I graduated high school in 1978. Yep, I’ve been around a while. My high school tennis career was a good one. It was built around wooden rackets and steady ground strokes. Of course, the foot speed I had in those days helped a lot. That too is in the past.
During my college career, tennis was ever-changing. I started and finished my four years with a wooden racquet, but the transition to racquets made of aluminum, metal and other components was rapidly occurring. The change to a serve and volley game was also taking over. With emerging stars like McEnroe, Ashe and Navratilova having great success with it, my game also changed to this more aggressive style of play.
The great rivalries over the next few decades kept tennis fans immensely entertained: The ground game of Borg versus the net game of McEnroe. Everett’s mastery of the baseline versus the athleticism of Navratilova. The return game of Agassi versus the incredible serve of Sampras.
Seaside Tennis itself was started by teaching pros Charlotte and Dave. I arrived in 2000 to take over and put in new programs. Seaside was still an oasis during my first few years. The now surrounding resorts were just getting started, and there truly wasn’t a big tennis community at the time. I wondered if I could build this into a program worth staying for.
I remember days when no one would show up for my new morning clinic. Over the years, we built the program to a steady level. Now, you have to sign up in advance to reserve your space. Our Eye Opener Clinics and Round Robins sell out regularly all year long. I am so happy I endured the lean early years to develop this tennis program. It is successful beyond my wildest dreams.
One of the most exciting events we’ve held at Seaside Tennis was when Jim Courier did an exhibition with me in 2005. We built a stadium court on the croquet lawn and brought in stands to seat the sold-out crowd. He and I played a round of golf the day before and talked about all the changes tennis had gone through and how it was still changing. He had such incredible insight and shared the changes he thought were coming. I must say, he knew what he was talking about. It was the highlight of my career getting to play with a former world No. 1!
The community of Seaside itself was different then. There were small kiosks in the middle of town center for fun local vendors. The building that houses Great Southern Café now was then called Shades. Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant, my favorite watering hole, was smaller, with J.B. and the Blinders playing music in the upstairs bar most nights. I knew the playlist by heart. It was such a special time in Seaside.
I am so proud of the Seaside Tennis program that I have built. Over my years here, I have met the most amazing people. Most of them come back to see me year after year. Even the ones who aren’t currently playing tennis stop by to say hi when they’re in town. I have the best clients that any tennis pro ever could ask for.
I’m grateful to be a part of Seaside’s history. The Seaside story is ever-changing, and I am happy to be along for the ride.
Spring Pro Shop Hours:
Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.-noon; Sun., 9-10:30 a.m.
Eye Opener Clinics, Mon.-Thurs. 9-10 a.m.
Round Robins, Fri.-Sun. 9-10:30 a.m.
Courts are open for play daily 8 a.m.- dusk. Please call (850) 231-2214 to reserve courts, book lessons or sign-up for clinics and round robins. Find 30A TENNIS and SEASIDE TENNIS on Facebook for weather updates, news and events.