Rich Snodgrass is the new kid on the court at St. Clair Tennis Club in O'Fallon.
He became head pro in July with plans to beef up classes, drills and team practices.
"I don't play (competitively) so much anymore," said Rich, 45. "I like the teaching side of it."
Rich has moved back to his hometown of Salem after living in Florida and Chicago. Most recently, he served nine years as director of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge.
How did you get into tennis?
"I played through high school and, after I graduated, I moved to Florida, and I was playing tournaments down there. I met a guy with the Optimist Club, and he got me helping with a program for kids who couldn't afford tennis lessons. Then I met a lady pro who worked in Fort Myers, and she basically talked me into teaching. I was 19."
What's the secret to becoming a good tennis player?
"It's all about repetition and confidence-building. It's not always about having the best stroke. If you don't have confidence in that stroke, it won't work for you. That's why repetition is important. In my lessons, you're going to hit a lot of balls, and when it's over, you're going to have confidence in that stroke."
What's the most challenging part of your job?
"You have to get people in their comfort zone. People have different ways of learning, so you have to find that right way, so when they leave, they feel like they've gotten something out of it."
Do your kids (Eva, 10, Olivia, 13, and Jonnie, 18) play tennis?
"Yes, they all play tennis. Jonnie was No. 1 on his high-school team. He's in college now. The girls just play for fun. They're not playing competitively in tournaments or anything. They like to hang out at the club."
What do you when you're not teaching tennis?
"I'm actually with the fire department in Salem. So between tennis and spending time with the kids and the fire department, that takes up most of my time. I also play golf, and I try to do about 10 miles a day on my bike. I like all kinds of sports. In two weeks, I'm playing in a charity kickball tournament with the fire department."