Recently, we caught-up with Wendy Gardiner, Director of the Chelsea Piers CT Tennis Club. Chelsea Piers CT is one of the finest sports and recreational facilities in the country, and their Tennis Club featuring seven indoor tennis courts with an elite staff of professionals, is no exception. Wendy is always developing unique events and experiences to engage the members and help them fully enjoy the tennis lifestyle.
Where do you play and what’s your ranking?
Why here of course at Chelsea Piers! I’m a 4.0…
What is your first tennis memory?
I grew up in Aspen, and between ages 9-11 I volunteered as a ball girl at local celebrity tennis tournaments. It was glamorous, fun and got me excited about tennis.
How and when did you get into tennis?
I didn’t really take lessons until I was 31. I stopped when I worked in NYC at Spiegel Brands and really began to miss playing. As soon as I stopped working, I got into team play as captain of a B Team at 3.0-3.5 level. This led me to Chelsea Piers where my tennis really took off. I was able to take advantage of all the amazing tennis clinics and fitness classes here, and after an injury I worked on my core with Pilates and personal training. Core work was the best thing I ever did. This, along with private tennis lessons, bumped me up to 4.0.
Do you play other sports? Which do you prefer?
I’m an avid skier… but I still dream of skating. When growing up in Aspen, figure skating was my passion. I was competing and doing triple jumps.
Where was the most exiting tennis travel destination you’ve played?
I don’t care where I play as much as who I’m playing with. I like to travel to watch tennis… The French Open was a blast and Wimbledon was awesome, too. We always get a great group of ladies together to watch the CT Open and the US Open so those are favorites too. We are so lucky to have them close to us!
Describe your ideal tennis partner.
In doubles you’re really a team; communication and support are really important to me. In good days or bad, we are always there propping each other up. We’re out there to have fun and breed positive energy through camaraderie. In competitive tennis it is especially important… hey, you never know when you might run into someone down the road at a cocktail party. If you lose you can still be happy…ish.
What did a coach say to you that seemed frustrating at the time but you later realized was true?
“Move your feet! Watch the ball!” I feel like I am but clearly I am not.
Why do you play tennis?
I play tennis, because I can work out and be with my friends at the same time. It’s like going to a party every day and getting healthy results. We don’t just show up, there’s always a goal.
What have you learned about yourself from playing tennis?
I need to be more patient. Tennis has made me a nicer person — more understanding of my faults and more tolerant of others.
Are you a racquet or a ball? Why?
I’m the racquet, because I feel myself hitting the ball. It’s the control freak in me. I hope to have control…
As director of the Chelsea Piers Tennis Club, what do you do differently from other tennis club programs?
My goal with team and adult programs is to have a “sorority-like” feel. I create concierge services that cannot be found anywhere else. We travel together, workout, have lunches and team parties — it’s a very “clubby”, fun, healthy and positive atmosphere.
Is there an overall coaching philosophy at the club?
Simply to make each player the best he or she can be, while having the most fun they can have… especially the kids.
How are the coaches discovered and chosen?
We are known for our reputation and are often approached by very talented pros. Our coaches are like family, upbeat and personable. They often have incredible backgrounds in sports medicine and psychology. For a coach to join our team, they have to be both gifted players and teachers… as well as fun! We accommodate the best of the best and make a home for them without sacrificing existing talent.
Tell us about some unique features of the tennis program at Chelsea Piers.
High-level, concierge customer service. We make every effort to remove barriers and allow our members to show-up and “play”. We understand their needs and busy lifestyles, and stay as flexible as possible while still running a business. Hands-down, the best pros.
Best 10-and under program in the area.
Our facility is unmatched. We offer everything under one roof. In addition to a stellar tennis programs we offer a state-of-the-art health club, fitness classes, hockey/skating/swimming/soccer/squash… you name it we have it.
How does someone get started?
Just go to our website or call, we’re happy to answer any questions: chelseapiersct.com
Thanks for the interview, Wendy! Your positive attitude touches countless people, truly… you are the life of the party.