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Harry Gilbert really does direct an orchestra, an orchestra of well-trained staff members, junior players and adult club members. He does it with aplomb and always with a smile on his face as he has waved his racquet and baton at clubs up and down the East Coast and on the islands for the past 40 years.
Director of Tennis for the last 23 years at Waccabuc Country Club, located in the hills on the Westchester and Putnam county line in New York State, Harry has built an engaging and enormous program at a small, family club with just six Har-Tru courts. Stressing that staffing, budgeting, and communicating are all part of his role at Waccabuc as one of the leading directors in the country, he says he still does love his time on court. He’s helped to create a family-centered program with fantastic results at Waccabuc. But, he’s done that at each and every club he has ever served. Here are a few of his secrets.
The Timeline of a Season
Staffing by December 1, and certainly no later than the first week of January is crucial for a summer program. And in terms of programming and the calendar? That should be done by February 15th with notes from the staff exit interviews from the season before. “Ask your staff which events worked and which didn’t,” Gilbert adds. Sometimes they have a different view than you do!
Harry’s winter season in Florida, where Harry was Director at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm City for many years, and the islands are certainly different from New England. Preparation is key yet again. With his time during recent winters spent at the elite and exclusive Albany Resort, on Providence Island in the Bahamas, Harry discusses how the various demographics at resorts can make his work a bit more demanding than perhaps a year-round position. There are more peaks and valleys with time on court given the holiday season and spring break period through the winter. Gear up and get ready to lead a team aimed at full member satisfaction, says Gilbert.
The Tennis Business Looking Back and Going Forward
Harry recounts his time as USPTA President and the issues he faced at the national office. He believes the issues he faced during his tenure from 2007 to 2009 are really the same issues facing the USPTA today. And, although he realizes the accomplishments of both the USPTA and PTR, he bemoans the fact that there isn’t just one industry body focused on the instructors and professionals. He applauds the work that both organizations have accomplished.
The Secret to a Good Coach?
There is an equation, according to Gilbert, which allows a good instructor to become a great pro. A good instructor needs to hone in on the one or two factors that are holding back the student the most. But, part of that equation, is to how much time will that coach have with the student. The shorter the time, the sooner the instructor must find these factors and the sooner those factors should be addressed.
It’s all here in this exclusive interview from our newest consultant to join our team, Harry Gilbert.