Rod Heckelman’s career started in 1966 the summer after his junior year in high school when he began his five-year role as a teacher at John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch in Carmel Valley, Calif. Later he opened as the resident pro for Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch on Camelback in Scottsdale, Ariz. At 20 years of age, he was one of the youngest pros to be the Head Pro at what some considered one of the top tennis resorts in the world.
In 1976 he made his way back to his home state of California, where he took over as Head Pro/Tennis Director at the Mt. Tam Racquet Club in Larkspur. He added the title and responsibilities of General Manager in 1982. From his early teaching years, Rod has been involved with developing top players. He has developed over 15 national champions at the junior level and 4 at the senior level. As a competitor he has played and been ranked at both national and sectional levels, breaking the top 5 in 1991. Rod published an instructional manual in 1992 for tennis teachers to use with their students called “Down Your Alley.”
For the last couple of years, excerpts from his “Facility Manager’s Manual” were being published in Racquet Sports Industry magazine. The manual is now available digitally through the Tennis Industry Association for managers and clubs to use as a model for operating their businesses. More recently, he created a “Business Handbook for Tennis Pros,” that is also being produced by T.I.A. In 2010 he was awarded “Manager of the Year” for the USPTA NorCal division and later announced by the USPTA as the “Manager of the Year” at the World Conference. Rod travels the country lecturing to fellow pros about management skills and helping them transition into management. Rod continues to expand his knowledge on all aspects of the tennis business, and he is a frequent presenter at industry events throughout the country including speaking at IRHSA World Conference in San Francisco in 2011, the first person to represent the tennis industry at an IRHSA convention in over 25 years.
Rod recently was selected to the new Babalot Advisory Board and came out with his second instructional book, “Playing Into the Sunset,” an instructional book for senior players available through BoomerTennis.net.