#104: Chris Michalowski & Jorge Capestany - What was the one thing that altered the direction of your life?

Season #5

From time to time, The Coaching Podcast understands that we all lead busy lives, and sometimes you might have less than 10 minutes in your daily schedule to listen to The Coaching Podcast for inspiration. Therefore, our guest coaches this week are Coach Mick (Chris Michalowski) and Jorge Capestany - performance coaches who walk their talk. With years of coaching experience, these bite-sized interviews, from years ago, still hold true today when we reflect on their responses as to what makes a great coach:

Coach Mick (1 min, 50 seconds) - believes that a great coach has passion, compassion and empathy.

Coach Capestany  (4 mins, 58 seconds) - believes that a great coach can see possibilities, is a lifelong learner and can customize their content to meet the needs of the learner.

 Emma is very grateful to Jorge and his wife, Coach Marty, for their hospitality of love over the years and for introducing her to Coach Mick during a Polar Vortex in Michigan when they were both speaking at a high school conference. You can learn more about each coach below:  

Coach Mick, Chris Michalowski, USPTA Elite Professional & USTA High Performance Coach 

From Coach Mick:

My ultimate goal is to get to know you better, but first I will fill you in on who I am, just to break the ice.

My name is Chris Michalowski.  I am a USPTA Tennis Professional and Director of Tennis at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (click here to see) in one of the most pristine  areas of Northern Michigan.  Next to my faith, wife and family, tennis is a passion of mine that I hold dear to since I started playing, seriously anyway, at the age of 13.

Tennis really broke me out of my shell and gave me confidence in many different areas of my life.  I became a ranked junior player and was one match away from winning a state championship in high school.

Three years after I started playing, I started teaching at the Midland Community Tennis Center, in Midland Michigan.  It is known as one of the top clubs in the nation and recently, Midland won the “Best Tennis Town” by the United States Tennis Association.

I loved to teach and wanted to learn as much as I could about the game (it helped my playing too).  I knew that teaching was in my future, but my coach at the time encouraged me to stay in Architecture, my other career consideration , because of the long hours and the toll tennis takes on the body.

I was accepted into the University of Cincinnati’s architecture program, which was rated very high at the time, but the long hours in the studio kept me from playing and teaching.

While at Cincinnati, the Ferris State University coach called  and informed me that he wanted me to play on the team and  take part in their new Professional Tennis Management program, the first ever,  endorsed by the United States Professional Tennis Association.  I was all over it.

I walked through the doors and from there, never looked back.  I was a member of the varsity mens team and when I wasn’t hitting, I was absorbing all I could to become the best possible teaching professional that I could be.  I am still that way and it drives my wife crazy sometimes.  But to be honest, I feel that you can never stop learning and becoming even better at what you love to do.

I have remained at the resort for 25 years as the director and was a director in the summertime (for 4 years) at one of the most prestigious country clubs in the Midwest at the time.  Two jobs was a lot to handle so I decided to stay here where I feel like I was called to be. Thankfully, I stayed or I would not have met my incredible wife and parent four great kids we have been blessed with.

One thing that I will always stand by, just like playing a match, is that when you are up 5-2 in the set, remember how you got there and keep doing the things that got you there in the first place.  Don’t change your game style at a critical time,  especially when you are so close to winning the set

The same goes for my outlook on teaching and my career. I still average close to 40 hours a week on the tennis court, manage a staff of 12 teaching professionals/instructors and stay active building tennis in my community with sore knees and all.  I love being out there and that is what got me to where I am today, so why change things at 5-2 in the set?

Do I consider myself an expert?  The industry has said yes, but it is not that simple because tennis has changed over time and keeps advancing in exciting ways.  I feel that it is important for teaching professionals, like myself , to stay in tune with sport science, new trends and teaching techniques, technology  and new ways of teaching the game so that I can stay on top of “my game.” If I taught the same way I did 20 years ago, things would be very different for me right now and I would not have the opportunities and successes that I have been blessed with. Even as a USPTA Midwest Tester, I still learn something each time we administer the teaching exam to new tennis professionals.

So what does all this mean? It means that through the use of technology and my knowledge and relationships that I developed with experts from around the world, I hope to be able to have a relationship with you and help in any way that I can to take your game to the next level.

