Jeff Harst was named general manager of the Toledo Tennis Club last month, and he isn't even a member.
"I've never been a member," said Harst, who took over his new position on Jan. 15. "I was the tennis director there from 2001 to 2014. I took a year off from there, and they had the need for a tennis director and GM. They offered it to me and, after discussions, I took it. I'm also doing the Village of Ottawa Hills tennis program at the high school through the summer. It should be interesting."
Harst is also in his 11th season as the boys and girls tennis coach at Ottawa Hills High School. The Green Bears have consistently sent players to the state tournament, including last year when Matt and Tyler Gargas placed third at the Division II tournament in May.
"We're always competitive," Harst said of the high school program. "I like the sense of being competitive and, being in Ottawa Hills, it's just a great fit. A lot of these kids on my team I have worked with since they were 5. They come up through our system and it's rewarding to see them do well."
Harst said he spent several summers as tennis director at the Toledo Tennis Club and at Sylvania Country Club, but he will have to give up the Sylvania gig. He added that his duties at the Toledo Tennis Club involve "pretty much everything."
"It includes day-to-day operations and maintaining the facility combined with being the tennis director, hiring tennis pros and overseeing the program. What we are looking for for the club this year is to have more of a social atmosphere, more of a fun style of facility. We want to have more social events and be more aggressive in making sure people do more than play tennis. We want them to have a good time before and after they play."
The Toledo Tennis Club has five hard courts and 10 clay courts, which will be resurfaced this summer.
"The clay is more popular," Harst said. "The adults are much more favorable to the clay, and the juniors are more favorable to the hard courts. Most junior competition from grade school through high school are done on hard courts."
Harst, who will continue to give lessons at the facility, said being a member of the Toledo Tennis Club is "the best deal in town" because of its location and price. He said a six-month membership is $499, "and the membership is very supportive of the facility."
"I live in the Village, so it's really a good fit (becoming the GM)," Harst added. "I believe we have around 260 members and one of our goals is to increase that. Years ago they had a waiting list. If we can approach where we start discussing a waiting list, that would make it a success."
Harst earned his professional teaching certification in 1991 and started giving tennis lessons in '92. He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994, but did not play on the Falcons' tennis team. He said he gave tennis instruction 25 hours a week at Shadow Valley in addition to attending college.
"The first lesson I ever did was when I became director of tennis at the parks and recreation department in Norwalk, when I was a junior in high school," Harst said. "That was my first big job, which was really helpful. (Teaching) takes a level of patience, which I think I have, but it's pretty rewarding."