Walking through Folkes/Stevens Tennis facility at Old Dominion University, you see people of all ages and skill levels playing tennis. Some competitive, some just for fun, while beginners are starting their own new experiences. Underneath it all, making these different areas come together is the business of it all, like the roots of a blossoming tree. As a Teaching Professional and Programmer, my job description is simple — keep people coming through the door for the first time, then keep them coming back to improve and thrive. Simple, but not easy. Junior Team Tennis plays an important role, offering a path for everyone to test themselves, make new friends, allowing our facility to serve as a home base for everyone. While it is a lot of work, running the JTT programs and teaching is an organic partnership, for me, for us.
Why? As a teacher, I want our players to love tennis enough to keep playing. Teaching them, getting to know them, informs and instructs us about their needs as they grow and seek out new challenges. We use that information to expand ourselves into the community and beyond, to meet new potential players and parents looking for something good to be involved with. Running the JTT program amplifies that expansion through being involved in the community, keeping us connected and in touch with our players needs while answering some of the communities needs as well. We learn crucial lessons through running the JTT we couldn’t learn anywhere else, ideas we can bring back to our teaching. Separating JTT from the job of Head Professional is difficult to imagine. One feeds the other. The combination of these roles helps us define the jobs, run the business, so that they do the work that needs doing for the players. JTT increased our business and our success feeds the pipeline for JTT, not just with players, but also volunteers, coaches, and teachers.
It is a mindset, that without running JTT, I’d be missing out on a lot of important ideas and relationships. That mindset, that connection, is required to do both successfully. Every teacher and every program is different. Knowing those differences, the idiosyncrasies, of your situation matters. Running both allows me to know them and put them to work effectively. Not knowing them can be fatal to either. The real question for me is why wouldn’t I do both? It is demanding, but the payoff to our programs, to our business, and to the players is worth it.
Head Tennis Professional
Old Dominion University
Folkes-Stevens Indoor Tennis Center
For more information about running a JTT program to help grow your facility or organization while giving your students a fun, team-based play option, contact Elizabeth Fratt with USTA Mid-Atlantic at firstname.lastname@example.org.