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WHY HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS COACHES NEED TO BE EMBRACED BY THE TENNIS INDUSTRY!!

by Denny Schackter, USPTA Midwest Hall of Fame

In my long and very unspectacular career in tennis I had the privilege in college of coaching high school tennis for one season. While at the University of Wisconsin, the Athletic Director of a local high school called a Professor in our Department seeing if anyone was available. I got the job for $300 and was off and running.

Later, I became the college coach at Wisconsin and was part of a team of coaches that organized the Wisconsin High School Tennis Coaches Association. We got started in the mid 70’s and the organization is still going strong. As the area Wilson Rep for 22 years I tried to embrace high school coaches in my territory by supporting their activities and letting them know that our Company was behind them 100%. As I ended my career, I felt that my Company could have done more to embrace high school coaching efforts, but in defense of Wilson and others, getting their product message to the consumer was probably best done by social media, websites etc. and not direct contact with high school coaches. Now I feel the personal contact is needed by the student from his coach to set a solid tennis pathway for the high school student.

I returned from the USTA Semi Annual meeting in Florida in March of 2022. I am proud to serve on the USTA’s National Committee for High School Tennis. The Committee has witnessed great success due to the increased awareness of the value of the high school tennis player.

One of the byproducts of high school tennis has been the involvement of high school players playing Tennis on Campus. Not only are those former high school players enjoying intramural tennis in college, they have become prime candidates for Racquet sports companies, the USTA, and tennis facilities in our country.

One of the needs that has been addressed is the need for an influx of young tennis teaching professionals for full time work. Both the PTR and PTA recognize this and want to utilize the TOC data base to enhance the teaching professional ranks.

While the TOC students are a great breeding ground for industry leaders, I believe we have a larger base for future industry work. That base is the large contingent of tennis players currently participating in high school tennis supplemented by the large number of high school tennis coaches currently working in our country.

High school tennis coaches are organized in some states. My native state of Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois come to mind as states that have annual meetings and clinics. They promote, monitor and improve the high school tennis experience for student athletes. While TOC can give us some industry leaders, I believe we have to start with high school players who exhibit a passion for the game and could be our next generation of full time teaching professionals. To get this done, I believe high school tennis coaches can be a huge factor in creating tennis teachers should they organize themselves into a viable tennis trade organization.

Why?

Why should high school coaches should organize?

1. High school tennis coaches are a group of tennis advocates with a common goal that span the whole nation.

2. Their influence covers tennis players in season, in the classroom and out of season.

3. Many times they are the pulse of the tennis community.

4. They could be a part or full time tennis teacher at a local facility.

5. They could be a USTA Volunteer, league official, or official influencing many.

6. They could have a long term length of service to tennis; pivotal leader and advocate for court maintenance, lighting and general upkeep.

7. They could be a huge influencer for young people to elect to work or serve in the tennis industry.

8. Many high school coaches are lifelong mentors to their students thereby steering them to give back to the game that has been good to them.

9. If the coach AND his or her family are tennis players, they have a profound effect on the strength of the tennis community.

10. If the high school tennis coach has coaching responsibilities in another sport at the school, they can influence high school athletes to play tennis.

11. They might be the local racquet stringer and/or retailer therefore aiding the goods and services of tennis.

During my college coaching days, one of my tennis players wanted to be a high school coach. He helped me with our younger players and was essentially a player/coach for what was our JV program at Wisconsin. He then took a job at a high school in Wisconsin and stayed at that school for over 30 years until he sadly passed away a few years ago. As I look at my list of “whys” I realized that this former player fulfilled every one of my 11 points. I cannot remember all that he accomplished, but I do know that I could give an example of something he accomplished on all 11 points. There are many others in the country that have accomplished the same results.

Coaches could combine their efforts with current teaching professionals and channel interested high school tennis players on the correct pathway to become teaching professionals. That pathway could include what courses to take, what experiences are needed to be a competent tennis professional. In addition the students would gain a mentor for those day to day decisions young people need. The kids could work during school vacations and learn the business. When college was completed, we have a finished product ready to go to work.

I would urge the TIA to embrace a national organization of high school tennis coaches. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, there are 11,253 high schools providing tennis as an interscholastic sport and in 2018-19, there were approximately 350,000 students participating. I would guess that there were at least 11,253 coaches coaching. This number represents a bit of a downward trend from several years ago, but with the USTA’s 10 and under multiple initiatives, I see the number skewing upward in the next few years. Some coaches are doubling up working with boys and girls, but still that’s a lot of ball, racquet, string, shoe, grip and apparel sales that a coach’s influence contributes to the industry in addition to the relationships developed.

One could say, wait a minute. The USPTR and USPTA are responsible for high school coaches. Agreed, and they both have certification programs for high school coaches in some form. The USTA also does that.

My reasoning for a TIA/high school coach duo goes back to reading about Toyota building its first plant in the USA and designing their work force. The assembly line worker, designer, accountant and purchasing agent all met regularly to make the product better. There was no “class” system in the plant, but a team of workers unified to make a quality automobile.

