Tennis & Life Camps
Neal Hagberg is the TLC Director. He has taught tennis, led music and entertainment, directed counseling, and headed the “life” portion of TLC since 1981, and has served as Director since 2011. Neal and his wife Leandra are nationally acclaimed singers and songwriters who have been awarded two McKnight Foundation Fellowships. He has also earned the USPTA's Elite Pro Certification. Neal’s unique combination of inspiring talks, motivating music, perceptive tennis teaching, and leadership skills have been crucial for the camp’s success.
Barb and Steve Wilkinson directed TLC from 1977 to 2010. Now they serve on the Board of Directors and continue to assist TLC. In 2010 Steve received the International Tennis Hall of Fame national education award and was inducted into the Intercollegiate Hall of Fame.
Dr. Dan McLaughlin is the Assistant Director of Tennis. Dan teaches at Wingate University near Charlotte, NC during the school year and heads staff training at TLC. His specialties are educational pedagogy and sports psychology. Dan has been a part of the TLC staff since 1991.
David Lachman is the new Assistant Director of Operations. David has served as the Assistant Women's Tennis Coach at Gustavus and is a Tennis Professional at Bearpath Golf & Country Club in Eden Prairie. He is in charge of controlling business operations of the camp as well as supervising instructors and office staff. David has been a part of the TLC staff since 2007.
Several experienced Gustavus staff members at TLC include:
Tommy Valentini- The Gustavus head men’s tennis coach since 2010 with three MIAC titles and 2012 MIAC Men's Tennis Coach of the Year; Tommy has coached at Tennis and Life for over ten years.
Jon Carlson- The Gustavus head women's tennis coach since 1990, Jon has coached his team to 20 MIAC titles, has been named MIAC Coach of the Year seven times and ITA DIII Coach of the Year twice; Jon has taught at TLC in the past and has joined again since 2012.
Heidi Carlson- Heidi is the Director of the Swanson Tennis Center. A two-time All-American for Gustavus, Heidi has won four MIAC singles championships. Heidi has taught at TLC in the past and has joined again since 2012.
Other experienced instructors include Nikolai Johansen, South St. Paul High School coach, Jen Johansen, South St. Paul high school teacher, and Liz Retzlaff, physical education teacher. All instructors are trained in tennis teaching methods, CPR, human relations, and counseling. They are known for their high energy levels, outgoing personalities, and positive reinforcement skills. A student/teacher ratio of 4:1 ensures individual attention.