Teaching Pro Spotlight: Karl Akkerman
Karl Akkeman jumped out of Stadium 2 following another match and hurriedly walked to meet friends who were saving him seats at Court 6 during the second Tuesday of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
As Akkerman walked he talked about how he got his start in tennis and fell in love with the game at the age of 20. “I went to Europe when I was 19 or 20 and visited Wimbledon,” Akkerman, who teaches part-time at the Westlake Athletic Club and is a USPTA Elite Professional and served as USPTA District 1 President in 2018. “I was there watching Tracy Austin play against the Ice Princess and No. 1 Chris Evert. And I was immediately hooked.”
Akkerman was a tri-athlete and swimmer and runner before he says he became “addicted to tennis big-time.” He soon became a 5.0-level player and started winning tournament when Moorpark College asked him to teach college tennis classes. “That was back in 1981 and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Akkerman has taught tennis at multiple locations, including for the City of Ventura for two and a half years.
Some of his greatest teaching memories is when he was invited to his sons’ kindergarten class for career day. “Bring your dad to work day became much more exciting when I became a tennis pro,” Akkerman said. “Before I was this lowly accountant but then all of a sudden I’m the tennis pro and I had everyone brings rackets to school with them. So I taught the whole kindergarten class and my phone rang off the hook and I started teaching lessons for the rec department. That was the key. Getting the kids excited in the schools.
Akkerman has also taught accounting for Ventura Unified in Vocational Adult Ed for 17 years. But it’s still teaching tennis that is his true passion.
The following is a link to Akkerman’s website post about his favorite The Ojai, which takes place April 23-28.
Akkerman encourages all who have never experienced the event to venture up to Ojai and take it all in. “You definitely should go and see the next generation of great players of the future,” he writes.
“[Ojai] may be a small city, but it is the largest and most exciting tournament you that you may ever attend. The atmosphere is unique with tradition and high energy that rivals the Fed and Davis Cup. It is a great opportunity to bring your juniors to watch and inspire them to be a part of collegiate tennis. The best tennis viewing is at Libbey Park where the Pac-12 college championships are held.”
Akkerman thinks every Southern California resident should experience The Ojai. “Organize a road trip with some friends or your kids friends and be amazed at some great tennis with future and past tennis stars who regularly play in the Open Division. Those of you that have very high performance kids have gone up I am sure, but those who have never gone or know very little about this tournament need to add it to your résumé of great tennis experiences. It is a pleasant trip up the coast to see this historical tennis event.”
We couldn’t have said it any better.