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Newly hired Legacy Lakes tennis pro Alex Armstrong brings with him more than 20 years teaching experience and a strong tennis background as a player in college.

Competition has nearly been a part of Alex Armstrong’s entire life, even though the direction of his competitive focus has changed with time.

Growing up playing team sports before ultimately deciding to decide on seriously playing tennis in high school, the new tennis professional at Legacy Lakes Tennis and Fitness Club has focused more on competition within himself since he finished playing tennis at Jackson State University in 1989.

“I’m competitive, but the competition is me challenging myself,” Armstrong said. “It has nothing to do with who I’m playing with or anything else. It’s more about seeing if I can still do something or what can I bring.”

Taking the job in mid-January, Armstrong previously worked for various clubs in New Jersey since receiving his tennis professional teaching certification in 2000. In the 11 years between college and becoming a professional, Armstrong worked in insurance, but knew his real passion was found on the tennis courts.

“After doing the insurance job for that time, I just knew I wasn’t cut out for that corporate set up,” Armstrong said. “If you want to be good as something, you have to put all your time into perfecting your craft and being good at it.”

Armstrong said that if teaching tennis wasn’t the direction he took for his career, that coaching sports he played growing up like football and baseball would’ve been an option.

He brings a lauded career as a tennis player with him to Legacy Lakes, including winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference men’s doubles title as a senior and finishing second in the singles tournament to his doubles partner.

With that, Armstrong wouldn’t classify himself as just a “tennis player.”

“I think I’m different from other tennis pros and tennis players,” he said. “I don’t really think of myself as a tennis player, I’m just an athlete who happened to play tennis. It wasn’t the first thing I did, it wasn’t the only thing I did and I didn’t put in as much time as some other guys.”

As far as the teaching side goes, Armstrong said he gets more joy and a sense of accomplishment doing his job than he ever did as a player.

To him, he gives energy as a teacher, just like he gives it as a player, to everyone he instructs.

“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy seeing people succeed,” Armstrong said. “That’s why I coach. Coaching is a lot more rewarding than playing and winning some tournament.”

As a teaching professional, he looks to challenge students to make every drill and exhibition worth it so the player sees progress. Armstrong said he also looks to instill a sense of cooperation that also adds to the challenge aspect.

“I think a lot of times, these younger players that I’ve taught and even other people have forgotten that while you’re opposing the player on the other side of the net, they are there and you are there to bring out the best in each other,” he said.

“If you bring your best and I come out and don’t bring my best, I’ve cheated you. You’re a competitor and you should want to do your best and I’m a competitor and I should want to do my best.”

Through this, Armstrong said he’s seen where both players playing their best oftentimes can bring something out of a player that they didn’t know they had.

His teaching is not just for the aspiring college and professional players, however.

“I offer something for everyone. If you’re a beginner, you can come here. Whatever your level is, I can teach you,” Armstrong said. “I would like to see this program thrive. I want to see it grow.”

On top of teaching clinics for adults and cardio classes as well, Armstrong has set up dates for junior tennis clinics at the club.

Junior clinics for kids ages 4 years old and older are available four days a week. Players will be separated to age groups 4 to 5 years old, 6 to 7 years old, 8 to 10 years old, 11 to 12 years old and 13 and up, and will take place at different times during the evenings.

Anyone interested in the clinics can contact Armstrong at (910) 944-2641 or legacylakestennisclub@gmail.com.

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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