Our Story

Matt and son.At 52 years of age I became a first-time dad. Wow! What an eye-opening, happy, stressful, and magical time! A couple of years later, Aidan was in his “adventurous twos,” stage and I began tapping balloons around the house with him and having a great time simulating a little game of balloon tennis.

In the same month Aidan and I began playing our tennis games as I ended my 11-year run at the Director of Tennis at Boca Royal Golf and Country Club in Sarasota, Florida. The year was 2010 and the economy was in a deep recession. The owners of Boca Royal sold the club a few months later.

After two weeks of unemployment, I woke up one morning with an idea to develop a tennis program for children my son’s age through the age of six or eight. And what better way to present it than take the program into schools?!

I began coaching kids and developing the tennis program at my son’s preschool, Carlton Academy in downtown Tampa. The school Director there, Monica, was open to the idea and the classes became very popular. Parents loved having their kids involved and active in the game of tennis at an early age. That month we registered 24 children at Carlton and we were off and running!

Until the TotStart Tennis program was formed, tennis was strictly a six-and-OVER sport. Even today, if you bring your child to most tennis facilities at the age of 3 or 4, the tennis pro will more than likely smile that “no-thanks smile” and then tell you to come back in a couple of years. Even the USTA’s (United States Tennis Association) 10-and-under program is not inclusive of kids under the age of six.

Fast forward to 2018. We are still coaching tennis to children at Carlton Academy and now to more than 25 additional preschools in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. Every week the coaching staff at TotStart Tennis Academy teaches year-round classes to more than 350 kids! That makes us the largest year-round junior tennis program in Hillsborough County and most likely in the state of Florida. We continue to expand in Florida and we even have TotStart Tennis programs in North and South Carolina!

Our goal is the same as it was five years ago: Instill a love of tennis in young girls and boys, teach them the ABCs of tennis, give them confidence in themselves…and have FUN!

Matt Cunningham
PTR Tennis Professional
Owner, TotStart Tennis Academy