me in every aspect of my daily life as an educator, tennis player and swimmer.  Right now, I am doing a research project which is swimming- related.  My next research topic for tennis could be “How are student athletes (or parents) perceiving female coaches in HK”. Using the triangulation in qualitative research, it can be set up by interviews with sports association teams, parents and supplemented with surveys.  

 

Completing the National Umpire Course is still on my to-do-list!  I plan to compete more matches but because of my study and closure of the facility, I can’t compete as much as I wanted last year.  

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TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you do it again?

VC: I think they look really cool and I want to become one of them! I wish I could begin my career change, start to learn much earlier or compete more when young!  I enjoy my time interacting directly with tennis students, players and parents.  I look forward to spending time with them no matter how tired of that week is.  Seeing the beginners learning from scratch, picking up the skills progressivley, how much they enjoy the fun part of the sports and bringing their friends along to learn together make me so motivated!  

TCB: In your opinion, what does it take for the industry to attract more female coaches, especially in Hongkong where you said 90% of tennis coaches are males?

VC: I was lucky to be trained by two female coaches in the past for my preparation of the triathlon event and my PE teacher in high school was a female too, so my experience with female coaches was a positive one.  In fact I am looking for a female coach to coach me tennis!  I do hear my tennis kid’s parents like to have female instructors as they are approachable, personable with effective communication and listening skills with captivating characters.  I still believe there are parents out there looking for female coaches but the numbers are just too small.  

 

Two rare examples of women in a high profile coaching role I came across are Becky Hammon who is the assistant coach of San Antonio Spurs in the NBA and Chan Yuen Ting, the first female HK soccer coach to win a top flight men’s championship, who was chosen as one of the BBC’s 100 best women in 2016 and the Forbes “30’ under 30 Asia” in 2017.   They are all my inspiration and my coach model.

 

Only a couple of local top female players I know pursue their career in coaching because of the family connection and influence.  Female players, whether they are recreational or pro, spend time to “play and compete'' rather than teaching.  Most of the coaches in HK, they work independently and this isn't an institution or tennis school or academy that runs the tennis program systematically, there may be someone who is interested in coaching but they don’t see the career path or long term development in this industry. I think, local sports/ tennis governing body should constantly play an active role in finding ways to encourage more women to enter the tennis-coaching realm and keep women in the game. From LaVoi, Nicole M. (Ed.) (2016). Women in sport coaching. New York: Routledge., it highlights the importance of female coaches to other female coaches, “women coaches need to see and interact with other women coaches for friendship, networking, support, career advice, mentorship, counseling, and help in navigating a male dominated workplace” (p. 3).  So I think, for example, establishing a female coach mentorship program, offering a clear career pathway, coaching attachment, peer reflection and observation in coaching sessions can definitely help in coach development and enhance job-satisfaction which in turn can attract, retain and reduce the drop out of female coaches.  

 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?

VC: I heard of Touch Tennis but not Pickleball. What is it?

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

VC: I am currently using Yonex VCore 98 and Dunlop Biomimetic S6.0 Lite occasionally.  My preferred string is Volkl Cyclone 18g at 50lb.

TCB: Thank you, Vivian.

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We're pleased to introduce Caroline Wheelen

Head Coach at Florida Atlantic University

Delray Beach, Florida

U.S.A.

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"Women can make amazing directors

because we are organized and planners."

 

TCB: Hi Caroline, where are you originally from? 

CW: Born in Toronto Canada but parents moved us to South Florida just a couple years later. Parents are of Czech decent so Czech was my 1st language and the ONLY language I spoke when I went to Kindergarden in Addison Mizner School in Boca Raton Florida.  I don’t remember any of that and must have learned English quickly.  How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it? Parents started hitting on the public courts in Ft. Lauderdale with me in an infant chair.  Eventually I got a racket and messed around on the courts as they played.  I was also doing diving at the same time. Several times I hit really close to the diving boards and my mom couldn’t take the stress of the potential injury so they focused on tennis.  I was practicing probably 6 days a week starting at the age of 10. My dad was the one who pushed me to learn and worked with me a ton.  I had private coaches but didn’t spend much time in any academies. 

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school? 

CW: I played my first 12 and under tournament at the age of 12 which was late.  I was beaten really badly over and over. From then on it was tournaments every weekend, nationals, orange bowl every year.  I was basically doing the tournament tour all year.  My dad would wake me early in the morning and make me run.  He was the quintessential eastern European dad who really had to force me to play but I’m grateful now.  We had to stop our family vacations once I got into the 16’s because of all the intersectional and international tournaments.  I was invited by Mizuno to travel to Japan to play in some professional tournaments.  I ended up playing for my HS (Atlantic High) which is unusual these days for D1 college players. Our team was comprised of 5 girls that ended up playing D1 or D2 college tennis so we dominated high school tennis.  In the world of tennis it didn’t mean too much but it was amazing memories and because we were all so good it was easy to practice with each other.

