I taught myself to play and thought there was a decent chance I could teach others.
Chad Brown

I was a baseball kid. Starting at age seven and lasting through high school, I was a catcher. Gearing up in pads and guards and a catcher’s mask gave me time to gear up mentally for the game. The pressure on my knees from continuous squatting was nothing compared to the mental pressure of managing the umpire and my pitcher, while catching off-speed pitches and sinkers in the dirt. Stationed behind home, the catcher has a unique view of the entire field of play, responsible for keeping baserunners in check. If you’ll excuse the pun, catchers have a lot on their plate. 

A baseball friend, who also played tennis, invited me to the courts when I was 13 or 14. With a borrowed racket and the wrong shoes, it was a disaster. I swore to myself that would never happen again. I went home and started watching every YouTube video available, from instructional videos to Grand Slam tournaments. Hitting stop and rewind over and over, I studied every move until I could mimic it in front of my bedroom mirror. I was obsessed―initially, with beating my friend; eventually, with the game itself. 

I was through with baseball when I had graduated from high school, my heart was with tennis. While I had never had a lesson or even participated in a clinic, I dreamed of playing college tennis. I emailed the coach at Edinboro, told him my story, and he encouraged me to try out as a walk-on for their Division 2 team. My dream came true.

I had the good fortune of joining USCTDP in 2019 and can see myself here for the next 40 years. The brand is authentic: belonging to this community is helping me become the best teaching professional I can possibly be. In fact, as coach of the Mt Lebanon High School girls’ team, in 2022, we went 19-1 during my third season. Our only loss, after winning WPIALs, was to the back-to-back state champions. Hmmm… reminds me of my baseball friend.


Favorite Female Pro: Ashleigh Barty

It was the slice and variety Ashleigh used in her game that made her a joy to watch. So, like the rest of the world, I was stunned in March 2022, when she announced her retirement at age 25. She explained it this way; “I achieved my dreams. Everyone has different dreams and different ways of defining success. But for me, I knew that I gave everything I could, and I was fortunate to live out my ultimate childhood dream. Now is the time for me to explore what else is out there…”

I admire Ash’s self-awareness. For someone to say―when they’re ranked #1 in the world―“I’m good” and be able to walk away and start something entirely new is both brave and beautiful.

Favorite Male Pro: Roger Federer

Roger’s movement on the court is as smooth and easy on the body as possible, which I think attributed to his lack of injuries throughout most of his career. I try to model my movement in the same way and encourage my students to do the same.

In 2017, Roger, the holder of 17 Grand Slam singles titles, was seeded 17 th after an injury-plagued year. Grace under pressure, Roger muscled his way through the qualifiers at the Australian Open to beat Rafael Nadal in the men’s finals with a five-set showdown, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Favorite Tournament: Australian Open

From Margaret Court and Rod Laver to Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur, the Down Under is renowned for its over-the-top tennis players. One of the four Grand Slams, the Australian Open takes place in January, the start of a new calendar year and the beginning of a new tennis season―my favorite time of year! Because of the time difference, you’ll find me up in the middle of the night watching the finals.

Favorite Shot: Serve

The serve is the only shot in tennis where you have complete control because you start the point by sending instead of receiving the ball. Going back to my baseball roots, serving is a lot like catching because it lets you call the game. For example, the high speed of a flat serve makes it more likely you’ll catch your opponent off guard, delivering an ace or a defensive return that you can quickly put away. In contrast, the slice serve draws your opponent out wide to the ad side, leaving the rest of the court open. And then, there’s my personal favorite, the kick-serve―a heavy topspin serve―which gives it its signature kick. Kick-serves have less power and more control, allowing the server to hit specifically to a player’s weakness.