A Look Into the Future
Recently I had the good fortune to address the students in the Professional Tennis Management program at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich. If you’re not familiar with this program — and the handful of others like it that offer college degrees for students who want to pursue a career in tennis — then you’re missing out on something pretty amazing.
The Ferris State program was started more than 20 years ago by Scott Schultz, a Michigan native who is now the USTA’s managing director of recreational tennis. For the last five years, the program has been ably run by Tom Daglis, who has a very impressive group of students, 10 of which earned their degree this past May.
After four years, the students graduate with a business degree with a concentration in tennis management, and they are USPTA-certified teaching pros at a minimum Professional 2 level. But the experience they come away with — from internships, to volunteering in tennis, to running their own projects for credit, to helping to manage and maintain Ferris’s own tennis club with indoor and outdoor courts, to giving lessons — is simply invaluable.
Manufacturers, tennis clubs, and other tennis businesses are constantly calling Daglis to hire his students. It’s no wonder that the program has a 100 percent placement rate for graduates. (RSI co-publisher David Bone, who is also the USRSA’s executive director, is a graduate of the Ferris State PTM program.)
I, and my co-presenter at Ferris, longtime tennis journalist and tennis web guru Liza Horan, spoke to the students about dealing with the media, something they will know doubt have to do when they’re out at their own facilities, trying to drum up business and memberships in their local area. The students were great, they were interested, asked insightful questions, and we could tell they really were into this business of tennis.
At the awards dinner that evening, which featured Tim Mayotte as the keynote speaker, the students again impressed us with their poise, knowledge, and interest in the field they had chosen. The graduating seniors clearly felt prepared and ready to go out into the world of tennis to make their mark.
If you’re coaching school teams or teaching tennis to high-school students, let them know about these types of PTM programs. (RSI will write more on this and other PTM programs in a future issue.) Your students may not know that a college degree in the business of tennis may be an option for them.
After meeting the students in Big Rapids, I feel great about what the future holds for this sport.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.