Youth Tennis Provider of the Year: Simon Gale
For many youth tennis providers, it comes down to passion — for tennis, and for sharing the sport with kids. And that’s clearly what helps drive Simon Gale, the general manager of the Yonkers Tennis Center (YTC) in New York.
“Simon put his reputation and job on the line years ago when he changed his club to a 10 and Under Tennis format,” says Kirk Anderson, director of coach education for the USTA. “He was one of the very first facilities that made the complete change, and is now very successful. But he had to fight the early battles.”
For his passion and foresight in reaching out to youngsters and getting them into the game, Gale is the inaugural winner of a new Tennis Industry Champions of Tennis Award — our Youth Tennis Provider of the Year.
A year before the USTA pushed what was then called “QuickStart Tennis,” Gale started changing how YTC delivered tennis to kids. He saw how his 6-year-old daughter started playing soccer: two practices then a game. “I’m watching these kids thinking they need more practice, then realized it’s not about the lessons, it’s about playing the game,” he says.
YTC changed its philosophy, and took clinic time and made it play time. “Parents get it because they see it in every other sport,” Gale says. “Our retention rate has increased considerably, with 70 percent of kids coming back. Kids are playing the game quicker. Our pros’ lessons are much better.
“Success for us is knowing we’re doing the right things for the kids.”
— Cynthia Sherman
Tips for success
- Get rid of the perception that ROG and short courts are for beginners.
- Parent education is huge. They need to understand what’s next. Take advantage of “lobby time” — when parents are in the lobby waiting for their kids.
- Get kids involved teaching other kids. YTC has a Coach in Training program, where older youngsters who’ve come up through the program help to teach younger kids.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for Tennis Industry magazine.
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