We are pleased to have as a special guest blogger, Gary Weiner, the Co-Director of Tennis: Europe. After 28 summers of Founding Director, I was joined by Gary in 1999; this allowed me to focus on the operational aspects of trip like travel arrangements with airlines and hotels and entries to tournaments, while Gary devoted his full time and attention to talking, meeting and phoning with our parents and players. This combination of complimentary skill sets has resulted in the highest quality of tennis trips in our history. We spoke with Gary recently about his background and new program highlights for summer 2015…
Martin: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with Tennis: Europe over the years?
Gary: The interpersonal relations that I have had with the players over the years, seeing how they have grown as individuals and gone on to do great things both at college and with their careers, both on court and off court.
Martin: At the time you decided to join Tennis: Europe, you were working in the retail clothing business in Manhattan. What motivated you to change your career?
Gary: I have known Martin for years and felt it would be a good fit because we both wanted to work in athletics with teenagers. These years between 14 and 18 are the biggest growth years athletically and as a person.
Martin: Your two sons both played college sports, one as a Division 3 swimmer and the other as a Division 1 soccer goalie. How do you compare these sports at the high school and college levels to tennis and which is more stressful?
Gary: Anyone who has a passion for any athletic endeavor and they are good enough to play in college it can be a rewarding experience. You cannot really compare high school sports to college sports just like you cannot compare USTA tournament play to high school team play. As we know, USTA tournaments are on a much more competitive and higher level than high school tennis. This is why if you wish to play college tennis, you need to play USTA tournaments as well as play on the high school team. High school sports teach you many things which are invaluable on and off the court; for example, working with team-mates with one goal, having the team win.
Unfortunately, if you wish to go ahead to play college sports, whether Division I, 2 or 3, you can no longer just do high school athletics. Both of my sons played 4 years of their respective sports and had positive experiences in high school and college. Comparing the sports, swimming is very much like tennis where you compare to your team-mates by individual results. Soccer is different because you are judged by the coaching staff. So I cannot tell you which is more stressful because they are different. I can say that playing Division I is more stressful than playing at a small college Division 3 level.
Martin: I am always asked what my favorite location is in Europe, which country and city I most enjoy visiting with our Tennis: Europe teams. Do you have a favorite or favorite cities?
Gary: I would have to say that my favorite city in Europe is Amsterdam. It is not so much for the architectuire, beauty, and museums. It is more that I find the Dutch people to be very warm and welcoming.
Martin: Who are your favorite tennis players currently on the tour?
Gary: My favorite tennis players on tour right now are still Nadal and Federer, not necessarily in that order. They both still play the game at a high level and carry themselves in a professional “classy” way. On the women’s side, I do not have any particular favorites, but I was impressed with Caroline Wozniacki running the New York City marathon this week.
Martin: In recent summers, our California trips have grown more and more popular, especially among our younger players. How do you compare those trips to the European ones?
Gary: I think that the California trips are wonderful options who are not necessarily ready to travel to Europe but still want to get in some great tournament play. The other advantage is that many players want to work on their tennisrecruiting.net “star” ratings and they can play as many as 5 tournaments in 24 days in California. If they do some winning, they can increase their stars. We do many fun things in California like baseball games, beaches, visit UCLA and attend World Team Tennis matches.
The California trips do not match the European trips in the cultural experiences and you do not get the opportunity to play on red clay, but if you travel to California one summer, there is always the option to follow up by joining us in Europe the following summer.
Martin: Tennis: Europe has added some attractive new options for the coming summer 2015. What are they and why did you decide to offer them?
Gary: Tennis: Europe has added some new options for summer 2015. We are offering three 11 day trips simply because teenagers have many commitments these days and I have been told for the last few years that participants would like to do our trips but they do not have 3 to 5 weeks. The shorter trips will give our players the opportunity of having a great Tennis; Europe experience but still giving them the time to do other summer activities.
With the popularity of community service, many schools are now requiring service in order to graduate. We are offering 13 days of community service in Spain because we still want our players to experience Tennis: Europe and fulfill their service requirement as well. We strongly believe that teenagers should give back and this is a way they can do that. We are working cooperatively with an experienced European travel agency which last summer alone did 160 community service projects for thousands of Americans.
Another new option, Spanish language classes is something we offered in the past with great success and we are reviving it for this summer on two of our teams. Finally, we are offering two late summer trips for players who are busy at the beginning of July and wish to prepare for the fall tennis season.
Martin: Finally, we know you like to personally meet as many juniors and their parents as possible during the fall-winter-spring recruiting season to answer questions and give them information. You might say to add the personal touch which comes with a small family business. Where will you be traveling to these next months and approximately when?
Gary: I will be visiting Boston and Philadelphia in December…and in early January, I will be in Detroit, Indianapolis and Chicago. In late January I will visit the West Coast, Los Angeles to San Diego area. I may also have trips in Feb. to Florida, St. Louis and possibly the Pacific Northwest.
Martin: Any final words or thoughts?
Gary: Feel free to contact me anytime on my cell: 1-646-957-4766 about Tennis: Europe, colleges or any other way I can be of help to you.