Rand: With our many locations, we attempt to make tennis as easy on the family as possible. By having several convenient locations, the parents and players spend less time traveling to and from tennis. We want our kids to have fun and learn the fundamentals of the sport. By using the USTA’s QuickStart method, we can take tennis to a school or gym or other surface which is a major benefit of this new teaching format. You do not necessarily need a full-sized tennis court to begin teaching tennis. The important thing is to provide the same teaching curriculum at each location. We also like to expose our players to different surfaces, such as the French Open style red clay in Riverside Park, the U.S. Open style deco hard courts at Stadium, and the artificial grass and Har-Tru surfaces at our Napeague Tennis Club in the Hamptons.
Please comment on the teaching method and teachers at Gotham Tennis Academy. Rand: We hire PTR-certified tennis instructors and we have a standard curriculum which each instructor is required to follow. Our core teaching curriculum is the
same at each of our locations. Every semester, we do player and pro evaluations to review performance and stay on top of player development. We are also using technology now with Dartfish video analysis, even at a young age because kids can learn a lot from watching video footage of themselves. We teach our instructors that teaching tennis is about the student, not the pro. Not one single pro on our staff is “bigger” than our system and our team approach. For example, Alex Bogomolov Jr., a professional tennis player who recently reached number 31 in the world, was a Gotham program director. Just like everyone else on our professional staff, Alex left his ego at the door when he joined our company and put the needs of our players above all else.
Please tell us about Stadium Tennis Center. Kassan: Stadium Tennis Center is a new, state-of-the-art 16 court indoor/outdoor tennis center near Yankee Stadium, which operates under a concession agreement with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Twelve of Stadium’s courts are open for indoor play from October through April under one of the largest tennis bubbles or domes of this type in the world. The bubble at Stadium Tennis Center covers an area of over four million cubic feet and a footprint of more than 75,000-sq. ft. The Center’s high 60-ft. ceilings, tournament play lighting, spacious backcourts and an adjacent clubhouse are attracting tennis players throughout NYC, northern New Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut. Because Stadium Tennis Center is conveniently located near Yankee Stadium, it is also very accessible by public transportation. There is convenient parking right across the street at the Gateway Shopping Center.
Rand: Stadium Tennis Center offers a full complement of tennis programs for juniors and adults of all skill levels. Through its partnership with Gotham Tennis Academy, the new tennis center has established a team of top-notch, experienced tennis professionals and programs with a growing and loyal following. Stadium also offers indoor seasonal court rentals, private lessons, game arranging, leagues and tournaments. It’s a special place for all types of tennis players: Young, old, beginners, tournament players … you name it. Everyone is welcome at Stadium.
Can you generalize about the goals for players at Gotham Tennis Academy? Kassan: One cornerstone goal of our company is to provide a training ground where our players can become prepared to play tennis at the Division I college level. We strive to train champions who can reach their maximum potential both on and off-the-court. Through tennis, one can learn many life skills, so we not only want our students to become better tennis players, but we want them to also be become better people who display good sportsmanship, act responsibly and ethically, and are able to set and achieve goals on and off the court. We want our players to realize that even if they don’t become college or professional tennis players, they can still develop solid fundamental tennis skills to enjoy with family and friends for a lifetime. Rand: We encourage our kids to play tennis with us throughout the entire year, and just to be the very best that they can be. Starting from when they pick up a racquet with us, we want them to realize their affiliation with Gotham Tennis Academy means something. This is hopefully a 10- to 15-year relationship with us, all the way through college and beyond. Right now, we are only in our fifth year, so we are eager to see where our players will be in another five to 10 years. The future for our young crop of players is incredibly bright. It’s very exciting and humbling to know that Gotham Tennis Academy will play a key role in our players’ tournament results, scholarships, college and more. But overall, our end game is that we want our kids to have fun, develop their skills, get better and enjoy their time with us.
NYTennisMag.com • May/June 2012 • New York Tennis Magazine