USPTA ADDvantage Magazine - June 2023

Page 1

Hall of Fame Two New Fabulous Inductees

John Embree, USPTA CEO

Only the best of the best are considered to receive the Tim Heckler Hall of Fame Award; this year is no exception.

The USPTA Hall of Fame Task Force, chaired by Kathy Woods—an inductee in her own right—did its usual yeoman’s work to select two deserving candidates for induction into the USPTA Hall of Fame at the upcoming USPTA World Conference, here in Orlando, Sept. 24-28. We will recognize these honorees during the USPTA Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

I could not be more pleased to announce that Kirk Anderson and Chris “Chrissie” Evert are this year’s nominees. I have known both of them for close to 40 years, so it will be particularly meaningful for me to witness this ceremony. A USPTA Master Professional, Anderson has been a USPTA member for 50 years. Anderson is one of only 11 people worldwide to hold the Master Professional distinction with both the USPTA and PTR. Kirk was the director of educ -

USPTA Tim Heckler Hall of Fame inductee Chris Evert CEO MESSAGE

tion for the USPTA from 1995-1996. He is a graduate of the USTA High Performance Coach Program and is certified by the International Youth Conditioning Association as a Youth Fitness Specialist. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in exercise science from Western Michigan University.

Kirk has written and co-authored 14 tennis books for coaches and tennis professionals. He’s also written several workshop scripts and dozens of articles in journals in the United States and internationally. Anderson has been a popular speaker and presenter at international, national and regional workshops. He is best known for his innovative and energetic style with players and coaches of all ages and ability levels. He has also been a featured speaker at International Tennis Federation coaches workshops held in Bath and London, England.

Anderson has received many accolades over the years. In 2003, Anderson received the International Tennis Hall of Fame Educational Merit Award. He was named Person of the Year by Racquet Sports Industry magazine in 2006 and Professional Tennis Registry Professional of the Year in 2012. In 2017, the USPTA named Kirk the Alex Gordon Professional of the Year. In 2009, Kirk received the USTA/ USPTA Community Service Award. He was inducted into the Western Michigan University Department of Human Performance and Health Education Alumni Honor Academy in 2013.

Chrissie Evert is a USPTA Elite Professional with 26 years of service. Her late father, Jimmy Evert, was inducted into the USPTA Hall of Fame in 2018. This will be the first time a father and daughter have been inducted into this institution.

Chrissie burst upon the national

tennis scene at the age of 15, and a year later made the 1971 US Open semifinals in her first Grand Slam Event. She was voted the AP Female Athlete of the Year four times and in 1985 was voted the Greatest Woman Athlete of the Last 25 Years by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

the best of any professional tennis player in history. She was a unanimous selection to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995. She worked as an analyst for NBC for 10 years and joined ESPN in 2011, covering all four Grand Slam events.

Evert won 18 major singles championships (two Australian Open, three Wimbledon, and a record six US Open and seven French Open titles), winning at least one each year for 13 consecutive years— from 1974 to 1986. She retired in 1989 with 157 singles titles overall, and a career win-loss record of 1,309-146 (.900),

Chrissie, her brother John and their father Jimmy established the Evert Tennis Academy in 1996 in Boca Raton, Florida. The Evert Tennis Academy quickly became, and continues to be, home to countless national and international junior players, the best college players and some of the world’s finest pros. By combining the experience of a champion with worldclass coaching, cutting-edge training methods and premier facilities, the Evert Tennis Academy is able to offer unrivaled programming for players of all ages and abilities. Chrissie and John continue their father’s coaching legacy by instilling four core values in their students: excellence, resilience, integrity and leadership.

The Evert Tennis Academy campus has 23 courts, which offer two types of playing surfaces, including 12 hard courts and 11 clay courts. Evert Tennis Academy utilizes two secondary sites with more than 25 courts including a private club just minutes from the academy. Kirk and Chrissie are certainly deserving of this award. We look forward to celebrating them in September.

Please make plans to join us in Orlando for what will be an incredibly special World Conference.

