John Brunner, 43, the owner of JB's Tennis Shop, left Buffalo 4 1/2 years ago to take a tennis teaching position at the Windward Lake Tennis Club in Atlanta. Brunner, who had a tremendous following in Western New York, has been missed by the many students that he taught in the years that he lived in the Buffalo area.
His former students do not have to fret any longer. He will be returning to Buffalo in early November to teach at the Village Glen and South Towns Tennis Center, both of which are owned by Jack and Maritza Ruh.
"We're thrilled that such an excellent tennis pro such as John Brunner is going to be part of our teaching staff," Maritza Ruh said. "Stephen Sayoc, our Director of Tennis, deserves all of the credit for finalizing the plans to bring John back to this area. We know that he will be a tremendous asset to all of our programs and clinics, and will also be in charge of our High Performance program."
Brunner and his wife had been talking for years about moving to a warmer climate before they left for Atlanta. They liked the fact that Atlanta was a great city and that the Atlanta area has more than 80,000 players in the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, the largest in the United States.
"I knew that if I made the move to Atlanta I wouldn't have to worry about my business," Brunner said. "Phil Primerano, my manager, and sales associates, Tim White, Lisa Wittman, and April Kiser, had already been running the business on almost a full-time basis, even before I made the move."
Brunner stressed that tennis is one of Atlanta's main forms of recreation. Even if players don't play seriously they are still encouraged to join a team, regardless of their level of play.
While Brunner was in Atlanta, he taught 25 to 30 hours a week and put in an additional 20 hours in his pro shop.
"I loved working with the adults and juniors. We had over 20 juniors who were ranked in the top 100 in the United States at different levels. It was a really fun job," he said.
Why, then, would he want to return to Western New York?
As much as Brunner loved his job in Atlanta, he was starting to tire of teaching outdoors from December to February (there are few outdoor courts in Atlanta). The temperature was often as low as 32 degrees for some mornings and lessons still had to be taught. Conversely, there was the heat from June to August, when temperatures were consistently between 93 and 98 degrees.
"Although these extreme temperatures didn't occur every day it was still extremely tough on my body," Brunner said. "The other problem was that the Atlanta traffic is brutal; not like in Buffalo where the traffic patterns are incredible."
However, the bottom line was that Brunner started to realize how much he missed Western New York.
"I really missed the Buffalo area and especially the people," Brunner said. "I loved teaching tennis when I was in Buffalo, running my business, and communicating with my customers and students. My mom also still lives in Buffalo and I was seeing her less frequently due to my teaching obligations," Brunner said.
As to why he chose to come back to teach at the Village Glen and South Town, Brunner said, "The idea of teaching at two clubs was very appealing. I had done some teaching there before I left Buffalo and greatly enjoyed working with Stephen Sayoc and his staff. In short, it is the ideal fit for my family and me."
Kocak Author's Tennis Book
Dave Kocak, a teaching tennis pro at the Mill Tennis Center, recently wrote a tennis book titled "Tennis for the Rest of Us."
Kocak believes his book is the only one that covers all of the following points:
*Why your game is bad and how you can make it better
*How to Get Your Kids Involved;
plus humorous but valid answers to questions about the game.
The book is available at the Miller Tennis Center, JB's Tennis Shop, and on Amazon.com. Call Kocak at 861-5705 or 876-4581. You may also send an e-mail to Dave@msn.com.