Season #24 Episode#:39

Shaun and Bobby talk to the director of racquet sports at the Country Club of Roswell, Marcus Rutsche.

This conversation between Shaun Boyce, Bobby Schindler, and Marcus Rutsche discusses various topics related to the tennis industry, including:

Marcus grew up playing tennis in Sydney, Australia and was recruited to play at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee as #1 player and MVP. He has worked at esteemed programs such as The John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, and The New Albany Country Club, Marcus spent 8 years as Adult Director at the Windward Lake Club, where he successfully coached club level players and juniors through to national and professional standards. For 3 years Marcus was appointed the position of the Cadillac Tennis Director for the Southeast: planning and running tennis clinics alongside former greats of the game. As Athletics Director at Country Club of Roswell since 2012, Marcus has overseen a large program of Tennis, youth care, swim team and fitness for 10 years. Marcus won the United States Professional Tennis Associationโ€™s Southern seminar contest and has been the presenting speaker for the GPTA and USPTA. Certified as a USPTA P-1, Marcus served years as board member and President of the USPTA state chapter board. Accolades include USPTA Southern player of the year in 2018 and Georgia Large Facility Director of the year in 2021. GPTA 2023 Director of the Year. In 2023 Marcus was awarded the Nation USPTA Star Award for his efforts with Country Club of Roswellโ€™s annual Charity Pro-Am. A local Johns Creek resident, Marcus is married to his wife Paige since 2009 and has twin five year olds.

YouTube Full Video: coming soon

3 things Marcus will do as King of Tennis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwxuMteuQ5I&feature=youtu.be

Shaun Boyce USPTA: [email protected]

https://tennisforchildren.com/ ๐ŸŽพ

Bobby Schindler USPTA: [email protected]

https://windermerecommunity.net/ ๐ŸŽพ

Geovanna Boyce: [email protected]

https://regeovinate.com/ ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‹๏ธ

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Transcript
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(upbeat music)

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Welcome to the Atlanta Tennis Podcast.

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Every episode is titled,

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It Starts with Tennis and Goes From There.

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We talk with coaches, club managers,

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industry business professionals,

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technology experts, and anyone else we find interesting.

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We wanna have a conversation as long as it starts with tennis.

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(upbeat music)

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Hey, hey, this is Shaun with the Atlanta Tennis Podcast,

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powered by GoTennis!

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Check out our calendar of Metro Atlanta Tennis events

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at LetsGoTennis.com,

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and if you're interested in joining the podcast,

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please consider sharing your story.

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Tell us your favorite tennis story,

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go to LetsGoTennis.com/mystory,

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and with each story you share,

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you'll be entered into our monthly giveaways,

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and we will pick one story every month

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to share on the Atlanta Tennis Podcast.

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And with that, let's get into our recent conversation

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with Marcus Rutsche.

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Marcus is the director of Racket Sports

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at the Country Club of Roswell.

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We cover a lot in the conversation,

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including the state of the sport,

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the career path of a tennis professional,

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the role of organizations like the USDA

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and the importance of taking action to improve the sport.

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Check it out and let us know what you think.

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Number one, I gotta ask because just looking at your name

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on paper doesn't tell me how to pronounce it.

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So, pronounce your name for me Marcus,

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and then tell me who are you and why do we care?

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- Great.

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Well, thanks for having me on.

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Yes, first of all, my name important, right?

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Marcus "Ruchy" is how you pronounce the last name,

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and everyone gets it wrong,

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so I don't hold against anyone.

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And it is a strange name and not an Australian name.

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It's Swiss German, both my parents are Swiss,

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so they met in Australia and settled in Australia,

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and I grew up in Australia with a funny last name,

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and I actually grew up listening to Swiss German

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at the dinner table, and yeah, so I'm in Swiss national

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as well as I'm Australian national,

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and now I'm American, which I don't know

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if that works all three of them together, but yeah,

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so grew up in Australia, playing, you know,

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different sports.

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Tennis was the main one that I ended up settling

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with a bit more, so coming through tennis in Australia,

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kind of a semi-rural area I grew up playing tennis,

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and then came over and played college tennis,

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got recruited by Austin P, State University,

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and then played four years of tennis there,

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and then decided I love it here in America,

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did some teaching, some coaching at various clubs,

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and settled eventually in Atlanta,

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and I am now currently the director of racket sports

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at Country Club in Roswell.

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I've been there since 2012.

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- Okay, so how are you gonna job as director of racket sports

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is a cool system that Bobby and I know well,

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but, and probably a lot of people don't,

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so we might get to that.

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I find the interesting one is, you get recruited to come here,

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played Austin P, how then do you get to stay,

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and teach tennis, and then work your way toward

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becoming an American, like what's that process like,

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because I think there are a lot of people that come through,

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and they say, "Hey, I've finished my college now,

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I'm from wherever, and, but I'm not legally allowed

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to work here, was that easy or difficult for you,

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can you walk me through that?"

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- It's an interesting process,

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and there's a lot of pros that have come through that system,

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essentially they come as a tennis player,

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and then they realize the amount of opportunities

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that are in America, and that was huge, you know,

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I'd going back to Australia,

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I never really had plans to stay in America initially,

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you know, I didn't know what I wanted to do really,

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but I got a taste of it primarily in the summers,

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so I could work, I'm not sure legally or illegally,

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in the summertime, you know, from Division I college,

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I had the summers I wasn't going to go back to Australia,

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it was a long trip, expensive trip,

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and I had to figure out what to do,

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and initially I started working at a summer camp

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up in Pennsylvania for like an eight week long summer camp

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where I was doing tennis there,

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but I was also doing the whole camp counselor thing as well,

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interesting, and then I got an opportunity

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through my college coach who said,

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"Hey, I can get you a job up here in Ohio

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at a really nice prestigious country club,"

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and work there through the summer,

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which was a pretty extended summertime,

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and that's where I really got to understanding,

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wow, you can make this a profession,

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they pay you very well, they respect you,

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and you know, growing up, okay,

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in this sort of country area of Australia,

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you know, your coach had tennis balls in the back of the car,

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and you went to the public facility,

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it was not really a career,

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and definitely not something my parents wanted me

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to go down that route, you know, after going to college,

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but I really saw the process,

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and that's where I got involved with USPTA,

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with certification, and saw it as actually a serious career,

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and that's when I sort of realized

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after about two years I think I was there.

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This now is a legitimate career path that I can be on,

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I saw my director at the time,

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I was getting paid well, he wasn't on the court that much.

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There was a whole,

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and there were more than just one club in America

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that this could happen, and that is a legit career path.

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So calling my parents and telling them,

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this is what I wanted to do, they said,

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"No, please not a tennis pro."

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One day he literally said that, but I said,

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"No, let me show you these facilities,

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let me show you what I can do,

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what I can do from a certification process,

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and there is a pathway to not just being on the court,

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80 hours at that point, it was literally like,

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I'm 68 hours a week, you're spending seven days a week on the court."

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So I saw that, and that is appealing.

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Now, from staying in the country,

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from a foreign standpoint, there's different visas

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you go through like optional practical training visas,

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which a lot of people easily apply to after college,

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and then you get to a bit tricky where you're applying

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for perhaps like a tourist visa or a temporary work

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or a trainee visa, and then there's other ones like a H1P visa,

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which I was on, but they're not doing those anymore.

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And so it's a tricky process.

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I was speaking to a tennis pro who's going through it right now,

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to be because they want to stay,

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they want to keep their profession going in this country.

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You have to link it in with your current,

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whatever you did in college, a lot of times,

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or you can go the route of what might be

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an exceptional athlete visa that you could go through.

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So it's a bit different for each country.

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Australia has a little bit more of an understanding

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where you can work between the two countries a little easier.

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But yeah, so I managed to navigate through all of that,

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and then eventually, you know, got a green card through marriage.

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So that was a bit of an easier time when you go that route.

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But it is definitely a legitimate way,

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that pathway that people are looking for.

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And that's why you see so many foreigners

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as teaching pros as well.

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Yeah, and I think that's great.

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I think that's the scenario where we can potentially find a way

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to help more of those college level players that come in.

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They get a great education.

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And then they say, OK, well, what's next?

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And they feel like maybe they have to just go find

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that an employer that can afford to sponsor them,

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and just that process being fairly complicated,

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if not potentially expensive.

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I'm curious if maybe we find a way,

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and I'm taking notes too.

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I'm like, oh, you know what?

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I think we got a process here.

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If we know somebody who legally had some training, Bobby,

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we might be able to find out how we can maybe help some more

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of the young potential tennis pros coming out of college

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to go through that process and see it as Marcus said

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as a legitimate career pet.

