Wayne St. Peter -- Junior Development Champ of the Year
When it comes to junior tennis players, there’s no doubt that Wayne St. Peter knows what he’s doing. Over the past 11 years, he has worked with about 8,000 young tennis players. And it’s due to his dedication to junior players, and his influence on the growth of the sport in southern Maine, that RSI has chosen St. Peter as our 2005 Junior Development Champion.
St. Peter has been coaching tennis since 1986, when he volunteered as assistant coach of the Portland High School men’s team. “We took a 1-9 team and turned them around to a 9-1 team in one season,” says St. Peter. “At that point, I knew I wanted to get into coaching.”
St. Peter is the founder of St. Peter’s Grand Slam Tennis Camp, which serves about 400 juniors and 250 adults each summer at 12 locations in southern Maine. “We not only have our own facility, but we also travel to outside areas because it’s important to be seen and be noticed,” says St. Peter, adding with a laugh, “It’s a traveling road show.”
The week-long junior camps for players ages 8 to 18 run between three and six hours a day, five days a week, and offer lessons and match-play opportunities. The goal of the program, St. Peter says, is not only to teach children the game, but also to make them eager to keep playing. The program, he notes, has attracted players not only from Maine, but also from as far away as Florida and Kentucky.
In the mornings, there is a focus on player development through drills, games and other techniques, before campers go to eat lunch with the pros. “In the afternoon, we give them organized play,” says St. Peter. “They naturally like that competitiveness.”
One of the keys to St. Peter’s success is persistence. “You always have to find a way to improve what you do,” he says, adding that he allows his instructors to use their creativity in the camps. “Once you have a closed mind in this sport, then you have a problem.”
“Wayne is an innovator,” says Dan Santorum, CEO of the PTR. “He likes to try new things.” In the junior camps, “Tie-Break Wednesdays” are popular among participants. Pros do a tie-break exhibition for campers in the morning, and then teach them how to play it in the afternoon. “It’s absolutely amazing what they’ll take and remember,” says St. Peter.
Another popular program is a tournament play camp, designed for high school tennis players looking to break into the upper echelon of their varsity team. “Coming up with creative ideas like that is what makes us successful,” says St. Peter.
St. Peter says one of his greatest rewards has been watching his own daughters, Amanda, 24, and Kristen, 22, create their own paths in tennis coaching. Amanda is head coach of the Portland High School girls’ tennis team, and Kristen oversees the Grand Slam Tennis Camp’s Pee Wee division for children ages 4 to 7.
St. Peter is Maine’s only PTR Teaching Professional with a Pro4 rating. In addition to running his camps, he is a tennis pro at the Portland Athletic Club in Falmouth, Maine, as well as the assistant men’s coach at the University of Southern Maine. As head coach of USM’s women’s tennis team for 11 years, he led his team to 23 singles and doubles titles at the Little East conference championships. In 2005, St. Peter was named the PTR Member of the Year for Maine and received the TIA/PTR Commitment to the Industry Award.
“Wayne has got a lot of passion for what he does,” says Santorum. “He’s a hard worker, and he gets a lot of people to participate in tennis that might not otherwise do that. He’s well-known in the community, and that’s because he’s so active in the community.”
Wayne St. Peter’s tips for success
- Volunteer your services in public, such as in schools and at company wellness fairs.
- Be consistent with name recognition in marketing your program.
- Get your name out in the community. Utilize free advertising outlets, such as public access television channels and newspaper bulletin boards.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the experts, such as the TIA, and take advantage of the resources they offer.
- Develop relationships in the community with local businesses, recreation departments, etc., which may be able to help you with your program.
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.