USPTA Elite Professional Matt Boughton has always gravitated to the tennis court.
He started playing when he was 6 or 7, and when he was around 13, his father would take him to his men’s league matches on Saturday mornings.
“My dad worked a ton,” Boughton said. “It was our way to spend time together.”
It wouldn’t always be so easy for Boughton to get on the court, but he tried. He was coaching part-time, struggling, when his wife told him it was “time to get a real job.” So they moved to Madison, Wis., and he found full-time work as an insurance agent while his wife got her master’s degree. Until one day when his phone rang.
“My old boss at this facility called and said, ‘I’m quitting. I can’t do this anymore,’” Boughton remembers. “He just talked about how much he hated the job. He’s like, ‘I don’t know who they’ll even get to interview for this job. Good luck with that.’
“I’m sitting there like, oh my god, can I, please?”
Boughton spoke with his wife, who had given birth to their first daughter two weeks earlier. 40 hours a week? Benefits? Insurance? To Eau Claire they went.
When he got the job, Boughton knew the next step was to join the USPTA. He became a certified Professional on his first try, but it took him until his third to become an Elite Professional.
“It was just always that if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right,” Boughton said.
That mentality has permeated throughout Boughton’s work. Since joining the Association, Boughton has served on the Midwest U30 Board, worked as a tester and will serve on the Midwest Executive Committee starting in January. He estimates he’s applied to serve on the board three or four times.
“I hear people complain all the time,” Boughton said. “I’m sure I have my complaints about everything too, but I very much don’t ever want to be a part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution.”
The USPTA has changed a lot since Boughton joined 10 years ago. There was no continuing education requirement in those days, and communication from the Association didn’t extend much beyond collecting dues, he said.
“It’s not like that anymore,” Boughton said. “I get emails as a member every two weeks, every three weeks about a webinar that’s being offered or another continuing education program.”
As the director at John & Fay Menard YMCA Tennis Center, Boughton ensures all his full-time pros are USPTA-certified and encourages them to get their Elite Professional certification.
“We need to expect more from our tennis professionals,” Boughton said. “I loved the World Conference. Somebody in the audience asked Andre Agassi how many hours of continuing education he thought a tennis pro should have. And he said, ‘The day you stop learning is the day you should stop coaching.’ This is one of the greatest tennis players that’s ever lived and he’s like, ‘I learn every day.’ I was like, oh my god, that’s exactly how I feel. You have to be better. Every day. You have to be better.”
As he works to give back to the sport he loves, Boughton pours everything into his programming. His club will put on UTR tournaments starting next month, hosts a Caring at Christmas mixer, cardio tennis and a thriving junior program.
Meanwhile, the Boughton family has grown from one little girl to two, and both like playing tennis with their dad. Just as he did with his.
“My wife calls it a tennis addiction. She’s like, ‘You work all day, you do tennis all day, and then you get home and you turn on the Tennis Channel. Are you kidding me?’ I know, I have a problem,” Boughton laughed. “I have a problem, but it’s a good problem.”