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Well, I'm hoping the schools do this a lot,

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considering they're recruiting them.

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So I hope they're helping them find their next path.

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What are they saying?

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Hope is in a strategy, right?

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They let you know the whole college, which they are.

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I'm pretty sure Capastani can probably help you figure this out.

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I can speak a little bit on that, what you're referring

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to the college system.

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And you know, you've got you guys in there currently

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that are maybe doing some part time teaching

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while they're in college.

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There are discussions about that.

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We just spoke with USPTM on the board of USPTA Southern.

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And they were talking about college coaches who are certified

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and we need to get some of those pros certified

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and are ready down that pathway while they're in college.

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And then see that what the next step is from there.

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Because I don't think it's laid out for those guys.

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They sort of say, all right, now I'm done.

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I go home or whatever, where the path they go to,

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but when you're coming from so many different countries,

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in their home country, they don't see a tennis pro

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as a viable career path.

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And they have the talent and they may have a whole lot of charisma

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and they have all the great starting points to be a good tennis

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pro, but they don't know what the next step is.

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So yeah, we're actually engaged in quite a few colleges

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in the South to sort of promote that currently.

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Awesome, because I think that's going to help a lot.

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A lot of the industry right now, we all know as tennis coaches,

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is trying to find good employees.

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And it's just hard to find good people.

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And we've probably all talked to those outside of our industry as well.

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And realizing that seems to be a thing everywhere.

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I'm talking to a buddy of mine who's a civil engineer.

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It's like, I can't fire anybody.

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These guys are annoying, but I can't fire anybody

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because I can't hire.

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It's not like back in the day, and Bobby and I

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have talked about this before.

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When I first got that job at TPC Sugarlow,

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I held onto that because that was just the coolest thing.

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And I will always be thankful to Bobby

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for the recommendation for that.

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But it was the coolest thing.

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But I knew there were seven guys right behind me

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willing to come in and do whatever I was unwilling to do

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just to take that job.

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Things are different now.

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And I think we've had a GPTA conversation

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as a group about that as well.

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Is that getting any better markets, do you think?

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Not yet.

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Not yet.

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First of all, like you said, it was the coolest thing.

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It's not as cool as it used to be.

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I mean, that's what brought me into it.

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There's a legendary teaching pro in the USPTA, Bill Phillips.

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And he had talked this past weekend about his 50 years

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that he's learned what he's learned and passing it on,

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which I'm big in the history of what has come before

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and what we can learn from these older guys.

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And he says, well, the boom of the '70s,

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these the rackets we use.

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And this is what was so great about it.

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And I was in my, I think he said he's in his 20s

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at that point, when the boom of the tennis in the '70s.

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The coolest thing you could be was a tennis pro.

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The coolest.

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So this old guy said he got into this industry

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just because it was cool.

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There's a cool factor to it.

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And all the things that come with it,

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you can describe whatever it is at that point,

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probably just to get chicks.

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But whatever motivates you, but when you're that age,

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you're in your 20s, what does motivate you?

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And it's probably not going to be that grind

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that's going to motivate you.

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And if you're going into tennis for financial reasons,

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like being a tennis pro, you've got to find out pretty quickly.

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You're not going to be a millionaire as a tennis pro, right?

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There are other ways you can kind of do that,

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but in the tennis industry,

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but in the way that they look at things when they're 20s,

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like, sorry, that's not it.

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So they find that out pretty quickly.

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But there are other really great ways

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that you can have a meaningful career path

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and get so much value out of it.

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And I think that's what you're seeing is people come back

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from maybe a career in finance or whatever they're a lawyer

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and they're coming back into the industry

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or entering into the industry.

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They may be players, current players,

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and maybe they were in it.

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They, it's their secondary choice

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to come enter into tennis industry

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because of what it can really bring to their lives.

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So we're seeing that a bit more.

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But yeah, bringing the cool back, that's missing part of that,

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a mind of mine.

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- Big tennis cool again.

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That's what Bobby says all that.

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Make tennis cool again.

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Where's the John McEnroe, the James Dean look?

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Like, who's cool these days?

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We got Taylor Fritz, you're like,

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and we, I mean, we're in Georgia, right?

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So we don't see the California kid in the same way

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or he also had that kind of cool factor.

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But that's the players that we target.

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The coaches don't have,

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we don't have that same cool thing anymore.

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I don't know what that is.

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- The pickleball is stolet, sorry.

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(laughing)

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Which is a thing, you know, it's a thing.

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I mean, we'll look back and look at the boom

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of the pickleball era and who I was able to capitalize

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and who wasn't.

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And that's a definitely an opportunity out there

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with that world, that tennis pros missing

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if they're trying to resist.

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But, you know, join in, make it better

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and make your industry better.

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So yeah, that's part of it.

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There's so many things.

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It's a long list that we could save

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for another podcast.

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- This is probably, I think we make tennis cool again.

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But, you know, I have a lot of ideas on that.

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And that's just, which is kind of scratch the surface.

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But yeah, it's a lot of different areas.

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But I think, you know, ultimately,

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the responsibility lies in the people

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who are currently in industry,

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I currently in it.

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And that's what I always kind of say is like,

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okay, we know we've got a problem

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getting new people into the industry.

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We know that we have a problem retaining people

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in our industry.

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And everyone is looking everywhere else

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to see how we're gonna fix it.

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- That's as opposed to, I mean, as opposed to internally.

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So when we get together as a group

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and we say, "Hey guys, how are we gonna fix this?"

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Everybody says, "Well, you're right.

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Somebody should."

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But, you know, look around the room and realize

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we are the room, we are the guys that are supposed to fix it.

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- Yeah, the responsibility to me lies with the individual.

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And we keep looking at it.

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I think it's a very easy way of placing blame on organizations.

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Well, that's really what the GPT should do.

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That's really what the USDA should do.

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That's really what this governing,

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or the ATP needs to do this.

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Well, that's a bit hard.

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That's going a bit far.

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But what are you doing, right?

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And I commend you guys, go Tennis,

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Atlanta Tennis podcast.

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You guys are doing something, you know?

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And it's catching fire, you know?

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Is, you like, stops it on the sidelines

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and say, "Well, I wish they were there."

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Everyone says, "They."

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This day, you're in the industry, you're a tennis pro,

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you're in the industry.

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And if Tennis is suffering in one way, shape or form,

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what does Tennis need?

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It needs you.

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- I like that.

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Marcus is looking at you, whoever you are.

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Looking at you.

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So, so Bobby, we, I don't think you were at the specific,

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part of the specific conversation, excuse me,

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about bringing in younger coaches.

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But you talk a lot about trying to find guys to help,

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or girls, or just coaches in general.

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And you're in that area, in that windomier space right now,

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where it's a, it's right in the hotbed of where a lot of tennis is.

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And Bobby mentions all the time, he says,

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I just lost a guy to a new club who came out of his corporate job

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and left that back into tennis, as you mentioned earlier,

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Marcus.

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And I know some people who have said,

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"Hey, I'm in tennis, then I went out and got myself a real job."

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And then I came back to it and realized,

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"Now, this is really what I like.

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This is better.

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It's better for my life.

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It's better for me."

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And trying to get people to understand that is different.

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But Bobby, have you had any improvement in the ability

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of finding new people, or people that are available,

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or interested in working?

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'Cause we're not exactly even asking for the grind anymore.

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We're just asking you to show up on time.

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- Well, I think it speaks to what Marcus said,

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with creating a pathway, or educating the younger people,

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that this is a potential career pathway,

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and what the pathway actually curtails.

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You look at, first, we've had this conversation with other people,

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the alarming rate of Division 1 tennis players

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that never pick up a tennis racket once they graduate.

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I mean, it's the vast majority.

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We're at almost 75%.

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So we're talking about 25% of the people that played at this level

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that no longer play in.

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And that should be the only place that we find instructors,

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because you don't need to be a great,

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we don't have Einstein's in high school teaching maps.

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So I think teaching and coaching and playing

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are completely different.

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I think that's part of the problem again.

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I'm with you Marcus.

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I'm a big man in the Marigoldie,

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but I do think part of it is institutional

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in that you have to create the environment with leadership

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to say, do you look at the reverence of,

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like you said, the cool factor, whatever was,

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unfortunately, as you said, the cool factor of a tennis pro

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from the '70s, if you remember,

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a show called Soap, Billy Crystal Star Vehicle,

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his brother in the show was a tennis pro

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who slept with all the women and got murdered.

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So this is a comedy.

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That's a lot of it.

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So that is, it always will be the perception

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of the tennis pro is be careful with your wife.

