A Pro’s Day in the Life: My First Ladies Retreat Experience
By: Garret Govea
I never thought in a million years that I would be going to Florida, better yet I never thought the company I work for would allow me the opportunity to make countless memories and gain invaluable working experience.
As we arrived at the airport, I started to feel a little terrified because I didn’t know what to expect from the retreat and these are all new situations that I’m going to put into, but I saw it as a great way to test me. I was on the plane with Joey Hanf who is the Director of Communications and Brand Marketing for Cliff Drysdale Tennis. When we landed in Florida, we met up with one of the company’s touring pros, Jay Hemmings. We got our bags and got on an Uber to take us to our villa at the resort.
Now that we were finally here, I knew it was time to go to work and put my coaching skills to the test. Before the first day starts, we have a reception where the captains and co-captains draft the ladies on the teams and at the dinner reception, we announce the teams in front of everyone. So, the first day has begun and I immediately got ready and was ready to help set up for the clinics. Before all that happens, the captains and co-captains met beforehand and talked about the schedule and what tennis scenario each drill is designed to improve. Our team was strong with a mix of local teaching professionals, touring professionals, directors and members of the corporate travel team. The first day was upon us and we got to the courts early and started prepping the baskets and filling up the ice chests with refreshments for the morning ahead.
The day included a morning of drills to improve the ladies matchplay, followed by a team practice alongside our captain, Rob Wright until it was time to break for lunch. After lunch, the ladies returned to the courts to find out their partner for the afternoon of matches against one of our competing teams. Before the matches got underway, Rob taught our team a chant that could be heard all around Florida, booming with confidence and high spirits.
As the matches got underway, I began to roam around the courts just to keep an eye on the matches and I started to come up with strategic plans that I want my players to execute. Simultaneously, I needed to understand how to click with each camper so they listened to my coaching feedback. I started to get loud and kept them smiling and getting pumped when they just won a long rally, and in turn, they felt comfortable with me and appreciated my optimism on court. It wasn’t long before my players started to trust their shot selection and became more comfortable moving to the net together. It made me happy just to see my positive actions having a huge impact on how they were playing. I saw it as the players putting their trust in me and I knew that they would always listen to what I would say.
When all the matches finished on the first day, it was announced that Rob W. and I won the most sets which put us at first place. I remember Rob telling me I killed it on my first day and my energy was what we needed to put us in first place. I was ready to ride this wave of momentum I had all the way through the week.
As the week continued, I maintained the same levels of enthusiasm and kept making the players smile. This helped them communicate confidently to their partner knowing that they are going to listen and helped them be confident in their shot selection. The high energy was always there in the matches and the players kept asking about feedback and asked how their teammates were doing. I really enjoyed watching my players and I could tell at each changeover that they were enjoying it just as much. One of my initial goals at the ladies’ retreat was getting out of my comfort zone, trying something new, and ultimately bettering my career and on-court skills in the process. This goal came to fruition within the first day of matches.
On the final day of matches, we found out that the teams had a three-way tie between our team and two others. Initially, we planned to have two players from each team go head-to-head, but instead, the ladies requested that the captains and co-captains pair up to battle it out on center court! Now this is when reality kicked in and the realization of me playing on stadium court in front of my bosses and the ladies I helped coach put a lot of pressure on me. I don’t ever think I felt nerves like this, my tennis game was getting a little tight. I missed returns and easy volleys allowing Rob and Jay have the momentum early in the tiebreaker. Despite a comeback and match point, Rob and I fell to Rob Lowe and Jay in a thrilling tiebreaker that nor I (or the ladies) will soon forget. I congratulated my coworkers on a great match and we presented the award to the winners. Later that night, we closed out the experience with a video that each team made, and it was very fun to be a part of it.
In sum, my overall experience from the retreat was positive and I was able to build great working relationships between coworkers outside of my home club in New Braunfels, Texas. I tried to do as much I could whether it was picking up the trash or putting the baskets up; I always wanted to lend a hand in any way I could. My first ladies retreat was an unforgettable experience, and I took so much out of it. I learned new drills and new games that I can bring to back to my club, and I felt like I was able to make great connections among the participants and my fellow coaches running the event.
The RPC program is allowing me to have these opportunities to travel and to get hands on experience on how this retreat operates. This was really was magnificent, and the participants were always bringing out loud and positive energy each day and you would see them on court having a good time. For me, I was glad to be a part of such a great team that really took care of me on my first ladies’ retreat.