A Day’s Work: Tennis instructor

(Photo by Ali Zacker Gale)

(Photo by Ali Zacker Gale)

Than Ferris, his wife, Patricia, and their two children moved to Saugerties this past April. Than is a tennis instructor at Total Tennis in Saugerties.

How did you become a tennis pro?

I’ve been playing tennis since I was around six years old and have played competitively since I was 11. I played all through high school and college, where I played for Marist. I have been teaching since I was 19. I worked teaching at camps for a summer job and I liked it, and I was good at it, so I stuck with it and now it’s my career.

What kind of training do you have?

I am certifieda with USPTA or U.S. Professional Tennis Association. Technically you don’t have to have any certification, but people like to take lessons from someone who knows the game well and plays well.

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Aside from obvious athletic skills, what qualities are important in a tennis instructor?

People skills, patience, a love of the game, proper technique, endurance and enthusiasm are all important to the job.

Do you teach adults, children, or both?

I teach all ages and skill levels.

How does your teaching differ with these?

Teaching children, first and foremost, you want to make sure they’re having fun. With adults and skilled young players, I focus on technique and game strategy.

What do you enjoy most about teaching tennis?

It’s a social job. I enjoy the camaraderie with the other tennis pros. It’s satisfying to watch your students improve. It’s an active job and I get to be outside a lot of the time. I love the game, so it’s fun to share that passion.

Are there difficult aspects?

The sun can be taxing on your skin and body. You have to know a million ways to say the same thing because everyone learns differently and responds to different verbal and visual cues.

What advice would you give someone going into this field?

Clubs where there are a lot of pros can be beneficial as a teacher because you learn new ways to teach skills and drills to use to reinforce those skills.

What is your most memorable experience either as a player or instructor?

My most memorable tennis experience was a match during my freshman year of college. We were tied four matches against our rivals and it came down to my match. It ended up being a three-hour marathon match. I was cramping up the whole last hour, but I managed to pull out a win. This match allowed us to be seeded first in the conference that year.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t teaching tennis?

If I weren’t a tennis pro, I would love to be playing on the international tennis circuit. Otherwise, I would be a haberdasher.

How’s the money?

I will be solid middle class unless I change professions. It is also seasonal in some respects. Summer is more lucrative than winter.