What’s your job title and where do you work?
My name is Simon Gale and I am the Director of Racquet Sports at the USTA National Campus
What’s your story, and how’d you get here?
Grew up playing tennis in Perth, Australia and began coaching at 17. I moved to the USA in 1999 after spending the 90’s going between summers in Australia and US summers in Vermont working at a tennis camp and resort. I have been in leadership roles most of my career and have the unique background of being a teaching pro, head pro, director, general manager and club owner. All of these experiences have enabled me to see all aspects of tennis facility operations that hopefully give me a real perspective of the industry.
What is something we can’t guess about you from your resume?
You can’t see how hard I work to be a better leader and the level of commitment to my team.
What are 3 of your favorite things about the course?
The forced reflection on how I currently perform in this role, the ability to do it in my own time and that it covers a wide variety of subjects that most leaders don’t stop and invest time in.
What surprised you the most as you worked through the course?
I liked that it is linked to a prestigious college like UF. It gives the certificate another level of credit that makes it feel as though you are passing something of real value. I appreciate the extent of the work involved and that in order to pass you have to put the work in. There are no short cuts!
Have you been able to apply anything you’ve been learning so far?
Yes, we have applied some of the hiring/onboarding do’s and don’ts to our process.
How would you describe the Director of Racquet Sports Certificate Course to someone who doesn’t know what it is?
It is unique in that it offers some insight into the real aspects of the leadership role. It is not going to help you teach tennis, but it will prepare you and make you aware of the many hats and the change in mindset for being an effective DORS. I believe it appeals to a broad audience, firstly the current experienced DORS who will reflect on how they lead and how to improve, secondly the new DORS who needs a clearer road map for navigating their future and thirdly, the aspiring DORS who can start to gain insight into the skill set required to enter the DORS phase of their careers.
What’s one racquet sports or leadership related book you recommend?
Allistair McCaw on leadership – love his messaging, Tim Elmore on generational leadership.
What do you see as the future of the racquet sports industry, and what needs to change in order for it to get there?
The aging of our industry is obviously a talking point at the moment and will impact us greatly over the next 10 years. The concern is the lack of young pros entering the industry and whether we will have the troops to fill the void. Tennis is growing and demand for our services is at its highest levels in years. I am not sure we are doing enough to adapt to the new generations needs in order to make us an appealing career choice.
What is the reason you chose to take this course?
When I first saw the course offered it was of interest to me because there was nothing like it in our industry. Directors tend to have to learn how to be a DORS on the job and the UF course looked like it would be a natural stepping stone for someone aspiring to become a leader. I was interested in taking the course because I wanted to challenge myself, learn and be able to recommend it to other directors and our National Campus staff who could benefit from it.
If someone wants to get in touch with you, how do they find you?
They can connect with me on LinkedIn!
Interested in our Director of Racquet Sports Certificate?
You, too, can develop the business and leadership competencies required to successfully manage a tennis and racquets operation. Visit our website for more information.