In celebration of Women’s History Month, throughout March USTA Florida is celebrating all the women whose passion and presence continue to fuel the growth and success of tennis — at every level. We’re committed to supporting, elevating and attracting diverse women to all aspects of the tennis industry in Florida.

A tennis fitness specialist and a USPTA and PTR certified tennis professional, Michele Krause has been engaged with tennis her entire life. Krause is well-known for her involvement in Cardio Tennis, the high-energy fitness activity that combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise, since its inception. She served as the program’s Global Education Director for nearly 15 years, helping to make it an integral part of tennis culture throughout the world. Now that Cardio Tennis is managed by the USTA, Krause, who resides in Sarasota, serves as a consultant to help expand and promote the program. 

When did you first pick up a racquet and how did you get your start in the sport?

I was about 10 and my parents introduced me to the sport at public courts.

You were involved with Cardio Tennis from the beginning and really developed it over the years. Can you share some history behind the program, including what led to its creation, when it launched, and how you grew it to where it is today?

Cardio Tennis was a concept that started in 2004. The Tennis Industry Association, under the leadership of Jim Baugh and Jolyn DeBoer, looked at data and trends at the time and saw that fitness activities were beating out traditional sports in participation. The question became how could “tennis” compete, and Cardio Tennis was born. It was launched at the US Open in 2005 and is now part of global tennis culture. Growing it, like anything, takes a lot of love, sweat, tears, and passion. It sounds corny but it really came from the heart; the people involved over the decades all have a very pure strong love for the product.

What makes Cardio Tennis so successful?

It is successful because it brings so much joy to so many people. It also ticks off a lot of boxes; you get a great workout, it’s the most social group fitness class in the world, you improve your tennis skill, it is inclusive, it’s appropriate for all fitness and ability levels, it’s so much fun you lose all track of time, and it is really empowering.

Why is Cardio Tennis a great way to retain active tennis players and attract new ones?

For all the reasons above but also many people are time-crunched so a 60-minute workout is what people want. It’s not a technical class (although I will argue athletes improve faster in Cardio Tennis than traditional teaching) and people want to play quickly and they can do that in Cardio Tennis regardless of ability level because we use the orange cardio ball. It is games based, but scorekeeping is not a huge part of it. So while there is competition, it is stress-free and empowering.

What is your history in the sport before you started Cardio Tennis?

I’ve been coaching since I graduated from college and never stopped. I’ve worked in the Bahamas, Mexico, California, Washington and then moved to Florida to help build a Tennis and Fitness Club in Punta Gorda.

What is your ultimate ambition as a coach?

To empower people.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Everything is rewarding, but my sweet spot is bringing new athletes into the sport.

It’s known there aren’t many women in positions of sports leadership across the country – why does that need to change?

It is changing and getting better but more needs to happen. Women are more than capable of being in sports leadership roles and they can bring great skills to the table.

Why is it important to recruit not only more women coaches but more women in positions of leadership in the tennis industry?

As a population, we are close to 50/50 so it only makes sense we have the representation.

What advice would you give to other women who may be hesitant to take the leap to a higher-level position?

Be confident and go for it, you can’t get there if you don’t try and be persistent.

For more inspiring features on women in Florida tennis, click here, and be sure to follow @ustaflorida on social media throughout the month of March.