A Passion for Captaining
Look up USTA League tennis in the dictionary, and you might just find Janet van Mol.
Well, maybe not literally, but you get the idea.
If you play USTA League tennis in the New Jersey area, you know captain Janet van Mol. She’s a captaining guru in the Middle States section, even after only picking up the game for the first time less than 10 years ago.
For her captaining efforts in the community and her ability to bring new players to the sport, van Mol was awarded USTA Middle States Captain of the Month in March.
van Mol immediately began captaining when she first picked up a racquet at Nassau Tennis Club in Skillman, N.J. in 2013. She attributes the start of her captaining journey to late teaching professional Gino Carosella, who passed away after a struggle with ALS this past winter.
“Gino was an inspiration to me,” she said. “He was just loved by so many and touched so many in a positive way.”
She names many of her teams in honor of Gino.
van Mol started out by captaining a 2.5 women's team and laughed when mentioning that she now captains more teams than she would like to admit.
Some of her teams have advanced to Section and even National Championships. van Mol is hoping this year will be a memorable one for several of her teams if they get to Nationals.
When she talked about her tennis community, she mentioned that access to tennis in New Jersey was particularly special.
- One of van Mol's teams holding her up at Nationals
- Janet with her inspiration - Gino Carosella
- Janet & her Quarantine Qrew
“We have a lot of great tennis clubs in our area. Nassau Tennis Club, Princeton Racquet Club, Hillsborough Tennis Plus, Courtside Racquet Club, Hopewell Tennis, Princeton Tennis Program, and Mercer County Tennis Center all are exceptionally run clubs with lots of great players” she said. “There are not that many areas with great tennis within 45 min apart. It really helps our area and makes it unique.”
van Mol enjoys recruiting players for her teams.
"I love recruiting new players, and I tend to have a lot of friends in tennis,” she said. “It’s definitely great to bring people together.”
van Mol not only enjoys recruiting new players, but she also has a passion for creating new USTA captains. She mentioned she is proud of all her teammates who have stepped up to captain, specifically calling out friends Karen, Katherine, Janice, Chanaka, Linh, Alan, Oli, her husband Rudi, Patti, Janet B, Vijay and Rupal. She said it would not be possible to create all the playing opportunities for their big tennis family without that group.
She even recently recruited her son, Colton, to become a captain, and loves to co-captain with him. Colton seems to be following in his mom’s footsteps, recently winning in his mixed doubles league district championships.
During the pandemic, USTA Middle States Area League Coordinator, Diana Kimick, mentioned that van Mol brought players together at Montgomery Middle School and Princeton Racquet Club every week to keep up a little bit of normalcy during tough times.
"By Janet offering tennis to players, she is now building her teams with these players,” Kimick said. “Her players are thankful and loyal to her. It's a win all around.”
van Mol called that group her “Quarantine Qrew.”
Each team she captains is particularly special to her and she attributes her success as a captain to all the players.
"I have so many incredible players. They are the ones that deserve to be recognized,” she said. “They make my job so easy, I am so grateful!"