Tennis Industry magazine

 

Working Knowledge

With help and support from USTA University, Professional Tennis Management programs are growing across the country.

By Kent Oswald

The game of tennis is huge, which is why the business of tennis can tend to get overshadowed. As a result, the path to making this sport into a career may at times seem somewhat haphazard.

To that end, Professional Tennis Management (PTM) programs at a growing number of schools — including one from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management that will use the facilities at the new USTA National Campus in Orlando — strategically prepare those going into the business. Among other attributes, potential employers should expect PTM program graduates to possess professionalism, a knowledge of tennis and management both on and off the court, leadership skills and a technology background to help them succeed in the marketplace.

Dave Johnson, director of tennis at Bretton Woods Recreation Center in Germantown, Md., takes on challenges such as catering to the needs of his D.C.-based international membership’s weekend tennis needs while also marketing to a local, non-member group taking advantage of the club’s programs during the week. His experience and expertise are an example of the difference such a program can make.

A Career From a Passion

Johnson knew at the age of 12 that he wanted tennis to be a major part of his life. Through Ferris State University’s PTM program, he was able to match learning about marketing, inventory and staff management with his passion for tennis. “From the pro shop, to learning all the equipment in tennis, to teaching, it is a great program for going into tennis,” Johnson says.

The program at Johnson’s alma mater has the support of the USTA, is accredited by the USPTA, has Wilson as a sponsor and claims a 100 percent placement of graduates in the tennis industry since its 1986 debut as the country’s first PTM program. Created within the school’s undergraduate College of Business, the curriculum melds on-court instruction, work in the school’s indoor tennis and fitness facility and industry internships with academics specific to tennis, as well as general business courses. Students graduate with a BA or BS, as well as PTR and USPTA certifications.

According to Scott Schultz, who served as the Ferris PTM program’s first director from 1987 to 1998 and is now the managing director of USTA University, there is “a huge demand for entry-level people not being met.” Hoping to have 1,000 or so students in the PTM pipeline, the USTA will help expand from the seven current programs that prepare industry aspirants (ranging from the Associate degree offered by Tyler [Texas] Junior College to the Masters degree granted by San Diego State University) to between 15 and 20 programs by 2020.

On-The-Job Training

There is no better preparation for working in the tennis industry than hands-on practice. “The experiential learning of going out there and doing it is the most important thing,” says Schultz.

The USTA U expansion plan aims to encourage programs diverse in geography, academic standards, type of institution and even in type of degree. The USTA continues to develop curriculum that PTM programs across the country will be able to use.

While the USTA has taken an active role in helping to seed and encourage schools to add PTM programs, prospective students and their parents need to recognize the value in pursuing a career within the tennis industry, notes Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the
Tennis Industry Association.

“The tennis industry needs to continue to collaborate, support and promote efforts of the USTA, teaching groups and tennis businesses, to nurture and grow this new workforce and future leaders of our sport,” she says.

“PTM schools provide technical and training skills to help students be informed on marketing, management, technology and areas to cultivate leadership. It is not necessarily all about on-court careers.”

A PTM program, adds Johnson, “just gets you ready for the real world.”

Where to Find PTM Programs

Do you have students or members who are interested in a career in the tennis industry? These Professional Tennis Management programs are helping the sport grow, and thanks to support from the USTA, more PTM programs continue to be created across the country. (Visit USTA.com for more information.)

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About the Author

Kent Oswald  is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.

 

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