Former tennis pro hosts clinic in Powell

Posted 5/27/21

Luke Jensen had never visited Powell, Wyoming, but it didn’t take long for him to feel like he was home.

Years before becoming a professional tennis player and coach, Jensen grew up in …

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Former tennis pro hosts clinic in Powell


Luke Jensen had never visited Powell, Wyoming, but it didn’t take long for him to feel like he was home.

Years before becoming a professional tennis player and coach, Jensen grew up in Ludington, Michigan, a town of just over 8,000 people. When he arrived at Powell High School to host a clinic on May 19, Jensen knew he was in the right place. 

“I grew up on courts like this in a city like this,” Jensen said. “We had four high school tennis courts in my community.”

Jensen played nearly two decades on the ATP Tour, competing in both doubles and singles. In doubles, he reached a No. 6 ranking in 1993 and won the French Open that year alongside his younger brother, Murphy.

Since retiring from the playing realms, Jensen has stepped into coaching, including stops at Syracuse University and the New York Empire of World TeamTennis. He also provides commentary for ESPN’s tennis broadcasts.

With his French Open media assignment postponed to late May due to COVID-19, Jensen had spare time to spread his knowledge to the next generation of racqueteers. The former tennis pro chose to hold clinics in a region he had never previously been. 

“I had never been to Yellowstone,” Jensen said, “so I reached out to [USTA Wyoming Executive Director] Peg Connor, and she started calling around and giving me names around Wyoming.”

In addition to Powell, Jensen also made stops in Green River, Jackson, Rawlins and Sheridan, also venturing to Yellowstone National Park in his spare time. The turnouts were strong at each of the Wyoming clinics, with dozens of people of all ages attending. Green River’s was the largest showing, with nearly 70 players on the courts. 

Despite the smaller populations in these areas, there’s great value in holding clinics in rural communities, according to Jensen. 

“The bottom line is there’s so many tennis players outside of places on the main tour,” Jensen said. “When you hear my story, that I came from a town like this, and I played in grand slams, there’s always something that’s possible.”

Having coached for nearly two decades, Jensen has different methods for different levels of players he coaches. For younger, less experienced players, much of the focus lies on improving their mental games. 

“What it takes to handle a deficit, what it takes to pull a match that you’re losing out of the fire and find a way to win,” Jensen said. “I try to get them in a frame of mind that they can coach themselves.”

As for adults, Jensen preaches technique and expands their arsenals. 

“We talk about doubles and a lot of strategy and a lot of live-ball stuff,” he said. “If everybody’s kind of the equal ability, we put them in plug-and-play situations. I try to give them a couple new shots; drop shots and things like that.”

Even though his coaching methods may vary based on players’ skill, age and experience, his common goal is similar for everyone. 

“Just go out there and have fun,” Jensen said.

While tennis isn’t necessarily the sport Powell is most known for, the town has seen an uptick in tennis success in recent memory. The Panther boys’ team won the state title in 2019, and 1999 PHS grad Josh Cossitt was recently voted one of the Top 10 tennis coaches in the United States by 

Roughly 30 tennis players attended the clinic at Powell High School, with participants ranging from 13 to 63 years old. 

PHS head coach Joe Asay thinks having a tennis veteran like Jensen will only increase the popularity across the region. And for Jensen, that fulfills his goal of why he hosts clinics. 

“It’s another opportunity for people to see there is tennis going on here,” Asay said. “For those who have been around the game for a long time, it was neat cause we know that name. It stirs the enthusiasm a little bit.”

Added Jensen, “I always think when you come to these communities, you want to instill the game of a lifetime. They may not be the next Roger Federer, but you know what, they can play in college, they can play at the next level. They can instill this game into their lives that they can have forever.”