The workday is a lot easier when you enjoy what you do. Just ask New Jersey-area teaching pro Jack Keller.
Keller, who works at Ron Jaworski’s RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Club, says every day, every match and every lesson is different. That’s part of the fun in his day-to-day role as a teaching pro — a role he’s been in for the past decade.
“I really enjoy teaching players of all ages,” he said. “With the little guys, you can see the improvement and the strides so quickly. With the adults, you’re working on their strokes and skills but also game plan and strategy. I don’t really find one more fun than the other, I just think everyone should play.”
Keller began seriously teaching tennis after a standout junior career. A self-described “court rat” since he was 6, Keller played USTA junior tournaments and excelled in high school competition in New Jersey. From there he went on to Cabrini College, where he played for four years. Soon after graduation, he was teaching the sport full-time.
Keller’s involvement in tennis goes far beyond regular lessons. He’s been involved as a volunteer in the Special Olympics for years, beginning as a ball boy at a local event. These days he not only volunteers at Special Olympics events, he also teaches special athletes and spends extra time working with them.
“It’s just awesome to work with these athletes,” he said. “It’s the truest form of competition. They root for each other to do well. They have fun. They compete. It’s hard not to be involved with that.”
Keller said much of his involvement with Special Olympics traces back to working with Nancy Wilkins, the Director of Tennis at RiverWinds and President of the USTA Middle States New Jersey district.
Wilkins was Keller’s coach when he was just 6. She’s been an avid volunteer and organizer with the Special Olympics for more than 20 years, and speaks highly of everything Keller does on and off the court.
“He’s one of the most caring and hard-working coaches I’ve ever seen,” she said.
“At this point, anything Nancy needs, I’ll do it,” Keller said with a laugh.
The new year is looking to be a big one for Keller. He’s looking forward to another year of teaching and volunteering, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in the coming months.
“It’ll be a big year,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”
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