If tennis is going to grow and grow with a solid “tennis teacher” foundation, all facets of the “influencers” should be part of the trade group that governs the business of tennis.

Read the complete Summer 2022 USPTA Midwest Division Newsletter HERE.

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Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis

Podcast with Denny Schackter

Recorded Pre-COVID-19, such a fun discussion with Denny Schackter. Click HERE for the full podcast.

Denny has worked in various capacities in the Tennis Industry for over 50 years. Denny was the Head Tennis Coach of the Wisconsin Badgers from 1972-1981; he was a 2008 Inductee into the Wisconsin High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame; he has served on a number of committees at across various levels…more numbers than I can count, and has currently been focusing on his company, Tennis Priorities, where Denny works with placing professional tennis coaches at various tennis clubs throughout Indianapolis, Milwaukee, the Greater Wisconsin Region and also the Chicagoland area.

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One Idea to Liven Up Your Group Lessons

We all know that teaching the same groups year after year and week after week can lead to some staleness. By accident, I came up with an idea that might add some “spark” to your lesson planning. Perhaps it has been recommended before, but in any case, I think, it deserves a re-visit.

With all the info we can gain by searching the internet, I typed in “music lyrics with a message.” One can search for all kinds of themes and find a song for whatever you are looking for. One of the best songs I found was “Stayin Alive” from the Bee Gees and “Saturday Night Fever” fame. Obviously, when I asked the class why I chose that song they knew right away that keeping the ball in play was the theme of the day. Another one was “Stuck in the Middle with You.” We worked on covering the middle both from the net area and all the way back to the baseline.

Adding an element like this certainly makes the class fun and focused. When I put the song of the day on my phone and they listen to the lyrics, some of the class break out in in some dance moves. This has been humorous because some of us can dance and, others, well, need a dance class!

Find us on page 16 of the Spring 2020 Issue of the USPTA – Midwest Division Newsletter! Click here for the full Newsletter!

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Keep Networking and Your Resume Sharp

Hello Tennis Industry,
I am assured you are stuck in the house and realizing cabin fever just like I am.  Hope you and your family are hanging in there.

I have taken this down time to organize my files from Tennis Priorities.  I am reaching out to many of my contacts whom I have consulted with over the last 12 years and also looking to find new candidates for the tennis industry.

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When and if this virus slows down, I am sure you will make, or have already made, decisions relative to your future.  I am not sure what the tennis market will be like, post shutdown, but I know there will be Pros losing jobs, looking for new ones in the industry, or perhaps, outside of racket sports.  My suggestion to you during this “dead” time, is to be sure your resume is up to date and that you are networking with all of your industry contacts.  I believe I will be contacted by Pros, Directors and owners, who either will be looking themselves, or in need of staff.

If you are interested in establishing some new contact with me, I would be flattered to receive your updated resume.  I know there will be a great amount turmoil in the field.  I am simply anticipating what will be.
I am still placing folks in the tennis industry.  I hope I can be of service to you.

Tennis Teaching Professionals for your Tennis Club

In addition, if you have tennis playing families whose tennis playing students are looking for guidance on college choices, I have expanded Tennis Priorities services to work with those folks.  Please review my website, tennispriorities.com, for an update. 

Thank you.

Denny Schackter
Tennis Priorities Company
c: 847-910-9713
e: dennyschackter@gmail.com
www.tennispriorities.com

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

Multi-ethnic teenagers playing tennis.  Girl in middle (17 years, mixed race) is a physically challenged amputee.

Article: “High School Tennis: An Overlooked Core for Tennis Growth”

I recently wrote an article for Tennis Pro Magazine! It is about the benefits of teaching high school tennis and how it can impact the number of future tennis players. Here is a snippet of the text and I will have a link to the magazine with the full article down below.

As we look at the landscape of tennis in the United States, numbers released by industry experts tell us there are 17.96 million tennis players in our country. I am not sure if that number includes high school team players, but my guess is that it does. That 17.96 million figure includes 9.96 million folks who play 10 times a year, and who are considered ‘core’ players.

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If we look at the 348,919 high school players (from the 2017-18 school year according to the National Federation of High School Athletics), they represent about 2% of the core players in our country. My math may be suspect, but I do know high school tennis is a very important segment of the current and future tennis population. Yet, when I look at the emphasis by the USTA on all levels, the slant is toward elite juniors, those aspiring to play college tennis, and touring pro players. What is missing is an emphasis on the sustenance and growth of our game is the normal, every day high school tennis player.

View The Full Article Here

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Tennis Club Business: Letter to the Editor – May 2019

Tennis Priorities was recently featured in the Tennis Club Business Newsletter. Our founder, Denny Schackter, discusses his thoughts on the issues facing tennis today and how more people can learn to play at a young age.

Check out the full letter to the editor here:

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Hi Rich,

You are doing great work keeping the issues facing tennis in front of everyone. It’s always fun to hear what the folks in the trenches have to say.

In looking at the dialogue about certification and seeing what has transpired thus far, it really got me thinking about how other sports have structured themselves and tennis has not.

