Beginning this year, Queens College will begin offering a new course designed to increase the quality and quantity of professionals in the tennis industry.
The course is the product of a partnership between the USTA-U and CUNY (City University of New York), who are teaming up to provide an invaluable resource not just for the university’s students, but also the public at large.
USTA-U is the USTA’s initiative designed to prepare the next generation of tennis providers, offering online and in-classroom instruction plus apprenticeships and other learning opportunities. Part of that initiative is to add these sorts of programs to colleges and universities. There are currently 11 colleges/universities participating nationwide, and Queens College will be the 12th.
“The USTA has realized that this is a huge priority for the industry, to have a quality work force and recruit and train new tennis professionals,” said Scott Schultz, Managing Director of USTA-U. “A lot of the greats in this field are aging out, and there will be a giant shortage of people to take entry level positions at tennis clubs, which is the lifeline of the USTA. The good news for these students is that they will be in demand when they leave the program and the industry will have highly-trained people.”
Schultz was a four-year member of the tennis team at Western Michigan University before becoming a teaching pro and working for the likes of Rick Ferman, Todd Martin’s former coach. He then created a Tennis Management Program at Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, Mich., which was modeled after the golf program that the school created in conjunction with the PGA.
“We needed to do things a bit different than the golf program,” recalls Schultz. “We quickly made sure our program featured a lot of tennis teaching, racquet repair, event planning and management, and getting them ready to work in the industry. There was a huge demand for our students; 100 percent of them got job offers after completing the program.”
This program will now be available in the CUNY system and specifically at Queens College, where Skip Hartman, who has been one of the pillars of the tennis industry in New York for decades, will serve as the program’s director.
“Scott Schultz, with his work at Ferris State in the 1980s and 90s was among the pioneers, along with Dennis Van Der Meer, Vic Braden and Nick Bollettieri, in seeing the need for providing training opportunities,” said Hartman. “The growth of talent has been flat for the past five years, and as the governing body of US tennis, the USTA has adopted as its mission to support and grow the sport. Tennis pros and their counterparts who organize, promote and administer programs are the people who really grow the game. We need more of them—a whole new generation of them—and we need to support them with continuous training opportunities.”
The USTA-U Professional Tennis Program at Queens College will be a three-semester course consisting of two tracks: a coaching track that leads to a professional certification; and a track that focuses on management, marketing, sales and hospitality. The program will feature online modules developed by the USTA, 12 three-hour lecture classes led by highly acclaimed professor Robert Freidman, a 12-hour weekend tennis clinic (one per semester for the coaching track, and one total over the three semesters for the management track), 500 hours of experiential learning including internships and, finally, guidance in job placement.
Queens College is just the right place to host a program such as this. The school trains more teachers than any other in New York City, and Friedman is one of the school’s best teachers.
“He is an outstanding teacher,” said Bill Keller, Queens College’s Vice President for Finance & Administration. “The soft skills, so to speak, which are really the hardest skills to teach, are essential to the success of any organization, and that includes running a tennis club or a tennis team. Just knowing how to lead people is crucial, and he is fantastic at that.”
This well-rounded program will be essential in helping produce the next wave of tennis instructors and administrators, and doing so to ensure that there is not only a high quantity of them, but the highest quality as well.
“USTA-U was created to increase both the number and quality of people teaching tennis throughout the country. We want to get young people to consider this as a track for their career. We are also working with the teaching associations to raise the standard and help them with their certifications,” said Schultz. “This course is going to be taught by someone who has a great reputation in interpersonal communication, hospitality and customer service, and Skip Hartman is an icon in this business, and will work with the students to help them maintain their goals.”
This program is not designed solely for young college students pursuing a job in the tennis industry, but open to the public and anyone interested in seeking a career in this field. Schultz’s program at Ferris State had 100 percent placement after graduation, an encouraging statistic for both the future students of this program and the industry as a whole.
“Scott’s leadership of USTA-U in expanding in-depth training by working with major educational institutions is a logical next step to attracting more people to work at growing the game,” added Hartman. “There are many underutilized tennis courts throughout the country just waiting for coaches and organizers to fill them up.”
This course will be an integral part in creating and shaping the next crop of tennis instructors, administrators and operators, and will offer an intriguing opportunity for those looking to enter a new field of teaching. You can learn more about the program by contacting Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reaching out to Diane Gahagan, the Director of Professional and Continuing Studies at Queens College, at email@example.com.