Let Us Find It For You

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.

Leave A Comment


  1. Dawn September 11, 2018 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    If you organized a tennis retreat, I’d come. Please do. Judging from the comments, lots of folks would enjoy it.

  2. Meejie O July 10, 2018 at 1:36 am - Reply

    Hi…is it possible to come there to do some intensive lessons in person? If so where are you located?

  3. Ramon June 26, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Ian and the rest of the team,
    I started playing recreationally at 17 but stopped when I’ve found a job when I was about 21. So, I played tennis for 4 years. This was in the Philippines. I’m now here in Indiana. I want to go back to playing tennis mainly because I now have a 6-year old. She’s now enrolled in summer tennis lessons. How would i know what level I’m at? Like I would here or read comments like level 4 player.

  4. Johnnie June 26, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    What do you guys think of UTR?

  5. Caroline Leyden June 4, 2018 at 1:18 am - Reply

    I’ve learnt more from your Podcasts on how to help my son (age 13) through his mental game than any other forum, book or coach. Thanks guys we’re not going anywhere!

  6. Paul Daws April 3, 2018 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Ian, I have added to my skill set with your informative videos and thank you for your passion. I have a question as to how, while at the net, to handle a return straight to the body. My partner hits a second weaker serve and I might as well have a target on my chest for my opponent to aim at. I don't have time to move to the side and make an elegant volley return and seem to get more miss-hits in these situations. Thanks again.

  7. Mert Ali Karadag March 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian, ı am a huge fan of you. I would be glad if you can analyse my forehand and backhand from my videos.. Waiting your reply.

    Many thanks…

  8. Carlton Edwards March 23, 2018 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian, I am a 4.5 player that hits most balls flat or with a slice especially with my backhand with very small room for error. I seem to beat myself with unforced errors. Do you have a schedule of when I could fly from Atlanta to get one on one instruction? Thanks, Carlton Edwards

  9. yvonne ghilardi March 14, 2018 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Hi Ian: Wondering where you are currently giving lessons. Do you have weekend camps, etc.? Thanks much. Yvonne

  10. Toby Capozzoli March 9, 2018 at 10:28 am - Reply

    please email me onsite training opportunities. I recall you doing some immersive 2 day sessions last year. thanks, Toby

  11. Mark Egan January 26, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    do you offer lessons? If so where? As much as I love your videos I'd really like to take some lessons in person.

  12. Colleen December 29, 2017 at 6:32 am - Reply

    I am a member of ET and love love love your program. My biggest frustration is trying to find a link with your pricing so I can forward it on to friends. Seems like any link I go to has pages and pages of information without any pricing information. I think it would be wise to have a very simple page with all of the pricing.

  13. Bob Sutter November 26, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Hi Ian,

    Do you have any thoughts about adding weight to a tennis racket and then using racket for stroke specific (such as forehand, backhand, etc.) plyometric exercises?


  14. INDRO Mazumder October 11, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Hi Ian –

    this wall hitting video was of enormous benefit ! 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gILqUtN3Vwo'

    When time permits, can you add to it with backhand(1 & 2 handed) and slice please? A minute of each would suffice(3 mins. altogether).

    Thanks in advance!

  15. Donna Verbrugge October 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian,

    I have been listening and watching your instructions on line and really like the way you approach the game. Do you offer any coaching in person at your facility in Milwaukee?

  16. Christoph October 7, 2017 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Hi ET, I love your videos and your site. Very easy to understand and brief. I am amazed of the great energy you put into this and for free. Thank you so much. I live in Copenhagen and my goal is to keep improving and be loose and smooth with all strokes. I have been particularly found of you lessons on the drop shot.

    All the best,

  17. Gabriel Esteves October 3, 2017 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Hi, I have been playing tennis since I was eight (26 now). I took a big break for a year and a half, because I have joined the military and now live in Anaheim CA after finishing my contract. When I decided to make a comeback back in 2011, (previously 5.0) I found myself lacking consistency for both my forehand and backhand. I hit good shots every so often, but when I need to finish of the point i fall short. I just want to show the highschool tennis team I coach, how important consistency is and don't want to keep messing up for their sake.

