John Embree

John Embree is the new CEO of the USPTA. He is a very nice guy but what he has in common with the normal tennis coach in the United States is beyond me? I am going to look forward to seeing what he is going to do for the Association and where he will guide it going forward in the next few years. I do not have an axe to grind and I do not want it to seem like I have a chip on my shoulder–I write this just as an observation and because it is getting close to the time I have to write another check for my dues with the USPTA. I always find myself wondering why I pay the dues each year. I do not think this should be the way one should feel about the organization. The dues should be worth the expense and you can get the same thing from the PTR and they are nicer on the phone when you call in and everyone there remembers everyone’s name. For $20.00 per year you could join the United States High School Tennis Coaches Association and they give you a nice workbook and they might still do insurance.

I enjoyed reading his Bio and the nice questions Nancy Cox wrote on the USPTA Newsletter about him but I found little that goes with being one of the grunt tennis professionals out in the field until you get to the end where he says he was a “tennis professional” when he started out in the business. Before this I had never known he coached tennis but now it appears he has solved that problem for me and lays claim to a tennis teaching background.

I knew him when he was with Wilson Sporting Goods and he did a good job for them. He was extremely likable gentleman and was the guy who went around giving out free goodies to the best juniors and up and coming pros in tennis–so everyone liked him. And as long as I had a decent player in tow to work with he was there to help and this was good. But now I bet he could not pick me out of a lineup or know who I was in the same room.

For me reading about his background and hearing some of the other stuff I get the sense he should be a senator or politician, or highly paid New York or Eastern lawyer from a large firm. What I read is not what I would expect from a guy who is going to represent the membership of a tennis teaching trade organization. It makes me wonder if there simply was nobody else who was a teacher considered for the position. One thing he does have as an interest is when he was younger he played in a band. And everyone knows all of the “cool” tennis people are in bands or were in bands. He does play actually tennis on a regular basis and this is a great thing. He has a regular time he plays each week at a club in Chicago and he never missed that time.

In the newsletter he does say he is working “for” the USPTA. This is good stuff and I hope it is something we can look forward to in terms of giving the organization more relevance to the members and to those who aspire to teach tennis in the United States. Right now, I feel like the organization does very little for the pros and they charge a whole lot more for membership dues than the PTR or Steve Milano’s USHSTA does for basic services. For the USPTA to matter to me I want to see it far surpass the PTR in terms of services it provides to me as a pro. One example of where the USPTA continues to fall short is where they sell you as a benefit the ability to buy sunglasses and other clothing through their online discounts. Well, you can actually Google most of the products directly and purchase them cheaper all over the internet than for the “special member” price.

I want to see the USPTA take a good hard stand on issues that really matter to the “individual” professionals across the country and not just be the “water boy” for the USTA. I want to see the organization make a difference in the various sections of the country and recognize the good players and not just an elite few.

John’s background is one of an elitist in my opinion. John’s has spent most of his adult life with the elite players of the sport and living a life few of the tennis professionals in the country could realize. It is my hope he gets out and represents all of the members of the organization and not just an elite few he might few most comfortable with.

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