Coaching On The Court

Corley Ward (left), Peter Burwash International tennis program director, at Hanalei Bay Resort, gets ready to serve the ball to Mary Dang, head of the resort's junior program | Coco Zickos photos

Corley Ward (left), Peter Burwash International tennis program director, at Hanalei Bay Resort, gets ready to serve the ball to Mary Dang, head of the resort’s junior program | Coco Zickos photos

Corley Ward, Tennis Director, and Mary Dang, Head of Junior Program
Peter Burwash International at Hanalei Bay Resort

Please tell us about the business you work for. Corley: We work for a company called Peter Burwash International that runs tennis programs around the world. Hanalei Bay Resort contracts us to operate the program. Peter Burwash founded the company in Hawaii in 1975. We started at Hanalei Bay Resort in August.

What is your role here?

Corley: I’m in charge of building a tennis program – all the scheduling of activities, lessons and clinics and children’s classes, tournaments. We offer tennis lessons, tennis clinics and player matching. A lot of players are more interested in hitting with others than hitting with a pro, so player matching is a big part of what we do.

Who can utilize your services? We offer classes for all ages and all abilities. Our youngest student is 4 and our oldest is 85. We have a local membership as well as the hotel guests here. Everybody’s welcome to participate in our activities. The hotel guests really like our round robin. We have a bunch of people come out and we schedule matches for them and rotate around every 20 to 30 minutes – it’s a good social thing.

Do you need a membership to play? Corley: You do not have to have membership, but it gives you a discount on lessons, clinics and courts. We have a few different categories – a single adult membership, a couples membership and a family membership.

What do classes entail?

Corley: Fun, fitness and learning. Classes are typically one hour long. We do whatever the people want. If they want to learn how to hit a backhand, we’ll do backhand. If they want to learn how to do serves, we’ll do serves. So we try to make sure everyone has fun, learns and gets some good exercise. Adult classes are every morning at 9, except Fridays and Sundays.

We have adults who play once a week and adults who play six times a week. It’s all up to them.

Mary: In the kids’ classes, we incorporate a lot of games. We have tools that help them understand. We have powerful, happy little toys on the court and it’s basically just play to learn. Each night is a different age group. The classes are from 4 to 5 p.m. Mondays for ages 4-5, Tuesdays for ages 8-11, Wednesdays for ages 6-7 and Thursdays for ages 12-15.

Why should people play tennis? Corley: Tennis is a gift. It’s a game for life; it’s something you can do for your entire life, wherever you go in the world. It’s also a very social sport. Because it’s not a team sport, people look at it as an individual thing. But there is a great tennis community and it’s a great way to bring people together. It’s also one of the best activities for exercise.

What is your tennis background? Corley: I grew up in a tennis family; my father was a tennis pro. Growing up in the business, I learned about PBI, which is the leader in the industry, and I was lucky enough to be hired by them. My first assignment was at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. I was there for three-and-a-half years, and then I helped out at the Four Seasons Lana’i, and then I went to Haymen Island in Australia. After Haymen, I moved here.

Mary: I grew up playing tennis in high school. I’ve done USTA leagues for numbers of years. I also had a Mary Hannsz Tennis School for kids in Austin for three-and-a-half years. That led me to come to Kaua’i and I’ve always thought PBI was great.

What sets Kaua’i apart from the other places you’ve worked? Corley: Everything. These tennis courts are one of the nicest locations on earth. The views are stunning, and that’s what chiefly sets it apart. The second is having PBI, and what separates us from other pros is really we’re service professionals first and tennis professionals second.

Why should people take classes at PBI? Corley: Our service and our teaching methods. We also always try to help people become their own coach. When you play tennis, the goal is to go out and play with your friends and have fun, and it’s nice to rely on yourself to fix your mistakes and figure out what’s going wrong.

Mary: The technique is a big part of it. You can learn tennis from anyone, but PBI has a different technique that is simple and understanding. You don’t have to struggle with knowing what to do next and you can fix your own mistakes.

What makes you get up every day and go to work? Corley: I look at tennis as a gift and I like to serve. I also like to see how happy it makes people.

Mary: I have this ultimate passion for tennis. Everything about tennis makes me happy, and I love that you can get a good workout and have fun at the same time.