NJTL 50 for 50:
McCarton Ackerman | August 20, 2019
As the USTA Foundation celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Junior Tennis & Learning network, USTA.com looks at 50 NJTL leaders and alumni who helped shape this incredible community dedicated to helping youth strive for academic and athletic excellence on the tennis court, in the classroom and in life.
In this installment, we catch up with NJTL alumnus Jon Glover, who currently works as a national coach with USTA Player Development.
The Jon Glover File
Name: Jon Glover
NJTL Chapter: Legacy Youth Tennis & Education (Philadelphia)
Role with NJTL: Former participant
Year became active in NJTL: 1985
How did you first get involved in NJTL programming?
Jon Glover: I first got involved with the program when it was known as the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis & Education Center. I started playing in a park with a guy who introduced the sport to me and my brother. ADVERTISEMENT Eventually, he told my mom that I was getting good and that we should find a real coach and a program. He mentioned the center and my family put myself, my brother and my sister into the programs.
I was lucky enough to grow up in that program and meet a lot of great people that I’m still in touch with today.
How did being in an NJTL program benefit you on and off the court?
Jon Glover: On the court, they had a lot of great tennis programs and great players there. My game got a lot better from getting professional coaching. And I was playing tennis with kids who looked like me, which was really important for a young African-American kid.
Off the court, they had a lot of programs and opportunities to give back to the community that made me realize this was about more than just playing tennis. They’re using tennis to teach character and make you a better person overall. It was a really special situation for myself and my siblings.
I went on to become the Director of Player Development for that program and it’s not a coincidence that a lot of the people working with me were once in the program themselves. Even if they weren’t working there directly, they were trying to volunteer, mentor a kid or find some other way to give back.
You had the chance to receive mentorship and coaching from Arthur Ashe. What was that experience like and what was the best piece of advice he gave you?
Jon Glover: I was 10 or 11 years old, so I probably didn’t understand at the time just how special that was. I just knew him as a great pro tennis player, but later learned about all of the ways he gave back and contributed to society as a whole.
The main thing he always stressed was using tennis to improve your life through education. Of course, tennis was involved, but he was more concerned about your off-court development. His main focus was getting an education, using tennis to get a college scholarship and better yourself as a person, and then giving back.
Are there any lessons or values you gained from being in an NJTL that you try to instill in your players now as a coach?
Jon Glover: There are so many that it’s hard to pinpoint just one. For me, as a player, you learn to be resilient and make the most of yourself as a student-athlete so that you can one day give back to others and pull other youth up.
I feel extremely lucky to have grown up playing in an NJTL and later become the director of one. Being with the USTA now and working to better the NJTL as a whole is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.