For the past six years, Humes, who played at the University of Nevada, Reno as well as professionally and is a United States Professional Tennis Association certified teacher, has headed the youth tennis program for the City of Sparks Parks and Recreation department. Humes teaches Pee-Wee tennis lessons to children ages 4-5 and youth lessons to kids from ages 6-17. Along with tutoring tennis for Sparks Parks and Rec, Humes also has a mobile youth tennis program in which he goes to pre-schools and day cares in the area exposing kids to tennis. Although the lessons keep him busy, his love for the game is still strong.
“I love doing it,” Humes said. “This is my sixth year with the City and it’s been great. It’s nice to be able to offer tennis through the City of Sparks and give local kids that option. There are so many great things about tennis. I really enjoy it.”
One of the things that Humes said he enjoys the most about sharing the game with those he teaches is witnessing their progress.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time, but my favorite part is still just seeing the kids’ progress,” Humes said. “My favorite part is teaching and seeing the kids enjoy it and be successful. It’s always fun watching them learn and improve. I think when they are young kids is the perfect time to start them because tennis is just such a great lifetime sport.”
Humes’ passion for tennis has shown through with the success of the Parks and Rec program. Many parents have cited his approach to teaching their children and his overall attitude as a main reason they continue to enroll their kids in the program.
“It is one of our more popular programs and almost every single sessions fills up,” said Cindy Brantner, a Sparks Parks and Rec representative said. “I think a big part of that is the instructor. We get a lot of repeat customers. Mark does a great job with the kids. He’s a really patient person and no matter the playing level of the kid, he teaches them from there.”
“It’s nice to know that we have someone who is experienced and that we know is very patient with the kids. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s so good with the kids. Even with the little kids all the way up to the adults. He can just get tennis across to all of them no matter what age they are. It’s nice to have one instructor that can do it all.”
Matt Kaplan, whose daughters Isabel, 6, and Sophie, 4, just recently finished a session with Humes, supported Brantner’s words.
“He seems to be very organized and have some sort of lesson plan that he is following,” Kaplan said. “You can actually see him building skills. My only critique would be that the lessons aren’t offered for a longer period of time or year long.”
Parents are not the only individuals that enjoy Humes coaching. The kids also have fun with the lessons as Humes constantly presents with new material through various games.
“It’s good to mix them up a lot. They seem to like it a lot. They seem to have a good time and really enjoy it,” Humes said. “They like to play all the different tennis games. That’s their favorite part. I just try to mix up the activities a lot. I try to make it so that I’m giving them different activities so that they’re not doing the same thing all the time. The whole philosophy is just to expose kids to tennis in a really fun way. That’s the most important thing.”
Regardless of whether he is coaching a child one-on-one or a group of 10, Humes will continue to do it to the best of his ability and with an unmatched dedication.
“I just want to teach and pass on that tennis is a good lifetime sport. It’s fun to see the kids try a sport that is a lifetime sport. It’s just neat to see kids try different things,” Humes said. “Tennis is fun to play and it’s a family sport. I just want to teach them the basics of tennis. Maybe they can come out with their parents and try to hit the ball back and forth. That’s kind of the goal of the lessons, to try to get them to that point. That’s always good to see.”