Lessons With Coach Bruce

If you or your kids have played tennis in the Towne Lake area, you’ve probably met Bruce Swan. Coach Bruce has been a fixture in the local tennis community for more than 20 years, and has worked with countless students at the Wyngate neighborhood tennis courts, affectionately known as the Pit.

After serving his country with the Marine Corps in Vietnam, Swan honed his game as a player on the Marine Corps tennis team, and as a touring professional in the early 1970s. Since then, he has dedicated himself to introducing his love of tennis to new players year after year.

How did you get into tennis?
My dad made me play. He was a big advocate for tennis and we played pretty much every day starting when I was 10 in Madison, Wis. Within a couple of years, he had me playing in the U.S. Amateur Nationals.

How did you become a coach?
I did a little bit of coaching before college and the Marine Corps, working with some kids in Huntsville, Ala. Later, I got on with Rod Laver’s tennis academy in Hilton Head, S.C.

Tell us about your coaching experiences in Towne Lake.
I’ve been coaching here for 24 years now and worked with over 500 kids. Most of that time, I’ve worked in Wyngate, down in the Pit. I’ve got 20 to 30 kids up at Rivergreen in Canton, and I’ve got 30 to 40 in the program at King’s Academy.

What’s the most important lesson for beginners?
The first thing I teach is that persistence always wins out. If you can hit 10,000 balls for every stroke — forehand, backhand, all five strokes — you can learn this game. So, to get really good, you’re looking at a couple hundred thousand hits. That’s what it takes.

What lessons do you want your students to take off the court?
We’ve always had this deal that if you come down to the Pit, you WILL have a game that you can take with you the rest of your life, and be extremely good at — for every kid that starts, that’s the goal. They will leave with the skills to play tennis the rest of their life. Most of the kids I have worked with are still playing the game.

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What do your students say about you as a coach?
They probably say, “He’s as hard as all get-out. He runs it like the Marine Corps.” And, I do. Everybody watches out for everyone else, and everyone subscribes to taking care of their fellow player. I’ve never had a discipline problem, not one, over all these years. The parents have been great, too. They’re my students’ greatest advocates. Day in and day out, whether it’s hotter than blazes or freezing cold, the parents are there. Working with all those people has been the best part of this whole deal.

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