"It has always been a great source of pride to honor those fantastic leaders within the USPTA who deserve to be inducted into the USPTA Hall of Fame."
USPTA Tim Heckler Hall of Fame inductee Kirk Anderson CEO MESSAGE


Our industry has evolved since I achieved my USPTA P-1 certification in December 1993. The key to facing evolution is how you view it and respond to it, and it comes down to two simple words: resist or embrace.

As the USPTA National Board, we are charged with looking at the overall scope of our industry and what allows us to grow as an association while not compromising our core values, something that is not very easy to do. I am proud of how our association recognizes the need for evolution and has truly undertaken that challenge. When things evolve, they often present challenges, and how you view the word “challenge” is how you will deal with it. To me, the word challenge has become synonymous with the word “opportunity.”

safe play

Over the past years, it has been well documented that there have been unfortunate cases of coaches crossing the line with athletes. As a parent myself, this is one of the worst nightmares you could face. As a national board member, I can also promise we echo these sentiments 100%, as these acts and the people who perform them are unacceptable. The USPTA recognizes and supports safe environments for youth and stands behind SafeSport, as all new members who come into the association must first complete the tennis version of the regulation known as Safe Play. If you don’t pass, you will not get to have the

USPTA letters by your name. We see this as an opportunity to let our customers (present and future) know that when you go to a USPTA professional, your child is going to be in a safe environment.

virtual certification

Many of us reading this article are certified professionals. Many of us tested through the old system of a one-to-twoday in-person test. We had to leave our jobs, lose income and incur expenses, all things that are very tough for young professionals today. So, we took this challenge, and through the work of Past President Feisal Hassan, we created a certification pathway that allows our future generation to start the certification process virtually from their homes. By doing this, they lose fewer hours on-court and have zero travel expenses. We still value face-to-face, but this is an opportunity to show and acknowledge how things have evolved. We want to embrace this and make this pathway inclusive for all.

refer & earn

I have heard it said the best promoters of one’s product are the people who either use the product or are the product. We also recognize that, while many of us in the past would promote the USPTA

with nothing in return, it is not necessarily how things should be done today. So, we took this opportunity to really look at and promote our association’s best kept secret—USPTA's Refer & Earn program, previoulsy known as the AIM program. This is an incentive-based program where members earn for referring new applicants. We'll be announcing new details soon about how you can take advantage of this program to earn money through recruiting new applicants.

additional certifications

As I mentioned earlier, the true landscape of racquet sports looks much different than 30 years ago. As this evolution is occurring, we must ask ourselves, are we going to remain stuck in the past or are we going to take this opportunity to increase the value of our certified professionals by embracing, educating and certifying them in other racquet sports such as pickleball, padel and platform? The answer is easy, if we want to continue to raise the standards and help our professionals be more marketable, then yes, we should. We truly saw the value and power in this, and we were instrumental and involved from the start in the University of Florida’s Director of Racquet Sports Certification Program.


D, E and I

We continue to evolve in our D, E and I space. While this is an area some would say never moves fast enough, we have not only spoken of what we want to do, we are actually doing it. We have partnered with the top women’s coaching association, WTCA, to provide and build more opportunities for female coaches. We are continuing to embrace the African American, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ and adaptive communities, as we know that if we want to be the best teaching association in America and the world, then we must look like what America and the rest of the world looks like.

This article could go on and on, as

the USPTA is always evolving. We also recognize our core product will always be tennis. Though it is who we are, we want all racquet sports professionals to have what they need to succeed in their careers. The USPTA needs to be like a cup of coffee. It starts as a cup of water and some coffee grounds, but when you put the grounds in the water and stir, they blend into what some call the greatest morning drink. The water represents the current USPTA (tennis) and the grounds the future of the sport (pickleball, padel, platform and whatever else is coming). In the end, it evolves to the blend, which represents our opportunity to be the greatest teaching association in America and the world: the USPTA.*

USPTA National Board of Directors
Pictured left to right: Mark Faber, Kevin Theos, Jason Gilbert, Rich Slivocka, Trish Faulkner, Jenny Gray, Tracy Almeda-Singian, Feisal Hassan, George Parnell
" To me, the word challenge has become synonymous with the word opportunity.”

