Many in the tennis community know Nancy King as Coach Nancy. Whether one plays competitive tennis, takes lessons at Millbrook Tennis Exchange Park, or participates with Abilities Tennis of NC, you will recognize this little dynamo of a coach.

…if you really try, then you will do fine

Coach Nancy’s father was a collegiate swimmer and advised his daughter to take a break from playing competitive sports during her freshman year of college. Nancy took his advice and when she returned to playing competitively, it was not without much frustration. Her girlfriend suggested she play lacrosse instead, so “if I stunk at it, at least I would have an excuse!”  Her rule of thumb is “if you stay with anything, if you really try, then you will do fine.”

It’s in my wheelhouse!

Coach Nancy has been teaching with the City of Raleigh since 2011, and before that she coached middle school teams.  When asked why she was interested in running clinics for Abilities Tennis she declared, “It’s in my wheelhouse!” Nancy initially registered her daughter to participate in Winter Chill. Her daughter, Elizabeth, spent the entire tournament helping the coaches instead of playing. Elizabeth enjoyed it so much, she encouraged her mom to get involved with ATANC.

As a coach with Abilities Tennis, Nancy knows what to look for and how to teach. She gained a wealth of information from the many years of physical therapy that was deemed medically necessary for her daughter.  Through years of observing her daughter in occupational and physical therapy she understands what is needed for this population. Working with Abilities Tennis athletes is a logical progression for her. 

Nancy loves pairing teaching tennis with helping others. She believes Abilities Tennis is about having fun, exercising, socializing and being successful at something.  Nancy says,

“Everybody wins when you are having fun!”

She loves receiving cards from the athletes expressing their gratitude to her for teaching them tennis. Parents are usually the most appreciative as they see how much their child has progressed. The most challenging part of volunteering is when there are many athletes on the court with varying ability levels. Nancy points out that subdividing the courts into skill levels is the most effective way to run a clinic. A coach must be able to make quick decisions and juggle three to four courts simultaneously.

One memory that stands out most to Coach Nancy is of a young man who came to clinics and would not open his eyes.  He loved basketball, and was not interested in playing tennis.  He had Tourette’s Syndrome and was constantly flapping his hands. Another one of his ticks was to bend down and touch the court, all while his eyes were closed. One week the goal was to redirect him to open his eyes and catch the ball.  The next step was to catch the ball and throw it over the net.  The next progression was to put the racquet in his hand. After eight weeks, he was hitting the ball.  This athlete’s accomplishments are exhilarating for him, the volunteers and his family.

If someone was thinking of getting involved with Abilities Tennis, Nancy would say “Do it!  It is so rewarding.”   It’s all about having fun and engaging the athletes which is the very essence of tennis.  The giggles and interactions with the athletes are all the reward anyone needs. She also loves the opportunity to meet many interesting people.  

Set a goal and meet a goal…

Tennis is not something that comes naturally to Nancy and she has to work at it.  She knows the dedication it takes to achieve a goal.  When she steps on the court, she enters a zone where everything else disappears. She believes tennis is a metaphor for life: “a good partner has your back, you have to learn to communicate, let the past go and focus on the future.”

For her, it’s fun to set a goal and meet a goal, it’s not about winning or losing – being successful is meeting your goal, and “that’s how you work your way through life. You must understand the process in between where you are and what you are working towards!”

Her motto, which she declared Andre Agassi stole from her is, “Watch the ball and move your feet!”

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