This post is part of a series that tell the stories of how tennis has influenced people’s lives in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Meet Kirk Comer from Shenandoah, Va. Kirk was named the 2014 USTA Mid-Atlantic High School Coach of the Year and was one of ten coaches across the country named to the 2016 USTA No-Cut Coach All-Star Team. To share your story or send to someone you know, click here.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am 47 years old, married with three daughters and have lived my entire life on the same road in Page County, Virginia. I enjoy many different types of recreation. I always enjoy anything outdoors and have played and coached many different sports over the years.
How did tennis first become part of your life?
My high school – Page County High School – did not have tennis when I attended. The only tennis instruction we had was watching great players over the static-filled TV screens with McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Becker and Chang coming first to mind during my high school years. We would rather poorly attempt to copy their movements on the courts, but my friends and I would put our game faces on and had many exciting matches on the only two tennis courts located in our county.
Fast forward many years and I took my daughters to a tennis camp in Harrisonburg where they learned the basics of tennis from some instructors that really made the camp fun for them. My daughters wanted a tennis team at our high school and – to make a long story short – we finally were able to do it and have not looked back. I was lucky enough to coach the team and saw our no-cut team grow from eight players the first season to the mid-twenties for the last three seasons! Tennis has introduced me to a interesting, diverse group of people that are always super supportive of each other.
When did you get involved with USTA Mid-Atlantic?
When our family started the high school team I asked the USTA for help. The next thing I knew we had formed a 501(c)(3) Community Tennis Association, and I was attending USTA workshops to learn more about tennis. As a coach I was able to use a version of Junior Team Tennis to give lower ladder players a way to compete in a fun atmosphere, and I’ve found NJTL clinics very beneficial to introducing new players to the sport of tennis.
When thinking back on your tennis journey, how do you feel?
Accomplishment and enjoyment because we have been able to grow tennis in a small area where tennis used to be nonexistent. I’ve also enjoyed seeing our no-cut team that only has two courts to practice on not only give all high school students a chance to be part of a team team but also compete and often times win against our opponents. Last season only two teams were able to earns wins over us. Looking back from my daughters grabbing their friends to meet in a classroom to form a eight player no-cut team to last year’s 27-player roster, which saw our top ladder players competing at high school matches with trips to the ice cream stand afterwards while our lower ladder players stayed behind and competed for prizes in our teams version of Junior Team Tennis was an incredible thing to be a part of! And for rainy days we made our own tennis courts inside of local gymnasiums!
What do you like most about tennis? What keeps you coming back?
I actually enjoy playing even more than coaching and at 47 years old tennis provides me a opportunity to compete. I’ll keep playing and coaching for as long as I can but hands down the best part of tennis is all the great people I get to meet. Tennis has been a blessing to me for sure!