Bridgewater State Offers
First Tennis Management Program
James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | August 6, 2019
BRIDGEWATER, MA- Bridgewater State University (BSU), historically known as a teacher’s college, is now leveraging its reputable name to serve up one of the most unique new graduate programs in the region. BSU, in collaboration with the USTA, has developed the first Professional Tennis Management (PTM) program in New England. This one-of-a-kind program offers students of all ages the rare opportunity to earn a graduate degree or graduate certificate in tennis.
“The pairing of the BSU educational and coaching approach with the USTA standards for PTM is an unbeatable combination. Teaching and coaching do not come naturally as a rule, and even those rare ‘born teachers’ seek to learn new approaches and techniques. BSU wants to help our graduates get jobs, have satisfying careers, and contribute to the great sport of tennis,” said Dr. ADVERTISEMENT Lisa Boehm, Dean, College of Graduate Studies at Bridgewater State University.
The development of the PTM program took nearly two years, but thanks to Boehm’s strategic planning, along with the help of Dr. Karen Richardson, Graduate Chairperson for PE and Health, and Dr. Jennifer Mead, PTM Coordinator, all the pieces fell seamlessly into place.
The program is structured in a way that students can either enroll in the PTM Graduate Certificate program or use the certificate towards a master’s degree in PE with a concentration in PTM.
As part of the inaugural certificate program, students enrolled in a one-credit course in the spring taught by USTA New England’s Christy Bennett and then a 10-day intensive residency at the university in June. Next, they will take two online classes in the fall, and dependent on work schedules in the spring, will complete a relevant internship.
The university brought in the charismatic Dr. Tim Hopper, renowned academic and tennis professional from Victoria, Canada, as the lead professor of the program. Instantaneously, the students took to his captivating personality and teaching style.
“Tim is looking at each student he’s working with to analyze their performance and getting them to be able to do that with their learners. He creates a real, natural connection and expects us to work hard and have to get it right. It’s very powerful,” said Richardson, who also enrolled in the program.
As part of the residency, Hopper taught the students on court and inside the classroom, the importance of both basic and advanced teaching skills. He demonstrated games, drills and lessons and did it with a flair unlike any other.
“It was amazing working 7-8 hours a day with these students ages 22-61 from all over the country. In the mornings, I’d have them play with their non-dominant hands to go through the learning process of a beginner player and have them reflect differently about how to teach. Then we’d work in the afternoons with the dominant hand,” Hopper said. “We also worked on the biomechanics of their strokes, so they can be good at applying the fundamentals and mechanics of what makes fundamentals work.”
Hopper combined elements of the Net Generation, Tennis Canada and ITF 10 and Under Curricula, plus added in a technology component that allowed his students to record, edit and analyze video.
“The way we’re learning to teach here is so much more tactical right from the beginning, and that tends to be where beginner to intermediate players don’t necessarily understand tactics,” said Carolyn Weed, PE master student, high school tennis coach and PE teacher. “In the old style of coaching, we focused on skill development, but that skill is worthless unless you can get yourself in position on the court to take advantage of it.”
Towards the end of the residency, students had the opportunity to put their skills to the test, as they taught first-time players at a neighboring summer program.
“Their tangible love for this game struck me within minutes of meeting some of the folks,” said Darren Macdonald, Director of Communications & Outreach for the College of Graduate Studies. “I’m excited by the potential for them to harness that love of the game and their passion for teaching and coaching it and see how that ripples out into the communities they go back to. Whether it’s helping to promote access to young people who may not have had the idea of playing, or on a social justice level.”
In addition to teaching and coaching instruction, PTM students gained something equally, if not more valuable from the residency: relationships. They bonded with Hopper, Richardson and other BSU staff, and also created a valuable network amongst themselves.
“The interaction with my classmates was huge,” Weed added. “We’re all from diverse tennis backgrounds, and I loved learning from their perspectives. Some of the questions they asked, I probably would’ve never thought of on my own.”
“It’s really neat to see them learning from each other and,” Richardson added. “They will end up having a network within tennis that will serve them over time.”
The inaugural program included six students, hailing from as close as next-door Taunton, MA and as far as Florida.
“It’s exciting to be only university in New England offering this. We’re right in an area where we have many colleges and universities that need to have coaches get trained and educated, and we’re thrilled that we’re delivering that,” Richardson said. “Our hope and goal is that our graduates will deliver tennis instruction in a way that gets people to want to come back. You’re going to love the game because you have instruction that allows you to feel confident, enjoy the game and also be competitive, and that can all happen together.”
“The students in the first cohort in the PTM program knocked our socks off, as did the innovative teaching and approach to the game by Dr. Tim Hopper,” Boehm said. “In the years to come, we plan to expand and deepen the program. Everyone in tennis will want and need this credential!”
To learn more about the PTM program or to apply for 2020 enrollment, click here.