Member Profile: Matt Houser Grows His Hometown Junior Program With Enthusiasm

Lucas Casás, USPTA Communications

Matt Houser was in the lobby waiting to get on court for his tennis lesson when suddenly, someone ran in.

“He was screaming, ‘Does anyone know CPR? Call 9-1-1!’” Houser remembered.

Houser followed him to the racquetball courts and found a man laying unconscious. Houser, a USPTA Elite Professional, performed CPR for roughly seven minutes before paramedics arrived. The man was saved and made a full recovery.

“It was something that I knew with my experience with the USPTA and with teaching that it was an important thing to have, being CPR certified,” Houser said.

Houser counts that among his most fortunate moments on the court. He also thinks it’s why he was named 2014 USPTA Pacific Northwest Assistant Pro of the Year.

At just 30 years old, he’s since become director of tennis at Club Green Meadows in his hometown of Vancouver, Wash. When he arrived at Green Meadows three years ago, the club didn’t have any junior program.

“Now, they have around 100 kids a week,” Houser said.

Houser said that in his time at Club Green Meadows, the club has made more changes “than in the past 30 years.” And he attributes it all to snowballing enthusiasm in his membership.

From adding new lighting on its outdoor and seven indoor courts to installing new carpeting throughout the facility, upgrades are afoot.

His club is among the biggest in the area and boasts a slew of sports and activities. In addition to eight tennis courts, the club has a full golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, three basketball courts, a bowling alley, a full weight room and 10 racquetball courts. Three times a week, the basketball courts are full of pickleball.

Having so many different sports and activities gives Green Meadows members plenty to do, but it also presents Houser and the staff with opportunities to leverage their offerings into cross-sport activity nights and other special events to galvanize enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm, after all, is infectious. And Houser is full of it.

Teaching runs in the family. His mother has taught elementary school for over 25 years. Two of his cousins, two of his aunts and an uncle are schoolteachers. He was an accomplished player – he played NCAA DIII at Willamette University – and he coached a little in high school, but didn’t consider making a career of it until his senior year.

“There were definitely opportunities in coaching tennis, especially for a new grad right out of college. I guess that was the driving factor,” he said. “I had some previous mentors in the profession and they kept providing me with opportunities in tennis. Even though it wasn’t the first thing on my radar, it kept pulling me back to the point where I decided to dive into it.”

Houser got certified by the USTA to coach high-performance tennis. He has a degree in exercise science, so he focuses not just on their technique and strategy, but also on his players’ flexibility, strength and conditioning and mental toughness.

“I’ll make it mandatory when the kids play that they have to say something positive after every single point,” he said. “They think it’s kind of funny, but they still do it and it actually does show results.”
Houser has organized and coached four Junior Team Tennis teams from around the Vancouver area that qualified for JTT Nationals in each of the last four years. Most recently, they finished 10th in the nation.

“My goal isn’t to have the biggest program,” he said. “My goal is to have a good amount of kids and provide a quality tennis education for those kids.

“That’s why I’m passionate about the kids and developing the kids in the area. It’s because I was one of those kids.” 

Houser with his fiancé, Hien, at a fundraiser for Portland Tennis and Education

Houser (right) with Carlos Gomez at the USPTA Pacific Northwest Division Conference.

Houser played No. 1 singles and was a three-year captain at Willamette University.