| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Last year, at Verdi's Restaurant in Whitestone, Queens, the Professional Tennis Management (PTM) students from Queens College toasted their seven brethren, dubbed the "Original 7", who were about to complete their third and final PTM semester.

They had started back in January of 2020, and after six in-person, Monday evening classes (that last for three hours) the COVID-19 shutdown hit. Lecturer Robert Friedman of Stress Solutions quickly adapted to a remote zoom format and the course carried on with no interruption. For many of the students the online format was better logistically as Queens is not the most accessible location by public transportation. As the course continued in the Fall and Winter/Spring of 2021, the online format made it possible for students to enroll from outside the New York City area. The current continuing group includes students from Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The only part of the course where in-person attendance is required is the 12-hour tennis clinic on coaching progressions and technique on the weekend. This year, that two-day clinic was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, led by the USTA's Craig Jones, and was capped by the dinner at Verdi's.

With six students still enrolled (one completed second semester and five their first) and continuing, and many inquiries for the upcoming Fall Semester, the course is clearly fulfilling its goal to introduce people to a career in tennis management and/or coaching.

Among the current 13 students, most were young tennis pros, or in administrative or tennis program jobs at area clubs or organizations. Some, who are exploring tennis as a second or alternative career, have good jobs in other fields. Ages range from 19 to 56, with most of the students over 35- years-old. All but two are on the management track. The course’s three-hour session lectures on Monday evenings are led by Friedman, Queens College's Management Training Specialist. He provides 10 lectures each semester that cover personal development, hospitality, and leadership. This part of the course is personally intense for each student and focuses on the many soft skills so essential to success in business and management.

Skip Hartman, the Program's Director, organizes additional tennis related lectures which over the first three semesters included:

Danny Zausner, Executive Director of the USTA National Tennis Center, who charted the history and growth of the Center from 1977 to present

Claude Okin, CEO and Founder of Sportime, who recounted his early years as a school teacher and tennis coach leading to his development of Sportime, the largest owner/operator of tennis clubs in New York

Gordon Kent, V.P. of Operations for Advantage Tennis Clubs and former owner of the New England Tennis Camp, covered club reservation systems and how to run an overnight tennis camp

Gail Brown of BrownDirect covered basic marketing

Rick Ferman, a world class coach and former Executive Director of the USTA from 1996- 2003, with an assist from Jay Devashetty, former Director of Player Development at the National Tennis Center and now in a similar role for NYJTL at the Cary Leeds Center, described in-depth how to organize an elite player training program and the many challenges it presents

Kevin Hauss, COO of New York Edge and former HR Director of John Jay College and HR Manager at Stony Brook University, reviewed the scope and responsibilities of a Human Resources Department and current hot button issues

John Garry, CFO of Advantage Tennis Clubs, covered payroll management

Peter Luftig of SCS Insurance, who has insured many dozens of indoor tennis clubs, reviewed the variousrisks and insurances needed to cover them

Skip Hartman, who is also an owner of Advantage Tennis Clubs, filled in his tips about starting a tennis business, planning, budgeting, and strategic alliances, and also covered air structures evolution and how to purchase them.

Many of the topics that were covered were suggested by the students, with whom Hartman meets individually for about an hour each semester to discuss their careers and opportunities.

The topics outlined above are supplemented by USTA online modules that also include Tennis and Business presentations by Mike Woody, who is V.P and National Tennis Director for Genesis Health Clubs, covering a wide range of tennis coaching and management topics. Students are required to study 100 hours of these modules over the course of the three semesters.

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.

Enrollment can commence with each semester. To achieve the Professional and Continuing Studies certificate a student must pass the basic PTR or USPTA instructor certification, attend 80 percent of the 13 lectures provided for each semester, and attend each of the three distinct semesters as identified by Friedman's three themes. They also must log 500 hours of experiential learning in the tennis industry either via internships or a tennis related job.