  18. TC July 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Hi I think your instructions are useful. At the moment I am working on tweeners but still have a timing issue to hit the ball. My shots usually land below the net. Also I was thinking if I need to use my serving grip for overhead.

  19. Winston June 23, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Hey Ian. I wanted to send some positive vibes from Vancouver, BC, Canada. You and your team have been instrumental in helping me restart my long lost passion for tennis. I used to play often in high school but has never received any proper lessons. Fast forward 20 years and I picked up the racquet for the first time this Spring. Eager to get training properly, I looked to our local community centres but classes often get cancelled due to low registrations. I am so glad I came across your sets of videos. You won't believe how many times I loop it. Video analysis is so great to break down the swing.

    Thank you for your support and passion for the game, and I look forward to continue with my progression.

  20. Carmen April 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Do you give lessons

  21. Graham Wilson April 11, 2017 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Hi Ian
    I'm Graham and live in Glasgow Scotland I've been listening to your podcasts for just a couple of months. I found Essential Tennis via You Tube and think the videos are great and improving all the time. The podcasts are a revelation though, they are a great way to keep focused on tennis anytime you have a spare moment. I love your collaborations and interviews (Todd Martin and Will from FYB are favorites of mine). I'm very grateful to you and your team for the work and passion you invest in this amazing project. Best wishes to you and your family and thanks again!

  22. Ankush Kar March 6, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Hello Ian! I am Ankush from India I am 13 and started tennis a few months back. I want to play in grand slams, is it to late.Thanks in advance.

  23. Hyunah November 1, 2016 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Hello Ian! Thank you for much for the lesson videos that you provide! It has been 3 years that I start to play tennis but I feel like I'm still just hitting the balls…without any tactics or strategy. During my lesson, my coach teaches me how to move my body but not how to play actual tennis games to win. (well he is really good teacher though!) I don't want to be a brain dead player..I want to be play "smart tennis" and your tactic instructions are really helpful for me to learn more. Thank you so much and keep up the good job!! Good luck to you!

    Hyunah in Seoul, S.Korea

  24. Karen Metcalfe July 30, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Dear Ian, thanks so much for your brilliant Podcasts. I really enjoy them and gave learned a great deal from your thoughts and instructions. Your format is first class, you can sense your passion for the game and you observations are so sincere. I have watched a few videos and they are as good as a coach so thanks for that. I love watching and playing the game but at 55, there is such a lot to take on board when developing your game. So I am keen to ask you the following question, which you may want to feature in a future podcast. What are your top tips for the more mature player in how to get the best from your coach. I am by no means stupid but I only seem to remember a couple if things at one time. Then add the excitement of playing (doubles) I can hardly remember them! Keep up the good work and good luck in all you do. Karen in Worcester UK

  25. Jed Melzer July 12, 2016 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Hey Ian,

    My name is Jed Melzer I'm 14 years old and have been watching your videos for help and they have helped out a lot. I've just started entering tournaments and I'm doing pretty well for someone with not that match experience there is stuff I need to work on in my game but your videos help. I hope to improve my game all the time

  26. Helmut May 12, 2016 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Hi Ian,

    I saw and refelcted 2 of your fabouless vids, with great sympathy: very relaxed person and player with the racket!
    My principal "defect" is my "couriosity, means, the focus of ball, racket an point of contact – with all my will and disziplin – only last 3 continiung ball contacts – then the head moves before finishing the stroke ! (the results of a focused stroke are marvellous concerning direction etc, but after third,fourth stroke some spreading balls)!
    any hints for let me say , child of 10 years starting playing tennis?
    all the best

  27. scott schultz May 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm - Reply


    This is a blast from the past……A few of your former class mates told me about what you've created with ET and I took a look today. Wow! Congrats! This is really impressive!

