Tennis Pro of the Year

To know him is to love him… Spike Gonzales was named the Collier County (Florida) “Tennis Pro of the Year.”

Monday Morning Highlight

For me, one of my favorite days is Monday; because Spike arranges tennis for a group of high-quality players in the Naples area and hosts them at his Wilderness venue (and then there is the great camaraderie of lunch afterwards at Goldie’s).

“Spike’s award,” said the Collier USPTA President Jicham Zaatini, “is a tribute to his dedication to bringing tennis as a recreational sport to the Naples locale.  His efforts have positively impacted the health, fitness and outlook of thousands of local children and adults.”

NTRP Founder

Many don’t know that Spike was one of the originators of the now-popular NTRP rating system.  But he is quick to point out that it has evolved into something less effective than the planners had in mind.

Spike teaches young beginners and adults alike and is now actively promoting Pop Tennis as another avenue for exercise and friendly competition (on a short, soft court, with

Spike

paddles and a softer, quieter tennis ball).

Congrats on a well-deserved award to our friend Spike!

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15 thoughts on “Tennis Pro of the Year

  1. Spike has always been a favorite of mine. His humor and perspective, along with his tennis knowledge, is a delight.

  2. Congratulations to Spike. I doubt that he remembers me but I played tennis and squash at University of Rochester when Spike had his first coaching job for the Freshman teams. I hope to travel to Naples in February … maybe he can coach me again?

  3. Congratulations to Spike, whom I have never met personally but have heard so many positive things about — both through this blog but also otherwise.

    However, now I am curious about one thing, George. You mention that Spike is one of the originators of the NTRP system but he is quick to point out that it has evolved into something less effective than what the planners had in mind. Could you (or Spike) elaborate a bit on that? Or could you provide a link to any prior discussions reflecting what Spike and the other originators intended to be doing and why and how it is now less effective?

    We all seem to have various opinions about the NTRP system, and in my experience those opinions are often rather negative (and deservedly so). But it would be informative to know what somebody like Spike feels are shortcomings with the current system as well as possible ways to improve it, since we ordinary players are no doubt better at complaining than we are at fixing.

    Spike, you have time to comment before your trip? If not, i will attempt. george

  4. Spike,
    Congratulations! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!
    Monday’s have always been a great with you and the guys!
    Thanks for all your time and work! Hope you are well and have many more years!

  5. George,

    I am overwhelmed by the warm-and-fuzzies from all our tennis friends! Thanks for the outstanding PR.

    I am happy to respond to how the original NTRP was adjusted immediately by the USTA in order to start local and national leagues.

    Using a the 1.0-7.0 system originally developed by (I believe) Dan Olson for the Chicagoland Indoor Tennis Association, we embarked to solve the problem of the inaccuracies of ratings when players called themselves “A, B or C” players. A, B and C ratings almost meaningless. However, pretty quickly the leagues were categorizing 95% of the tennis playing population as 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0. (What was the benefit over “A, B, or C”?)

    I’m sending to you the article I wrote to try to launch the NTRP. (Maybe you would know how to attach it.) This reflects the original design of at least 65 different degrees of the system, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and so on up to 7.4. In working the system in upstate New York and the metropolitan Chicago area we had already had success with quarterly updating of submitted tournament and league matches in meeting the standard that “a .2 difference in different players’ ratings will generally mean compatible games, and .4 difference will generally mean that the higher rated player will consistently win easily.”

    When the system had 65 increments, there was much more accuracy and fluidity. The absurdity of how it turned out using the .5 increments was illustrated when players would say, “on a good day I’m a 4.0, and on bad day a 3.5.” It may have been more accurate to say “on a good day I’m a 3.6, and on a bad day a 3.5.”

    The NTRP actually was highly successful in getting leagues organized, however inaccurately.

    In the mid 90’s, when computerization was available, I spent several years full-time campaigning with Peter Hitch of Minneapolis and Kirkland Gates of Kansas City to have the USTA adopt “Tencap.” Tencap allowed for the accuracies of 100 increments, along with ongoing computer tabulating of league and tournament results to have fluidity. Tencap provided for club pros and administrators to get ratings tabulated almost immediately. At that point the USTA was too vested in the NTRP.

    The end, I’m going on vacation!

    Spike, thanks and have a great trip out west! If anyone wants to full article, just email me. george

  6. Congratulations Spike!! Well deserved – especially introducing so many of us to Goldie’s over the years!!!

  7. George, please send me the full article – I had the honor of being on the court with Spike twice this past January – his shot selection, understanding of the game, and joy of competing even in social doubles were more than impressive and very much fun to experience. Great group of players he has organized into a tennis community.

    Winder, I couldn’t agree with you more about Spike and the group! George

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