Passionate instructor seeks eager students.
Essential Tennis was an idea born of enthusiasm and frustration. Ten years ago, Ian was a teaching pro, feeding balls to club players who didn’t really want to work much on their games. They just wanted an instant fix. Ian, however, wanted to teach students truly motivated to improve their skills. So where did he find them? In his basement. Or, on his computer in his basement, to be more precise. The Internet is where he discovered a growing community of players who simply couldn’t get enough tennis instruction. His kind of people.
The seed was planted. Ian added water.
Ian welcomed these fervent recreational players. Because they embraced the idea of learning. And they were willing to put in the time and work to make themselves better. He began producing high-quality instructional content, offering one-on-one advice, and bringing all these tennis geeks together to share their experiences. At no charge. He was building a community. Meanwhile, the Essential Tennis website and discussion forums thrived. The instruction improved. The content evolved. And new players just kept coming, and coming.
The response has been humbling.
From the get-go, Essential Tennis has been pioneer in the digital instruction space. It adopted YouTube early on. Now it’s the top tennis instruction channel with more than 102,000 subscribers. It currently offers some of the web’s most comprehensive digital courses. And its distinctive teaching methodology employs a system of progressions designed to improve student play, step by step. The results are undeniable. At last count, players from 144 countries learn from our instruction. And student after student tell stories of success. Sometimes we pinch ourselves just to make sure it’s all real.
Meet the people behind it all.
Sure, Essential Tennis has become a business. But our mission to turn passionate players into tough competitors has never changed. Not for one moment. Once you get to know us, you’ll understand why.
Ian Westermann – Head Coach
He’s the guy in charge. Ian first picked up a racquet at age 11, played on the Ferris State University team, and graduated from their Professional Tennis Management program. Tennis is pretty much in Ian’s veins. Rumor has it, he even got the flaming ball logo tattooed on his fanny. (That hasn’t been confirmed.) When he’s not brainstorming new content, you can catch him playing frisbee golf. Or watching Shark Tank on YouTube.
James Westermann – Director of Media Production
If you like the way our content looks, thank James. While Ian was wearing out his sneakers on court at a young age, James was immersed in technology, music, and visual arts. Today, he’s the guy having the most fun—filming lessons, flying drones, editing videos, all that stuff. Oh, and he spends his free time strumming his guitar and riding his longboard. Rough life.
Kirby Bridges – Director of Content Development and Teaching Professional
Instruction comes naturally to Kirby. She began playing when she was only 5. She was teaching her first clinic by 13. After high school, she served as a tennis director. Then she got her degree in broadcasting at the University of Nebraska, and signed on at the Tennis Channel. Now at Essential Tennis, her career combines her three favorite things—tennis, teaching, and broadcasting.
Megan Garlington – Director of Social Media and Teaching Professional
Megan grew up playing tennis from a young age. She’s been teaching tennis for over 20 years and her passion for the game has helped many players of all levels reach their fullest potential. She has helped high performance players win numerous sectional and national titles, as well as helped develop the “Best Developmental Program in the US 2014”. Her favorite player is Andre Agassi because he was a rebel when she was a young player looking for an edge, and a come back conservative hero as she grows older and learns to respect the game in a different way.
Kevin Garlington – Director of Hype and Teaching Professional
Kevin started playing tennis at the late age of 13, but used his passion. determination and hard work for the game to make up for what he didn’t have in experience in his practice sessions. Kevin played Division I NCAA and the professional circuit in the US and Spain. Kevin is a leading expert on teaching tennis techniques and has been trained by some of the top USTA teaching pros. Over the last 10 years, Kevin has coached more than 30 juniors who have received tennis scholarships and many more who have been ranked high in USTA sectional and national rankings.
Ira Meiling – Teaching Professional
Beginning at the ripe old age of 15, Ira was a relative late bloomer in tennis. But he’s as competitive as they come. Which makes him the perfect Essential Tennis teacher. Before landing here, he studied at Concordia University, became a USPTA Elite Professional, and taught at clubs. Now he creates instructional content. He teaches in person. And he still competes locally, practicing what he preaches, and showing opponents little mercy.
James Bellanca – Web Development
James was building computers long before we discovered this thing called “the Internet.” Back in the late 80’s, he cobbled together his first PC from a bunch of discarded parts. During the last 20 years, he’s been developing websites for businesses around the world. Today, he runs our site, membership content, e-commerce, learning management systems, and so much more. It’s safe to say, we’d be lost without him.
So, what’s next for Essential Tennis?
We can’t know for sure how Essential Tennis will evolve, but we have some ideas. For starters, we will continue to offer free, high-quality instruction. We’ll also continue delivering the most effective, most comprehensive instructional courses at a great value. Meanwhile, we’ll be looking into the unexplored possibilities of digital tennis instruction.
Our minds busy at work, as well, on a new Essential Tennis headquarters with on-site courts for both production and instruction. In the not-too-distant future, we think we can begin offering instruction and creating content in languages other than English. We want to develop content specifically for passionate instructors like us, so that they can make themselves even more effective. And finally, we hope to get more involved with younger players. As you can imagine, if we were able to pass along our love of the game to a new generation, well, we could die happy. Down the road, that is. A long, long time from now.
But no matter what we do, or how we do it, the passion that you and we share for this game is, and will always remain, the engine that powers Essential Tennis.