By Christopher Gray
One graduate and one current student of the Tyler Junior College Professional Tennis Management Program are among the staff at one of the area’s more popular tennis clubs.
The TJC program, which started in 1974 and was the first of its kind, offers both a two-year Associates of Applied Sciences degree and a one-year Certificate of Proficiency, graduates 8-10 students per year.
“The main reason I am where I am now is through my connections with the program at TJC,” said Chris Singer, who graduated from the program in 2008 and is now the Club Manager/Director of Tennis at Tyler Tennis and Swim. “And I would not have done it any other way.”
Jonathan Becker, an assistant tennis professional at the club, is currently enrolled in the program, and is on track to earn the Certificate of Proficiency in May.
“Even though I already have my professional certification,” said Becker, “TJC is nationally known for its tennis and having [graduated] from their Tennis Tech program looks really good on your resume’.”
The TJC tennis programs are unique in that they teach more than just how to play tennis.
“My basic goal is to teach students how to teach tennis, the mental and physical part of it and all the different strokes,” said Kimm Ketelsen, TJC Tennis Program Director. “We also have introductory courses in business management, how to run leagues, tournaments, events and clubs.”
To become certified as a “pro” by The United States Professional Tennis Association, a person has to go complete a grueling process.
“You have to go through a course, a skills test, and a drills test,” said Becker. “It’s a pretty strict system, and it’s not exactly easy to pass.”
Becker is in the process of working his way up the ranks, and was a protÃ©gÃ© of Singer’s as a youth.
“Jonathan is very unique in that he was one of my students before he went to the TJC program,” said Singer. “And now he’s working for me as a pro.”
The two still have occasional interactions with the TJC Tennis Program.
“Every year in November we do The TJC and Tyler Tennis and Swim Collegiate Playday,” said Becker. “Members bring turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It’s basically like a Thanksgiving feast. We eat, have fun, and the club members play tennis with the team members.”
Both men are strong advocates and have fond memories of the TJC Tennis Program.
“[The program] teaches us how to teach. We learn nutrition, and motor learning, to help kids remember what they have learned,” said Becker. “And it’s important in many ways- knowledge, life, and tennis.”
Singer echoed similar sentiments.
“I would absolutely recommend the TJC program to others,” said Singer. “All of my pros, except for one, came from that program, so I very much support it.”
For more information on the Tennis Management Program at TJC, please go to www.apacheathletics.com.
For more information about Tyler Tennis and Swim please go to www.tylertsc.com.