By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
“I want to make the Gadsden Country Club shine. I want to make it the best facility in Alabama. If I don’t do that, I haven’t done my job.”
Such was Paul Robin’s immediate response when asked what his primary objective was as the new director of tennis at the Gadsden Country Club.
The 52-year-old native of Sydney, Australia, has hit the ground running since his starting date of June 22.
“I’ve been amazed at the amount of support I’ve received, from the tennis committee to the parents to the children,” he said. “Everyone is so friendly and outgoing. I feel like the club and Gadsden have welcomed me with open arms.”
Two major factors moved Robin (pictured above ) to accept the Gadsden position – the club facilities and the presence of club general manager Matt Ganshaw.
“The first time I saw it [in early June], I thought, ‘This country club really is a gold mine, a gem.’ From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a part of that team. For me, this is not a job; it’s my passion. I’m not a clock puncher, and I don’t want one working for me. We’re all working for the Gadsden Country Club and its membership.
“As far as Matt is concerned, he’s a straight shooter who will shake your hand, look you in the eye and tell you the truth. I look to him as a mentor and a leader. I told him that I’ll be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave.”
In only a few week’s time, Robin has had to increase the size of his staff, which he considers a “wonderful problem to have.”
While his main focus will be on GCC members, Robin would like to make the club’s tennis courts accessible to non-members.
“I want to get to the point where we draw people from out of town,” he said. “I believe that we’re not getting out there enough, and we’re capable of doing that. It’s about getting out there and knocking on doors and beating the bushes and talking to people. That’s what it takes.”
Robin pointed out that his current students range from ages 3 to 83.
“Tennis is not easy, but for those who get to somewhat master it, they’re in for a lifelong adventure. Some of the younger ones still don’t know their left from their right, but it doesn’t matter. I want to create a unique experience for every member I come in contact with. We want to draw in new people, but appeasing our membership should be our number one goal.”
The club did not have a tennis pro from early in the year until June. Robin credited Colton Dugger and Hannah Mu-rray for keeping the club’s tennis program afloat during that time. Dugger was instrumental in the program’s day-to-day operations, keeping up the tennis facility and serving as an instructor, while Murray conducted lessons and clinics.
“Those two basically kept the tennis flag flying while [the program] was in limbo,” said Robin. “They deserve a lot of credit for keeping the flame going. Everybody on that staff is fantastic to work with.”
Robin was quite impressed with the welcome he’s received at the country club over the past few weeks.
“I was really hard to leave Huntsville behind after almost 24 years up there, but seeing the smiles on all those little kids’ faces made it that much easier to come to Gadsden,” he said. “I absolutely love it here. I’m not a new-age kind of guy, but the planets were aligned so I could get this job. I’ve been blessed and been given the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m very appreciative, and I’m going to put my heart and soul into it.”
Robin began playing tennis at the age of nine. As a ju-nior player, was coached by tennis legends John Newcombe, Tony Roche and Ken Rosewall. He moved to the United States to attend college on a tennis scholarship at the College of Coastal Georgia. He then attended and played tennis at Auburn-Montgomery, where he received his BS degree in finance. He also served as assistant coach for the Senators’ men’s and women’s tennis teams. During his time in Montgomery, Robin worked as assistant tennis professional at Lagoon Park, O’Connor Tennis Center and Montgomery Country Club.
Robin then moved to Huntsville, where he served for 10 years as Head Tennis Professional at Huntsville Athletic Club.
Among his titles and certifications are holding Elite Professional status with the United States Professional Tennis Association for 24 years; being is a Master Racquet Technician with the United States Racquet Stringers Association for 15 years; and being a lifetime member of the United States Tennis Association.
As a coach, Robin has taken adult National Tennis Rating Program teams to the state, sectional and national levels. He has trained juniors from the local level to the national and international levels.
Robin and his wife Tristenne have two teenage boys, Luke and Charlie. Both sons play high level tennis and represented Alabama and the Southeast region at southern and national level tournaments. Charlie has represented the USA at the Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship in Miami.
“A doctor in Birmingham once told me that tennis in a microcosm of life, and that is so true,” said Robin. “My mission is to make tennis a fun outlet for people. We’re not doing it for a mortgage or house payment, so let’s not take it too seriously. We’re doing it to relax and take our minds off our problems. So in a sense, I’m trying to give people lessons for life.”
For more information about the tennis program at Gadsden Country Club, call 256-546-1088 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.