TCB: You were a very accomplished college player for the University of Miami. What is your single most memorable achievement from that time?

CW: I played #1 for most of my career. Ranked as high as 24 I believe. Big Each Champs winner. Rookie of the Year. Doris Hart MVP player. My coach at the time was not involved and not interested in her job very much.  I had to schedule privates with coaches around the city, with male players in the area, I ran sprints with the UM football team b/c we had no conditioning. Some of my teammates and I would meet to work extra. I also started running campus which was 3.5 miles after every practice or before to challenge myself.  I always felt there was no way I should lose b/c I wasn’t fit. 

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Best moment was when we are playing U.Florida. I basically left everything I had out on the court that day. I didn’t have proper care and should’ve had an IV as I was in full body cramps and erupted with massive blisters all over my body.  My forearm would curl into an unhuman curved shaped in the middle of the rally. I had to unbend it and keep hitting. I was winning my singles match and the UF coach at the time was trying every unsportsmanlike mental distraction technique possible. The crowd was gigantic b/c the courts are central to all sports and students so lots of walk up spectators. My family was all there b/c we lived 1 hour away. I was able to dig so deep to finish and win that match. Probably the best feeling and scariest feeling in the world as to how hard I could push myself. I could barely catch my breath for several hours and I’m not sure I slept that night.  It took me a decent amount of time to recover from that match.

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TCB: When did you start teaching tennis, and why did you do it? What's driving you? 

CW: I’m a hustler and always have been. I needed extra money so I started teaching tennis my sophomore year in High school. Local clinics and camps for the local pros at the local clubs.  My parents taught us to be very much on time, have manners, be prepared, be focused and give everything 100%. So it’s a great work ethic to have. Some directors and coaches used to use me as a sparring partner for pros. Every summer in college I taught tennis. On the weekends I would work with my parents friends whom they played doubles with during the week. Several summers were in the Hamptons. The money was amazing, the people I met were even more amazing and the nurturing satisfied feeling I get from helping people is the MOST AMAZING feeling. I spent a summer in Austria teaching at an exclusive country club in the middle of the city with ambassadors and politically powerful people.  

TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? If not, why not? 

CW: I was USPTA certified only for insurance reasons and several clubs asked for it in Arizona. I let both lapse b/c I don’t see any clubs asking for that anymore and to be honest almost anyone can get certified. I don’t understand the point of the certification.  It doesn’t mean you are a good professional.  

TCB: You worked at a number of clubs in Florida, New York, and even in Austria. How do you rate the experience gained at these clubs? Also the U.S. vs. the European experience?

CW: I feel as though I have worked at the best clubs in the world almost.  The Hamptons were amazing b/c under normal circumstances one wouldn’t be able to mingle with the clientele there. And when I tell you the most powerful people in the world were members I really mean it.  And here I was invited to their parties and booked repeatedly for lessons.  Many clients would later help me in the business world to which this day I am grateful. 

I’m a big absorber of my environment. So I learned skills on how to entertain even the most famous people in the world. I also learned being insanely wealthy doesn’t equate to happiness.  On the court I worked under very strict directors who had to be ultra organized. At a young age I adopted that skill and am extremely organized and think ahead. 

In Europe the pros don’t make nearly as much as US pros though the pro is still the boss. In the US, the money is good that  the client is the boss and that can mean acquiescing to a 12 year old spoiled child. Otherwise there were pros and cons to both but equally satisfying.    

The European clubs are different in that it is a lifestyle.  Europeans go to the club for the whole experience on court and then hang out eating together for hours after. They invite you to sit at their table and you become friends.  Americans take a lesson and rush out to the next thing. The toughest business for many pros is the resort business.  As a resort pro you learn to read your clientele quickly and if you don’t you will fail. I have seen so many professionals really struggle as a resort pro because they cannot read what the client really wants out of that one or two lessons. You may never see them again so what can you actually teach them. That is where my style of teaching is pivotal. I get offended seeing pros “pick apart” a stroke on Saturday and then client leaves on Sunday completely frustrated and unhappy. Of course you MUST teach them something. But dissecting a stroke for 1 weekend is detrimental to the player.  

TCB: You had coached the Women's Team at Florida Atlantic University from 2000 until 2003. In 2016 they rehired you as Associate Head. They must really like you? 

CW: I am the sole head coach now for 2 years. I’m not sure how they feel about me. I coached them to a top 30 team the first time and I’m sure with the same support from the departments we will get there again. Through the original donors I got to know,  the program boosters really got active so we have a new facility. It keeps growing and growing.  It’s my home and I love it here. I want to mention that I coached a top 50 team alone so given a decent budget and some additional help I believe I can take a team to top 10. 