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So we need to get rid of that.

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And when you hear it happen, you're like,

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okay, he did the thing the tennis pro should not do

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and knows better, but it still happens.

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So it's just a perception that we have to do a better job.

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And from an institution standpoint,

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we have to look and create jobs that people see a pathway.

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Like you said, I don't expect to give it.

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I was left.

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One of my ladies heard me say, one day,

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why don't teach tennis because for the money,

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and she thought it was because I came from money.

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And I was like, no, it's just that you have to be realistic.

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This is a choice.

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What I want to do, it provides enough.

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But I think we could do something to make it a little easier

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for everybody and show a pathway, show other ways

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to make money and then try to get rid of the,

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as we're trying to do the individualistic aspect of tennis.

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We'd be far better working together

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as the GPTA tries to do, as the USPTA tries to do.

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We're all competing for finite resources.

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We shouldn't be competing so hard for these finite resources.

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We should be finding a way to work together.

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Let's bring the numbers up.

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Let's, you know, if we bring up participation,

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there's work for everybody.

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- Well, you mentioned finite resources.

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And I think we all have to understand

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there is a market here, right?

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The market fluctuates and it is a free market in,

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so to speak, and things are cyclical.

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You know, there's peaks and valleys

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and the market dictates.

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And I think there's a few forces at play

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where tennis is still growing,

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despite what people may think.

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It may not be growing at the point that Pickleball is,

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are you losing some of the tennis pros from tennis

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into Pickleball?

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Sure.

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Are you losing to other industries?

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Sure.

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Is the, you know, overall salaries have gone up

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at first time out of college, you know, your first job,

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they're offering a whole lot more.

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It's an industry that is slower in the change there,

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in the tennis industry, in salaries.

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It is dictated by the market.

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And as you saw with COVID, it's a massive change there.

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I think after COVID, you saw people jack up their prices

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of lessons for a number of reasons.

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But we're still on that where it's high,

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inflation's part of it, it's getting higher.

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I think it, you naturally gonna go through a point

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where boy, it's getting hard to find pros.

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Well, let's pay them more, you know?

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So I'm okay with that.

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I'm totally fine with letting the market dictate the prices,

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let them dictate salaries, let them dictate percentages

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and what you start to see with directors, for instance,

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you know, maybe they're sort of less on court,

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they're more off court now.

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They have to adjust to what the market is.

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And right now, I think there's a bit of a change

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in some places where you're seeing head pros

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making a ridiculous amount of money

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that are surpassing directors.

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And that's just because they wanna keep the best talent.

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So I think there's part of that going on,

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but you're also in the local area that I see,

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because I'm just really kind of speaking

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about Atlanta tennis, and that's really what the podcast is.

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We are seeing a bit of suppression there from entities,

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larger entities, larger groups, larger corporations,

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because if you look at the big changes in the local market

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that has happened in the last, what, 10, 15 years,

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and that is the clubs that have been around since the 70s

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or 80s couldn't financially keep going 40 years

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into their existence.

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You didn't have the appetite for those members potentially

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to be investing back or getting their assessment paying more

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for their clubs, and you get a corporation coming in

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and snapping up that property.

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So when you have that to a scale where potentially

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in a 10 mile radius, you have about eight clubs

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that are all owned by the same organization,

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you stifle that marketplace.

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And so they're all playing monopoly game with you,

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and you're just a pawn in that game,

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and that's where I have a real issue with that sort of situation.

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You know what I'm just kind of talking about there, Bobby,

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but that's what I do.

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Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

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That's not good.

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So I think, like I said, I'm all for the free market,

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dictating these prices and bringing this incentive

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to get people into the industry.

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But if you have a little bit of that stifling going on,

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then you have people leave, not just,

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maybe they're not leaving the industry,

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but they're leaving to another state

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because the opportunity is elsewhere.

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And I can't stand that.

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Well, I think, and I can see Bobby's brain running,

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but I think where we are in an interesting place is,

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tennis coaches are often fairly multifaceted.

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And the interesting thing that we learn in our industry

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is how to do lots of different things.

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So it isn't difficult for a tennis pro

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to jump out into another thing.

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You know, I'm just going to get a sales job.

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I'm going to go work for TechnoFiber

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and I'm going to show everybody how to be a great sales guy.

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Those things happen.

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And you can kind of jump out a little bit if you need to

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where I've got friends and they have their skill set.

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And this is what they do.

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It's not like they're going to change industries.

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They're not going to leave what they do for whatever reason.

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It just doesn't happen.

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You do your thing.

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But in tennis, people kind of in and out of the industry

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also, as we talked about, because sometimes

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it is just a fallback.

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It's almost that plan B, we just

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why I ended up here in the first place when I first started.

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And thankfully, Justin Yo found me and gave me a shot.

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And it was interesting because it just wasn't--

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I was just doing it part-time because you

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can make 50 bucks an hour.

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And this was going to try to 25 years ago.

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You can make 50 bucks an hour as a part-time job

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while you try to get your real job.

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I'm trying to do the other thing.

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But here-- then I realize, I'm like, this is a cool career.

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This is a really fun thing to do.

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And you learn so many other things.

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You learn other skill sets.

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You're running a pro shop.

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You're running a business.

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You're not just a cog in the wheel, feeding balls.

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Now, you can be.

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You just want to be that guy that feeding ball, that's fine.

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But in this case, we have people kind of in and out

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of the industry.

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So specifically, if we ask you, Marcus,

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you understand the industry beyond just country club

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over Roswell.

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So as director of Ragnaspore, it's there.

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Does that put you in a position to understand

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kind of the fancy country club world as well?

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Well, we also understand the whole scenario of Bobby

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kind of sets his own prices, because yes, he's

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hired by the facility.

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But he runs-- he's a contractor, right?

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But you specifically work for a club.

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And that club essentially sets the lesson rates.

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I'm sure you have a say in that.

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But where are the big differences there?

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Because we've got not just an industry standard on lesson rates.

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We have completely different types of tennis coaches.

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I run a business tennis for children.

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It's a different world.

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We just build the monthly scenario

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where the parents have no idea what a lesson costs,

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because they don't know what I'm making.

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It doesn't matter.

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But there's so many different ways to do it here.

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Do you see something specific from--

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even like I said, the fancy country club position,

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but then also being able to see outside of that?

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I think I'm in a unique position, because in my time

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that I've been at my club, we were member-owned,

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and we were one of those clubs that were sold in 2020,

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about a month before COVID hit, to have that transition.

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So I've seen both sides.

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And when I was working in Ohio, that was a privately owned

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club by a wealthy individual.

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So I've had the experience of the different clubs,

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and I think we're all part of the same Incuse ecosystem,

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which is tennis, right?

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Tennis coaching members serving the clients.

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And with that, I think you're also seeing a 1099

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or independent contractor really blossom in the last--

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I don't know-- probably about seven years, seven or eight years,

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I would say, that you're seeing tennis coaching

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as being more of a side hustle to go along with whatever

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other job you have.

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And those rates have gone higher,

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to get somebody in to help fill in from 630 to 830

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on a Wednesday night.

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Boy, you can get paid pretty well for that nowadays.

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In a lot of cases, you get paid better to do that than the people

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that are working their full time.

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So we're all part of that.

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That all is part of it, because Bobby might need this pro sometimes.

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Well, I need them as well.

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Can we share?

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And it's a great little job that those tennis pros can do.

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Maybe they're wearing it full time.

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They still want to get the cash and work

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outside of their regular business hours.

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And they don't have to worry about the politics.

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They come with being at a club or anything else.

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They come with it.

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So you almost see a bit more of a shift towards that way,

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where I want to go out, teach, and not do with anything else.

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And I think they all have their place in the ecosystem.

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So that's perfectly fine.

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But what you see again is the market dictating those rates.

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Well, Bobby might say, well, I'm paying this amount.

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And they're like, man, I can't afford that at my facility.

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But I'm going to have to up my rate if I want to get a good, dependable

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pro at those hours, at the peak hours.

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Then I'm just going to have to up my rate on that.

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So that's fine.

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Again, that's the market working there.

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I think the problem is is when you get too far that way,

Speaker:

where incentivizes or disincentivizes those full time teaching

Speaker:

pros that have to stay the longer hours

Speaker:

and they do their salary and stuff.

Speaker:

And they kind of really say, well, that independent route

Speaker:

seems awfully nice.

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I get to keep 100% of what I do.

Speaker:

I can find a facility.

Speaker:

That sounds awfully nice.

Speaker:

But again, your market can change because then at some point,

Speaker:

those clubs realize, hey, we've got to get the best, retain

Speaker:

the best people.

