Guest Blog by Matthew Schrader, USPTA Elite Professional
From the minute I picked up a wooden racquet when I was 7 years old, I instantly fell in love with tennis. I can still vividly remember that moment when I went out to the court by the lake, and played tennis with my aunt. Playing reminded me that I am in control of my destiny—I just have to figure out what to do, and do it, navigate challenges, and move forward.
To hone my skills, I took lessons at the Parks Department in Wisconsin, where my dad used to work. By age 12, I started playing in tournaments and in high school, I began teaching tennis. With lots of hard work and dedication, I was able to compete in the high school state championships with a doubles partner. In every tournament, I enjoyed meeting new people from different parts of the country. The new friendships I’ve created have opened a host of opportunities, and connections for me that are ongoing.
Becoming a Pro
Through the years, my love for the sport continued. While earning a Business Marketing degree at Ferris State University in Michigan, I was able to also work towards a certification to become a tennis professional through the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). As part of the program qualifications, I had an internship at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, then spent 2 years as director of the Stevens Point Country Club. I was also able to advance to a team championship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I took home a sportsmanship award.
Along with these developmental experiences, I was eventually granted the level of USPTA Elite Professional, which is given to those who show proficiency not only in playing but in coaching, teaching, and managing facilities. The next level is Master, and only around 150 coaches in the country have reached this title!
After college, I became a part of the Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne. One of my most memorable tournaments happened when the Club hosted the Vera Bradley Classic—I won an exhibition doubles match in front of many Fort Wayne enthusiasts! During my tenure at the Club, I also met Regan + Ferguson’s very own Heather Regan, as one of my clients. Fast forward to today, and I’m happy to be a part of her and Leslie’s team.
Benefits of Playing Tennis
Tennis does wonders for one’s health, wellness, and happiness. I’ve seen people lose 20-80 pounds just from playing; it also has cardiovascular benefits, and improves balance, flexibility and agility — both physical and mental. Playing tennis improves critical thinking, problem solving, and tactical thinking as well. Aside from this, tennis is the perfect social activity. Being able to socialize with other individuals who share the same interest and passion is very rewarding.
I have personally gained lifelong friendships all because of tennis—and even if we don’t see each other often, the connection remains. It’s also become a family bonding affair. My wife played tennis for a bit then retired, and my son plays a little, too. Not to mention, playing tennis is an ideal way to get some fresh air and spend more time outside.
Favorite Places to Play in FW
There are a lot of great places to play in Fort Wayne. I love and highly recommend the Wildwood Racquet Club, Sweeney Park, Kraeger Park, and Foster Park. The courts at the Fort Wayne Country Club are bubbled in the winter to provide year-round tennis but you have to be a member to play. The Jimmy Clark Community Center at Homestead high school has also just finished resurfacing their courts and is open to the public.
Rising Popularity in FW
One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the development of a greater appreciation for tennis. People were looking for ways to stay fit, be outdoors, and interact with others while still maintaining social distancing—and tennis fit the bill. It has regained its popularity along with pickleball, a fun sport that combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton.
For those aspiring to get better at tennis, and even become a professional, the secret is to keep learning. Watch others, take notes, and even find a tennis professional and have them mentor you.
It has been decades since I first picked up that wooden racquet, yet I still enjoy tennis as much as when I first started. Although I don’t play as much anymore, I love coaching and watching people develop their skills, and develop friendships both personally and professionally. If tennis is your interest or passion, and you have some questions, I’m happy to point you in the right direction.
Matthew Schrader is a realtor with Regan+Ferguson Group, and over 8 years of experience in the real estate industry, with licenses in both Indiana and Wisconsin. In addition, he is also a USPTA Elite Professional, and a Facilities Director at Wildwood Racquet Club. Matthew and his wife have a 6-year-old son, together they enjoy participating in various outdoor activities such as going to the lake and downhill skiing.