FIVE QUESTIONS WITH...Dave Haggerty
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liza Horan
330 Third Ave.
03/16/07 - "Five Questions With..." is a series featuring exclusive interviews with important industry people. You will learn something with each edition.
Haggerty's paying job is CEO of Head USA and President of Penn Racquet Sports, but he seems to take his volunteer posts just as seriously. His activism in the industry spans decades. These days, as President of the Tennis Industry Association and Director At Large of the U.S. Tennis Association, Haggerty's in the company of peers who are bound by one mission: Improve the state of game. He's experienced tennis on many levels, from collegiate player and teaching pro, to tennis parent and business man.
By Liza Horan, Editor
Q. Your 34-year career in tennis has included stints at Prince, Dunlop and now Head/Penn. How did you break into tennis as a profession?
As a kid I always dreamed of playing tennis professionally. My dad was Director of Tennis for the City of Trenton, N.J. He used to take us--me and my brother--out (to play). And since my brother was older he took him out on court more, but I wanted to play. As a bratty six-year-old I walked up to one of the teaching pros and told him that since he worked for my dad he had to hit with me. From a young age I wanted to be the best I could.
I went to college on scholarship, became a teaching pro and manager of an indoor/outdoor club, where I taught Jack Murray, who was the President of Prince. He said, "If you ever get tired of doing this, give me a call."
I called him that afternoon. I interviewed with him, and with Jim Baugh, and they let me honor my commitment to teach throughout the summer, then I started as Product Manager for accessories. The funny thing is they didn't have any accessories yet! But they did soon, and synthetic gut took off.
Q. Twenty years ago you represented Prince on the Board of the Tennis Industry Association. This year you were minted as President of the organization. Exactly what role do you play?
I've always been committed to the Board and the Association. I'm very proud to be President and happy to serve, but it's not about one person—it's about the group. We're lucky to have (Executive Director) Jolyn (de Boer), who is the paid person to carry out the work. Between Doug Fonte (of Prince), Jon Muir (of Wilson) and Kurt Kamperman (of USTA), we're the four people—with Jolyn—who help steer the ship and make sure that we keep the industry initiatives and conscience in the forefront, instead of our own company's goals.
We work closely with the USTA. They are certainly different than they were in the '80s. I think we have good communication and respect both ways with the USTA, challenging them at the appropriate time, and doing things for the betterment of the sport.
Q. Who are your favorite pro players?
When I was growing up my idols were Stan Smith and John Newcombe. More recently Andre Agassi, too, because he invented himself two or three times and became a statesman. On the women's side, Billie Jean (King), for what she's done for the sport and for women.
I have five kids—four girls. They're into tennis and also soccer. And to think that they get to do that because of what Billie Jean has done is incredible.
Q. Having worked for three major brands in tennis, you probably know a lot of trade secrets! What has the experience been like?
I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I've made so many friends. And working at three different companies and exposed me to three different cultures, some great bosses, some not-so-great bosses, and different styles. The older I've gotten the more perspective I've gotten, and it makes you more humble. I still think I have a lot to learn.
Q. Do you have any advice?
I think the biggest thing I've learned, from my involvement in local tennis, on the Board of USTA/Middle States, and now as a USTA Board Member, is how valuable it is to volunteer.
I would encourage more people to volunteer their time—especially our colleagues and competitors. It's up to them to get as involved as they can be. There's real value to what we find through volunteer initiatives; you are sometimes more organized the more involved you are, and there are the things that help you make an impact.
I'd encourage others who are coming up through the ranks to give their time because I guarantee they'll have a good time.
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