It’s Time to Recognize the Status of Jessica Pegula

It seems to me tennis fans are frequently starstruck, inspired by champions who transcend the sport with dazzling achievements and delighted by the enduring excellence of iconic performers. That is how it will always be for those living in the community of sports observers.

But because so many aficionados are transfixed by superstars, they lose sight of other players worthy of more attention. Consider one Jessica Pegula, a 29-year-old who has remained under the radar despite a remarkable rise over the past couple of years in her trade. Pegula is currently the top ranked woman in the United States, the thirdbest female player on the planet and arguably the ultimate professional in women’s tennis. Always winning and losing with equanimity—a classy sportswoman and cagey competitor—Pegula’s reverence for the game is unmistakable.

To put it succinctly, Pegula’s multitude of virtues has largely been taken for granted. The reasons she has been overlooked are numerous. First and foremost, Pegula is so immersed in and committed to her craft that she won’t pander to the crowds. She clearly enjoys what she is doing immensely and connects easily and naturally with audiences everywhere she performs but is not inauthentically striv-

ing to be an entertainer. Pegula is justifiably preoccupied with winning as many tennis matches as possible. She knows herself well and understands what it will take to fully realize her potential.

The extraordinary quality of her work across the last couple of years has carried Pegula almost inexorably into the upper regions of the sport. Her

reliability has been the chief reason why she has climbed to such heights. She has unhesitatingly done it step by step, reaching the top 100 for the first time in 2019 when she concluded the year at No. 76, finishing the following season at No. 62, surging into the top 20 in 2021. That year she reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the first time

Steve Flink, International Tennis Hall of Fame
©Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA

she had gone that far at a Grand Slam tournament. In 2022, unmistakably comfortable in loftier territory and increasingly confident when it counted, Pegula celebrated her finest season yet, advancing to the quarterfinals in three of the four majors and securing the WTA title at Guadalajara with triumphs over no fewer than four players who had won majors— Elena Rybakina, Bianca Andreescu, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka.

That was one of the high points of her distinguished career, and it was only the second WTA singles title she had sealed heading into April of this year.

Pegula played with quiet ferocity and purpose every time she stepped on the court in 2022. She was a model of consistency, victorious in 42 of 63 matches and wrapping up that season at No. 3 in the world. She won 19 of her first 25 matches in 2023, primarily due to her durability, intelligence and unshakable temperament.

What impresses me most about Pegula is how she navigates her way through psychologically strenuous contests when the winds of momentum are shifting back and forth precariously from one side of the net to the other, with the momentum fluctuating unpredictably from her opponent back to herself. Consider the win that sent her into the semifinals of the Miami Open this spring. Facing the gifted Anastasia Potapova, she was down double match point late in the third set, but her poise and perspicacity enabled Pegula to survive and prevail 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2). She was physically outplayed, but Pegula was better under duress. Her resolve is immeasurably strong. Her willingness to work inordinately hard to confront dire circumstances defines precisely who she is. Pegula’s mental toughness is her chief weapon.

The American’s backcourt game is

strikingly flexible. Her flat strokes off both sides are hit with great depth and stay exceedingly low. She takes control of rallies by dictating off the forehand and defends very ably. Her court sense is excellent. She needs more velocity and deception on her serve, but surely that is something she and her coach, David Witt, are addressing. I don’t know if she will ever find a way to rise to the very top

of the ladder. That is a daunting task. But this estimable woman will remain in the upper regions of the game for many more years. In the final analysis, Pegula’s stature, stability and popularity will grow decidedly in the seasons ahead, and the public will make it abundantly clear how deeply they appreciate her both as a person and a player.

©Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA

pressure performing under

Can Your Students Trust in the Moment? Help Build Their “Trust” Muscle

At the biggest moments in your students’ matches, do they trust themselves and accept any outcome? Or are they doubtful and cautious and make the very mistakes they were afraid of making?

As coaches, it is our job to talk to them and help them find an honest answer to these questions.

