By Harry Lichtman
Adam Stein is in charge of all things tennis at the JCC of Greater Baltimore.
“I string tennis rackets,” said Stein, who has been the tennis director at the JCC for 17 years. “I teach lessons; run the camp; order all the equipment we need; decide on how the program is going to run, specifically how we’re going to teach each age group to get the most out of their experience.”
Stein, 45, has been working at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC for 25 years. When he took over the tennis program, he had only a handful of students and has since turned the program into a successful one.
“I have a very good reputation in the community,” Stein said. “[Almost everywhere I go] somebody knows me or someone has heard of me and the JCC’s tennis program. We have a really good program running there that attracts a lot of people.”
Stein grew up in Randallstown. He went to Randallstown High School and Temple Emanuel in Kensington, where he attended Hebrew school and had his bar mitzvah. He went to college at Towson University and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. In addition, he has multiple certifications, including in CPR, first aid, tennis pro and personal training.
“At one point, I had a lifeguarding certification, everything that helps me to do my job,” Stein said.
Stein became interested in tennis through activities with his family. His parents and brothers all played the sport.
“Every summer, we would go down to the Sea Colony with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my cousins,” he said. “We would all get up early and go play tennis before we started the day.”
Despite playing a lot of tennis growing up, Stein never thought about going pro.
“I’m not even close to that skill level,” he said. “I was not very athletic growing up. It was through training and dedication that I became good. I think that, because of this, I am truly able to understand the process of learning tennis, which translates to my ability to break down the skills for students.”
Stein met his wife Felicia at the JCC. They have been married for nearly 20 years and have two sons, Brendan, 17, and Max, 15. They belong to Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation.
Early in the pandemic, Stein had to stop teaching tennis and go on unemployment, but he continued to stay in contact with his students and created videos and virtual programs.
One silver lining for him was that he had more time to spend with his wife and sons, something that had not been available to him before the world came to a halt.
When Stein was able to return to work last July, he quickly created a safe way for camp and lessons to resume.
“This has turned into quite the juggling act,” Stein said. “It’s worth every effort though, to bring joy and exercise to the J Tennis Academy students.”
Harry Lichtman is a feelance writer.