5 min read
It’s all fun and games until you realize your tennis coach is a 13-time Ironman finisher. That’s the reality Match Time Tennis players face every time they step on the court with Shaughnessy Bland.
But despite Bland’s personal grueling fitness routine and impressive work ethic, you can always find her smiling on the court, according to Match Time Tennis tournament director Julie Baker. Bland’s goal is to teach her students to live an active and healthy lifestyle on and off the court.
“Fitness is extremely important to her,” Baker said. ”She is a firm believer that it leads to long-lasting mental and physical benefits. She wants to teach her players how to develop that foundation.”
Bland’s love for tennis began at the age of four. She joined the pro circuit right after high school and eventually was ranked in the Top 400 in the WTA Tour. After five years, she retired and attended Texas Women’s University.
That’s when she discovered Ironman, an extreme triathlon widely considered the most difficult sport in the world.
“With tennis, I was doing a lot of running and conditioning. One day, I was out training with a friend, and she said I should try an Ironman,” Bland said. “I thought, who on earth would want to do that? And a year later, I was out there doing it.”
After her first Ironman, she was hooked. Bland trained for nine months leading up to each event, all while coaching tennis. She went on to participate in the event for consecutive years until an injury sidelined her.
Her Ironman days are now in the past, but Bland’s love of coaching remains intact. With 30 years of experience under her belt, she decided to leave her long-time facility and open Match Time Tennis near Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, in August 2021.
“I needed a happy place,” Bland said. “Cody, the tennis coach at Heritage High School, and I connected, and he asked me if I wanted to start a junior program there, and that’s when it all began.”
Bland started as a one-woman show, and then brought Baker in to help organize tournaments, and added a group of Heritage High School players as assistant coaches. Honorable mentions include her dogs Guzel (the investment advisor) and June Anna (the tennis ball retriever).
Bland can use all the help she can get because she is currently offering Universal Tennis programming and events at Match Time Tennis, including tournaments, match play, Junior Circuit, UTR Dingles and color ball.
“The kids love the UTR Rating system. They can go on the app and they can boast about their rating,” Bland said. “And if their rating isn’t where they want it to be, it motivates them to do better and they are able to track their progress.”
Aside from the wide variety of programming Universal Tennis has to offer, Bland and Baker both appreciate the ease of the software. It has made billing at Match Time Tennis much smoother.
“The software was pretty easy to pick up, and it makes the draws much easier,” Baker said. “I would recommend the Universal Tennis platform to everyone.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Universal Tennis Programming, please visit the Clubs Page for more information.