    I'm still with USTA and have started a new education division called USTA-U. The mission is to provide education and resources to people who deliver tennis. At some point, I'd love to explore some ways that ET and USTA-U might collaborate. Let's chat sometime.

    Best of luck to you and continued success,


    Scott Schultz
    Managing Director, USTA

  28. rock April 26, 2016 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Hello Ian, I recently discovered your podcast and I love it. So far I enjoy the strategy and tennis psychology podcasts the best, since I only get to play one match a week and I have no time to practice. I'm a 46 year old, male, 3.0 player in Phoenix AZ. I was wondering if you would consider doing a podcast on tennis etiquette and whether we should insist on practicing it on the court. When I was teaching my kids to play, I told them that Tennis is considered a "gentleman's" game and that certain unwritten rules are followed by the players and the audience. Am I wrong to insist that my opponent call the proper score before he serves? Here's one I'm unsure of: If the server calls 15-30 after a long point, the returner is unsure of the score but hears 15-30. The server loses the next point quickly, then calls the score 30-30, if the returner says "Wait, you just called 15-30, so it should be 15-40".The server says, "yeah, but I meant 30-15.". If they can't honestly remember how they arrived at the score, what's the fair thing to do?

  29. Xue Han April 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm - Reply


    Thanks a lot for your instructions. I remember watching one of your previous episodes which you accidentally mentioned the top two mistakes made by club plsyers maybe when you talked about volley or groundstroke: body not being loose; looking away ( eyes not on the ball) too quickly. However, I could not find that video any more. Is my impression illusional or was that video removed? What is the name of that video if it does exist? Thanks.

  30. Jan Malmberg February 27, 2016 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Hi Ian, I´m a Swedish tennistrainer/coach who find this site on Instagram, I´m a follower of Kirby Bridges 🙂 I think you have a great thing going and I would like to start this up in Sweden and wondering how you set your mind to it, I think your concept is sovereign . I have good contacts among former players / players and officials here and think it would work.
    Sincerely Janne Malmberg

  31. Alex February 1, 2016 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian, thanks for your advice on "how to return kick serves", i.e. back-up or take the ball on the rise. I recently had a single match with a good player with very fast but flat first serves. Although he only makes them about 50% of the time, but when he does make them, especially those to my back hand and to my body, I found it very difficult to move my racket to the right position to return it. Often my racket angle would be too open, and my return will just fly off to the left of the court. I will appreciate your advice again, thanks

  32. Joe December 7, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    I have a question for Ian, (or can he do a video on):

    How to play Australian when serving (strategy) and how to return serve vs Australian.

    Joe in Newport Beach, CA

  33. howard loveridge November 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    very impressed Ian so far have enjoyed watching as much as I can

  34. tom October 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    this is so cool

  35. Ty Taubenheim October 12, 2015 at 4:50 pm - Reply


    I really enjoy your videos on YouTube and have found them an invaluable resource as I pursue this new tennis passion of mine. I have been an athlete my entire life and after playing 10 years of professional baseball (with that career ending abruptly…) I found myself in dire need of an activity that stokes my competitive fire. We tend to do things that A.) We're good at and B.) Things were goals are achievable, tennis is no different. Because of my background the physical side of tennis; serves, groundies, volleys and movement came very naturally for me, on the flip side since I've only been playing for two years I am very naive about the tendencies and nuances of higher level tennis. Your website/videos have been really helpful as I continue busting my tail to understand different strategies and tactics. My goal is to win a 5.0+ tournament before it's all said and done. People like you make me believe that's possible because of the lessons and enthusiasm shown in every video on Essential Tennis.

    Thank you,
    Ty Taubenheim
    6'6", 230#
    4.5 NTRP
    Oak Ridge, TN

  36. MaryAnn September 8, 2015 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian,

    Imagine my surprise when I saw a recent Essential Tennis podcast get downloaded to my phone. I had to do a double take. I was so excited! I have been listening to old podcasts and some more than once.

