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Is Your Pro USPTA Certified?

by John R. Embree, USPTA Chief Executive Officer

If you watched any of the Delray Beach Open in February, you may have seen several USPTA produced commercials that promoted our association. At the end of each spot, we served up a question that was targeted for consumers: is your pro USPTA certified? The intent was to encourage those who seek instruction or who work with a tennis instructor to find a qualified USPTA professional.

Considering that this section of Tennis Industry Magazine is dedicated to messaging USPTA professionals, you might think it is silly of me to be posing this question again. Yet, there are likely a lot of tennis professionals who are not certified who read this monthly magazine. A similar question should be asked of them: why are you not certified by the USPTA?

Then of course, there are general managers of country clubs who might take a glance at this, the only industry publication for our sport, and read my message. To them, I offer this hypothesis: if your club has a golf program, would you ever consider hiring a golf professional that was not PGA certified? Clearly the answer is “no way!” Why should tennis be any different? Don’t the tennis members at your club deserve the same topflight instruction that your golf members receive?

For commercial club owners, municipal facilities, HOA’s, or schools, the question remains consistent with the others above: are you serving your clientele to their level of expectation by not having qualified, USPTA certified professionals staffing your complex? By just hiring “ball-feeders” or friends of influential clients who do not have the training or the knowledge to conduct programs, or do not aspire to learn more about their trade through continuing education, etc., you are doing a disservice to those dues-generating members or to the customers who pay your bills to keep the lights on.

As a reminder, here are the reasons why only USPTA professionals should be considered when hiring choices are being made: they are subject to the most rigorous certification standards in the market today. Prospective members must possess prior teaching experience before applying. They must also complete numerous hours of online education followed by a written and grip exam.

Applicants are then evaluated while conducting a live private lesson and group lesson. They must demonstrate proper stroke technique and feeding skills, as well as possess an ability to communicate with their students and have a likable on-court presence. Finally, they must also have extensive knowledge about all aspects of the business, not just be a specialist in one limited segment of tennis-teaching.

After certification, USPTA professionals are required to amass continuing education credits to ensure they are providing the most up to date information to their clients. Once certified, USPTA professionals are part of an extensive network of like-minded colleagues which enables them to easily share resources and information to elevate their teaching and strengthen your program.

Maybe most important of all, USPTA professionals are held to a strict code of ethics that requires them to conduct themselves in the most professional manner possible. And to safe guard children who are learning the game or advancing their skills, USPTA professionals are strongly encouraged to get a background check to ease the minds of parents of the next generation of players.

The USPTA offers its professionals in good standing a host of wide ranging benefits to help them throughout their careers. On-court liability insurance to protect your club or facility in case of an unforeseen accident is foremost. Why would any facility not want to have this protection? Discounted equipment packages from Wilson and Nike (through Fromuth Tennis) and other court suppliers, a Supplemental Savings program to assist with retirement planning, free access to US Open series events in the summer, travel discounts with hotels and rental cars, the ability to purchase auto, home and life insurance products, a prescription drug card that provides 35-70 percent discount at any major pharmacy across the country, and many other benefits that are the most extensive offerings in the industry.

USPTA professionals also have access to TennisResources.com, the largest collection of online tips, drills and educational content available. And, they are encouraged to attend any number of educational workshops or seminars conducted throughout the year, either locally or nationally to elevate their teaching standards.
In total, USPTA professionals expect value for their membership and it is our job to deliver it!

So next time your tennis department has an opening, don’t hire someone off the street or who may be the friend of a member. Make sure you fill that position with a qualified teaching professional who is USPTA certified. Believe me, your members will thank you.

Thus, the question at hand is not just rhetorical but rather fundamental to any tennis facility in the country: is your professional USPTA certified? If not, they should be. Ask
the questions. *

 
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