I arrived in Seaside in 2000 to become the director of tennis. I came from a membership-based club in Huntsville, Ala., where I managed and taught for 13 years prior to coming to the 30A area. The differences in resort tennis and club tennis were evident right from the start. In club tennis, we teach the same people day in and day out, sometimes for years. I built great relationships with my clients who became my friends. We had the luxury of working on their tennis goals over time, and I loved seeing my players’ games progress.
In my new resort setting, I learned quickly that I would have “friends for the week.” People arrived, scheduled lessons and played in clinics throughout the week. And then they were gone, and a new group arrived. This was my new tennis life, and I loved it.
Resort tennis is about having fun! Players are on vacation and are in a good mood. They are happy to get on the courts and are willing to try new things and play with new people. I immediately recognized that I would have to blend together players of all levels to have a successful resort program. I designed my clinics to keep people moving and to get them a good workout. For clinics, I have my pros feed live ball drills where players play out points. We take two or three quick water breaks, making sure all players hit a lot of balls and keep moving.
In our resort tennis program, we do the same drills almost every day. Returning players love that they know what is going on, and they help me explain the drills to the new players. It makes people interact. And playing with the good players helps the not-so-good players improve. Players meet others with similar skill levels, and they set up their own matches through that interaction. The drills are varied enough that everyone finds a drill they like or a skill they need to work on. And in all of my years of doing the same drills, nobody has mastered them all yet.
All my 30A Tennis pros are excellent teaching professionals. They may teach different things and in different ways than I do, and that variety benefits our players. When a skill is taught or explained differently, players may finally “get it” in a way they haven’t before. And where better to try something new than on vacation? Players can try new things in a fun setting with people they don’t know and may never see again, so there’s nothing to lose by giving it a try.
Besides teaching new things to new people, the key to my resort tennis program is making good players play with “not so good” players, and vice versa! It is great to play up with players better than yourself, and it is equally great to play with players that are where you were once. I love the interaction. And I can tell you, based on the size of my clinics and round robins and the smiles I see as you leave, that you get it, too! And now, I have “friends for a week” that return all the time.
See you on the courts!
Tracy Townsend is a resort tennis expert, and his company, 30A Tennis, manages Seaside Tennis on behalf of the Seaside Community Development Corp. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.
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