For Seth Meyer, tennis isn’t merely a job, it’s a lifestyle.
Not only is he tennis director and head teaching professional at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport, he’s utilized the sport to benefit such societal concerns as hunger and homelessness.
That combination of interests has led Meyer to be selected one of 10 finalists in Tennis Channel’s “America’s Top Coach Contest.” The winners will be announced the week of May 10.
“The whole contest has been a lot of fun, and to advance all the way to the top 10 in the country, I feel very honored by that,” said Meyer, who lives in Camden with his wife Erin and son Will, 12. “It’s a great testament to the amazing tennis community we have on the Midcoast.”
Candidates for the award were nominated from five regions. The top 50 — 25 men and 25 women — were determined by the highest number of nominations, along with a panel of Tennis Channel judges.
Fan voting narrowed the field to the top five men and top five women, and the final round of voting now underway continues through Sunday.
Fans may vote once daily at tennis.com.
“As we’ve gone through this process I’ve heard from so many people that I’ve worked with throughout the years and continue to connect with in that way and they say, ‘We’re voting for you,’” Meyer said. “The outpouring of support has been really overwhelming and I’m very fortunate to have worked with so many great people over the years.”
The grand prize winners will be featured on Tennis Channel, Tennis.com, in Tennis Magazine and in the Topspin newsletter. Each will receive a $500 Amazon gift card and a commemorative trophy.
“I’m a competitive person and it would be awesome to win,” Meyer said, “but the support I’ve received to this point is just so gratifying and I’m thankful for that.”
Meyer grew up competing in tennis at Cony High School in Augusta. As a senior he played second singles behind individual state champion John Gasink as the Rams captured the 1994 Class A state championship.
Meyer graduated from the University of Maine, then moved to the West Coast where he started coaching tennis in 1998. He became a full-time teaching professional at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton, Oregon.
But the longing to raise a family in Maine prompted the Meyers to move back in 2005, and he landed his current job at the Midcoast Recreation Center.
“I wasn’t certain when I started coaching tennis that it was going to be a career at that point, but as I’ve gotten older my passion for it has increased,” Meyer said. “I’ve been at MRC for 16 years and this facility suits me well in a lot of ways.”
Meyer continued to play tennis competitively and was ranked No. 1 in Maine mixed doubles play in 2012 and No. 1 in New England for men’s doubles in 2013.
He also was honored as the Maine Tennis Association’s tournament director of the year in both 2012 and 2013.
“I take great pride in that the people that I teach are of all ages and abilities,” Meyer said.
The MRC was recognized by the U.S. Tennis Association as New England organization of the year in 2017 and as the MTA’s indoor tennis facility of the year in 2013 and 2017.
“I have kids that go off and play college tennis, I teach beginner adults, so I find a lot of joy in being out on court with all skills and all ages,” he said.
Meyer began holding benefit tournaments in 2006 with the first “Serving to End World Hunger” event at the Midcoast Recreation Center.
“We were just sitting around brainstorming with my dad [fellow MRC teaching pro Bruce Meyer] and stepmother and extended family and my family, and we just wanted to give back in some way,” said Meyer, who also serves as board president of Tennis Without Borders.
“Certainly the need for something like that in the Midcoast region and statewide and globally is there, so we started the first year and it went so well that here we are 15 years later and it’s still going strong.”
That event is held around Thanksgiving and the 2020 edition raised nearly $30,000 despite being conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meyer and his mother, Carolyn Neighoff, used that template to create the “Serving to Prevent Homelessness” tournament in 2015. Held each March at the Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta, it supports Stepping Stone Housing, a local, volunteer-run program helping those who earn less than a living wage find housing en route to a better life.
The two tournaments have combined to raise approximately $400,000 over the years, and the Meyer family was named the U.S. Tennis Association’s family of the year in 2018.