Ready??? I Will Serve The Tennis Ball

Your Serve: Let’s Turn Up the Heat!

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Tennis On Campus is a proven winner for this sport and industry. It’s time we gave it the support it needs to thrive once again.

Recently my wife and I went out for dinner, and a gracious young woman, wearing a USTA shirt, was our wait person. She said she had just completed her high school tennis career and was off to college. I asked if her high school coach had mentioned Tennis On Campus. She said no – and once again my frustration with getting the word out about TOC set in.

About 90 percent of the time when I bring up TOC to high school tennis players, they are in the dark on what it is. I promised to send the young lady a link and get her up to date.

According to the website, there are over 300 colleges currently hosting TOC programs for co-ed, social play and extramural competition. When TOC was at its height about seven years ago, there were over 650 colleges and universities engaged, and more than 40,000 students!

Due to the pandemic, we’ve lost engagement with a good number of TOC chapters and players around the country, but that’s not the only problem. The good news is that with a steady stream of well over 300,000 U.S. high school tennis players (according to 2018-19 stats), TOC can still grow. Where will these players go to stay in the sport as they enter college? There are maybe 15,000 college varsity spots. TOC continues them on the pathway to tennis as an adult, after college. And it can help fill a tennis need if varsity programs get cut.

Another thought: Parents want their kids to have activities to engage in as they enter college. What’s better than TOC after high school tennis?

Making sure colleges have tennis activity helps to preserve, and even expand, tennis courts and infrastructure, which isn’t just important for students, but for the surrounding community, too.

Why do we spend so much time and energy trying to get young people to play tennis, yet we fail to provide, or maintain, a clear roadway for continued success into adulthood? TOC is the lowest hanging fruit we have for growth.

There’s also a very clear industry imperative. TOC alumni have filled jobs throughout this industry, from teaching pros, to club/facility staff, to working for manufacturers, retailers, sections, CTAs, NJTLs and more. We’ve lost that key pipeline, yet we continue to bemoan the fact that we don’t have young people entering this industry. That’s just crazy.

From the start, the USTA, through TOC, had a strong and important relationship with the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association. NIRSA saw TOC as a “wow” for their mission. But in recent years, it seems USTA has back-burnered TOC to the point where the NIRSA relationship is faltering.

USTA, pay attention here: It’s time to focus on the long-term good TOC has already proven it brings to this industry. TOC is a key link in the chain from juniors into adult tennis. It should be a major key to retention of current players. It brings young people into this industry. If any program deserves resources, support and investment, it’s TOC.

USTA section and district staff, teaching pros, high school coaches and volunteers must be informed and be advocates for TOC, and must promote it to their players. We must get TOC back on the stove, on a front burner, with the heat turned up. This is an opportunity we can’t afford to ignore any longer.

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Your Serve: The Old College Try by Denny Schackter

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Two-year college PTM programs, rather than a four-year duration, may be all that’s needed to produce qualified pros.

Recently I was reading a newspaper article on the shortage of Americans entering trades, such as welders, electricians,
carpenters, plumbers, etc. The article not only described the shortage, it listed schools across the country offering certifications for those careers.

This got me thinking. The tennis teaching organizations in the U.S. have endorsed college Professional Tennis Management (PTM) programs as a source for growing our tennis-teaching profession. So far, after many years,
there seems to be little indication that any of this is moving the needle on interest in teaching tennis.

My question is, why do young people looking to become tennis-teaching professionals need to get four-year degrees?
I believe all that an aspiring tennis teaching pro needs can be completed in a two-year program.

Promoting two-year PTM programs at junior and community colleges would help in several ways. Not only would this
industry produce twice as many qualified pros in the time it takes to churn out four-year grads, but young people who
love tennis and who may not be academically inclined would be great candidates for a tennis teaching career.

The perception many may have of two-year schools being “second class” to four-year institutions has been changing, as admissions requirements and academic standards continue to improve for community colleges. High-schoolers
who may have been average students can gain confidence as they see their progress through a two-year program. Plus, students can always transfer to a four-year school down the road if they desire.

