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As host and player, Gold River pro only sees upside

March 26, 2009 10:43 AM
By Marc Friedland

As the club pro host, and as a player, Marty Rothfels sees many more opportunities than meet the eye at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championship—Western Mixed Doubles.

For a guy who is hosting his club’s first mixed doubles national tournament, and who is playing in his first national tournament, you’d think running a glitch-free, smooth event and winning a title might be his sole focus. But the 23-year pro of the Gold River Racket Club is enthusiastically looking forward to other opportunities—like further promoting tennis and league play throughout his club and the community and experiencing the pressure of playing for a team instead of just himself.

“Hosting this event and being able to participate as a player is very special,” Marty says. “It’s rare when both opportunities come together.”
As host, he is particularly excited about the momentum it adds to his club’s and the area’s success in building league play and getting more players to participate. “A venue like this is so important for the success of league tennis in the Sacramento area. We’ve been the pacesetter in the area as a facility focused on adult league play. We fielded 51 teams in 2008. But this kind of event re-energizes people. It creates the momentum you need to keep that movement going forward.”

Marty would know about building that momentum. For his first 18 years as pro, he was so busy building programs and running events that he could not put himself on a team. Then, when he did five years ago, that team, a 5.0 singles team, went to the Nationals, but without Marty. He had other obligations and couldn’t make it. So as a player on the 10.0 NorCal team in the event, this is personally very special to him.

But any thoughts about winning a National title seem to take a back seat to other opportunities he sees from competing in the event. For one, he’s focused on his teammates. “It takes a different mindset than when you’re playing singles. You’re not just playing for yourself.” He also credits the club’s teamwork in its overall success and in hosting the event.

He also sees his play in the event as an opportunity to influence members. In terms of setting an example, he thinks it’s good for his members to see him compete. “My members compete in leagues because our professionals compete in leagues,” he says.

As a coach, he also sees an upside to the possibility of making mistakes in big tournaments like this. “As a teaching pro who’s playing, it’s important to make mistakes in front of our club’s students,” Marty says. “It makes you a better coach. It reminds you what it feels like to go out there and experience it, like what it’s like to experience butterflies.”

For the record, on Friday Marty did double fault on match point. For a guy who likes the philosophy of “managing failure enthusiastically,” that’s okay.



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