turn passions to professions
Arthur Kapetanakis | March 7, 2019
The recent success of college graduates Danielle Collins and John Isner has spotlighted the value of college for aspiring professional players. But elite athletes are not the only sort of budding tennis professionals that can benefit from post-secondary schooling. Thanks to the 10 Professional Tennis Management (PTM) programs offered at colleges throughout the U.S., tennis lovers seeking a career in the sport outside the touring ranks can also find a way to make “the sport for a lifetime” double as their livelihood.
Since its inception as a United States Professional Tennis Associaton-accredited four-year program in 1986, PTM has expanded to include six undergraduate schools, three graduate schools and one junior college.
Graduates from PTM bachelor's degree programs enjoy nearly 100-percent job placement, with an average starting salary of $55,000 in roles ranging from coach to program director to racquet technician, and many more in between. ADVERTISEMENT Some of these potential career paths are further explored in career profiles of PTM grads and tennis-industry leaders on USTA.com. Each Q&A reveals a similar story of a tennis enthusiast eager to turn a passion into a profession.
“I always wanted to be able to have a job in tennis, but I didn’t think of it as a feasible option until I heard about Professional Tennis Management,” said Newlyn Wing, who currently works for the USTA as the manager for Tennis on Campus.
Wing turned down a full scholarship to another school in order to attend Ferris State University’s undergraduate program. In hindsight, he calls it the best decision he’s ever made.
“I’ve been able to turn my hobby into a well-paying job that uses all of my skills, and I think that’s really important,” Wing reflected. “It means a lot to me to be able to pass on that love of tennis.”
Entrepreneur Ian Westermann, founder and head pro at Essential Tennis, also attended Ferris State. After earning a bachelor’s degree in PTM and business marketing, he had all the tools he needed to start his own tennis business. An industry pioneer, Westermann created and continues to operate an online learning site, helping more than 100,000 tennis players around the world improve their games.
Anne Smudz, currently a marketing associate with USTA Florida, leveraged the versatility of her PTM experience to land full-time work in two different tennis-industry fields. After several internships at tennis facilities throughout the country—at least one is required for all PTM students—she became the director of junior tennis at Cheval Athletic Club, before moving into her current marketing role.
“It was kind of like a sports science degree mixed with a marketing degree,” she said of her particular PTM path. “I always wanted to go into marketing. And so, I thought, if there’s some way I could mix marketing and sports—tennis, in particular—that would be great!”
PTM can prepare students for a career on the court, too. USPTA Elite Professional Christin Thurston’s PTM degree was supplemented with four years of business and marketing coursework—the perfect preparation for her career.
“Sometimes you take for granted that you’re a talented tennis player,” she said. “But you also have to know about accounting, court psychology and business law in order to run the back end of the tennis business.”
Other potential careers for PTM grads include coaching education manager, chair umpire, performance consultant and many more.