Tuition, obviously, is lower for two-year schools and depending on the location, may be free. If a student had
to borrow money to stay at a four-year school, he or she may end up in debt for years, as they try to get their new tennis career off the ground.

The USTA wants to help out students in PTM programs with a $2,000 scholarship. While that’s great, it’s just a drop-in
the bucket to pay off a four-year school. That amount would go much further at a two-year institution.

Scheduling options at a two-year school often are much more flexible. This allows a student to take care of his
or her family and/or work part-time or full-time in addition to going to school. Most community colleges have
smaller class sizes, resulting in a better teacher-pupil ratio and stronger relationships with teachers. In addition,
there can be more support for the student as community college teachers may have more time to teach life skills.
Junior colleges also can zero in on the courses needed by a facility or club, while eliminating many of the “required”
courses at a four-year school, which may have no relevance to a tennis career.

I can envision young adults who played high school tennis at a decent level and possess a passion for tennis
as strong candidates for two-year PTM programs. One teaching pro/high school coach told me he has five players on his team who would be great candidates for our profession, but we, as an industry, need to “sell” them on this career choice.

As we know, there is a shortage of teaching pros. There is an acute demand for women tennis professionals. If all
these candidates could gain an affordable professional degree in two years, while working at a tennis facility at the
same time, we could well be on the way to fixing our industry and the tennis teaching profession.

Denny Schackter is owner of Tennis Priorities, specializing in recruiting and placing tennis professionals. He is a USTA volunteer and member of the USPTA and PTR.

We welcome your opinions and comments. Email


Your Serve: Saving Our Courts by Denny Schackter

Click here for the full article published by Racquet Sports Industry

Pickleball seems to do a much better job advocating for what it needs. Can tennis state the case for itself?

With the pandemic, sports that have a built-in degree of physical distancing, like tennis and pickleball, have been fairly popular. But as pickleball continues to grow, I’ve noticed some tension between these two sports, which makes me concerned for tennis.

My wife plays pickleball. She enjoys it because her physical abilities match up well with the sport. For many people, pickleball is a great way to expand motor and mental skills without putting one’s body in a precarious position.

Recently, my wife introduced me to a fellow pickleball player who coordinates much of the pickleball activities at our club. He told me that many of the tennis pros at the club resent pickleball. He said he’s had to work hard to get space so that he can conduct pickleball activities.

This got me thinking. In a typical city, the park and rec department oversees athletic facilities—monitoring and repairing the venues, building new facilities, running programs at them for all age groups. Pickleball players seem to be doing a much better job “politicking” park and rec agencies and boards so that resources come their way. Tennis players, on the other hand, seem to stay on the sidelines, not engaging or creating support for their tennis courts, then watching as they slowly but surely disappear.

This is a problem that affects more than recreational tennis players, who will have a harder and harder time finding a place to play. Also suffering will be high school and college teams that use public courts to practice and compete.

Pickleball players always seem ready and able to help aspiring players learn the basic skills of their sport and find places to play, and they’re always very welcoming when it comes to introducing new players to existing players. In the tennis world, this often is not the case.

Tennis also needs to be concerned that park and rec departments hire qualified teachers, otherwise aspiring tennis players will receive less than adequate instruction, resulting in a less than satisfactory tennis experience. The USPTA and PTR have long advocated that education and certification need to be keys for teaching tennis. If we, as tennis players, do not insist on that happening, we will lose more tennis candidates.

What can recreational tennis players and providers do? CTAs, high school coaches, parents, district USTA officials and many others should start meeting with the local decision-makers regarding facility construction, maintenance and usage. Also, run for election on local park and rec boards, which can ensure tennis won’t be an afterthought in your community. And push for accurate data regarding the number of tennis players in your community, so that park boards realize a good percentage of its residents play tennis.

Obviously, tennis and pickleball can, and should, get along. They both can provide important segments of society with much-needed fitness and activity. But tennis players can’t just stand by and watch others win the budgetary and resource battles in our communities. Tennis players need to start lobbying for and advocating for what the sport needs.

