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Giammalva Racquet Club's new tennis pro entertains while teaching

Henri Elkins
Henri Elkins

Giammalva Racquet Club’s newest tennis professional is the Harlem Globetrotter of the tennis court.

Henri Elkins, a USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) certified pro, is also known as “Bijou” in tennis circles. His Bijou Tennis Show is a combination of sport, spoof and spectacular acrobatic trick shots that has entertained spectators around the world.

Today, Elkins may reenact his show as entertainment for club members and guests, but his main focus is to share his knowledge and talent to teach the principles of tennis and the importance of enjoying the game to adults and juniors. He infuses his lessons with the benefits of exercise, good eating habits and enough sleep.

Before he joined GRC he worked as head pro and director of tennis at several facilities and has been a personal coach to nationally ranked juniors and former and current touring professionals. He has shared his expertise as a speaker at USPTA, PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) and USTA (United States Tennis Association) teaching conventions and international symposiums.

Elkins, born and raised in Southern California, was ranked consistently among the state’s top ten juniors and earned All-American status for four straight years playing on the California Baptist and Southern Texas State university teams. After college he competed on the ATP tour and did modestly well. His professional highlights included wins over 25th ranked Luis Tavares of Brazil, the No. 5 ranked player in Belgium and the No. 4 ranked French player. In 1977 he won seven first class series tournaments in France and reached the semifinals at the Gaston Open in Alabama.

The idea for the Bijou Tennis Show was born when his father Alfred Elkins took his son Henri to see the Harlem Globetrotters perform at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles in 1975. The realization that tennis should be fun prompted Henri and his dad, a former Vaudeville performer, to put together a show called the “Court Jesters,” which played clubs, tournaments and celebrity events for four years in the United States. Their big break came when a Pro Serv Europe executive saw the show and signed them to a contract. After Elkins left the professional tour, the show, renamed the Bijou Tennis Show, visited more than 31 countries, performing at ceremonies such as the opening day for the Australian, French and US Open, as well as at private shows for clubs. Sponsors included brand names such as Adidas, Mercedes, Channel, Dunlop, IBM, Penn, Puma and Ford.

In 1998 Elkins returned to the States to coach and manage programs in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and California before arriving at GRC this year.

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