For 19 years, Kentlands Tennis Director Marna Katzel has been a familiar presence in the community, teaching others how to play and enjoy something she herself is passionate about.
“I feel very fortunate that I have a job teaching and doing something that I love. I feel that working is a privilege, and being able to work while teaching the community something that I love to do is so amazing,” she said.
Katzel developed a love for tennis at age 14 when her father began to work with her on tennis strategies. She went on to become a nationally ranked junior and collegiate player in both singles and doubles. She has earned many accolades, including the All Eastern Conference Award during her playing career at William Paterson University, where she was recently entered into the Tennis Hall of Fame, and has won numerous tournaments, such as the New Jersey State Indoor Championship.
After college, she decided to turn her passion into a career and took several tests to become certified as United States Professional Tennis Association (USTPA) Professional Level One instructor, the highest level of certification available.
“My personal motto is: You’re as good as you are today. You should always give your all into everything you do, which is something I learned from my dad,” Katzel said.
As the director of tennis for the community, Katzel teaches many different programs and classes at the Kentlands courts including private and semi-private lessons and group classes. Age-specific tennis program are offered for kids throughout the week including: Tiny Tots for children aged 3 – 4; Munchkins for children aged 5 – 6; Champs for children aged 7 – 10; Junior Future Stars for children aged 11 – 13 years old; and Rising Stars for young adults. Adult classes are also offered and often take place in the evenings.
Other more specialized classes include basic doubles strategy and Cardio Tennis, which contains an hour of aerobic exercise with tennis components.
She also organizes flexible leagues in Kentlands for men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles. Katzel sets up the full schedule, and players then arrange their own matches at times that suit them. The leagues are primarily for Kentlands residents but are open to their guests as well.
“I feel so happy and fortunate to work as the community’s tennis pro,” Katzel said. “I have always loved working with people, and I’m so glad that I am able to meet and interact with so many people through something I love as much as tennis.”
In addition to her solo programs, Katzel also acts as the director of the Kentlands Tennis and Basketball Day Camp for boys and girls ages 7 – 14 years old. The camp, in its 12th year, includes both sports, with a lunch/swim break in between. Katzel instructs her campers on different tennis strokes and serves in order to enhance knowledge and performance of tennis. The basketball component is provided by Hoop Education, which supplies certified instructors for basketball camps around the area.
“I hope to expose my students to a wonderful sport that can last a lifetime,” said Katzel. “I hope to … make sure they know the fundamentals as well as learn more advanced techniques.”
Katzel’s Kentlands tennis programs are open to neighborhood residents first, then on a space available basis to others. There is an additional fee of 10 percent for non-Kentlands residents.
While Kentlands is her mainstay, Katzel also teaches tennis programs at Argyle Country Club in the fall and spring, and in the winter she teachers for Montgomery County.
Katzel still plays tennis herself whenever she has time, and it truly is a “family sport” for her. She and her husband, Bruce, have two kids, Lindsay (25) and Stephen (21), both of whom played competitive tennis. Lindsay played collegiate tennis for four years at the College of New Jersey, and Stephen was a nationally ranked junior player.
Clearly the apple does not fall far from the tree!
For more information about Katzel’s tennis programs, visit: www.marnakatzel.usptapro.com/.