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Boise pro teaches finer points of respecting the game

September 24, 2011 06:00 PM
Mark Bettis of the Intermountain Section.
Mark Bettis of the Intermountain Section.
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com

Rancho Mirage, California  --
Mark Bettis has a traditionalist’s view of his favorite sport, a view that has sustained him through more than 35 years of playing and coaching.

As coach of the Intermountain Men’s 2.5 team, based in Boise, Idaho, he has special respect for the respect his players bring to their matches.

"I teach the best game in the world and I get to inspire my team to enjoy the game," said Bettis, a 13-year teaching pro at Crane Creek Country Club in his Boise hometown.

"Coaching this level is extremely enjoyable because players who aren’t as skilled tend to listen more and have a greater appreciation for how hard it can be."

Bettis, 50, played collegiately at the Grand Canyon University in Arizona and later in USTA events at the 5.0 level. He no longer competes, but admits he misses some aspects of higher-level play.

"If a club member wants to hit, I’m okay with that," he said, "but I do miss the sheer adrenaline rush of two guys going hard against each other, playing at the top of their skills."

What doesn’t he miss?

"Playing against guys who play the game for the wrong reasons, like wanting to win at all costs," he said. "I’ve always felt you should play for the love of the game, the camaraderie, the respect of your opponent."

Not surprisingly, Bettis also has a traditional view of his former career, that of graphic designer. Until the late 1990s, he did double duty for 15 years as both a teaching pro and commercial artist. But the rise of computer-generated graphics took a toll.

"Technology was changing fast and I could see my talent was a dying breed," he recalled. "The human element just wasn’t needed as much."

For Bettis, that happens to be the sheer joy of tennis.

"You get to see an awful lot of passion, sheer heart and spirit, especially at this level," he said. "That’s what the game is all about."


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