At a glance: 

  • Professional Tennis Management (PTM) Student of the Year, Ferris State University

  • USPTA Midwest Tester of the Year

  • Expanded current program from scratch to one of Tennis Magazines
    “Top 50” National Tennis Resorts 

  •  Director, #3 junior tennis program in the nation (Tennis Magazine 2002)

  • 2003 Michigan Tennis Professional of the Year

  • 2005 Michigan Tennis Professional of the Year

  • 2006 Midwest USTA Team Tennis Coordinator of the Year

  • 2006 USPTA National Star Award

  • 2006 USPTA/USTA National Community Service Award

  • 2006 USTA Midwest “Cap Leighton” Professional of the Year Award

  • 2006 Northern Michigan Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award

  • 2013 FSU/PTM Alumni of the Year

  • Created and administered largest in-school elementary school Rallyball Tennis Program in the nation (660 participants)

  • Coached 52 State of Michigan High School Tennis Finalists, resulting in 25 state champions

  • Member/Coach of USTA Michigan’s Coaching Commission

  • Member/Coach of the Midwest Coaching Commission

  • USPTA Certified Specialist in Competitive Player Development

  • Founder and Director of the Grand Traverse Team Tennis and Sports Academy (Tennis + 8 other sports introduced by top leaders in the community)

  • Founder of the Realtennis Network!


Certifications – USPTA Master Professional & PTR International Professional. Jorge is one of only ten people world-wide that has earned the Master Professional distinction with both the PTR and the USPTA. Jorge is also a certified Mental Toughness Specialist through the Human Performance Institute based on the life work of the legendary Dr. Jim Loehr. Jorge also holds a USTA Sports Science certification as well.

Honors  Jorge is a 6 time Michigan Pro of the Year and 2 time Midwest Pro of the Year. Jorge is also a member of the USPTA Midwest Hall of Fame. Jorge has been the recipient of many national level awards as a teaching professional and volunteer. In 2015, Jorge was awarded the TIA/PTR Commitment to the Industry Award for his long time work in the tennis industry. In Sept of 2015, Jorge was named the recipient of the 2015 Alex Gordon USPTA Professional of the Year award which he received in New Orleans.

Service to Tennis – Jorge has served as the President of the West Michigan USTA District, the President of the USPTA Midwest Division, the Chair of the PTR National Education Committee, and the USTA National 10 & Under Committee. Jorge was also one of original speakers for the Cardio Tennis team that traveled the US delivering workshops and training other professionals in Cardio Tennis. Jorge continues to serve as a USTA Faculty member  conducting workshops all over the US for other coaches. Jorge is also a member of the Wilson Premiere Speakers Team and speaks all of the country on behalf of Wilson Tennis. Jorge also serves as a consultant to many clubs in the tennis industry.

As an Entrepreneur – Jorge is the founder of Capestany Tennis Inc. which runs tennis websites for players and coaches. His coach’s website – www.TennisDrills.tv – has had thousands of subscribers in more than 65 countries world-wide and features more than 2,000 videos of tennis drills that can be viewed online and also printed off in diagram form. His website for tennis players – www.JorgeCapestany.com – features free video lessons for players of all levels as well as a FREE Mental Toughness Video Course and eBook. Jorge was the founder (and later sold) the Tennis T-shirt company Havana Bobs Tennis Shirts which still serves thousands of tennis clubs in the industry

As an Author – Jorge has been published in several industry publications and in 1998 he authored his first booklet titled “Tennis Strategy” His second book – “Mental Toughness – workbook for Tennis” is now available only as an eBook and can be accessed for free as part of Jorge’s FREE Mental Toughness Video Course on this website or by clicking HERE. Jorge’s third book was a collaboration between the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and Triumph Books titled – The International Book of Tennis Drills.

As a Personal Coach  Jorge’s programs have developed more than 180 HS State Tennis Champions in Michigan. Jorge has been the personal coach to many nationally ranked juniors in the US including three national champions (Gold Ball winners). Jorge’s personal students have earned College Scholarships totaling in the multi-millions in value.

As a Speaker  Jorge is one of the most sought after speakers in the tennis world. He is an internationally recognized speaker that frequently presents at the most prestigious National and International tennis conferences, including, the PTR International Tennis Symposium, the USPTA World Conference on Tennis, the USTA’s Tennis Teachers Conference at the US Open in New York, the PTR Asia Tennis Symposium in Shanghai China, and the ITF worldwide coaches conference in Cancun Mexico, the Norwegian Tennis Conference in Oslo, Norway, the Tennis Canada coaches road tour throughout Canada, the PTR Wimbledon coaches conference in London, and many regional and national conferences around the US. Jorge is also a member of the “USTA National Tennis Center Professional Advisory Staff” at the US Open.

On the Tennis Channel – Jorge was the featured tennis professional on three separate instructional shows on the Tennis Channel. These were all a part of the OnCourt with USPTA show series.