Learn From Every Person You Meet: Q&A with Max Mangones
Cliff Drysdale Tennis takes immense pride in our incredibly talented staff. Each of them has their own story, and their own methods. Each month we take you behind the curtain to learn more about those that make the #UltimateTennisExperience possible. Today we’re talking with Max Mangones, Director of Tennis at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Max, can you talk a little about how you got into tennis even before your time as a coach? Max Mangones: So my background starts in Port of Prince, Haiti. My dad liked to play and so I would follow him to the courts and eventually started hitting against the wall. From there I started playing in some junior clinics at the club, and immediately fell in love with the sport. Soon I was playing local tournaments and on the court 6 or 7 days a week. Soon I was playing for Haiti in a lot of National and International tournaments, which was an honor. I got a college scholarship at Barry University in Miami, and majored in Sports Management. The goal for me from day one was to find a place from day one to be a director of tennis.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Wow, so you knew what you wanted a pretty young age. How did get your start with Cliff Drysdale Tennis?
Max Mangones: Well, I was teaching and doing some admin work in New York for a little while after college, but my then girlfriend and now wife and I wanted to move back to Miami. I moved around a little bit at the start before I met Don (Henderson), and the rest was history. I started as a pro at the Ritz. I worked my way up and became a Director at a few different CDT clubs in Miami before coming full circle to where I am now as the Director of the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: When you look back at your early days of coaching, what do you wish you could tell yourself? What are some of the biggest things you've learned over the years?
Max Mangones: That's a great question. I think as a young pro you're often times trying to over-teach. I was eager to teach and fix somebody's forehand, for example, but sometimes I didn't fully understand how every player is different and has to be treated individually. Just because what I thought was the right thing to do, doesn't mean it's going to be easy for every player to use that same advice. So I think I would just tell myself to keep it simpler, and build relationships with your players. That's how you break down some of those fears of change, and it's also what makes this job so special. But to be honest, there's nothing that beats experience, so while I would love to have had the skills I have now at a young age, I'm glad I was able to learn over time and put in so many valuable hours.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Clearly you love to be on court Max, and all your loyal clients would say the same, but as a Director with a large staff how do you balance your time on and off the court?
Max Mangones: I think age has balanced that for me (laughing). I don't think I can spend as much time on the court as I used to. But overall the goal for me is to spend a good amount of time on the court so that I can have that pulse of the customer like the rest of our staff does, and also to relate to our younger pros. If you spend all of your time off court then they might not be as willing to dig deep with you and put their heart and soul into the program. So I definitely still try to lead by example on court. At the same time, it's so important here at the Ritz that I spend equal if not more time off the court to manage all of the moving parts we have going on here form programming, membership, maintance and overseeing our staff.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Speaking of your staff, you do have a lot of young pros working with you. How do you work with them to help them progress their career?
Max Mangones: Great question again. For me, I always wanted to be a Director. Now, not everyone is like that. Some people do just want to teach. But I always try to make them understand that if you do truly love tennis, this is an amazing career path to chase. You spend a lot time on the court playing tennis, but at the same time you are running a business. And so trying to really teach them that business side is the key. It really is a great career if you have. the passion.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Last one, Max. You've worked under a lot of influential leaders in your career before becoming a Director. Who were some of your mentors and what did you take from them?
Max Mangones: I think I learned from almost every person I worked with. From my early days in New York to my time in Miami, I just tried to ask a lot of questions and understand how others are doing their job so well. With CDT, I learned from so many people and especially the corporate staff with Don and Scott (Colebourne) to see how much they are planning in advance. I remember when I saw what Scott was doing in Vermont at the time; he had mapped out a year in advance of events and programming. That really woke me up. So just being organized and learning from everybody you meet. Everybody has different talents and knowledge and so I try to soak that up.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis: Thanks Max!