Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Getting to Know Genesis St. Joseph’s Tennis Director, Shashank Nautiyal

Sydney Hamilton | May 08, 2023

In honor of National Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, USTA Heart of America wants to honor individuals from the AAPI community who’ve made a significant impact on growing the sport of tennis in our district. One such individual is Shashank Nautiyal, tennis director of Genesis Health Club in St. Joseph, who is originally from New Delhi, India.


I reached out to Shashank to learn more about his tennis story, but what I learned is that his knowledge and passion for both the sport and coaching people of all ages and skill levels is truly infectious. Keep reading to learn more about Shashank and his incredible impact on the tennis community in St. Joseph.


What is your tennis background?
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Since I was 8 years old, tennis has been more than just a hobby to me. It’s been a passion that has led me to pursue it as a profession. Along the way, I’ve achieved some impressive accomplishments, including being ranked No. 2 in the country and reaching the 384th spot in the International Tennis Federation juniors rankings. I also played Division I tennis as a scholar-athlete.


To ensure I can provide the best possible coaching, leadership, and mentorship to my members and clients, I prioritize continuing education. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, followed by a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology & Sports Management, and an MBA degree.


As a certified USPTA Elite Professional, I’m also certified by PTR, PPR, PPTR, CTPS, and University of Florida Directors of Racquet Sports. With my extensive knowledge and expertise, I’ve successfully led programs in various locations, including Nashville, TN, New York, and now in Missouri.


What brought you to teaching tennis in St. Joseph?


I first learned about St. Joseph’s tennis community from Mike Woody, the National Tennis Director of Genesis Health Clubs. During a conversation, he mentioned how exciting it would be if, under my leadership, we could revitalize the high-energy tennis programming that was once a thriving part of the community. He presented me with the opportunity to not only grow tennis within the club, but also within the larger community.

Taking on this leadership role as a Director of Tennis was a chance for me to make a positive difference in the community. With Mike Woody’s guidance and training, I felt equipped to bring vibrant tennis programming back to St. Joseph and help foster a new generation of tennis players.


What is your proudest achievement since you joined Genesis in St. Joseph?


Revitalizing tennis and bringing it back to the community has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for me. Through USTA elementary partnership programs and providing certified tennis professionals to the high schools, we have been able to offer higher quality instruction and create a buzz around the sport.


Over the course of 160+ racquet events for members and non-members, and dynamic tennis and pickleball programming options, we’ve fostered a sense of community and provided fun, energetic programming for people of all ages and skill levels. The feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s been so rewarding to see the impact that these events have had on the community.


Through these efforts, we’ve also been able to build meaningful relationships with members of the community, from young children just starting out in the sport to seasoned players who have been playing for years. Seeing the joy and excitement that tennis and pickleball have brought to people’s lives has been truly heartwarming.


Overall, growing tennis and making a difference within the whole community through these sports has been an incredibly emotional journey. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this revitalization and to have the opportunity to share my passion for tennis with others.


What can you tell me about the National Tennis Month grant you applied for?


The goal of the grant was to bring the sport of tennis to the entire community by offering everyone a chance to try it out on our beautiful public courts.


Tennis has numerous health benefits and is a lifelong sport that can be enjoyed at any age. Tennis is not only a great way to stay physically active, but it also helps to improve hand-eye coordination, balance, and flexibility.


Playing tennis can also have mental health benefits, such as reducing stress and improving focus and cognitive function. Plus, it’s a social activity that can help to foster connections and friendships among people of all ages.


By promoting the benefits of tennis and providing opportunities for everyone to give it a try, we hope to inspire more people in the community to take up the sport and enjoy all that it has to offer.


What advice do you have for players looking to make the jump into coaching?


To those who are considering a career in tennis coaching, I highly recommend obtaining proper certification and learning from experienced professionals in the field. Continuing education and being a lifelong learner is also essential in developing coaching skills, communication abilities, and overall people skills. Seeking out mentors who can provide guidance and support along the way is also highly recommended.


It’s important to find your “why” and determine why you want to help people through tennis. Once you have identified your purpose, it’s important to develop a coaching philosophy that aligns with your values and helps you stay original in your approach.


Seeing your students progress and putting a smile on their faces is incredibly fulfilling, but it’s also important to prioritize your own physical, financial, career, social, and community well-being. 


And, of course, remember to have fun along the way!



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