Speaker:

What do we need to do?

Speaker:

We're going to offer greater incentives, health insurance,

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whatever it is that they do.

Speaker:

But in a lot of cases, recently,

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locally, without naming organizations names,

Speaker:

that's less appealing.

Speaker:

My health insurance still costs an arm and a leg.

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So even though there may be some help from the club,

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it's not enough to justify the extra cash I could be getting.

Speaker:

So they all hope each other out.

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So I think it's all part of it.

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I don't think people should say just because I'm

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at this wealthy high-end country club,

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it doesn't affect me as an independent.

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We're all sort of part of it.

Speaker:

And we interact some ways on the other.

Speaker:

But I think we've got to keep an eye on what we're all doing.

Speaker:

Greg, Bob, you want to play with that?

Speaker:

Yeah, I completely agree.

Speaker:

And one of my-- because I'm laughing--

Speaker:

Marcus even picked Wednesday night, 6.30 to 8 o'clock.

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And I'm laughing because that's one of the nights I overpay.

Speaker:

Monday night, at the same time, I have a tendency

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to overpay.

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Because-- but there's a danger to that.

Speaker:

And I don't know if you know Trevor Shorten, Trevor Knows

Speaker:

I've told this story a thousand times.

Speaker:

When I was at Whitecombs, Trevor was in between his ventures.

Speaker:

And I got him to come work with me for a while.

Speaker:

And he left to take over what would

Speaker:

become the new lifetime fitness.

Speaker:

And I looked at him smiling in half serious, half lines.

Speaker:

And Trevor, I hope you realize you probably

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are going to lead to me getting fired.

Speaker:

And the thought process behind that

Speaker:

was that I brought somebody in at a rate that the club didn't

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warrant.

Speaker:

But because he was a friend that he came in and spent some time

Speaker:

and we had a good run together, but with something else came up.

Speaker:

Obviously, he had to take it for the good of his family.

Speaker:

But then the membership expects it.

Speaker:

And it's no longer-- well, we know that we

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have limited resources or we have this.

Speaker:

Well, we just had Trevor.

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Why can't you go into getting out of Trevor?

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Because Trevor's don't just grow on trees.

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And that's one difference.

Speaker:

And again, I'll go back to it.

Speaker:

I'm with you at Bargain.

Speaker:

So I don't want to place a lot of blame on the day.

Speaker:

But when we were going through the certification process,

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30 plus years ago, when I entered,

Speaker:

was entering the industry.

Speaker:

Part of what-- they didn't want you to get.

Speaker:

The USPTA said, do not get certified for five years.

Speaker:

Get in the industry.

Speaker:

Make sure that you understand the industry.

Speaker:

What you're getting into.

Speaker:

And then you can make a more educated decision.

Speaker:

Where-- again, it's-- I get it.

Speaker:

It's money.

Speaker:

It's a revenue source for the USPTA.

Speaker:

We're going to get the-- we're doing it backwards.

Speaker:

We get the people in.

Speaker:

Then we introduce them to the industry.

Speaker:

And now the industry doesn't align with what they thought

Speaker:

it was.

Speaker:

And we lose people.

Speaker:

So that's one thing I would love to see from the higher ups

Speaker:

is not an answer.

Speaker:

Everybody should get paid.

Speaker:

I'm all for paying.

Speaker:

And I'm all for paying as well as the market is willing to give.

Speaker:

But I did like that aspect of it

Speaker:

that you were giving, again, a pathway.

Speaker:

Come in, get an education learned.

Speaker:

And I think that's another thing that's

Speaker:

different about Atlanta because of the HOA element

Speaker:

that you can have so many people with basket of balls

Speaker:

in their car that they don't get that education

Speaker:

from the club environment to see the whole picture.

Speaker:

And Sean and I say, it's easier working with somebody else.

Speaker:

I like to do a drill with another coach next to me.

Speaker:

There's more energy.

Speaker:

I get tired of hearing my own voice.

Speaker:

Just like this conversation, we can build off each other

Speaker:

and make the experience so much better for everybody.

Speaker:

And I think the magnitude of tennis in Atlanta contributes.

Speaker:

And that's why we always say we start with Atlanta.

Speaker:

We focus on it.

Speaker:

Because I do think the dynamics here are different than most places.

Speaker:

I grew up in New York.

Speaker:

A lot of the leagues down here, the social aspects down here,

Speaker:

are all controlled by the club.

Speaker:

And we don't do that as much here.

Speaker:

We manage people.

Speaker:

And it's a little bit different.

Speaker:

I'm going to put, again, I'm going

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to go the same ways, just put the onus on the people.

Speaker:

We-- there is no one path as a teaching program.

Speaker:

I don't think any person in this industry will say, well,

Speaker:

the way I started is exactly where I see myself now.

Speaker:

It's changed.

Speaker:

The landscape has changed.

Speaker:

But also what you want out of your life has changed.

Speaker:

What you want out in your 20s is different to what you want

Speaker:

in your 40s.

Speaker:

But what I don't think we have enough of is telling our stories

Speaker:

and showing I'm living my now dream.

Speaker:

It may not have been my dream 20 years ago.

Speaker:

But I realize some things.

Speaker:

I think if we can tell the stories,

Speaker:

this is a great platform for that.

Speaker:

Tell our stories of what I initially thought the industry

Speaker:

would be, how much is the same, how much has changed,

Speaker:

and how much I've been able to pivot.

Speaker:

And there are people who say, I only

Speaker:

want to be on the court teaching juniors all the time.

Speaker:

OK, that's all they want to do.

Speaker:

But a lot of people don't know these things.

Speaker:

And then they get a couple of years into a job,

Speaker:

and they're like, boy, this is not what I thought it would be.

Speaker:

But it doesn't mean you just give up.

Speaker:

Look, hey, we can make an adjustment here.

Speaker:

But yeah, there are so many.

Speaker:

Atlanta is so unique.

Speaker:

We have so many different pathways to choose from.

Speaker:

And there's opportunities in making more money.

Speaker:

Absolutely way more opportunities in making more money.

Speaker:

But I don't think there are enough stories.

Speaker:

I can tell my story.

Speaker:

This pro can tell their story.

Speaker:

And see how I've achieved a quality of life.

Speaker:

I've achieved-- yeah, there's still things I want to achieve.

Speaker:

There's still things I'm going to go for.

Speaker:

And just because you're at a high-end country club

Speaker:

and you are making a ton of money,

Speaker:

it doesn't mean you're fulfilled.

Speaker:

It doesn't mean that you're 60 years old.

Speaker:

You're thinking about retirement.

Speaker:

You look back and you say, you know what?

Speaker:

I've put all this time on the court,

Speaker:

dedicated all my time to the membership I missed out.

Speaker:

I want to hear those stories.

Speaker:

I want to learn from those stories.

Speaker:

And that's just-- that's actually a legit conversation.

Speaker:

I had with someone in that position.

Speaker:

I feel like Mark has just invented a new podcast segment.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

There you go.

Speaker:

You can put it under my name.

Speaker:

Just remember, my last thing is Rutschi.

Speaker:

Right?

Speaker:

Just getting that part right.

Speaker:

And we're all good.

Speaker:

So all I heard was Hamilton, Mark, is tell your story.

Speaker:

We're going back to musical theater again.

Speaker:

All I heard was Hamilton.

Speaker:

But go ahead.

Speaker:

But these are the discussions we have.

Speaker:

And this is a story of someone five miles away.

Speaker:

We never crossed paths until fairly recently.

Speaker:

But these are the-- you're going to learn from these people

Speaker:

in the industry how to navigate these things.

Speaker:

And you're going to be able to retain people longer.

Speaker:

They're not going to get as frustrated.

Speaker:

And again, I need to help these people who are having a hard time.

Speaker:

I have an obligation in the position I'm in,

Speaker:

and the things that I know and the connectivity

Speaker:

that I have in the industry to help these people--

Speaker:

and maybe how to navigate out of it

Speaker:

or how to go part time into it.

Speaker:

But there is a place for everyone pretty much,

Speaker:

as long as you're decent.

Speaker:

As long as you're good.

Speaker:

Sure.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

It's there on time.

Speaker:

How hard is it?

Speaker:

It's like the tennis--

Speaker:

the tennis management's worst nightmare.

Speaker:

And tennis coaches are notorious for being linked.

Speaker:

I'm like, oh, it's the one thing I just be there on time.

Speaker:

That's just step one, right?

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Well, we all talk as well.

Speaker:

Like the people who are in this industry,

Speaker:

everyone talks, everyone knows everyone.

