Column: Coaching in the world of tennis, past, present and future
The game of tennis has roots that go back much further than the year Major Wingfield patented it in February of 1874 and the development of the player skill sets as the years have advanced have taken enormous leaps and bounds as well.
Equipment has certainly advanced, racquets, clothing and shoes, rules have been tweaked and defined, courts/surfaces/lights and facilities professionally built, books and magazines written, competitions/programs and men’s and women’s tours developed, media heightened, with amateurs and professionals enjoying a world-wide tennis crazed competitive, social game and aspect that encompasses practically birth to death status for millions of enthusiasts.
In 144 years this special game of tennis has captured the hearts, minds and physical conscious of players of all ages, sex, and social status from every corner of the globe.
Who are the people responsible for this resounding success, development and growth?
No doubt the people who enjoyed the game so much they decided to show their love for what it brought them and decided to become coaches, volunteers, and administers in its promotion.
Tennis was primarily considered an amateur sport until the advent of open tennis in 1968 when everyone competing in tournaments could play against one another, then the tennis boom occurred and with it seemed everyone was giving the game of tennis a try.
Early coaches like Mercer Beasley and Eleanor “Teach” Tennant highlighted the art of coaching many of the greats as well as the common folk, writing books, magazine articles and such in the first half of the 20th century.
But almost every great player had someone who took them under their wing to show them the latest strokes, the best footwork and strategy in the best tutoring ways of their day.
John Gardiner created the first real tennis ranches/camps that people could spend long weekends learning the easiest ways to become better tennis players - and as years went by spread them across the U.S.
Vic Braden had one of the first tennis colleges where everything he taught had been researched and proven. He was an entertainer, the professor of tennis and taught the best of the best, thousands of instructors and the general masses.
The USPTA was originated in 1927 by a handful of tennis teaching professionals and today has thousands of certified instructors helping others all over the world.
If you’re involved in the game you too might have considered getting some specialized instruction at places like John Newcombe’s Tennis Ranch, IMG Bollettieri Academy, Dennis Van Der Meer’s (USPTR) Academy, Harry Hopman’s Tennis Academy, Evert Academy, Sanchez-Casel Tennis Academy, with all of these are here in the U.S.
There are so many wonderful places to learn how to play that are fun to attend, but to give you the honest truth, the local coaches and instructors in your own home town are probably the best because they care about you day-in and day-out, so you really don’t have to look very far.
And you parents with kids, don’t cut yourself short with help getting your children involved.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775.