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Recruiting Effort Helps College Students Go Pro

Dave Neuhart hands out a brochure to Katie Cooper. Also pictured is in the middle is Hannah Nixon, co-president of the University of Arkansas team

Dave Neuhart hands out a brochure to Katie Cooper. Also pictured is in the middle is Hannah Nixon, co-president of the University of Arkansas team.

Story & photo by Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Go to college students to expand the number of teaching pros in the South.

That’s the strategy taken by the USTA Southern, the US Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) to recruit future teaching pros, along with tennis professionals who head up tennis facilities.

In recent years the USTA has aimed to raise the level of expertise of teaching pros. Additionally, with an average age of 52 for current pros, USTA Southern and the USPTA have focused on finding the new crop of tennis professionals to expand the number and expertise level of teaching pros.

USTA Southern Board Member Dave Neuhart is supporting the work of three other recruiters who have been assigned states to work in, over the next three months. The three recruiters and their area of coverage are: Mike Hurley (KY, TN), Tony Minnis (AL, AR, MS) and Todd Upchurch (GA, NC and SC). Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed many of these efforts. 

Neuhart attended the 2020 USTA Southern Sectional Championships for Tennis on Campus collegiate teams, with the mission of reaching out to college players. He held a recruiting session with about 200 players who were congregated around the Yarbrough Tennis Center. Five showed immediate interest in taking the next step to a pro teaching career. Almost all of the 100 brochures and about as many business cards were taken before the event was over.

Neuhart, who is the Columbus, GA, Green Island Country Club Director of Tennis and the former USTA Southern Tennis On Campus Committee Chair, mentioned the key reasons why an accomplished player should consider a career in teaching tennis.

He started by saying, “This is a commercial break about the state of our industry and about how it’s going. We need more teaching pros and we need them to be starting their careers. For those of you who have been playing seriously, you’re an expert in tennis. In how many other careers will you be an immediate expert?”

While the recruiters will be visiting with many college varsity team players, Neuhart decided to concentrate on players who are accomplished but not necessarily playing at the highest level. The more accomplished club team players definitely have the tennis skills to teach, he added.

“I don’t think Division I players make the best coaches. They are used to having things done for them and not used to serving people and helping others with their tennis needs. If they take a job as a tennis pro, they will need to refocus and take care of your members and the people you teach.”

He cited that industry statistics showed that teaching tennis can be a good living. “A top tennis director can early $100,000 or more and a starting pro can expect $35,000-$40,000 a year, but it depends upon how hard they want to work and how many hours they want to teach. That’s a decent starting salary for someone coming out of school.”

For more information, go to USPTA website and the PTR website.