A Conversation About the Professional Tennis Management Program
The Professional Tennis Management (PTM) program has been a successful component at UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management for the past two years. With collaboration from the United States Tennis Association (USTA), PTM has given students the opportunity to get involved with internships, which provides the advantage to work within clubs, events, and much more. We talked to the directors of the PTM program Dr. Jill Fjelstul, an Associate Professor at Rosen College and Mr. Marc Gelina, Associate Director PTM, to see what else the program has in store.
The PTM Program at UCF Rosen College has been running for two years. What do you expect the program to look like in two more years in 2020?
- Mr. Marc Gelina: We would like to have 40-50 students involved and doing internships at the National Campus and other organizations to gain valuable industry experience.
Many students may not think of PTM as a career path. What do they need to know about the UCF Rosen College program in relation to their future careers?
- Mr. Marc Gelina: Professional Tennis Management emphasizes learning while doing and with the experience and the networking here the students will have many options for careers in all areas of the industry.
Should students have a working knowledge of tennis (play the game) or can they enter this program with no experience? Benefits? Detractors?
- Mr. Marc Gelina: Most students in the PTM program should have some experience in tennis, especially if they start out with the instructional part of the game, other areas a general knowledge of tennis and a passion to contribute in the industry with their Hospitality Management Degree will be fine.
Marc, looking at your career, what specific things can you point to that are helped by learning PTM?
- Mr. Marc Gelina: I was not only a Director of Tennis at two large country clubs but I was a National Recreational Coach, President of the Michigan USPTA pros, and a Regional USPTA tester for certification. Mentoring young pros wanting to enter the business was my specialty, now I have 26 leaders that are now in the Industry as Directors.
Marc, you’re a tennis player and you’ve been on the club management side, what are the advantages to working with the USTA on the UCF Rosen College PTM program?
- Mr. Marc Gelina: The Mecca for American tennis is just around the corner for use as a laboratory to train future leaders, and then UCF Rosen with being No. 1 in Hospitality Management makes the partnership very special.
Jill, your career has focused on the golfing industry. Are tennis and golf management similar enough that if students have taken a course in one it can translate to another at a later date in their careers?
- Dr. Jill Fjelstul: Yes, most definitely. Golf and tennis are sports/activities that are found in private clubs, resorts, schools, neighborhoods, etc. Both are lifelong sports for all ages to both enjoy and to watch as spectator sports. The key is to understand why people choose to play golf and tennis and then to create experiences, opportunities, and the respective atmosphere to entice people to get involved and stay involved in golf and tennis. Our curriculum offers all of these aspects and is transferable from one sport to the next.
Jill, as someone who is on the teaching side what do you think is truly important for students to learn.
- Dr. Jill Fjelstul: To begin, and somewhat mirroring Marc’s response, I truly believe understanding why people choose to engage as a participant and/or as a spectator is key. In today’s world, we have so many opportunities for engagement. Enticing and retaining people to choose golf or tennis for their valuable free time and financial expenditures begins with understanding the whys. Students also need to understand the business of golf and tennis. For example, both sports are often experienced outdoors so that in itself brings up curriculum topics of facilities, communications, guest service management, safety, food and beverage, and weather impacts. Both sports also can be experienced indoors. Golf enterprises such as our local TopGolf and Drive Shack have created sports entertainment venues that are a new and evolving arenas for students to understand, not only for the sustainability of the sports but also in the accessibility of the sports. Tennis is more easily adaptable to indoor environments; thus experiences can be created in numerous multi-use facilities. Students will also learn through our curriculum a lot about the governing bodies of each sport and about the financial impact of both sports. Florida is home to the PGA headquarters in Ponte Vedra and in Palm Beach Gardens and the LPGA headquarters in Daytona. Both associations host tournaments throughout Florida to provide students with opportunities to personally experience the impact of the sport to the communities and to the fan base and to get involved in the sports’ associations. Florida is also the home to the USTA National Campus, where students have the opportunity to observe and experience from the governing body in all aspects of the sport. With the USTA hosting the largest single sporting event that occurs each year, the US Open, our students have an opportunity to get involved in every aspect of sport events and entertainment.
How critical is a research component for PTM?
- Dr. Jill Fjelstul: Research is important and there are incredible opportunities for Rosen College to become involved, from understanding the economic impact of tennis to the sustainability of the sport. Our PTM students can not only learn from this research but also become actively involved in the process.
About Dr. Jill Fjelstul
Dr. Jill Fjelstul is an Associate Professor at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Joining the faculty in August 2005, she completed her doctorate from the UCF College of Education in January, 2006. Some of her academic interests are golf and club management, tennis management, and hospitality in sports. Dr. Fjelstul’s research interests are with the RV industry, golf, club, and tennis management, and online education. Since she has joined in 1996, Dr. Fjelstul has developed many successful programs. During her time at Rosen College, she successfully wrote and defended a Bachelor of Science degree program in golf and club management. Dr. Fjelstul created the official academic partnership with the USTA, which launched in Fall, 2016. Currently, Dr. Fjelstul serves as the Rosen College Director of the UCF/Rosen College Professional Tennis Management, the UCF/Rosen College Director of Hospitality in Sports, and was named Editor of the Journal of Tourism Insights in 2015.
Her passion for golf and golf education had led to many achievements. Dr. Fjelstul was honored as an inductee into the University of Northern Iowa’s Hall of Excellence in 2015 and was inducted into the University of Northern Iowa’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. Dr. Fjelstul is a two-time recipient of both the Rosen College Teaching Incentive Award and the Rosen College Undergraduate in Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Fjelstul spent 13 years as a Division of head women’s golf coach, was twice named Conference Coach of the Year led two teams and one individual to three NCAA Regional appearances, and coached two teams to conference titles. Her “on the course” accomplishments include multiple individual titles, team titles, and as a record holder. Dr. Fjelstul began her teaching, coaching, and research career at her alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa.
About Marc Gelina
Marc Gelina developed an interest in tennis at just the age of 10 years old. Because of his strong playing background during high school, he was able to earn himself a scholarship to Central Michigan University where he played tennis for four years while earning a BS in Business. Gelina eventually moved on to Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan and became the Director of Tennis where he developed a large program. Gelina moved on to eventually receiving his Master’s degree in Sports Administration from the Wayne State University. During the lifespan of his career, Gelina earned many high honors, such as the Michigan Pro of the Year, and was the President of the Michigan USPTA pros. Gelina eventually moved on to a position in Wichita, Kansas, at the Crestview Country Club, the largest private golf club in Kansas.
During his time at the Crestview Country Club, Gelina received many honors, including Kansas Pro of the Year four times, High Performance Certification, and over 50 players who trained under him. Gelina’s job at the UCF Rosen College is to recruit for the PTM program within the Hospitality Degree, mentor and work with students while they are on their internships, and help them find great jobs in the tennis industry.
To learn more about the PTM program click HERE.
–Joseph Sardone, PR Intern