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YMCA Hires Johnson As Tennis Pro

Southwestern graduate Matt Johnson was recently named tennis pro at the Lakewood YMCA. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

LAKEWOOD — From Tom Anderson’s perspective, there are three important ingredients to be a successful tennis club pro.

High energy.

Game knowledge.

Playing ability.

Anderson, the branch manager at the Lakewood YMCA, feels he has hit the trifecta with the hiring of Matt Johnson as the facility’s tennis pro. Johnson, a Lakewood resident, succeeds Tyler Beaton, who stepped aside to pursue other opportunities.

“Matt started playing tennis here when he was 4 years old,” Anderson said. “He went to all the different lessons and tournaments, and he became one of the top players in the area.”

Now, Johnson hopes to bring his skills and personality to his home away from home.

“I really want to grow tennis here,” said Johnson, who turns 24 on Friday. “I want to have a lot of introductory clinics. … I want to bring new players to the sport, but we want to engage our current base, too. I’d like to restart leagues, more tournaments, more socials. With COVID-19 here, we’ll see how we work around things like that.”

Even though he is just two years removed from graduating from Berry (Georgia) College, Johnson brings with him plenty of experience. In May, he was hired as the tennis director/pro at the Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pennsylvania, a job that runs through the summer months.

In addition, Johnson completed Berry’s United States Tennis Association-accredited Professional Tennis Management program. He currently holds certified ratings as a professional by the United States Professional Tennis Association, a performance associate instructor and 10-and-under instructor by the Professional Tennis Registry and a professional by the Professional Pickleball Registry.

Before taking his most recent positions, Johnson was the former head women’s tennis coach at SUNY Fredonia where he led the team to a conference semifinal appearance in 2018, with a 12-4 record (4-3 conference), a new college record for wins in a season. In addition, several student-athletes on the 2018 roster established a host of career and single-season individual and doubles records under his guidance.

“It was a little bit of a leap (at SUNY Fredonia),” Johnson said, “but it propelled me in my career, got me the job at the Kahkwa Club, because they saw that leadership role.”

Anderson feels fortunate to have Johnson as the head pro.

“He could have been a dentist or anything he wanted to do,” Anderson said, “but he just loves tennis. Getting the job at Kahkwa Club and also working with us during the winter months is a perfect fit. It’s a role he’ll just step into.”

Even in the midst of a pandemic.

Noted Johnson: “The USTA slogan is, ‘We can social distance without being socially distant.’ … I think it’s a great opportunity for tennis to get a rebound right now.”

To that end, Anderson said a junior development program will start next week at the Lakewood Y. Call 763-0303 to register. The program will be held after school and on Saturday.

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