John Embree, USPTA CEO

Nobody can dispute that our divisional structure is one of the strengths of our association. Having 17 democratically elected entities that serve as the administrative arm of USPTA is paramount if we expect to service our entire membership across the country. Being geographically aligned with the 17 USTA sections is also vital if we expect to grow the game. I have said it before, and I will say it again: we cannot do it alone. We must be aligned and work with the governing body to have any impact on bringing new players into our sport. 

Anytime I have an opportunity to visit one of our annual division conferences, I jump at the chance. I relish the time in the field to witness the wonderful work that our divisions do to produce two-three days of outstanding education. It is a genuine pleasure to see division boards working in concert with the division executive directors to create such a positive experience for the attendees. To put on a complex event every year requires months of planning by all involved. It cannot happen without the volunteers and paid staff members working hand in hand to deliver a superior program. 

I enjoy meeting members whom I have not met previously or getting reacquainted with those whom I have encountered over my many years in the industry. Shame on me when I don’t remember the name of a familiar face! 

The benefit of these conferences goes beyond the continuing education requirements needed to be a member in good standing. It is the camaraderie that is exhibited between USPTA professionals who have known each other for many years or for the acquaintanceships that are developed anew. One cannot underestimate the value that comes from networking with your fellow professionals, learning how to address challenges that everyone in this business experiences, discovering job opportunities that might fit your skill set and picking up ideas that can make your job easier and more successful. 

I was reminded of all these factors while visiting the Pacific Northwest Division Conference the first weekend in June. Not only was the board welcoming and their hospitality exceptional, they put on a great show that exceeded everyone’s expectations. The conference set a record for attendance, was hosted at a fabulous club in Seattle, and hit a home run with two and a half days of really good seminars. There is no way that anyone left that conference without picking up some pointers that will improve their business back at their own facilities. 

My intent here is not just to put PNW on a pedestal, because all the division conferences held in 2019 have been awesome. Board representatives who attended them have raved about their experience at each one. Across the nation, we are delivering better education than the year before. 

What is also wonderful to see is the collaboration that is evolving between the respective USTA sections and our corresponding divisions. While our status as being a fully accredited tennis-teaching organization by USTA is taking shape, it is clear our division leadership is working hand in hand with USTA section leadership to create a partnership that will impact tennis programs in the marketplace. A manifestation of this collaboration is the fact that eight USTA Sections have now crafted formal agreements with their USPTA counterparts to help each other in support of our missions to grow the game. I expect to see more of these agreements come to fruition by year end. 

But it is not just the annual division conferences that we administer. Our members have come to expect other regional education days throughout the calendar year at varying locations spread over the division landscape. In fact, we calculated that more than 120 educational events were held in 2018 that were just as inspiring as the annual division conventions. These occasions are also administered by the volunteer leadership of the division along with the massive support of the executive directors. 

Make no mistake, the USPTA is an education and certification body, dedicated to raising the standards of our membership so that they can deliver the best experience possible to the tennis-playing consumer. If you are a USPTA professional who has not taken the time or made the commitment to invest in your career by going to these many educational offerings, you are missing out. 

Publicly, I extend my sincerest thanks to the division executive directors and their volunteer boards who work tirelessly on behalf of their membership. The USPTA can not be what it is today without your commitment to deliver stellar programming for your constituents.