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The Big Serve

Posted on May 01, 2017 in Seaside Tennis , Tracy Townsend , May–June 2017

Tracy (center) and Ellen (lime top, pink sneakers) Townsend with group. Photo by Wendy O. Dixon

Seaside has enjoyed having Tracy Townsend of 30A Tennis as its tennis coach since 2000, where he’s watched the town grow from a quiet retreat to the funky hub it is today. “The town was much quieter then,” he says. “I lived in an apartment on 30A and had an old basset hound that would lie in the cool road at night without worry of a car passing by.” While his company, 30A Tennis, continues to offer management, consulting and a la carte tennis services, Townsend now offers his tennis program exclusively in Seaside.

Townsend grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and Haleyville, Ala. He recalls picking up the tennis racket at age 10. “I had played baseball so tennis came easily to me,” he says. Since his first tournament match at age 12, he realized tennis was his game, as he won match after match in high school and college. “Tennis has always been fairly natural for me,” he says. “I enjoy the one-on-one aspect of it.”

Townsend attended the University of North Alabama, where he led his team to the conference title in 1981, and holds the conference record for most wins in a season. He is a USPTR Certified teaching professional and has a master’s degree in sports sciences from the University of Denver. “Denver was the first place I taught school,” he says. “They paid me to teach tennis while I was earning a master’s degree, which I could never have afforded otherwise. That’s when I discovered I really enjoyed the teaching part of it. I never planned on being a tennis professional. I’d rather teach than play.”

Now that he is exclusive to Seaside, Townsend is able to focus on making the tennis program the best in the area. “The job opportunity was awesome,” he says. “Seaside is where all the action is, more hustle and bustle. And I like being busy. (Seaside founders) Robert and Daryl Davis have provided us with guidance and good ideas. I really like working for one or two people rather than a corporation.”

Townsend’s wife, Ellen, is also a vital part of the program, managing the business side of Seaside Tennis — marketing, accounting, buying for the Pro Shop and anything else that’s behind the scenes. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Ellen was a national account executive for Turner Broadcasting, calling on accounts like Nike and Disney. “Tracy and I really enjoy working together and complement each other’s strengths well. We think we make a pretty good team,” she says. “What is unique about Tracy is that he is comfortable with large groups, and he’s very entertaining. He remembers people’s names and has created a tennis community here that spans years and miles. Our clients are like family.”

Inspired by some of the founding families in town, the Townsends want to contribute wholly to Seaside. “It is our greatest honor to be in the company the Modicas (owners of Modica Market) or the Dawsons, who own five eateries in Seaside, or Dave Rauschkolb, owner of Bud & Alley’s restaurants — to be part of the fabric of Seaside, a vital part of the community,” Ellen says. Being the Seaside tennis pro is what Tracy wants his legacy to be.”

“It is an honor and privilege to serve Seaside, and we are grateful to Robert and Daryl Davis and the entire team at Seaside for this opportunity and their support.” Tracy adds. “I’m proud they like what we do.”

Since Tracy has come on board fulltime in Seaside, the courts are packed. “We’ve got a good following. And people like the programs,” he says. “We are a little different. We keep everybody moving. And we have fun no matter what. We want the players to go away smiling, because we understand they are here to have a good time.”

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