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TCB: Do you prefer coaching tennis teams as opposed to working in a tennis club? 

CW: Both have positives and negatives. College coaching is about 30% on court and the rest is administrative and recruiting work. It’s a lot of admin work but I like the combination. I also love developing the relationships with the athletes and we become friends for life. They don’t know it but college tennis is the best time of their lives.  The tough part about coaching college tennis is you HAVE to be available 24/7. You are their coach, mother, disciplinarian, friend, advisor and they need you all the time. It’s a shorter commitment but more intense. For example, we had several weeks of crazy intense training and I sat down on a Friday night to relax and watch a movie when I get a call that one of my players had a car accident. She calls me first and I’m the first one to be there for them. It can get exhausting and spread you thin mentally. Tennis club coaching is great in that once you are done with your work you can go home.  I don’t care for the ladies club team drama. I love coaching ladies doubles clinics as I’m really tough on them. But the inner dramas, position issues are ridiculous. 

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TCB: What are some of the challenges in your current position? 

CW: As I mentioned before there is so much administrative work.  About 70% of the job is admin so if one isn’t organized then they will fail.  Also I want to help so much but sometimes the kids need to go through life so you have to stand back and let them grow up by making mistakes. Another challenge is dealing with parents because their daughter is with me most of the year in their growing up stage of life. They make a lot of mistakes but don’t tell their parents. They may share that there were consequences and not the action that preceded it. The parents only hear certain versions of things and want to protect their kids.  So sometimes I get dad’s that are yelling at me but they have no idea what their daughter did and I will not break that trust.  

Some parents would not believe what the girls do when they leave home. I would advise parents to create space and trust the coaches. That gets tough sometimes. Another challenge is tennis is not on the priority list in college sports, especially women’s tennis,  so you feel very pushed aside even though your sport basically brings in the most donations of all Olympic sports.  Lastly, the equality issues are probably the most challenging. One example of that is both my assistant who is a male and I can be on the court at the same time. People will come up to me and ask if he’s the coach as if it’s not normal for a woman to be a head coach. I just try to work hard and prove myself every day. I lay my head down on my pillow knowing I have 100% into my job every single day.

 

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? 

CW: Its funny you ask that. I will either be coaching a top 30 D1 team or I will be a director in a charming small club. 

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you encourage them? 

CW: Yes Yes Yes. The industry is great for women and there are so few of us. Women can make amazing directors because we are organized and planners. I taught tennis when I first had my son as just a part time evening job and before I knew it my schedule was packed and people started requesting me during the day.  When my child was little it was great b/c I was able to stay home with him and then when his dad came home I went to work feeling so satisfied doing the job I love. When I started teaching some mornings he would be on the side of the court not making a sound.  He was able to see how to work hard. Best of both world. The connections you make teaching tennis are amazing. 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it? 

CW: I have played several times.  I’m sure I can learn to teach if I had to.

TCB: Are you coaching your son Broxton, too?

CW: I coached Braxton since he was an infant. I definitely have to push him.  When he started hitting the teen years it became a little harder and to be honest I was very impatient with him. He was not tolerating me as well. We have mature conversations about it now and he said he felt he could whine around me but around a pro he behaved. I coached his high school boys team the past few years and that was probably the most fun I had in my life. The FAU High school boys are incredibly intelligent as they get their college diploma basically before their high school diploma. They have a stressful academic life so I made our practices really physical, full of competitive games and to see them blossom was amazing. In fact, I just got a text from one of them that said I was the best coach in any sports he’s ever had.  I’ll thrive on that for the next year 😊

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

CW: Interestingly I’m not a racket changer. I used my college prince graphite for like 20 years till I realized there could be something easier on the arm. I’m doing hitting lessons with Babolat Pure Drive Light and the Wilson Blaze. I do feeding with a Head that has a HUGE head and strings like a trampoline. That combination works best for me.

TCB: Thank you, Caroline.

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We're pleased to introduce Nazli Zeini

Tennis Instructor at TAC Sports-Toronto Athletic Camps

Richmond Hill, Ontario
Canada 

"My true passion and key to my happiness is tennis"

 

TCB: Hi Nazli, where are you originally from?

NZ: I am originally from Tehran, the capital of Iran.

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?

NZ: I started playing tennis for fun at a summer camp when I was 16 years old for two summers. When I was 18 years old, I started playing tennis with a private coach more seriously. I was so passionate to play professionally and trained with the best coaches and players of Iran.

 

TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout school/college?

