Youth tennis provider of the year: David Colby
As director of junior development at Manchester Athletic Club (MAC) in Manchester, Mass., David Colby has been molding the next generation of players for 13 years.
Kirk Anderson, director of the USTA’s recreational coaches and programs, says there is a reason why Colby also serves as a USTA national trainer for Youth Tennis, running workshops throughout New England for the Coach Youth Tennis pathway. “He’s really excellent with kids and has great ideas,” Anderson says of Colby, who is TI’s 2015 Youth Tennis Provider of the Year. “Year in and year out, his club turns out a lot of kids who are hooked on the game.”
At MAC, more than 250 juniors of all levels participate in a full gamut of programming. An early adopter of 10 and Under Tennis, the club has three 60-foot courts among its 12 hard courts, four of which are bubbled during the winter. Just don’t use the word “lesson” to describe the instructional component.
“That’s the worst word ever. We have a game-based approach,” Colby says. “The beauty of 10 and Under Tennis is you’re getting kids competing much faster. It’s a smaller court, but they’re real tennis players.” Colby ensures a solid foundation by pairing veteran coaches with beginners. Alternating between practice and game days is facilitated by USTA and in-house tournaments.
“Tennis is a great sport, but we keep the smallest percentage of kids in it,” he says. “I’m all about turning that around.” — Cindy Cantrell
Tips for Success
- Get on the same page. All 14 teaching pros at MAC strive to be a cohesive unit through shared commitment, clear communication about goals and regular feedback with management.
- Try, try again. During the transition to Youth Tennis in 2005, the 300-junior program lost players due to confusion over the new format. Participation rebounded as communication improved and the advantages of the program became evident.
- Put your best coach forward. Inexperienced pros often are assigned to beginners, but Colby supports the opposite model in order to hook kids on tennis while ensuring the pros’ financial future.
See all articles by Cynthia Cantrell
About the Author
Cynthia Cantrell is a contributing editor of Tennis Industry magazine.
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