An athlete only becomes the champion of their own game when they can trust their own self, regardless of outcomes when playing others.

Building that “trust muscle” is like building a relationship—you must risk enough real, authentic moments where you could lose and get emotionally hurt. Players need to be reminded that, for most of us mortals, we can never do that 100% of the time.

Have your players ask themselves in what percentage of these big moments they’re able to let go and trust themselves. How often are they accepting the reality of both potential loss and victory? Is there something holding them back from feeling that trust and acceptance? If you can help them increase that trust percentage by even 1-2%, it can make a big difference in the quality of their play.

Though the particulars for building self-trust are different for every player, students of every level must be willing to risk losing and they must actually lose.

It doesn’t count if they only let go in practice. They must gradually work letting go and trusting their game in their matches. This means your players

might mess up at first and lose the point or a match.

You also must teach your players how to visualize letting go and trusting themselves in the big moments. Start with having them visualize success, and then have them visualize losing the point and how they’ll react to it. How quickly can they learn from the mistake and let it go in order to trust their game on the next point or in the next big moment?

Have them prepare for the point with quality breathing exercises and relaxation techniques while promising themselves they will trust their game. With that prep—making a promise, visualizing, breathing and relaxing—then they can try this four-step progression to help them build the trust muscle.


Have students promise to trust their game:

1-3 times a set: Start with points like 30-0 for them or their doubles team, or when up in a tiebreak. 1

Once per game: On the same kinds of scores where your student or their doubles team have the scoreboard advantage. 2

At least once per game on points when they’re tied or behind in the game score or tied or behind in a tiebreak. 3

On all game, set, and match points, whether for them or against them. 4

Take your time to work through these progressions with your students. Help them get instinctively comfortable with one step, even if they are not totally successful at it, before challenging them to the next level.

Repeatedly making your players take enough risks to lose, and learning from it, is the only way that trust muscle gets built well enough to hold up under big pressure.*


Tips to Keep Young Girls in the Game

Without needing to read statistics, coaches realize girls start dropping out of tennis from a young age. Research suggests that 75% of female tennis players quit competitive tennis by age 17. There are many reasons a young person might cease participation in a chosen activity, with the most apparent reason being that they are not enjoying it anymore. When we dig deeper and pay close attention to group dynamics, we can often support young females in fostering a lifelong love for tennis. Coaches must pay attention to everything that happens beyond actually hitting a ball. Like it or not, we spend most of our time fixing techniques and teaching players how to construct points. There are things that you can do right away to give your female players a better tennis experience.


Be mindful of cliques forming and address them as soon as you notice them. If you see a group of girls excluding another student or failing to include them, briefly chat with one of the students you identify as a leader in the group and ask them to take the forgotten student under their wing.

3 Play a lot of doubles. Winning singles matches is likely not essential to a young girl's tennis experience.


Normalize talking about periods. Active Inclusion CEO John Cranwell stated, "Girls are missing physical education lessons at school, sporting commitments outside of school and 'working out' because they have a lack of confidence to participate in sport while on their period." The same issue carries over to the tennis court. Paying attention to statements such as, “My tummy hurts,” or, “I feel so uncoordinated today,” can let a coach know that a student might have their period. Some support to normalize the menstrual cycle could help her better enjoy her time on the court.

4 Use female players in your examples. It's pointless talking to a 5'4" female student about creating time pressure through efficient movement by explaining how Novak can get from the middle of the baseline to the sideline in just two steps! Watch enough women's tennis to give examples of female players when advising young players about correct technique. The Women's Sports Foundation says creating positive role models for your athletes is critical. "Today's girls are bombarded with images of external beauty, not those of confident, strong female athletic role models. To some girls, fitting within the mold that they are constantly told to stay in is more important than standing out." Coaches utilizing examples of women players can create positive role models for female tennis players.

Many more factors impact a young girl's tennis journey, and many will be revealed through safe interpersonal player/coach relationships. By getting to know them slowly and creating a safe space for them to communicate, coaches can have a massive impact on young players' tennis lives without spending a minute correcting, refining and enhancing the way they hit the ball.*

Sarah Stone WTCA Co-Founder
When we dig deeper and pay close attention to group dynamics, we can often support young females in fostering a lifelong love for tennis.

