I often get asked about the background behind Atlas Tennis and how I ended up here, running our new company to create the best summer tennis camps and teen travel experiences after working in the world of professional tennis and college coaching for most of my career. Here are 11 reasons why I decided, at age 29, to take on this new project and dedicate myself to providing teenage tennis players with a combination of tennis training and coaching, junior tournaments, personal growth, and teen travel.
1. It’s a great challenge
Starting a business is every bit as challenging as you’d think—which is what I wanted! I’m 29, motivated, hungry, and want to create the best summer tennis camps combined with summer travel imaginable. I also don’t have kids of my own right now and have the time, focus, and passion to fully dedicate myself to Atlas Tennis and the tennis lessons, tennis coaching, and personal growth and development that we offer.
2. Tennis is my life
I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old, and over the past 25 years, I’ve really never stopped. Ironically, the time when I go the longest without playing is during the US Open, when I’m working with the players for about 16-18+ hours a day for a month. (Learn more about that here) I’ve been lucky that since my first job when I was 15 at a summer tennis camp near me, I’ve been able to work in this world.
3. I have the support of an amazing group of partners
If you don’t know about the founding partners of Atlas Tennis, you can learn more here and here. What their resumes and experience may not show, though, is that these are awesome people. I couldn’t ask for more than these four leaders in the tennis world to help guide and support the company. They’ve also played in practically every tennis tournament (including the big ones like Wimbledon and the rest of the Slams), seen so many different summer tennis camps, tennis coaches, tennis clinics, and been a part of every type of tennis lesson that our combined perspective is unparalleled.
4. I believe in the importance of travel
As founding partner Megan Moulton-Levy said the other day during my conversation with her “You have got to see the world.” Not only is it a blast to get out and explore, there is also no other way to truly expand your perspective and learn about yourself and how to connect with others than through getting out into new environments. With Atlas Tennis, we’re going to lean into the countless benefits of travel while also giving teens the chance to play open and junior tennis tournaments, train as part of summer tennis camps, and explore Europe with teen group travel.
5. There’s so much opportunity for growth by working with teenagers
At the risk of sounding like an old man, I really do remember being a teenager like it was yesterday. And even as I’ve gotten older I’ve continued to stay connected with teenage tennis players through coaching, mentorship, college recruiting, and more—so I feel confident in saying that the 13-18 age range is a unique and special time period as young people really start to discover who they are, what they care most about, and how they interact and connect with the world. It’s so special to be able to help be a part of each individual’s journey, and Atlas Tennis provides the chance for so much personal growth and discovery in a short amount of time.
To quote Megan again, “The foundation of a life well lived is being able to connect with others.” Atlas Tennis, by nature of the travel, the tennis competition, the tennis coaching, the summer tennis camps experience, and all the people along for the journey, will set participants up for these connections. The idea of helping foster lifelong friendships among our players is a huge driving force—and for me personally, the chance to build relationships with tennis players, families, coaches, clubs, and organizations both here in the US and abroad is very exciting.
7. I want to see all these amazing places too!
I’ve been lucky to travel a ton, both on my own, and with groups of teenage tennis players as a coach, and I still get that feeling of excitement and amazement when visiting different places. I’m just as excited as anyone on the trips about going to incredible places, and my hope is that my own personal excitement about what we are doing and where we are going will be infectious.
8. It can be a great opportunity for coach development
Having been a coach that’s traveled all around the world for tennis, I know how much growth there can be for the leaders of our trips. I love the idea of being able to share this incredible opportunity with the right coaches who are looking for the chance to not just teach tennis lessons or work at a summer tennis camp, but want to travel and help guide young people on a journey of tennis, culture, sightseeing, and personal growth and development. I’ve grown so much through these experiences, and it’s an amazing opportunity to pay it forward to the right people.
9. Life Lessons through Sports
The value of playing tennis (or any sport) goes far beyond forehands and backhands. Those skills are great, but what’s going to stick with you in 5, 10, 25 years? It’ll be how you navigate challenges, work with others, and step out of your comfort zone on the mission towards constant improvement. You don’t have to play sports to develop these values, but it certainly helps—especially team sports. Tennis obviously doesn’t have as many opportunities to be a part of a team as other sports, which brings up another great aspect of Atlas Tennis—unlike different summer tennis camps or tennis lessons, our players are doing everything, on and off court, with others as part of a group.
10. The potential for Atlas Tennis is endless
As I tell everyone I know about Atlas Tennis, one of the most common comments is “Wow, sounds awesome! Wish I could go!” While our focus is on teenage players right now and travel summer tennis camps, we absolutely plan to expand that in future years to include as many different types of groups as possible (and not just during the summer). College team trips, USTA teams, bachelor parties, couples trips—the possibilities are endless! Traveling to other countries to play tournaments and train, sightsee, and experience the culture is appealing to tennis players of all ages, and I’m pumped for the years to come as we hopefully are able to provide these opportunities for as many people as possible!
11. I know there’s a ton of interest
There seems to be pretty unanimous agreement about the appeal of our trips. The summers as a teenager are a bit of a transition period, where there’s still a real priority on fun and meaningful experiences, but maybe a sleepaway summer camp doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did. At the same time, as college applications start to come into view, thoughts about enriching experiences and extracurriculars take on a new level of importance. Our hope is that Atlas strikes the balance between fun, immersive, active summer tennis camps while also introducing a level of personal growth and discovery for teens through the travel and cultural immersion.
-Ben Shapiro, Director of Atlas Tennis