“J Tennis Center, this is Stacy, how may I help you?”
That’s what you’ll hear on the other end of the line when you call our Tennis Center–the voice of our very own Stacy Swiggart, the Tennis Operations Manager here at the J. The voice of encouragement and friendliness that strengthens a community center.
Stacy started working at JCC Denver on October 1st of 2016 after 25 years as Vice President and Operations Manager of the award-winning Tennis Center at Steamboat. A champion of tennis (as well as customer service), Stacy is the current USTA National Indoor Champion in both Women’s 40 and over and Women’s 50 and Over Doubles and her and her husband, Jim Swiggart, are ranked number one in the Husband/Wife Nationals. We took some time to get to know Stacy, and trust us, after meeting her, you’ll want to head over and practice your backhand swing.
How did you get into tennis?
Stacy Swiggart: I was eight years old when I started. There was a little park and rec program in our town (Grand Island, NE) where, for five dollars, you were enrolled in a six week program, three days a week. The instructor there had such a big influence on me–and I wasn’t even old enough to be in the program, I was supposed to be ten. And he said “I’ll sneak you in when you’re nine,” so my dad just hit some balls back and forth with me when I was eight. My sister and I went to our first tennis tournament about a year later, and it just took off from there.
As a child, what made you stick with tennis?
SS: We were a very outdoorsy family and I was a little tomboy and my sister was playing so I wanted to play tennis too! We had an instructor who had these targets and if we hit the target, he’d give us a dime or if we won a game, he bought us a coke. Just little things that mean a lot to a kid. It made it fun, and I think my dad was a big part of it too all through the years. I always joke with my dad, I’ll say, “Dad, I always knew when I won you carried my tennis bag, but when I lost, I had to carry it.” And he was like, “Seriously?!” Because mom and dad were the best tennis parents–they never got mad if we lost. That was the only negative I ever saw, so now, since I told him, as a joke he’ll say, “Here, let me have your bag!”–he’s 88, but I’ll still say, “I need you here to carry my bag, Dad!”
How did Denver ultimately become your home?
SS: I got a college scholarship and played tennis for four years at Oklahoma State and I was a Big-8 Champion all four years. We were ranked eighth in the country. After college, I went to Texas to teach and I taught a lot of tennis at a nice country club in Fort Worth. Then I met Jim, and he conned me into moving to Houston, so we were there for three years and I taught a lot of tennis. By then we were expecting our first child and Steamboat Springs popped on our radar. We worked there for 25 years and then decided it was time to pass the baton to another group. It was always a goal to move to Denver, so the timing was just right.
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
SS: We had zero members when we started here in 2016, and we have gotten it up to 215. We are just rockin’ it. The members are so excited to be back and to know they have us here. Everyone is thrilled and everyone is friends. It’s a really neat, fun facility. The people that walk through the door are so happy to be here, and we’re thrilled to give them this opportunity. Tennis is one big giant family. It’s a sport for a lifetime.
During our chat, a player was finishing up a lesson on the court. Upon their exit, Stacy made sure to say, “Keep playing tennis, you’re looking great!” It’s these sort of pick-me-ups that make the J feel like home. It’s her warm, inviting presence that will make you want to pick up a tennis racket ASAP.