Denny Schackter is owner of Tennis Priorities, specializing in recruiting and placing tennis professionals. He is a USTA volunteer and member of the USPTA and PTR.

We welcome your opinions and comments. Email

tennis balls on court

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.


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,, for an update. 

Thank you.

Denny Schackter
Tennis Priorities Company
c: 847-910-9713

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

Ernest Hemingway


Be Certifiable

College Players Are Ideal Candidates to Become Certified Tennis Teaching Professionals.

By Denny Schackter


The tennis industry needs to bring in younger people. We’ve known this for many years, but as the average age of teaching professionals has climbed into the late 40s, the importance of doing so has only grown.

I’m in the business of recruiting people into this industry, and I’ve worked with college tennis players for many years. When I see former college players who have taken jobs in other professions, they often tell me “something is missing” about their new jobs. What they miss is not having as much contact with other people, like they did when they played tennis.

Both the USPTA and PTR have initiatives to bring young men and women into the tennis teaching profession, and we all should be encouraging young adults to get and stay in the industry. There are many reasons I give to college and Tennis on Campus players on why they should consider becoming certified tennis teaching pros:

Help people of all ages enjoy and benefit from tennis.

Most college players come out of school with great experiences from their time on teams. As a certified teaching pro, former college players can continue to pay this forward.

Get a handle on the tennis business.

Certified pros stay informed and updated on the tennis industry, new teaching adaptations, rules, equipment, new products, programs, facility administration and much more.

It’s a good career backup plan.

If a young person enters a profession and then later feels it wasn’t the right choice, being certified to teach tennis can almost guarantee a job.

Hone organization and time management skills.

While tennis pros work with others, they have to set their own schedules, organize their commitments and budget their time – all skills that other jobs and professions also require.

Gain and maintain a strong circle of friends.

Who do high-school and tennis players often consider their best friends? Their teammates. And these are friendships they maintain for the long term. On a staff with other tennis pros, strong friendships also blossom, and these professional connections can reap benefits down the road.

Draw out a hidden talent.

College players who enjoyed the game can be terrific teaching professionals because of the wealth of experience they gained in match play. Often, players don’t realize they can be effective teachers. Going through certification helps bring out these talents.

Stay in shape.

How many jobs give a person the chance to stay in shape? Teaching tennis is a great way to stay healthy and fit, while remaining aware of the body’s limits. This shouldn’t be overlooked.

Stay engaged in the game.

Most tennis players genuinely love this sport. Becoming a certified teaching pro keeps players connected to it.

Couple taking a selfie on a tennis court

Let’s Get Younger

By Denny Schackter, USPTA Elite Professional; Palatine, IL

I attended a D1 men’s tennis match. I am always astounded how hard the kids hit the ball and how many balls land on or near the lines. Of course, with how hard the ball is hit, comes the reality for the chair umpire to be able to see whether the ball has struck the line. Needless to say, when players call a close ball out, and if the opponent complains, the call is either sustained or overruled. When it is overruled, there is turmoil. First the player who made the call cannot believe they were overruled and then comes the coach who has not been near the match, but of course, wants to put in his two cents.

Where does that put the chair umpire? In looking down the row of the six matches I was watching, I noticed every umpire was either bald or had grey hair. I say that because I have lost a great deal of hair and what remains is white! I said to myself, “How can these wonderful, passionate umpires see the lines in greater regularity than the players making the calls?” I saw three calls on the match I was watching overruled and they should not have been based on my keen eyesight.

This brings me to the point of the article. The industry has to do a better job of recruiting younger folks to be tennis officials. We cannon expect our grandmas and grandpas to have the seeing ability to do a great job. It’s just not physically possible on a consistent basis. Where can we find some younger individuals? Let’s try Tennis on Campus. There are 36,000 kids with keen eye site playing on 550 campuses. I know the USTA is working hard with this group, but we have to find a way to increase the recruiting effort. With no offense to my fellow senior citizens, the time is now to get current and TOC could be the answer.