by J.B. Hyppolite
“I do tennis, and if I don’t do it well, then I’m going to die poor.”
So says Bryan Hughes, 45, founder of the South Philadelphia Tennis Association and the president of his own non-profit, Jedi Tennis LLC, and a tennis coach for more than 20 years, including helping to coach Texas’ Tyler Junior College to six National Junior College Athletic Association championships between 1996 and 2004. Hughes will also be teaching three courses on tennis for Mt. Airy Learning Tree starting April 26 on the tennis courts at Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane in West Mt. Airy.
The courses are: Beginner’s Tennis for Adults and Teens; Tennis II – Continuing to learn to play, and Competitive Tennis Drills. Bryan teaches these classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with each course lasting an hour. “Absolute beginners for the first two hours, somewhat experienced in the third hour, and then much more experienced in the fourth hour,” said Bryan. “All players think they’re the worst out there usually. They don’t realize that everybody feels the same way. Letting them get comfortable playing with each other is really the most important thing.”
Tennis II is for those with a semblance of playing experience. There is more of an emphasis on developing techniques, strategy tips and playing a point-and-match game. “If they’re doing really well, we’ll move them to the advanced; that means you’re able to hit the ball back and forth, and we put drills together where it’s competitive, at least to a certain level, just a fun competition where you’re enjoying the work you’ve put in.”
For Bryan, tennis is more than just a sport; it’s a way of life, and three aspects can certainly be carried over to everyday living. “Effort, cooperation and respect, respect for yourself, respect for your group and respect for your community is what tennis is all about. Tennis is filled with challenges that should be fun. You should want to go and enjoy the challenge. It’s something you get to overcome and enjoy accomplishing. And you get to do it with people who share that experience with you and form a bond. You often feel, ‘That was the kind of fun I never saw myself doing before, but now we are doing it.’ You’re relating to people you never met before, and you have created a circle of friends.”
Bryan always knew that tennis would be a part of his life. He attended the first tennis teaching institute in the country at Tyler Junior College, where he earned his Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences. He majored in Recreational Leadership and was ultimately involved with six national tennis championships during his time at Tyler.
Bryan was an assistant coach for John Peterson, a two-time winner of Sport’s Illustrated’s “Junior College Coach of the Decade.” He was also mentored by Dick Gould, Stanford University’s tennis coach from 1966 to 2004 and a Division I “Coach of the Decade” award winner from Sports Illustrated. Bryan worked for him during the summer of 1995 at Stanford’s Nike Tennis Camps.
“I had the chance to be tutored by some of the greatest coaches in the country. I learned how to do some difficult things a lot better from some really great men. I learned how to do things the right way.”
Bryan is also the founder of the South Philadelphia Tennis Association, which he runs full-time. The tennis whiz, who chose not to answer any questions about his family, was recently voted the area’s “Top Youth Sports Coach” by The South Philadelphia Review.
“You can create some great relationships and competition with this family game,” Bryan insisted. “You can get mom, dad, brother and sister all on the court playing together, and that’s something that no other sport can do.”
For more information on the Allens Lane tennis courses, call 215-843-6333.
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