Some jobs are easier today than they were 40 or 50 years ago due to the advent of technology, new tools and the ease of communication.

But in the world of racquet sports, the job of director has become much more complicated.

Back in 1969, the person who directed the tennis program at my club used his car for his office, stored his tennis balls on-court in a trash can and taught me to volley while I, at six years old, wielded a sawed-off, wooden racquet. There was no 10-and-under tennis, no graduated equipment and no social


media. The club’s Sunday afternoon interclub tennis match was played without supervision; a club-member captain ran the show. Players brought their own drinks and their own balls.

The role of directing the tennis program back then was just not that complicated.

Today, demands for the position, which is now often called the “Director of Racquet Sports,” range from everything concerning hiring and training staff, erecting air structures, managing build projects and hanging windscreens to running programming, events and instruction for players from age three to 93 in a variety of complimentary racquet sports such as pickleball, padel, plat-

form, POP, SPEC and touchtennis. Oh, and did I mention that parents expect report cards for skill progress, want a birthday party for little Jimmy and will tell the general manager if the director isn’t quickly responsive to their request for ice in the coolers and someone to help squeegee on Court Four?

Until recently, new directors had to figure it out while on the job. Now, learning on the job has been a challenge since current directors and assistants have 40+ hours of work. There is little extra time for mentoring sessions.

The good news is that in 2021, a very clear educational path emerged to help a person feel equipped to move from on-court to the director of racquet

Kim Bastable, UF Director of Professional Tennis Management

sports role and to feel equipped and not panicked with the new responsibilities. This June, the USPTA is celebrating two years of recognizing professionals as certified directors of racquet sports after pros graduate from the Director of Racquet Sports Certificate Course, delivered online by the University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance. The course, which requires Elite Professional certification and three years of industry experience to enroll, includes curriculum funded by the USTA and created by a committee of respected directors of tennis/racquet sports. The committee also included USPTA CEO John Embree.

“The committee worked tirelessly for over a year to determine all of the skills necessary for a pro’s transition to leadership,” USPTA CEO John Embree said. “I wanted to be a part of the process because I knew that our members needed the education, and it would be best for the industry if pros were to learn strong leadership and business knowledge.”

Over 90 pros, ranging from assistants to current directors, have entered the certificate course in the two years since its inception. All have full-time jobs. They take advantage of the flexible nature of the course, which gives students one year to complete it, although the number of hours required to do the work is estimated to total 90 hours. If a pro can find four hours a week, they’ll finish in about six to seven months, but if they have busy weeks or busy months, they can slow down and catch back up when their schedule allows.

Over 30 pros have completed the course and several more are approaching the final exam, having completed the course’s 10 modules of work on subjects such as facilities, technology, leadership, budgeting, marketing and customer experience. There is also one module which covers the many complimentary racquet sports played in addition to tennis in most clubs today.

Pros who are now USPTA Certified Directors of Racquet Sports include Ajay Pant, Lifetime; and Butch Staples, MidTown. The certificate course is just one

way to learn the curriculum. The other is to get a master's in sport management with a specialization in director of racquet sports.

“The director of racquet sports course is valuable to the aspiring head professional or assistant professional who has not been getting the individualized consideration they need from their current director,” Michael Pereira, USPTA Elite Professional in Georgia and certificate course graduate in 2022—now getting his master’s—said. “I think that because many assistant pros spend most of their days on-court to make ends meet, they don't take the time to learn about tennis as a career path or learn about other aspects of the industry. This is where the university course shines.”

Many of the top industry position listings for director of racquet sports now require enrollment in the Director of Racquet Sports Certificate Course, or completion of it, as a requirement of hiring, and the DORS education has already been shown to spring load some careers.

USPTA Elite Professional Eric Engelsgjerd started the course while an assistant pro in Arkansas and finished it as director of racquet sports at The Club at Las Campanas in New Mexico. He explained that, in the interview process when he was applying to be head pro, “One of the tennis committee members

characterized me as a ‘complete racquets package.’” He went on to say, “This DORS certification was the top item mentioned regarding my resume and was the lightning rod that sparked where we ultimately ended up!”