NZ: Studying Fitness and Health Promotion vastly improved my knowledge about the fundamentals of all physical activities. Also, we had the opportunity to be more specific in the field of the sport each individual chose. My favorite course is Biomechanical Analysis. I believe it is crucial that all of the coaches have an understanding of how the body works in order not only to help our athletes reach their maximum capacity but also to prevent injury in the future.

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TCB: You obtained a degree in Psychology at Azad University in Tehran. What made you turn to tennis?

NZ: I started playing tennis professionally at the same time as I began University. I remember I wanted to quit University and play tennis all day and night. Every second that I was spending my time outside of the tennis court, I felt like I was wasting my time. However, my father told me he would pay for my tennis sessions as long as I continue studying and graduate from University.

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TCB: When did you start teaching in Iran and what certification did you obtain there?

NZ: After 6 years of playing tennis and competing in a few competitions, I realized then, there was no future for a tennis player in my country. As I mentioned previously, most of my coaches were all tennis players that were a part of the Iranian national team. However, their career was coaching more than competing. As a result, I changed my path to coaching. Therefore, I would be able to still be on the tennis court, play and teach tennis. I got my certificate as a tennis coach ( Grade 3 ) in 2016 from the Tennis Federation of Iran.

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TCB: When did you emigrate to Canada and how easy or difficult was that process?

NZ: I immigrated to Canada in 2018. I was fortunate enough to come to Canada because of my father's financial support. I came here with a student visa in order to improve my knowledge of the theory of sports in general but also try to work and live in a more opportunistic country. For the most part, Toronto has been welcoming to me. I am very happy and grateful to be living here at this time.

 

TCB: You currently work as a tennis instructor at TAC Sports in the Toronto area. How do you like that position?

NZ: Working for TAC sport is my first experience as an instructor here in Toronto. The atmosphere is really positive, respectful and everyone tries to support and help each other to continuously improve.

TCB: Did you obtain any Canadian tennis certifications?

NZ: In 2019, I got my Instructor Level from Tennis Canada. Working as a coach requires a valid certificate here and it is illegal to get hired without having that certification.

TCB: What are the biggest challenges in your job? Did Covid-19 affect your work?

NZ: I would say networking and having connections to the Tennis coaching world is one of the bigger challenges.

When I started playing and coaching from the beginning in the Tennis club in Iran, I got to learn about everyone and their level of playing, their coaching method, and their personality. When I immigrated to a new Canada, I had to start from zero and had no connections. However, I have slowly begun building some connections. Toronto has been there with open arms. I actually just received a very exciting offer from another Tennis Club a few days ago.

COVID-19 has definitely affected my job. Unfortunately, since November of 2020, we had to postpone all Tennis sessions due to the restrictions and lockdown. I cannot wait to get back to coaching and playing.

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TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years?

NZ: My first plan as soon as I can go back on the court is to practice for the next Canadian tennis certificate which is Club Professional 1.

 

My goal for the next 5 years is to work in a famous tennis club and be able to utilize what I studied at College in order to help athletes reach their best.

 

In 10 years I would like to upgrade my certificate as a coach and train professional athletes and eventually reach advanced tennis players at national/international levels.

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TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in tennis? Would you encourage them?

NZ: To answer this question, I would say it depends on what their desires and passions are in life. I believe my true passion and key to my happiness is tennis. If a person is interested in tennis I would say go for it. I believe my relationship with tennis is the best thing in my life. This sport is full of joy for me; every time I hit the ball with the racket, it is truly exhilarating. If a young woman is thinking of starting a career in tennis, I would encourage them to go for it as long as they are very passionate.

 

TCB: Have you ever played Pickleball? Did you like it? Are you considering teaching it?

NZ: Yes, I have played Pickleball but not professionally. My boyfriend introduced me to Pickleball last summer, and it is quite an interesting sport. I do not think I am ready to teach Pickleball yet. Maybe in the near future. Why not?

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

NZ: I have been playing with Babolat for 13 years even though I have tried other racquets such as Head, Wilson, and Tecnifibre but Babolat Pure Drive is still my favorite.

TCBL Thank you, Nazli.

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We're pleased to introduce Michaela Hončová

Head Tennis Coach at LEON TENNIS CLUB

Bratislava

Slovakia 

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"Nothing helped me more than being on the tour."

 

TCB: Hi, Micha, where are you from, what country and city?

MH: Hello, I am from Bratislava, The capital city of Slovakia.
 

TCB: Did you play tennis as a child? If yes, how old were you when you got into it and who introduced you?

MH: I started when I was 7. My parents booked me for some hours in The Little Tennis Club.

TCB: Tell us how your tennis life developed until you became a touring pro.

MH: I started to play tennis as a hobby. When I was around 8-9 years old my Coach said I should try to play some tournaments. In the end of that year I became champion of my city and I qualified for championchips of Slovakia . Since that moment I started to have goals and dreams to become a professional in this sport. I signed up at the biggest club in Slovakia and practised there with other kids and I loved it. I played internationally since I was 11, debuted on the womens tour at the age of 14 , and at 17 I won my first ITF 10,000 tournament in Germany. 