Speaker:

So you better do things like that.

Speaker:

Because if you're wondering why you're having a hard time

Speaker:

getting a job, you're not getting a next job.

Speaker:

It may be desperate for some coaches here and there,

Speaker:

but we're not that desperate.

Speaker:

So it is a small world like that.

Speaker:

But it is also some people say, look,

Speaker:

I'm having a really hard time hiring people

Speaker:

and having a hard time getting people into this industry.

Speaker:

You have an obligation to try to make that more attractive

Speaker:

yourself.

Speaker:

But then to also, even if you were in a--

Speaker:

you know what?

Speaker:

I'm good.

Speaker:

Finally, I have a staff.

Speaker:

It doesn't mean you stop looking around or what's out there.

Speaker:

You've got to track these people's progression.

Speaker:

You've got to track those people who

Speaker:

are entering an industry.

Speaker:

You've got to know those people who are just recently

Speaker:

USPTA certified pros.

Speaker:

I want to keep an eye on those guys,

Speaker:

because you never know when I might need them.

Speaker:

And that's where programs come into it.

Speaker:

That's where pro leagues come into it.

Speaker:

You can't be absent from the industry

Speaker:

because it is going to come back and bite you.

Speaker:

It was one of the early advice that some of the early advice

Speaker:

I got from Wilson Tunneal, Darrell Lewis, that group that

Speaker:

cut my teeth in the industry to teach me how to be on time

Speaker:

and those kinds of things.

Speaker:

And it was, they shone.

Speaker:

You need to go do the GPTA thing.

Speaker:

I'm like, what do I get out of it?

Speaker:

I just didn't get it at the time.

Speaker:

It didn't make any sense.

Speaker:

And in that case, I realized after five or six years,

Speaker:

when I could have said, OK, what's next?

Speaker:

What's my next step for me?

Speaker:

I didn't know anybody.

Speaker:

Nobody knew me.

Speaker:

I just had my own little bubble of what I was doing.

Speaker:

I was doing fine and learning how to be a tennis coach.

Speaker:

But then I realized, even if I wanted to continue to do this,

Speaker:

which personally at the time, I couldn't.

Speaker:

They didn't know who I was.

Speaker:

There was no continuing education.

Speaker:

Now, USPTA wasn't promoting it the same way back in the late 2000s.

Speaker:

But in this case, it was just me saying,

Speaker:

I'm going to take my free time as my free time,

Speaker:

as opposed to getting to know people in the industry.

Speaker:

And that's one of the things we like to do with the podcast.

Speaker:

We want to get to know everybody.

Speaker:

We want to talk to every coach.

Speaker:

We want to find out who's out there, who really wants to be here,

Speaker:

who really kind of doesn't.

Speaker:

What the specialty is, Marcus.

Speaker:

And you say, I only want to work with this one thing,

Speaker:

is what one of the coaches say, well, all right,

Speaker:

that's a good chance.

Speaker:

But you're pigeonholing yourself.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

The character actor is that in Bobby and the--

Speaker:

where you can only do the one--

Speaker:

Yeah, typecast.

Speaker:

Yeah, typecast.

Speaker:

Thank you, typecast.

Speaker:

You're doing that to yourself in the industry,

Speaker:

because a lot of young coaches come in and say,

Speaker:

oh, I'm going to be at a high level academy guy.

Speaker:

I'm like, yeah, sure.

Speaker:

You and every other 23-year-old.

Speaker:

Like, somebody, when you come to Atlanta,

Speaker:

needs to learn how to teach an 80s--

Speaker:

a lady's out to clinic, because that's

Speaker:

really where you're going to pay your bills.

Speaker:

So in this case, Marcus, how do we take all the things we know?

Speaker:

We work with the GPTA, with the podcast,

Speaker:

and what we're doing here.

Speaker:

And Bobby's world, where he is, and your world, where you are,

Speaker:

and all these things, and we connect everything,

Speaker:

do we have a target?

Speaker:

Do you have a target?

Speaker:

Is what I'll put it on you a little bit and say, OK.

Speaker:

You're one of those individuals that

Speaker:

has said, I'm going to get myself involved.

Speaker:

You're going to be able to say to the other individuals,

Speaker:

I'm calling you out, because I'm leading by example.

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Do you have a goal or a couple of goals that say, hey,

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here's what I'd like to see in the industry

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and a direction that we're going?

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Yeah, that's a good question.

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And I think everyone needs to ask that of themselves.

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Again, put the onus back on the individual.

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You know where I'm going with this when we start talking

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about the King of Tennis question.

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OK.

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So I can just speak personally.

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OK, so I was relatively absent from a lot of the tennis--

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I was still a tennis director, but in my kids are five years

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old.

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I have 25 year olds now.

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And prior to my kids being born, I made it a bit of a goal

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of mine to get back into playing a whole lot more.

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I had time outside of teaching.

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I went out and played as much tennis as I could.

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I wanted to keep my skills up, like I was probably

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around 40 at the time.

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I wanted to still stay somewhat relevant in that way.

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Keep my skills up.

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So once my kids were born, it was about a five-year period

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where I wasn't involved.

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And there was a little frustration as well

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with some of the organizations we've talked about.

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I wasn't involved in any of these organizations

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after being president of USPTA in the state,

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being part of GPTA for a long time.

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And I stepped back a bit.

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Let the other guys be involved here.

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And then recently now my kids are in school, OK,

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the dust has settled a little bit in my personal world.

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And then COVID, right?

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I look around and I'm like, boy, we're missing a lot of things

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here.

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And that's what people will see.

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And I was one of those like, boy, they need to change this.

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Boy, I wish that we did more of this and had that.

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And to me, what can I do?

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In my position where I am, and that's

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what I think people need to ask themselves.

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In the position where I am, the skill set that I have,

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the connections I have, the time I have, because that's

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important, what can I contribute to it?

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And what am I passionate about?

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I'm passionate about the connectivity,

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the local connection between people.

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I run a successful program that's now

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in its 46th year at our club.

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I have those connections with those pros that come year

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after year after year after year.

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So bringing this, what do I have to offer?

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And I jump back into the arena.

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I'm now actively involved in GPTA with the ideas of stepping

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back for a moment, viewing things from afar.

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This is, I have in my head what I'd

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like to get accomplished for the Atlanta Tennis community

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and teaching, teaching, and tennis overall.

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And here's how I can do it.

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So I think that question needs to be, what do I--

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what am I passionate about?

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It shouldn't be a chore.

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If it's going to be a chore, and it's something like, oh gosh,

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all right, I'll step up to the plate and be a volunteer.

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No.

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If that's the case, don't get involved.

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So you've got to follow through something

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you're passionate about.

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But I think everyone needs to see what that is.

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That ignites themselves, that gets them into the game.

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And there's so many different ways of getting into it.

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Yeah, I think we know those people that are volunteered,

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that they're there, and then you ask them, all right,

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what have you done as a volunteer?

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They're like, nothing.

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I just don't really have the time for it.

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And I'm like, well, you're just filling a role.

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OK?

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You're on the list.

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And I would ask them, what are you doing there

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to begin with?

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Yeah.

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Why are you there?

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What are you else doing?

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OK.

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Right.

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So I commend you for getting involved

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in being part of that.

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Maybe there's some selfish reasons in here and there.

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But at least to someone there in the organization is still there.

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But we have an obligation to kind of say, how can I make this better?

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How can I work with that?

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So that's fine.

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Bobby knows his target is make tennis cool again.

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What's your play with this, Bobby?

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No, I mean, I completely agree with everything Marcus says.

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But he is the poster child to also what I'm saying.

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He comes out of a club that culturally was always

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ahead of the curve in Atlanta.

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That was the club that produced tennis directors all over the city.

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So you continue to bring in the cream of the crop.

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You continue to bring in the forward thinking people, which

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is great for country club of Roswell.

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And as Martin said, I mean, again, without naming names,

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I have an issue with a couple of folks in the GPT

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because I've sat down, tried to get involved,

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and have been accused of being not pro pro.

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And I'm like, I'm just to the opposite.

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I want to make the pros more money.

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I think we leave so many things.

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I think if you're the country club of Roswell

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and Marcus leaves, the first call should be to the GPTA

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and find out who is next higher in the hierarchy,

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who would they recommend to be the next pro?

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And I have been doing this for 30 years,

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and I know that's not happening.

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I know that, again, one of your big local corporations

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does not hire tennis directors in Atlanta.

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I know that for a fact.

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We can name that name.

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I was in his wedding party.

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He runs it for the big company.

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I know him well.