As the industry grows post-COVID and there are many current directors set to retire in the coming years, it’s reassuring to know the industry now has a complete path from entry level pro to the top position – with clear educational steps.

For the pro at my childhood club to have advanced further in his career in 1969, he would have had to learn by talking to a director of tennis at a bigger, more complex program, since he already was in the top role at my club. At that time, he would not have had the option for an educational course to teach him the ropes. Now there is.

“The DORS program transformed me from a tennis professional to an individual who feels confident in all aspects of directing a racquets program,” USPTA Elite Professional Mike Nott of Northwood Country Club in Dallas said.

The UF/USPTA curriculum to become a certified DORS includes 10 important business and leadership topics. It’s fully online and open to pros who are a USPTA Elite Professional and have three years of industry work experience. The price to take the course is $2,395. You can find additional information at

Michael Pereira USPTA Elite Professional Southern Division
Eric Engelsgjerd USPTA Elite Professional Southwest Division



Tennis is now more fun, more personalized and more engaging with a renewed focus on sportsmanship, the new USTA Junior Playbook and International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Number (WTN). Coaches and professionals are also focusing on these areas to help support developmentally appropriate programming and level-based play, while parents and players have access to additional information and tools to support their tennis journey.


Sportsmanship includes respecting opponents, playing fair and supporting a fun environment. The USTA provides resources to ensure positive play experiences and good sportsmanship. Whether before, during or after a

match, players have many opportunities to show good sportsmanship. Calling balls in or out is one of the hardest parts of a mostly self-regulated sport, and how players and parents react to those line calls is important. For parents, reinforcing positive actions and attitudes toward the players will go a long way in emphasizing good sportsmanship.

USTA’s American Development Model

The United States Tennis Association's (USTA) American Development Model (ADM) is a comprehensive framework designed to help young players develop their skills, achieve their potential and enjoy the sport of tennis. The ADM is based on a long-term athlete development approach, which recognizes that different age groups have different needs and goals. This approach emphasizes player development over winning

at all costs and focuses on creating fun experiences for junior tennis players. The ADM provides a clear and structured pathway for players to progress from introductory programs to high-performance competition. The competition pathway is designed to ensure that players develop the necessary skills and experience at each stage of their development to succeed at the next level. The ADM encourages players to compete at appropriate levels of play based on their age, ability and experience, which helps to build confidence, motivation and a love of the sport.


The USTA's American Development Model provides a holistic approach to tennis development that focuses on creating a positive and enjoyable experience for young players. By emphasizing player development over winning at all costs, the ADM is helping to create a generation of tennis players who are not only skilled and competitive but who also love the sport and remain engaged in it for a lifetime.

Karl Davies, PhD & Matt Barnhart

USTA’s Junior Playbook

The USTA Junior Playbook is an example of how the ADM can be applied in practice. The USTA Junior Playbook is a guide for coaches, parents and players that provides a detailed overview of how the USTA is supporting play and that transition into competition when ready. By using the USTA Junior Playbook, coaches can develop a clear plan for the long-term development of their players, while also ensuring that the training environment is enjoyable, engaging and inclusive.

The USTA's American Development Model, with its emphasis on philosophy, play and play into competition, provides a valuable framework for coaches and players alike. By following the principles of the ADM and using resources such as the USTA Junior Playbook, coaches can help their players to develop their skills, love of the game and confidence, while also preparing them for success in competition.

ITF World Tennis Number

The ITF developed the WTN for singles and doubles play, providing a free global standard for players. Using a 40-1 scale, with 40 being a beginner and 1 being an elite professional, this scale is for all players, regardless of age, gender or ability. Updated weekly, the WTN is one of the most advanced and accurate rating systems in the world, designed to make playing and competing more fun.

More than 160 countries adopt the WTN. Launched in the United States in June 2022, it is the only rating permitted for use in USTA junior tournaments and it is the second acceptance criteria for ITF junior and masters tournaments. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently adopted the WTN as the official rating of college tennis.