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TCB: You played on the WTA Tour for an amazing 12 years. What did you like about it? What did you not like?

MH: I chose this kind of life and I loved everything about it. The only thing I hated was losing. I enjoyed traveling, practicing, and competing. I loved the emotions and adrenalin during tournaments and I was always trying to figure out how I can become a better player.
 

TCB: All in all, would you say playing on the Tour helped you become better tennis teaching professional?

MH: Nothing helped me more than being on the tour. You look at it from a different perspective when you have experience playing under pressure yourself, you can understand your players better and you know how is real-world tennis. That you need to be prepared in all aspects: tactically, mentally, physically, and technically.

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TCB: Why did you become a teaching professional and how did you end up in Barcelona, Spain?

MH: During my career, I always wanted to become a Coach when I finished and help younger players. It's important to have a dedicated Coach during your journay to become the best player you can be. One junior in Barca was looking for a travelling Coach and I was free so we decided to give it a try.
 

TCB: In late 2019 you went back to Bratislava and started working at the Leon Tennis Academy. Tell us a little about that Academy.

MH: Friend of my owned this acadamey and asked me for a help, that they need someone like me for young professionals. As it was in Bratislava I was for it. Shortly after that the owner has changed, but I liked the place and system so I stayed.
 

TCB: Do you like working at Leon? What do you like about it? 

MH: I really like the environment, especially the people involved in this project. All staff and coaches share the same philosophy. 
 

TCB: What are your challenges in your job?

MH: To help players reach their potential and dreams. 

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TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 10 years?

MH: I want to be still involved in the Tennis world but let's see what will be in 10 years, its a long time.

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TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in tennis? Would you encourage them?

MH: I would encourage them if it's what they really want to do and if they have the knowledge and abilities. I was coached by women and I liked it. Women's Tennis is a little bit different, so it's work with them. Women coaches can understand the moods and tactics of girls' tennis better and I think it's an advantage in some way. They have more empathy and better communication with young girls.
 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?

MH: I was not lucky enough to try it yet.
 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

MH: I like Babolat Pure Drive, but I personalize the balance of the racket.
 

TCB: Thank you, Micha.

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We're pleased to introduce Jane Burniston

Tennis Coach/Female Sports Participation Mentor Dementia Support Worker

Headley, England, United Kingdom

"Helping people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing through tennis a very rewarding career."

 

TCB: Hi, Janet, where are you from, what city?

JB: Born near London in Kingston upon Thames.

TCB: Did you play tennis as a child? If yes, how old were you when you got into it and who introduced you?

JB: My parents were keen tennis players. I was always eager to muscle my way into their games when I was very little and then my Mum organised coaching for me at a small tennis club when I was aged 8. I took it quite seriously and played to junior county level.

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TCB: After university and after working in industry for a few years you turned to work in tennis. Why? How did this come about?

JB: I was working as a Marketing Manager for Tonka Toys when the company went through a shaky time and was eventually bought by Hasbro. My job was saved but it was an unnerving time and I decided to take a tennis coaching qualification to add another string to my bow. The course inspired me and made me think how teaching could be a rewarding job to do. I started doing a few hours of coaching in the evening and weekends outside of my Marketing job and then decided to bite the bullet and start a community tennis club in a park near Wimbledon as part of an LTA initiative.

 

TCB: Working at Sutton, David Lloyd Leisure, Roehampton, Surbiton, where these teaching positions?

JB: A client in my park club used to work at IBM with the owner of an indoor tennis centre in the London Borough of Sutton, The Sutton Junior Tennis centre, and I was asked if I would become the Tennis Development Officer there. It was a role which encompassed coaching at the Centre along with developing tennis programmes in local schools and parks. After a restructure at the Centre the role was dissolved and I became head of Mini Tennis which was being relaunched as a concept in the UK. I started a Tots Tennis programme there to underpin it and then developed my own programme called Little Hitters which I then introduced to a new David Lloyd Centre which opened in Epsom and a club in Wimbledon (Westside LTC).

After that, I was approached by the Tennis Manager at Roehampton to help her administer a large coaching programme which I did on a part-time basis whilst continuing to coach at Sutton, David Lloyd, and Westside. I was then offered a development role at Surbiton Racquet and Fitness club who were looking to expand their satellite clubs which I did until funding ran out there.

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TCB: Are you LTA-certified?

JB: I am an LTA Level 3 Coach.

 

TCB: In 2015 you became Dementia Action Alliance Coordinator. Would you mind elaborating what organization this is and what you do for them?

