Tennis professionals are required to do more than teaching these days. TJC offers a program that teaches all aspects of being a tennis professional.
A tennis professional manages and sometimes owns the entire tennis division of a club or resort. Having the knowledge to run a business is required. In the past in order to be a tennis professional one would have to play the game for a certain amount of time then with a degree in business they could get a job as a pro. Tennis professionals were similar to independent contractors, running their own business.
Now they are hired by resorts or country clubs and run the entire tennis division. They have to have knowledge in accounting to keep the books and inventory. This naturally comes with the knowledge in computers. They work with people from all over the world so foreign languages are a given.
The Tennis Tech program has been offered at TJC for 34 years. It has classes ranging from computers to speech, foreign languages to accounting, including a newly offered class in managing a small business. Then with a 15 hour a week lab called “Train the Trainer” the outcome is a tennis professional. Upon graduating, members of the program will receive an associate’s degree in Tennis Management and a one-year certificate in Business and Recreation Leadership.
Coach Kimm Ketelsen said “I get calls all the time from clubs asking if we have any pros ready for employment.” Director of the program Coach Kimm Ketelsen is a member of the association and has over 25 years of experience teaching the sport.
The Tennis Tech program, endorsed by the United States Professional Tennis Association, was started in 1974 by Coach Fred Niffen when the sport of tennis was just taking off. The program increased In popularity when Coach Steve Smith was directing it in the 80s. Now TJC is the most prestigious of the three schools in the country offering the program.
In the program, members will work with kids to learn how to apply the principles of the game and also with the advanced players that are a part of the TJC Tennis Team.
Many students from different states as well as countries have come to TJC for this program. After graduation 90 percent of the students get full time jobs.
” I have already worked at the Tyler Tennis and Swim as an instructor,” said Jesse Weaver, sophomore at TJC. Jesse said the program has “given me people skills I can take into the world with me.”
The program offers the members a chance to travel all over the country to meet with world- renowned tennis players and learn from the best of the best.
” The program has given me a new lease on life, not to be too cliché. I didn’t know what I was going to do and at my age starting over was a scary thing. I entered the program and now I have hoped that the future will be bright,” said Trevor Szymanshi. Szymanski is a hurricane Katrina victim that is finishing the program this year. He lost everything in the hurricane including his small business.
Joy Gajjar is a first- year student from India who is a part of the program. The program has taught him a lot of new technology that comes with tennis and would like to someday be able to provide his service back in his home country. He also would like more options for vegetarians in the cafeteria.