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He doesn't like to hire within Atlanta

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because Atlanta's got predisposition of thoughts.

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I can say, you're exactly what we need.

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But it also is a testimony to your coming out

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of something that is historically had an incredible culture.

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And was the breeding ground, if you wanted

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to become a tennis director in Atlanta,

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you go work for Cindy Jones at Country Club of Roswell,

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and Cindy's got to produce, which produced the Wilson

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Tineels, which produced the night Grayson's, which produced,

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now you're, the great part is you're passing it on.

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But that hasn't historically been the case.

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And we don't get the picture of we're better together, unfortunately.

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There's more strength together.

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As you said earlier, we talked about this all the time, sharing pros.

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It seems like a simple idea, right?

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All right, I need a guy.

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Let's sit down.

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All right, again, it's tough because we all have the same prime time

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hours.

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We know it.

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6.30 to 8.30.

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That's when you got to get most of your stuff done.

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And it's probably Monday through Thursday,

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because nobody's going to place fraud inside it at night.

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So we're limited.

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Everybody's competing for the same.

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And like you said, for the independent guys, that's great.

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Because if you're competent, well, you've already

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said you have an issue.

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Economies are scaling in their favor.

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So how do we get, again, as Sean's like said, I want to push back.

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I'm with you.

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It starts with us.

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How do we get the ball rolling and give--

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and show people.

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And this is what I've said to the GPTA.

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And post-COVID, it's kind of changed.

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When Ben was involved, you got excited.

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You saw a future.

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And then it kind of dropped off a little bit.

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And you wonder whether guys are doing it for resume

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or whatever they're doing, or to go have a beer with somebody.

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Which, again, I get, if you're an independent guy

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and you don't have anybody to hang out with,

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hey, I want to be able to go sit with somebody that's

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like-minded or shares-like experiences.

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But how do we get the excitement?

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Like you said, the cool--

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the idea of let's--

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we could be doing events that are fun.

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There's so much technology out there

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that we could be introducing to people that open up.

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As you said, listen, I'm never going to be a pickable fan.

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It's not an athletic game.

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So you're limited.

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But the resources--

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I mean, the money it's creating that

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could be applied to tennis, which is the cooler, more

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athletic game, is phenomenal.

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How do we convince people that this--

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let's make it cool again?

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Bobby, I'm going to change your mind on a few things.

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You're never going to be a pickable person.

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Can we record that?

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When you have a recording.

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OK?

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Listen, I'm the king of pickable.

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Chris Wolf started at my club.

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So you know--

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OK, cool.

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I'm an athlete.

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I just-- I mean, as far as the game,

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I just-- the most athletic thing you do in tennis is serving.

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You took serving at a pickable.

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You're never going to get--

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I'd love to be wrong.

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But I just don't see Pete's campus deciding

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between pickable and tennis.

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Let me challenge you on something, I'm pickable.

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Since you brought it up, I wasn't going to.

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OK.

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So the USTA behind Red Orange Green program

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and they're struggling with that, right?

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Absolutely.

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And the USTA are afraid they're losing courts.

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Too pickable.

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OK.

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There are currently, I think, an estimated

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about 50,000 pickable courts in the United States currently

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in a very short amount of time.

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Lifetime fitness, in fact, I think

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they're about 700 that they have currently

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in a very short amount of time.

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If the USTA realized this, they have just built

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one organization has just built 50,000 new courts

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that have just done the work for the USTA.

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If they would just change their Red Bull program

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to a pickable court size, you now have 50,000 new courts

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that you've been trying to get for how long, just adjust

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your lines, adjust the height of the net.

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And the infrastructure is built for you.

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You're seeing this as a challenge.

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But now you've just seen all these kids are now--

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so you go over to AS Pickable, for example, just down

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the street from us.

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Go bring the kids Red Bull and bring them a tennis racket

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and go play Junior Tennis.

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It's there now.

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And they've been trying to force everyone

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to buy into all this program.

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And now another sport has just given you all these courts

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and you pay a single dollar for it.

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They're seeing it as a threat, and it's an opportunity.

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So that's Junior Tennis.

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And I'm really on that.

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And I think you're-- I absolutely agree with you.

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I think that's something that I think tennis should encourage

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from the perspective of teaching new tennis players.

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I absolutely agree with you.

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I think that's a big feeling.

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But I think initially everybody thought Pickable,

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older people.

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Well, I have six dedicated Pickable courts at Windomir.

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And I took a picture from my membership

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because we are known throughout the area as having Pickle.

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So nobody-- I mean, we have--

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I had last night, all six of my courts

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were filled in literally 30 people standing around waiting.

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Our big fight is they're not residents.

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So the residents are starting to get annoyed.

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And what's going to happen next?

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I see the-- and seeing the demographic,

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that it is predominantly high school age boys

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that are playing Pickable.

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Because it almost to me is like being

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the athletic but not real tall white kid,

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I played-- I love basketball.

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But I couldn't go play basketball at a higher level.

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I was 5'9".

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So if I got three of my other 5'9 buddies,

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we'd run basketball still to this day, my favorite sport.

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I see that with these kids.

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I can't go to this level.

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But man, I'm 18.

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I got lots of testosterone.

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I want to take my shirt off and I want to sweat.

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And I want to-- and Pickable is the perfect spot to do it.

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I'm with it.

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And it's something we have to acknowledge

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and get off of this idea.

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Because the idea of it's going to be a dink and an angle.

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Listen, when Jack Sock gets through with it next year,

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and he's putting the Pickable through people,

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it's not going to be a dink and a dink spot shot anymore.

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It's going to be how hard can you hit it.

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So it's going to change in a very short period of time.

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I'm not downplaying Pickable.

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Like I said, I'm with you.

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I think how do we make it and make it part of the whole experience?

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I completely agree with you.

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The best thing to happen to tennis in my lifetime, Pickable.

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I'm going to stick to that.

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So--

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Yeah.

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And yes, we're recording.

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But before we go on forever, because I'm pretty sure--

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We could.

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Bobby got anything else specific for Marcus

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before I hit him with King of Tennis?

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Well, I wonder what is he doing with--

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what is the actual title Marcus?

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What are you doing with the GPT-A?

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I am on the board.

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OK.

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What do you mean by that?

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Yeah, I'm on the board.

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GPT-A, the initiative that we are doing this year

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is every two weeks we're doing Zoom Chat session.

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And GPT-A is kind of going back a lot more to its grassroots.

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The reason it was founded--

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you mentioned Cindy Jones.

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She was part of that group as well, four tennis pros.

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It's a lot about the networking and bringing people together.

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And what you guys were sort of talking about, how do we do this?

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Well, you can influence your sphere, your network, your group.

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But when you bring that sphere, that network,

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together with another one, and that's

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what this podcast is doing, you then

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bring all those groups together.

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And you can do your own thing with your like-minded people.

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But now you're catching fire with that next group.

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And they each kind of have their own ideas about things.

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And putting people together is a good thing.

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And COVID took people away from each other.

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So that's part of GPT-A as well.

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We're going to be doing a lot more in-person lunch and learns,

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which we always kind of did.

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But then doing mixes, we've got to get back to mixes.

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And me being Australian, going, everything is over a beer.

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So you have a beer.

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All the best ideas come out there, maybe after 6 or 7.

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But it's got to be social.

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Tennis is not just about going to make in the money.

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And you're going to find this.

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A lot of people that share similar ideas.

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You're not alone in this.

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And I think that's where people are withdrawn.

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And I feel a little lonely in that respect.

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So knowing there are other people going through those things

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and connecting those fears, I think that's important.

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So that's what GPT-A really should be.

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And I like it because I agree with you.

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I mean, we do everything that you're saying at our club.

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I would like to do it more.

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I mean, I was one of the creators of the North Side Hospital

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Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

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So I love that.

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That's my vision.

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And that's what I always said to the GPT.

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Why we should be doing that.

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That could be our idea, whatever charity.

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So I'm all for that.

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I love the fact you're bringing back another one of our old ideas,

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the proly.

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Talk to that.

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Because that was a great Friday night.

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And I said, and I keep asking Sean, because I'm not

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as involved.

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I have the 18-year-old daughter who's graduating.

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And like you said, if you ask me what I am, I'm a father.

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First and foremost, I'm a father.

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And I've been a single dad.

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And that's been my priority.

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So everything else is secondary.

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But I love the aspect of it.

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And I said to Sean, I hope they got a pro from each--

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find the most popular pro who can still play.

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And that's a home venue.

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Because that's going to be the majority of the crowd

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is coming out to see your local guy.

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And if you can do it six times, create some energy,

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and create some enthusiasm, then they're

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going to come to see the finals at a different venue.