JB: In 2012 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease aged 84 and I received valuable support from Alzheimer’s Society as I took on a Carer’s role. I found it an interesting area and whilst I was looking at their website a Dementia Action Alliance Co-ordinator role caught my eye. It involved bringing organisations together in the London Borough of Sutton to become more dementia aware and combine to offer greater support for people living with dementia in the community. My previous corporate experience helped me get the job which was funded for a couple of years by the local Clinical Commissioning Group. I have continued working for Alzheimer’s Society in various roles since then whilst continuing with my tennis coaching where my care duties permit.

TCB: What is dementia-friendly tennis?

JB: Dementia-friendly tennis involves sessions which offer support and adjustments to allow people living with dementia and their Carers to be included. This means ensuring a calm, well-lit and signposted environment with equipment which clearly contrasts with flooring and backgrounds. Sessions allow plenty of time to proceed at a steady pace and for Carers to have much-needed time to chat to each other.

TCB: Do you like your work for the Alliance? What are your challenges there?

JB: My current role with Alzheimer’s Society is Dementia Support Worker which involves delivering workshops and one-to-one support for carers. COVID has caused our office to be shut down permanently as a cost-cutting measure and we have been unable to meet anyone face to face since the pandemic started. It has been particularly challenging supporting people by phone and online especially in a situation which has caused even more confusion and a strain on relationships. It can be very draining and there are also many demands to provide detailed notes and statistics to meet contractual demands and satisfy stakeholders. There again, knowing that we are often a lifeline to people makes it all worthwhile.

TCB: In 2017 you added another position to your workload, Female Sports Participation Mentor for London Sport. What does that entail and why did you do it?

JB: The Female Sports Participation Mentor role was a project run by London Sport to help females become more active across all the London Boroughs. It actually finished after a year so I need to update my LinkedIn profile there. It was a unique project which brought together 10 mentors from all walks of life who, like me, were passionate about getting more people involved with sport. I was assigned 2 organisations to help develop and execute an action plan for themselves. One of these was Home Start which supported mothers living in very challenging conditions and the other a Turkish organisation which wanted to tackle high levels of inactivity and obesity within their community.

TCB: What are the biggest challenges for you there?

JB: In both cases, the person taking on the project ran almost everything else so it was a challenge to find time in their diaries to focus on this and see it through. With my tennis connections, I helped Home Start incorporate some mother and child mini tennis sessions in their holiday support activities, and the Turkish group started regular walking park sessions.

 

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 10 years?

JB: Currently I am still caring for my mother who is now 93 so I tend to take each day as it comes, especially with the pandemic situation. One positive outcome of my experience with dementia is that I have learned to enjoy living in the moment which has also helped me cope with the new ways of living since COVID came along. Having said that I am still keen to innovate and find ways to help more people stay healthy by playing sport and especially tennis. In 10 years’ time, I would like to think I will be playing a more influential role with this.

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TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about working in tennis? Would you encourage them?

JB: To those not sure about a career in tennis I would say just dip your toe in the water and give it a go. There are plenty of opportunities to do a few hours like I did when I was working full time in Marketing and you may then find that helping people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing through tennis a very rewarding career.

 

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Do you like it?

JB: I played Pickleball a couple of times a few years ago. It was a great form of exercise and it was mostly women who were playing it which was great to see. It was a very vibrant session. If I wasn’t so busy with tennis, squash, and golf I might have carried on playing.

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

JB: I had tennis elbow about 10 years ago and was recommended a Pro Kennex Kinetic racquet which has some kind of material in the frame which acts as a shock absorber – it seemed to do the trick and I’ve played with it ever since. My friends are urging me to update.

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We're pleased to introduce Isabella Graf

Head Tennis Professional
The Landings Yacht, Golf & Tennis Club

Fort Myers, Florida
U.S.A.

TCB: Hi Isabella, where are you originally from in Germany? Any relations to a certain German 22x Grand Slam winner?

IG: I am originally from Munich, Germany. I get this question a lot especially at airports when traveling with my tennis gear and truthfully, who wouldn’t say that they are related to the famous Steffi Graf?!

 

TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it? Did you play it in Germany?

IG: I was 7 years old when I started playing tennis and taking lessons and clinics. The main reason why I started playing tennis was due to the excessive amount of energy I had (still have…) as a child which made it more difficult to focus in school. My parents decided to sign me up for a sport and the closest facility was the tennis club. I played at a very small tennis club in my hometown from the day I started until the day I moved to the US. I played numerous junior tournaments and interclub matches for which we traveled to other clubs.

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TCB: How did your tennis develop up to and throughout high school?

