Teaching a New Generation
Since moving to Aberdeen, Josh Hadler has been sharing his love of tennis with the community.

Teaching a New Generation

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Josh Hadler returning a volley during a tennis match in Aberdeen. Photo courtesy of John Davis.
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Josh Hadler moved to Aberdeen in 2021 and immediately jumped into the tennis scene. Photo courtesy of John Davis.

Josh Hadler is finding net gains living in Aberdeen.

After moving to the Hub City in 2021 from Hartford City, Indiana, Hadler quickly got involved in the sport of tennis. He not only competes in league play, the 26-year-old also gives free lessons to youth.

“It’s been a pretty big part of my life for most of my life,” Hadler said of the game. “When I was a youth, I played a lot of other sports, so the focus wasn’t just on tennis.”

Hadler grew up in Ohio where he also competed in soccer, basketball and baseball as well, but ended up settling on tennis.

“Now, being an adult, it’s a lot easier to find people to play tennis than other sports,” Hadler said. “It’s a lot safer for injury-wise, too.”

Hadler and his wife, Jeannie, are both engineers at 3M, and that’s what brought them to Aberdeen. Once he knew their destination Hadler said he checked out the tennis landscape.

“Right when I knew I was going to Aberdeen, I was looking at anything I could find with tennis,” he said, “just Google searching.”

What Hadler found was opportunities to compete as well as teach.

He plays in men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles in Aberdeen, plus travels to Watertown each week to play in a league there. He also had played in numerous tournaments.

Hadler has also invested in the lives of youth, offering lessons to anyone willing to show up on a weekly basis.

“A lot of what my goals are just to help people take on the skills that I can hopefully try to pass down on them,” Hadler said.

He said he enjoys working with young kids and watching them grow.

“That’s where I see a lot of the improvement could be, is through the youth,” Hadler said.

Hadler works with individuals who have varying degrees of skill levels. While that can be trying at times, he also said it can be very rewarding.

“Sometimes it can be a lot of patience, just depending on how fast the kid develops. It can be different for each kid,” Hadler said. “Some kids get it right away and they have that hand-eye coordination and some of them don’t. And some of them that don’t, could all of a sudden pick it up one day.”

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Hadler has been sharing his love of tennis with the next generation of players by giving free lessons to the kids in town. Photo courtesy of John Davis.

While Hadler is an accomplished player, his greatest satisfaction comes when a youth understands a concept and then begins to instruct others.

“Probably the best thing that I’ve seen so far from anybody in Aberdeen was one time somebody for some reason just really understood the forehand, like the entire shot, and she was showing all her friends how to do it,” Hadler said. “I thought that was like the best help.”

He said sometimes kids might not think they can execute a shot if it comes from a coach but may have a higher level of confidence if they see a peer accomplish it.

Hadler spends nearly every night out on the tennis court but has somehow managed to find time to add Pickleball to his demanding schedule.

While both sports are similar in that they require striking a ball across a net, Hadler said they are also quite different.

“There’s a lot less frustration sometimes with Pickleball. Tennis is a more technical sport,” Hadler said. “I can try to hit the ball 80 percent speed in tennis and it will go out. I miss a lot, so then I have to really lower it, but Pickleball there’s a lot more forgiveness with just a paddle and a Wiffle ball. It’s a lot easier to not mess up, I guess.”

Hadler and his brother finished second in the highest division of doubles during a Pickleball tournament in Sioux Falls this past summer.

However, it is tennis that Hadler spends most of his time playing and teaching.

Even last year’s harsh winter did not slow him down.

“Last winter I did play a lot at the indoor court in downtown Aberdeen,” Hadler said. “I did play at least 2-3 times a week. That was quite a bit.”

When asked what he liked about tennis, Hadler paused for a minute.

“It’s just what I really enjoy to do,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve always been drawn to.”

While the game requires physical skills, Hadler said tennis also features a major mental component.

“It’s a big head game, too. In tennis, there’s a lot of strategy involved,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways you can beat a player. Those are things that can be appetizing to tennis or even other sports, too.”

His best advice for young players wanting to get better?

Practice, but not to the point of getting burned out.

“Consistency is the key. I wouldn’t suggest doing it for hours and hours and hours every single day, but maybe an hour or two, maybe three a day, depending on what helps improve the game,” Hadler said. “It’s not going to be an immediate thing getting better.”

He said in some cases the best learning takes place when times are the toughest.

“Sometimes the struggling, that’s the part where you’re going to improve the most and get the most out of it,” he said.

And as much as Hadler enjoys competing against others, he has reached a point in his life where now his most satisfaction comes from seeing others progress in the game.

“Now my desire is through other people,” he said.

When asked if he ever thought that he would one day be in Aberdeen, S.D., spending hours on a tennis court, Hadler responded, “Well, not the Aberdeen, South Dakota part. That was never really in my books to move here, but just with 3M, they’re really big into the N-95 respirators and during COVID, they really took off with that production.”

As a result, Hadler and his wife landed in the Hub City and have found a spot that they feel connected to.

“My wife and I, we definitely really enjoy the community here. It’s somewhere that we would definitely be willing to stay longer term here,” Hadler said. “Obviously, a lot of opportunities within the community to help it grow and help us grow ourselves, and our future family, too.” //

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