The ITF and USTA have a shared mission to grow the sport of tennis. USTA is leveraging the WTN and digital solutions to help connect the player pathway including junior competition,

collegiate tennis and ITF events worldwide.

In the U.S., players who compete in college tennis, ITF events, USTA tournaments and USTA leagues will automatically have a WTN. This rating can be used as a seeding, selection and grouping tool for ITA-, ITF- and USTA-sanctioned competition. USTA’s digital platform, Serve Tennis, also offers free tools for providers to host flexible WTN tournaments and match play. To learn more about WTN, visit

Scan code to access USTA Junior Playbook

June is Children’s Awareness Month, and we’re delighted to use it to focus on our future leaders. The USPTA’s mission is to elevate the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches and to promote a greater awareness of the sport, and we’re excited to continue promoting that mission through all ages. Jason Gilbert, an Elite Professional since 1994 and current USPTA Board of Directors vice president, is a leader who embodies that mission through his dedication to the tennis industry and the development of our youth into strong players and future leaders.

Jason is originally from northern California and graduated from California State University of Hayward, where he played on both the tennis and soccer teams. In addition to his many roles and responsibilities within the USPTA, he serves as the director of youth tennis for the USTA Florida section and has two kids of his own. Jason is also a parent-volunteer for Lake Nona High School tennis, and he serves as the tournament director of USTA Florida’s most prestigious junior tournament event, the Bobby Curtis Sectional Championships.

“[For] kids new to junior programs, it needs to be all about fun,” Jason said when asked about getting youth involved with playing tennis. By starting



children in team events, we may be best positioned to establish that element of fun and grow their fondness for the game. Working as a team gives them a vital support system when starting that allows them to find the confidence to grow. As they become more competitive, they can compete more at an

I asked Jason what USPTA members can do to assist our youth today to become future leaders in the tennis industry and in their personal lives.

“Find your passion,” he said. Jason shared he has so much admiration for USPTA members who have done so by working in youth tennis and taking it very seriously. They are using the USPTA as a platform for enrichment through, webinars and conferences, and are hitting the ground running and never stop learning.

Jason said he encourages juniors in the industry to volunteer. Any chance you can, do so, and great things will happen.

“If we provide passion and communication, we will see them excel,” Jason said.

individual level and then develop more problem-solving skills and further build self-esteem.

Jason has taught tennis for more than 30 years, and it is truly in his DNA.

“It fires me up!” Jason said of junior team tennis. He has coached at all levels and has consistently provided fun for kids and empowered them to do well. He said one of his most gratifying and impactful moments is to see where “it clicks” and the juniors conquer the challenge in front of them.

“It starts with a player but ends in a friendship,” Jason said.

Jason shared a success story through his role in the Special Olympics, hosted once a year at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. He said watching the community support those athletes who compete is inspiring.

One of Arthur Ashe’s most famous quotes is, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” Jason Gilbert embodies this quote and is an inspiration to countless juniors, giving them the tools to not only be strong tennis players, but—even more importantly—to be strong future leaders as they go out into the world as adults.

President. Richard Slivocka
Immediate Past President Feisal
John Embree
ADDVANTAGE MAGAZINE Editor Marisa Lampe Managing Editor Collin Brazan Layout/Design Dan Schmidt Editorial Assistance Fred Viancos, Ellen Weatherford, Phoebe Allan Circulation Trevor Trudelle USPTA World Headquarters 11961 Performance Dr. Orlando, FL 32827 407-634-3050 – ADDvantage is published monthly by the United States Professional Tennis Association. The opinions expressed in ADDvantage are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ADDvantage or the United States Professional Tennis Association. Copyright© United States Professional Tennis Association, Inc. 2023. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of the magazine is not permitted without written permission from the USPTA.
First Vice President Trish Faulkner Vice Presidents Tracy Almeda-Singian, Mark Faber, Jason Gilbert, Kevin Theos, Jenny Gray
Hassan CEO
Legal Counsel George Parnell
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.