IG: My tennis knowledge and experience developed drastically when I moved to New Jersey where I had a set of great coaches. They improved my strokes and taught me how to play on hard courts which was foreign to me as I grew up playing on red clay. I started signing up for USTA tournaments in NJ and NY and was ranked #12 in the USTA Junior Girls’ ranking in the tri-state area. After that, I started playing High School tennis on varsity as a freshman where I played the #3 singles position. Shortly after, I earned the #1 spot for the NVOT Golden Knights that gave me the opportunity to compete with highly ranked players in the area.

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TCB: You graduated in Professional Tennis Management at Methodist University. How was that experience for you? How much does it help you in your current job at the Landings?

IG: My experience at MU as a PTM graduate was nothing but positive and reinforcing. The PTM program is a great way to get certified early on when you are still in college. It is also a great way to network and connect to other fellow tennis professionals all around the country. My favorite part of the PTM program was that we had to complete 3 internships during the summers. This was the perfect way to practice what our professors had preached. There is nothing better than getting experience first-hand and being seen as a professional 

in the “real world”. PTM has helped me tremendously with the most important parts of being a tennis professional such as people management, budgeting, racquet repair, teaching techniques, and running events. It is very exciting to be able to share my knowledge at the Landings and improve my own self as a professional on a daily basis.

TCB: When did you start teaching tennis, and why did you do it? What’s driving you?

IG: My very first teaching job was at Match Point Tennis Club in New York where I played in high-performance clinics myself. I helped teach the tiny tots twice a week for just a short period of time to earn my gas money. After that, I started teaching private lessons in a nearby public facility to some kids around town for the same reason, to earn extra cash. Teaching tennis was never on my radar until I visited Methodist University on my recruiting visit. It all started out with my coach handing me a brochure about the PTM program that Methodist had to offer. Initially, my interests were in the field of Kinesiology but after reading the brochure, I thought to myself how great it would be to make my hobby into my career and that has driven me to join the PTM program. Now, I am not teaching to get more gas money but I am teaching because I want to share my passion with the world. There are so many things that I love about tennis but the most important for me was that it was the only familiar thing I had when I relocated to the United States as a big move can either break a person or change them.

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TCB: Are you USPTA or PTR-certified? 

IG: I am a USPTA Elite Professional and am PTR certified as well. I also have my Cardio Tennis certification, Coach Youth Tennis and USTA Sports Science 1 certification.

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TCB: What was your experience working for Tennis Europe in Holland, Spain, and the Czech Republic?

JG: Tennis Europe was a program that I happen to bump into online. While I enjoyed working at various clubs during the summertime, I wanted and felt the need to expand my knowledge and gain more experience outside of the US by doing something completely unfamiliar. This program taught me a lot more about myself than anything else. It was a very tough job as I had full responsibility for each player who traveled with us and their belongings such as their passports. I had full responsibility for planning the transportation and utilizing our time effectively between matches and tournaments. I had full responsibility for our finances such as the company’s credit card, cash, and the exchange of currencies. Long story short, this job fine-tuned my ability to organize, fulfill plans, figure out how to communicate to others in a foreign language but most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to work on my leadership while being faced in uncomfortable situations myself. Besides all, I loved this job because I got to see different tennis facilities all around Europe and also catch a lot of different cultures which is a big interest to me.

TCB: At The Landings Yacht, Golf and Tennis Club, you moved quickly from Assistant Tennis Professional to Head Pro. Are you that good?

IG: I believe that the internships that I completed throughout my college career helped me tremendously in adjusting to different types of clubs quickly. I enjoyed my Assistant Pro job very much but am loving the Head Pro position as I have a lot more responsibilities and pressure. I love my job and profession and from personal experience, that is something that has been an ally throughout all of my job experiences.

TCB: What particularly do you like about working at the Landings?

IG: The Landings is a very active facility where members have lots of opportunities to enjoy their sports and social activities. It is a very family-oriented feeling that attracted me to the club from the start. Our members are not just interested in improving their tennis games but they also see us as individuals who have a life outside of the club. Players love when we come up with new drills and games and show us their interest in learning through signing up for lots of programs. Most of all, I love working at the Landings because along with my co-workers, we enjoy laughing with members, cracking a few jokes, and also making it a positive environment.

TCB: What are the biggest challenges for you there?

IG: My biggest challenge at the Landings is to constantly improve our programming and using my creativity to keep things interesting. We all know that certain drills can become a bit repetitive after a while. This is where my passion starts showing…I love coming up with new drills, games, and programming. I started a Cardio Tennis class and it has grown a big amount in just a few months! Besides programming and being in charge of the teaching aspect, one of my biggest challenges is also to organize league-related programs and making sure all runs smoothly.

 

TCB: What is your long-term plan? Where do you want to be in 10 years?

