Your Serve: The Perfect Storm
A Master Pro says young tennis professionals should surround themselves with others who have the same desires and goals.
By Holly Chomyn
Over the years, I’ve attended conferences where the ideas in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success have come up. Most often, you hear about the “10,000-hour rule,” which suggests it takes that amount of time to master a skill.
But I also found another of Gladwell’s points relevant for success: Surround yourself with people who share your same drive and interests. One example is the artists who gathered in Paris in the 1920s. Or in the 1980s, the technology wizards working in Silicon Valley.
In tennis, you could point to the early days of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy, when the top juniors gathered to work out together. These all are examples of like-minded, energetic groups of people who were willing to collaborate, work and challenge each other to bring advances in their fields and success.
I taught for 17 years in Wilmington, Del. — a small city of about 70,000 people. The 1990s and early 2000s were a thriving time for tennis pros in that area, with many young, talented and aspiring individuals close by. We helped each other with club events, socialized when not working and competed against each other in tournaments.
Sure, there was competition among us, but we each raised the ante for the others, and that made everyone strive to do a better job each day at their respective clubs. There was a camaraderie among us to improve our skills, gain experience and try new things.
I remember that there were three of us who wanted to earn USPTA Master Pro certification. Going for it takes you out of your comfort zone because the title isn’t just about on-court teaching, but requires personal rankings, writing, coaching ranked players, speaking engagements, video work, charity and fundraising events, plus more.
The three of us gave each other emotional support, served as “sounding boards,” and offered constructive critiques. We helped each other with videos, proofread articles, and volunteered to help with each others’ events.
With our group pressing ahead together, we accomplished many goals and had a great time doing it. It was a satisfying feeling to be able to confide in others. We understood what each other was going through and could honestly say, “I know what you mean.”
All three of us accomplished our goal of becoming Master Pros. We have since moved out of the area and on to other jobs, but I will always remember that magical time when we challenged, inspired and motivated each other.
For young tennis professionals, seek out other pros who have the same drive to learn, exchange ideas and create new events. It will keep you fresh and full of energy to pursue your career.
See all articles by Holly Chomyn
About the Author
Holly Chomyn is a Master Professional with the USPTA, the highest professional rating in the organization. She has coached USTA and ALTA teams, USTA Junior Zonal teams and been a USTA High Performance coach. She also has coached the men's and women's teams at the University of Delaware for 12 years.
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