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Because they're excited.

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They saw a good tennis.

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And it's amazing the level of tennis.

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That is in Atlanta.

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So you're going to see some unbelievable tennis.

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And Atlanta pro league is back with a vengeance.

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And it's been a long time coming in original one

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Saturday in 1996.

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And this has been a discussion every time I have my pro-am.

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I'm like, what do you guys think?

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Should be-- I'd love to bring this back.

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And it's another one of those.

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Well, yeah, well, they need to bring it back.

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They need to bring it back.

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I'm like, who's that?

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They--

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The point in your career, you kind of say, you know what?

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That they is me.

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At this point, there's nobody else.

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These guys have left the industry.

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These guys are kind of not interested in that.

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They had their chance.

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And I'm sort of at the age and position I'm in to say,

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this is me.

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I can do this.

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I can put this together.

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And so, yeah, that's what it is.

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And we've had an overwhelming support.

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We have two title sponsors in North Star and USDA Atlanta

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firmly behind us as well.

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Go, Tennis.

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Got a team.

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Great job.

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So, yeah, each team has a sponsor.

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And it is local sponsors, local businesses getting

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behind a people are passionate about.

Speaker:

Tennis, want to see this sort of thing come back.

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It's five teams, nine people on a team.

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We go to a different club every time.

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It is a mixture of has beens, should say has been.

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Original Atlanta pro league members, the Steven Inix's,

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the Johnny Hanners are in there.

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Great.

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These guys are a part of the institution that is at Lannan

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Tennis.

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They're in there.

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You got the up and come as the guys who are just recently

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out of college, but they got a regular job.

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And then you have teaching pros.

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But what we're seeing less of is those teaching pros

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that are still out there competing.

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So that has changed in the last 20 years or so.

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I'd like to be able to help bring that back.

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And that's part of why I'm passionate about it

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when I first came into Atlanta.

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Was that was an outlet for me still being a decent tennis

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player.

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And boy, I got to see all these cool clubs.

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I got to visit all these clubs.

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And I got treated like a celebrity.

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And I'm not even that good.

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But it was a connection I could make with all these pros.

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It was a connection I made with the facilities.

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And they treated you so well.

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You got paid to play.

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That's awesome.

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And so we're bringing back that element.

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We're bringing back the local community support.

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Everything that comes with that.

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And we're having the final at the Atlanta Open on Grandstank Court

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at 615 on the 27th of July.

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So that was huge. A P2Levd episode, what we were doing.

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Atlanta Open is going away after this year.

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And what has everyone got to watch?

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Crickets.

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So it's my way and coach Harris, who's a teaching pro

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that I work with.

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We are working on this.

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And everyone is coming together with this, including you guys.

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Thank you for being part of it.

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And it's back.

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And very good support so far from the community.

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So it's one way to bring everything back together again.

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And you're right, because they didn't go away

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because they weren't attended.

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They were well-attended.

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It's a grind.

Speaker:

It's not enough money to be anybody's one job.

Speaker:

So it is hard because you're asking everybody.

Speaker:

But again, the more people we can get into pitch in,

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the more it makes it easier to do it.

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Because there's another that--

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we'll talk about that off camera along the lines of what

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you're saying that's being done successfully in Florida

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that I think would be another great way

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to get people involved to come out and see.

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Because as you said, you hate to say,

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the recreational player--

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yet, the athletes, when we see it, the Atlanta open,

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are off the top.

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When you do a program, you know, and I know,

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the exciting thing for the C-level players

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to see the ball continue to go back and forth over the net.

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Like you said, I'm not good.

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And I can entertain people because I can put the ball over the net.

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So I think there's a real opportunity

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with or without the Atlanta open to do something

Speaker:

at a little higher level in the pro league as a great start.

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So thanks for bringing it back.

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We appreciate it.

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And did you talk to Tim Noon and Tim Noon

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and was another driving force behind this?

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Yes, yes.

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He's fully unborn, friendly behind.

Speaker:

It loves the idea as well.

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And we're pro-focused.

Speaker:

So that's really where it is to come from.

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We're not a USDA league.

Speaker:

That is at a high level.

Speaker:

We're not an out-of-double-a-one.

Speaker:

And is what are the pros want?

Speaker:

We're not doing it for the money necessarily, right?

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It's nice.

Speaker:

But they understand the vision.

Speaker:

They understand what tennis needs.

Speaker:

They understand the local aspect to it.

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And we're making as cool as possible for them.

Speaker:

Making tennis cool again, that's one way to do it.

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I mean, they get bonus money.

Speaker:

They get bonus prizes.

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They get shoes.

Speaker:

They get treated really well at each place.

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And guess what?

Speaker:

They get free beer as well if they're in the league.

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So that's the Aussie spin on it.

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So we're making tennis cool again for these legends.

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Former Georgia tennis hall of fame members, that kind of thing.

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So yeah, it's great to keep it going.

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Who knows where it's going to go after this first year.

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But we're just--

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foot on the gas for that event.

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The first one is at Country Club of Roswell in the seventh.

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Great.

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Actually, we'll be there because our team is there.

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We got the GoTennis team.

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We're going to actually send in some of GoTennis people

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to cover it.

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And we want to personalize it as well as Marcus and I

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had talked previously about, these pros want--

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I don't know if they want it or they appreciate it.

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But there's a celebrity to it when the members come out

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and the regular tennis player comes out

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and sees guys like this playing.

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Sometimes they don't know the difference between that

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and the Andy Roddicks of the world or the Roger Fed.

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I mean, they realize how good it is.

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But just for them to get a chance to see it is great.

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And we're going to be there and talk to the pros

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and talk to these players and get to know their story a bit.

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And that's just one of the things that GoTennis can do

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because as a media side of things,

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we get a chance to do that as the sponsor.

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It gets us access.

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We're going to have fun with it and get to know our team

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and work side and about it.

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And thank you, Bobby, for that because I would have been

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poking myself in the eye and I forgot to ask about the pro league

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and also being a sponsor.

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But yeah, so there's a lot going on.

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And that first week is Roswell.

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Second week is TBC Sugarloaf.

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Then--

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-Sain o'erves.

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-Sain o'erves.

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-Then--

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-Country Club.

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-Country Club, not athletic club.

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Atlanta Country Club, that's going to be on it, right?

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-That's right.

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And then we take the week off and then it goes to Dunwoody Country Club

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on the 12th of July.

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And then the final at the Atlanta Open is on the 27th

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that Saturday night when the semi finals is on.

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So yeah, it's going to be hopping.

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It's going to be hopping.

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-That'll be cool.

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That'll be a fun Saturday because we're

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going to work on getting deals for tickets.

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Try to get everybody's families down there

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because I think that's-- it's just a bonus.

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You get to go, especially for families and friends,

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get to go watch your husband or wife

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or do you ever play tennis, your friend.

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But then there's also-- you're literally right

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where the professional event is going on.

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So that should be a lot of fun as well.

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But Margus, like I said, we can go on forever.

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But let's talk King of Tennis.

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You know it's coming, obviously.

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I'm curious as to having some months

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to think about your answer.

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Where do you want to go with this?

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If you're King of Tennis, Margus, what do you do?

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What do you change?

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-I mean, what do you think after what we've talked about?

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Where do you think I'm going to go?

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-I'm guessing you're going to go completely off.

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Nothing to do with what we've talked about completely.

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-No, no, no, no.

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I'm not passionate about anything else.

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I'll go a little bit more political with you.

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I haven't already seen that.

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But I guess the way I described it a little bit,

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do you remember the movie, "Gladiator," where he wins.

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He beats the bad guy.

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I don't know the emperor, whatever it is.

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And then he gets all the power.

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So that's me.

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I'm the King of Tennis now.

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And the moment that I get all the power,

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I make a few little changes and then I give it back to the people.

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Right?

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I just give it all away back to the individual.

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Like, just get rid of the tyranny, essentially.

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I'm not saying there's necessarily a lot of tyranny in tennis.

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But to me, again, breaking up a lot of the power structure

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of where tennis gets it from.

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So what I would do, first of all, is I feel like I'm not

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a big fan of private equity running a lot of things in America.

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So that's the political part of things.

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Breaking up a lot of the corporations or private equity

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groups that are coming in snapping up large groups of clubs

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is really hurting.

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So it's very hard as an individual to come up against those groups

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that are breaking down the market forces or suppressing

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the market forces.

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So that, to me, stifles our profession.

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So that's more from our profession standpoint.

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So that's part of where I would break up

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where all those things are.

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So first order of business as King.