IG: My long-term plan is to become a Director. I would love to be able to run a tennis department and be challenged in all sorts of different ways. At this moment, my plan is to keep improving my coaching techniques, my people management, and education. It is hard to tell where I will be and what I will be doing in 10 years, but I like to think of the future as taking it day to day and keeping an open mind.

TCB: What would you say to young women sitting on the fence about teaching tennis? Would you encourage them?

IG: I would encourage young women to get involved in the tennis-teaching world if that is something that they are interested in. 

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Personally, I have had some negative experiences in certain jobs and facilities where a slight chance of discrimination took place, but the one thing that I repeatedly remind myself of is to learn from the negatives and transform those into positives. I became stronger and wiser after negative experiences instead of letting those drag me down. Besides the negative experiences, I have also had many positive experiences. One positive is that I became stronger physically and mentally because it is a constant challenge to prove my abilities and gain respect.

TCB: Have you played Pickleball? Are you considering teaching it?

IG: I have played pickleball numerous times and it is a load of fun! I have not (yet) considered teaching it but that is something on my radar for the future.

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?

IG: My tennis racquet of choice is the Graphene 360 Head Extreme MP. I have always played with Babolat Pure Drives which I loved but wanted to try something new. I came across the Head Extreme and instantly fell in love with the amount of spin it produced and the feel of the frame.

TCB: Thank you, Isabella.

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We're pleased to introduce Fanni Fricska

Tennis Coach - at Budapest University of Technology and Economics - MAFC Tennis

Budapest, Hungary

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TCB: Hello Fanni, where are you from originally?
FF: I am originally from Hungary

 

TCB: How old were you when you started to play tennis and who introduced you to the sport? How did this come about?
FF: I was 8 years old when I was introduced to tennis, and it was my Dad who put me on the court. He already played tennis and wanted the whole family to learn it.
 

TCB: How did your tennis develop through High School? Is it called High School in Hungary?
FF: In high school, we had it differently than in the US. I focused more on my academic results than the sport. I only played second division on a team level and was focused more on my studies. It is called High School yes.

TCB: How did you end up playing D1 College tennis at South Carolina State?

FF: One of my childhood tennis friends was already attending SCSU and helped the coach get some freshmen students over from Hungary. So I applied and got in.

TCB: After college and obtaining a marketing/international business degree, you worked in marketing for a while before going into teaching tennis in New Jersey. Why the switch?
FF: I was eager to get into corporate with my fresh degree. I got a job in NY/NJ, then I realized very shortly that it is not for me. I decided to obtain my tennis coach certificate in New Jersey at Centercourt and they basically hired me as a tennis coach.
 

TCB: In 2014 you went back home to Hungary and after two years of marketing for Vodafone you again got back into teaching tennis? How did this come about?
FF: I decided I wanted to go back home and applied for “regular” jobs as I found it easier, so Vodafone hired me. But once again I had to realize, I needed to follow my dreams so I resigned and started teaching again. 

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TCB: In 2014 you went back home to Hungary and after two years of marketing for Vodafone you again got back into teaching tennis? How did this come about?FF: I decided I wanted to go back home and applied for “regular” jobs as I found it easier, so Vodafone hired me. But once again I had to realize, I needed to follow my dreams so I resigned and started teaching again. 

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TCB: Explain to us how tennis is different in Hungary compared to the U.S. from a playing and from a teaching point of view.FF: The playing part is a lot different. You get a lot of opportunities in the US and doors open for you already in high school once you are a decent player. The student/athlete program I think is a great thing in the US and should be used worldwide. Teaching is more organized in the States as well. People are open to learn and work together, I miss that here in Hungary a bit. 

TCB: Are Hungarian tennis facilities and clubs similar to the Americans?
FF: Mostly different. My current workplace is one that looks mostly like the one I worked at in Jersey so I now enjoy working there very much. 
 

TCB: Where do you like teaching tennis better, in Hungary or in the U.S.?
FF: Now here I enjoy it more. I wish the two could be mixed together in more ways :) 

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TCB: What would you say to a young woman sitting on the fence about working in tennis? Would you encourage her? Would you do it all over again?
FF: Yes I would definitely encourage her to get into the sport teaching and/or playing. And yes, I would do it all over again, all of it. 

 

TCB: You state on LinkedIn you are a  "Dynamic Multi-Cultural /Multi-Lingual Marketing/Social Evangelist." Can you explain what you mean by that?
FF: From my many international experiences I consider myself a multi in many areas. In a social way, I became very open to people, cultures, opportunities, and new things. And I also think it sounds good and appealing :) 

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TCB: How come you speak German?
FF: I learned German in high school.
 

TCB: Have you played pickleball? Do you like it?
FF: I actually haven't played pickleball yet.

 

TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
FF: I like Wilson. That's been my choice in the past 10 yrs :)

TCB: Thank you, Fanni.

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