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New pro at FishHawk Ranch Tennis Club helps players bloom


Published:   |   Updated: July 2, 2013 at 02:50 PM

The new head tennis pro at the FishHawk Ranch Tennis Club brings a pedigree that could help his students blossom into nationally-competitive players.

Maybe that's why some of Brandon Feldman's younger players call him Flo, short for flower.

Feldman came to the community tennis club in May after 10 years at Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, Ga., where he was head director of athletics for the men's and women's tennis teams.

Feldman helped the men's team win the National Junior College Athletic Association Team National Championship title in 2006, 2007 and 2009. The girl's team won in 2011 under his leadership.

Students like Maddie Haggbloom, 15, have adapted well to his coaching style.

"He does a lot of good drills that I really like," said Maddie, who has spent two weeks in the club's summer tennis camp. Maddie gave Feldman his nickname just to be silly one day.

Feldman decided to leave his college coaching job to start something new and chose FishHawk to be closer to family in Florida.

"I wanted to win some national championships on our level and we did that, and it was just time to move on," he said.

Feldman works at the club but is employed by Tennis Connection, a company that coaches at several tennis facilities in Hillsborough County.

Dave Freiman, president of Tennis Connection, hired Feldman and said he was right for the job because of his experience and his teaching methods.

"It's a positive approach where you're tough on the kids but they kind of have fun," Freiman said. "You want to encourage and motivate."

Coaching players who range in age from 4 to more than 40 at the club is a new experience, Feldman said.

"The college life has unique challenges, dealing with 18 to 20-year-olds every day is great but they are all learning so it is more of a teaching aspect even outside of tennis," he said.

Aside from on-the-court coaching, Feldman said he mentored his college players and also taught players in his community that didn't attend Oxford College.

When it comes to teaching players how to perform on the court, Feldman said he focuses both on mental and physical strategy.

"Tennis is a very strategic game," he said. "It's not always the best physical player who wins. The one that can manage their match better is often the winner."

Feldman started coaching tennis the summer before his freshman year of college.

But it wasn't until he was in graduate school at the University of Miami that he realized he wanted to be on the court full-time.

For now, Feldman said he has no plans to return to coach at another college.

"I think I'm going to give this a try for a little while," he said. "It was a hard enough decision to do this so maybe I'll give this another ten years and see what happens," he said.

acarroz@tampatrib.com

Twitter: @andrea_carroz

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