My insurance man has three daughters, all in college now, who are, or were, outstanding youth softball players. All three could have played in college, but only one is. During their formative years, they were coached by their Dad and other fathers. The only time they saw a “pro” was entering high school and/or college softball programs. Another bud, currently a tennis director, here in Chicagoland, has a son who took a liking to hockey. His youth coach was his Dad and other parents, and I believe, still is. I am sure soccer, boys baseball, volleyball and lacrosse all have similar structures. The only two sports, to the best of my knowledge, that have a “paid pro” as youth learners, are tennis and golf.

It maybe too late, but I would love to see the USTA, PTR and PTA really get on board training parents to become tennis teachers on a more organized basis. I see NET GEN is on a push to gain more certified teachers, but the solicitation really does not specifically target parents of players. My only stipulation, if such a program was generated, is that those parents who became trained, would try their best to not work with their own children.

I do not know if this premise has been brought to your attention, but in my mind, such a program makes sense and is sorely needed based on the huge hole we have gaining adequate training for youngsters wishing to be part of tennis.

I see the need for greater continuing education and certification for current teaching pros and the solicitation and marketing of young people to enter the industry, but the low hanging fruit in the attempt to gain more qualified folks on court, are parents.


– Denny Schackter

Subscribe to Tennis Club Business here:
https://tennismediagroup.com/Newsletter.html

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Why Playing College Tennis is a Good Choice

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Tennis is a lifelong investment in your health and wellness. Both physically and socially.

By Denny Schackter

The tennis industry today is blessed with thousands of students playing high school tennis. No-Cut tennis and dramatically improved coaching over the last 20 years have helped about 350,000 students continue to play in high school. Most states have high school tennis coaches associations with yearly clinics, newsletters and websites.

I’ve had some wonderful tennis experiences in my adult life, including coaching high school and college tennis and being involved with the growth of the USTA’s very successful “Tennis on Campus” program for over 10 years. As I see participation grow in high school tennis, I also see the opportunities for play beyond high school growing as well. This is important for our industry because the tennis players coming out of college are hungry to continue tennis in their lives.

Here are my reasons why high school players should be encouraged to play in college, either on a varsity team or in a club or “intramural” program:

  • Social Needs: When students arrive on campus, they need to make friends and belong. What greater way than being on a tennis team with kids who share a love for the game? Timon Corwin, chair of the USTA Collegiate Varsity Committee, says, “We’ve seen it around the country where both varsity and recreational club teams [Tennis on Campus] co-exist on the same campus and build strong social bonds.
  • Stay in Shape: Singles tennis is rated in the top 10 sports for physical conditioning. What better way to work out than hitting a tennis ball for several hours a week, especially if it’s with people you like.
  • Networking: Many of my former players have maintained strong relationships past college and into adulthood, often playing together if they live close by. And let’s face it, tennis players, for the most part, are very successful people. A college tennis experience will most likely be a conduit to your adult working life. Tennis players gravitate to tennis players.
  • Time Management: Playing tennis on a team in college gives you structure. Practices, matches and travel need to be scheduled with classes and studying, requiring you to budget your time, which is a key when you begin your working life.
  • Travel: College tennis at all levels gives students an opportunity to see the country. While club tennis may be limited to regional sites, the national events have been in terrific locations. Varsity programs at all levels have opportunities to travel coast to coast.
  • Community Service: Tennis is an opportunity to give back and many programs require hours of community service. Many teach tennis to underprivileged kids. Other requirements may be helping with a community building project or volunteer work at a hospital.
  • Establish Identity: Many young people struggle with being “lost in the crowd” or “not fitting in.” Being part of a tennis program gives you stature, higher self esteem and confidence. “College tennis is for everyone,” says Corwin. “Whether you are a top junior or the No. 4 singles player on your high school team, there is a spot on either a varsity club or team for you.”
  • Teamwork and Leadership Skills: I always say tennis is an individual sport, but a team game. Hence, teamwork and selflessness is a requirement in a college program. People lead in many different ways, and a college team, whether intramural or varsity, promotes leadership skills.
  • Consensus-Building: While teamwork is working together for the common good, consensus building reaches agreements. Doubles team selection, extra work goals, relationship with advisors and coaches all teach us consensus-building.
  • Competitive Fulfillment: Many of us have a need to compete. High school sports provided an outlet to achieve lots of competitive experiences, but in college, if sports are absent, that need is never fulfilled.
  • Goal Setting: Participation in college tennis can parallel other goals needed to become a successful adult. “The collaborative effort of being on a college tennis team and the laser focus on specific goals serves as a guide for our student-athletes in all walks of life.” says Brad Dancer, men’s tennis coach at Illinois.

Tennis club owners, tennis directors, teaching professionals, and facilities all have a vested interest in college tennis. Future players and members of tennis facilities are the byproduct of college tennis. Whether a facility’s young people are Division I, II or III or Tennis on Campus candidates, you simply can’t measure the maturity, bonding and lifetime relationships that will emerge at the end of their college experience. Those who participate in college tennis will find benefits that last a lifetime.