Since I was a senior in high school, I knew I was meant to be a tennis coach.
Augie Garofoli
USTPA Teaching Professional & Office Administrator

When I was around eight or nine years old, my cousin’s boyfriend gave me a tennis racket for Christmas. Rather than hitting my brother over the head with it, my parents thought it could be put to better use by taking lessons. My first instructor was Jack Gloss at the Mt. Lebanon courts, who subsequently served as my coach, taking me to tournaments near and far.

When I was 15, Jack gave me my first summer job: teaching tennis to younger kids. I was hooked. Even as a senior in high school, I knew I was meant to be a tennis coach. My parents thought it was a good idea to pursue college, so I did at Robert Morris University, majoring in communications. For a while, there was a real possibility of becoming a sports newscaster, but being on the courts with my students won me over. I returned to teaching tennis at Mt. Lebanon and started coaching the Peters Township High School team (1994-2003). I jumped at the chance to join USCTDP full-time in 1994 when I was 24 years old. It’s been a match made in heaven.

I’ve kept my Mt. Lebanon connection, coaching the boy’s high school team since 2008. In 2011, I was voted AMD’s Pro of the Year. I also serve on the WPIAL Steering Committee, aligning teams into divisions, setting the rules, and managing the tournaments.

Coaching is about providing memorable and positive experiences that yield well-disciplined minds and bodies. My goal is to instill in athletes a high level of sportsmanship and mental toughness, as well as a strong work ethic. As my former coach Jack Gloss used to say, “It’s about keeping the kids ON the courts, not IN the courts.”



Favorite Female Pro: Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova started playing tennis when she was four years old and was still playing top-level doubles at 50! I love her work ethic, intensity, and longevity. While Chris Evert was a powerful baseline player, Martina turned women’s tennis upside-down with her serve-and-volley game. In 1978, she defeated Chris at Wimbledon and took over the #1 ranking. With no drama and effortless, clean hitting, Martina is the winner of 18 Grand Slam singles and 31 Grand Slam doubles.

Favorite Male Pro: Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors often said, “Tennis was never work for me, tennis was fun.” I felt the same way about coaching tennis: it’s never been a job; it’s been a calling. Maybe that’s why he’s my favorite player; I get it.

Jimmy was a grinder on every point, and he NEVER gave up. In the 1991 US Open quarterfinals, wild card Jimmy returned four smashes from Dutch player Paul Haarhuis to win an incredible point! Jimmy never gave up and won the match 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. 

Favorite Tournament: US Open

Magic happens at the US Open. 

In August 1990, Jimmy Connors, aged 37, left the US Open without having played a match due to a wrist injury. He predicted, “If I ever get back, that place is going to rock and roll.” His prediction came true the following summer, albeit with a rocky start. Down two quick sets to Patrick McEnroe, he told himself, “I can’t miss. The fans are giving me everything they have, and they’re demanding everything I have.” Fueled by the crowd’s energy, Jimmy beat Patrick McEnroe 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in a match that lasted over four hours, finishing at 1:35 am. I remember that moment as though it were yesterday. I wasn’t in the crowd at the US Open, I was in my dorm room cheering wildly as Jimmy pointed his index finger at each corner of the stadium to acknowledge the crowd’s support. You didn’t have to be at Flushing Meadows to be part of the crowd. It’s magic.

Favorite Stroke: Volley

You hit a volley directly out of the air, not allowing the ball to hit the court first. Forehand or backhand, volleys can be hit from anywhere on the court, but are most effective when hit from the net. When executed properly, a volley is graceful, powerful, and effortless. With good placement, you can have your opponent scrambling to make a return. 

There are lots of volley types, including punch, block, drop, drive, half, and swinging. A swinging volley, made popular by pros like Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters, gives the ball more speed and spin. A swinging volley is beautiful to watch, as it can end the point decisively.