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I pivot a little bit more towards like,

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juniors where I feel like the junior development pathway

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is a little too much top down.

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And I feel like there are so many junior academies

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and top junior pros that are developing juniors.

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And they're not able to be given the resources.

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So we'll just take USDA as an example.

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Let's say instead of investing in a high-end facility

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or a large, massive projects that are like everyone

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needs to come to this, breaking it down

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and giving that investment more to the individuals

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that are developing those players through--

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and I know they do still have grants and things like that.

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But there's no strings attached.

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There shouldn't be any strings attached to that kind of thing.

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That should just be, look, you've

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got a kid inside the top 100, whatever.

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Here, he is a free flight for a year

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to get that kid wherever they need to be,

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or a flight pass or something like that.

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Or here's extra money that, as long as you can show

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that it's going towards all these tournament expenses,

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here's what it is.

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Bringing that down on so many different levels,

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to me, that's where that needs to happen

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from a junior standpoint, which is similar to what

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I was talking about.

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But I also think that next step where we're

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losing so many players from college or juniors, college,

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and then next is nothing.

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There's so many players I know that have gotten through college

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and then nothing.

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I mean, a lot of them are now pro league, nothing.

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The gap between college and pros is so crazy.

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And now, aside from the Shelton's and the Michelson's

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and all those guys, right, which is very, very hard

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to do, give those guys another two, three, four years,

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just a little window in there where they can try to work

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through that process and develop a little bit later

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for the pros.

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And the current system in challenges and futures

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is brutal, brutal.

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And if the investment would have come more to that local level

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and bring down into that next part where you can take a gap

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year or so, and those expenses are somewhat covered

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so you can make a move.

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And maybe that's with colleges helping out on that

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or it's USDA helping out with that or that local academy

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that is sponsoring these people.

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And perhaps there's some sort of co-op

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that they can kind of work together

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and there's some sort of financial agreement.

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But again, everything sort of stems from bringing things

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down to a individual local level and letting us decide,

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letting those small businesses decide,

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letting those academies decide and not just saying automatically,

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the only pathway for you is that larger,

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let's go down to balleteries and develop the player down there,

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kind of mentality.

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So yeah, I'm, I guess I'm an anti-globalist

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and sort of comes to that sort of thing where like,

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libertarian sort of answer.

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Oh, we got everybody in the same world here.

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But Bobby, I think he just spoke to you

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on how USDA should spend its money, right?

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- Right, I mean, I completely agree.

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I've been saying it, the way the money is allocated,

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we need to look long and hard at it.

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But let's reward the guys, like I said,

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change the standards by what we judge success,

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decide once and for all what our mantra should be,

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the USDA, are we growing the game,

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are we creating number one players?

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Let's just be on, let's put it on the table

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and let's decide and then go after it.

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And like you said, as long as I said,

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then give it to somebody else to be another course.

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And I absolutely love the idea of the gap.

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tennis is the only sport where at 1920,

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we expect you to be mentally, physically ready to go

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and go on tour, you know, live in country of traveling

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where you don't speak to language.

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All this stuff, where how many bait,

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you look at all the athletes who get drafted,

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they don't make it.

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Because, you know, and then baited the look at baseball,

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it was sports where there's a progression

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through those four years.

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I mean, it's tough.

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It's not, I would be wanting, you know,

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you never know who Jaloo's because they're gone.

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But a guy like John Isner is the exception

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because he was 6'10" and had to serve.

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So he was allowed to take three years to develop

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the rest of his game to bring it up to the level of his serve,

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but not everybody has that advantage.

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Well, I love the team tennis idea, right,

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that to another degree and that's in sense, you know,

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pro league is kind of like that.

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If there was a local area where people could get really good tennis,

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maybe travel around the country,

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you have that feeder program, not so dissimilar to drafting

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into a minor league system.

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If we, between the ITA, right, between USDA,

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make it more, maybe it's all Americans

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or maybe it's guys just out of college, that kind of thing.

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And just make a local league.

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One of the reasons Jack Sock is the happiest he's ever been

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is because he's traveling internally on the Pickable Circuit.

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Okay, he doesn't have to do the whole,

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it's crazy what they have to go through.

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Now, think of a challenge of circuit you're playing in India,

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then you're playing in Jamaica, and you're playing Kazakhstan.

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If they could make things locally,

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develop a little bit longer,

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and there's going to be guys who are going to skip that system

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altogether.

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But when I feel like there's so many guys who are missing out

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on just because we don't have that in between.

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And I would also say, like locally,

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when you talk about USDA, if you think about what

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USDA does the best, the USDA at Lanna website is amazing,

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contrasted to what they do on a national.

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And, you know, so Amy and Herkru out there amazing,

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build up amazing.

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He's locally involved.

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He's at every GPTA talk we have.

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They're involved, but I think that's a bit of an exception

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when you talk about this is a larger entity,

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or multiple entities that are kind of getting too big.

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And it speaks back to kind of Ben Hesley,

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what he was talking about when he came

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when your podcast about if these entities were just a bit more

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refined about sticking with what they do and what they do well

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and doing that instead of trying to be everything to everyone,

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I think that's a really important, you know.

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A really, really important part.

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- Trying to be said about a mission statement.

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- Yeah.

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- We've talked about that a bit.

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Very true.

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Bobby, what's our mission statement?

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Is it make tennis cool again?

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Is that what we're,

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- It changes storytelling on who the guest is.

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(laughing)

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- We'll take it.

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We'll take it.

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Well, Margus, I know we've been looking to do this

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for quite some time, and I really appreciate you taking time

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to do it, and I'm pretty sure we should probably just make

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this like a weekly or a monthly thing,

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because I think we can pretty much keep going with any topic

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and hopefully make some change.

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It isn't just, hey, are we doing this

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because we're making interesting content?

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It's really trying to say, okay, well, now you're the King

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of Tennis, you got this idea, fine.

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How are you gonna do it?

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Not just how are they gonna do it, right?

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And I look at anybody that comes into this podcast

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and says, well, as King of Tennis,

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I'm gonna make tennis more affordable.

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Great.

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You better show up with a how.

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How are you gonna do it?

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Because again, then we're just putting it as that.

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We're just handing it off to somebody else.

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And that's why we like talking to you, Marcus.

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It's so great to see somebody that just says,

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I'm gonna lead by an example.

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I'm gonna come out here and do everything I can possibly do.

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So I don't have any problem looking at everybody else

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and look at all of you that are listening.

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I'm looking at all of you that are listening.

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That everybody else just say, get out there and do something.

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Even if it's wrong, go do something

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and figure out where you're doing it wrong and change it.

Speaker:

But get it going, get some traction, get out there

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and do something.

Speaker:

You mentioned Buildup and Amy and those at USDA

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and that's fantastic.

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We've talked about Tim Noon and we've talked about the UTA.

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Everybody's out there.

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Everybody's there and willing and ready.

Speaker:

And maybe, Marcus, maybe this is a thought.

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Maybe they just need to be asked,

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what are you willing to do?

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And if nothing will know the answer,

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we won't call you again.

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Are you willing to do anything?

Speaker:

Maybe we ask them, what are you willing to do?

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One thing and then we put them in charge of it.

Speaker:

What do you think of that?

Speaker:

- Yeah, it doesn't have to be a lot.

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- No.

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- But if everyone does a bit,

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then you're contributing to the industry

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and you're not just on your own path.

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Like, okay, you might be on your own path

Speaker:

but just give me five seconds of what you do really, really well.

Speaker:

I mean, you know, Pete, Pete, elevators didn't have to,

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you know, help us out with that bit.

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That goes a long way for a lot of the people

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seeing legitimacy of having our final play

Speaker:

at the Atlanta Open the last time we get to say goodbye.

Speaker:

Wouldn't it be cool if Eddie Gonzalez was in that final

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and the guy who ran it,

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- Yeah.

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- You know, could perform and at one last goodbye.

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And I think that's just,

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everyone has a little something to give.

Speaker:

They just don't know it.

Speaker:

Sometimes it takes somebody else to extract it out.

Speaker:

But yeah, it's gonna be contagious.

Speaker:

We have an obligation as kind of stewards of the sport.

Speaker:

These wear in it.

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You know, so hopefully that catches fire.

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- Well, there you have it.

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We wanna thank reGeovinate.com for use of the studio

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and be sure to hit that follow button.

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For more tennis related content,

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you can go to AtlantaTennisPodcast.com.

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And while you're there,

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check out our calendar of tennis events.

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The best deals on Tecnifibre products,

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or just someone who wants to utilize our online shop,

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contact us about setting up your own shop collection

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And with that, we're out.

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See you next time.

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