    Looking forward to future podcasts. Best, MaryAnn

  37. David Dang September 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Great podcast. I bought your, exercise, volley, and overhead series. Keep up the good work.

  38. jack hill September 1, 2015 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Your company is very lucky to add Ira to your staff. He is sound in tennis fundaments and has great personal skills.
    He is well liked and respected in local tennis circles. Great hire!

  39. Roger McMillan August 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Ian, my son just turned 12 years old and loves to play tennis – when video games are not available-:)

    I found your podcasts on iTunes about 18 months ago and tried to get my son to listen to them.

    As he has gotten more serious about competitive tennis tournaments, he has been asking more and more to play your podcasts for him.

    He always listens to your podcast before going to sleep the night before a tournament and I know your instructions are staying in his head.

    He likes to hit the ball hard and he never pushes. This has caused him to lose many matches – especially when he plays a pusher.

    After listening to your podcasts about pushers, he now better understands them and was able to put it in practice over his past few tournaments (he has won 8 out of 9 of his last tournament matches).

    Today he won his first Southern California B14s tournament finals match against a much bigger kid that tried to moon ball him off the court by pushing him back to the fence. My son barely won the first set 7-6, but then dominated the second set 6-0. He said he just thought about what you said in your podcasts and put it into practice!!!

    Thank you Ian for all that you do with regards to tennis. It is very much appreciated by this Tennis Dad-:)

  40. Johnnie July 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I know I'm not the first to ask, but where did you play in college, and is there footage online somewhere of you gettin' down?

    On a side note, my 14-year-old daughter has been playing for about 2.5 years. She's pretty much getting creamed on the USTA L8 and L7 circuit thus far. Double faults and mis-hit ground strokes (mainly forehands) of "easy" shots are killing her. I just watched your video about adjusting the angle of your racquet face, and I sent that to her for homework tonight (since it's raining here). How important is "getting low" to hitting more successful ground strokes? I've been emphasizing that with her a lot. She stands up tall on many forehands, and her racquet face ends up tilted slightly downward, so, yep, ploop, easy balls right back into the net. I think she often tries this little twisty thing with her racquet on her forehand, too, instead of simply prepping up high and swinging through confidently. She's gradually getting better, but still slips back into bad habits (e.g., racquet held back and flat instead of high and ready for a big "C"-shaped swing) whenever the pressure is on. Also trying to get her to open her stance some and unit turn with more torso, less feet. Gotta get her to stay low. I saw that you have a vid on getting low balls back. I need to watch that.

    I rambled a bit, but I find that your videos hit the problem areas right on the head. We'll be watching more together, especially your perfect Federer forehand analysis tonight.


  41. Pierre Luc Beauvais June 22, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    From Montréal, just started playing tennis again after 50 years. (I was 17 when I last played well)

    Just finished listening to your grip video and understood everything real easy. Ken gradulations because I listen to others video on grips many times in the past and just could not figure it out. Thanks.

    Grateful for your service and lessons.

    Pierre Luc Beauvais

  42. Sonny April 22, 2015 at 12:14 am - Reply

    ET is the best source for me on practical Tennis. I love the myth busters as it fully explains what is really behind strokes and techniques.

    I'm from the Philippines and is between a 4 and 5 in skills. I would love to do more to improve my service as it is really a complicated stroke. There's about 7 stages in it and I can only do about 3 correctly, then the rest I forget. sometimes its the coil that works for me and i forget the actual swing and point of contact. sometimes it's the other way around, i focus on the point of contact but i forget the swing preparation or the foot balance.

  43. Sean April 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    G'Day Ian, James and Families. Yes, I love tennis and will do just about anything to improve my game, as you well know! Currently venturing into previously uncharted territory of 5.0 competition here in Oz. I aim to keep improving, developing and enjoying my game for many years to come. Great story and keep enjoying the journey, S