WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland - TENNIS and pickleball pro at Sandals South Coast Norman Hall's love for the sport began at the young age of 13 when his mother registered him for tennis lessons at the Liguanea Club in Kingston.
Despite having no prior interest in the sport, young Norman would come to fall so deeply in love with it that he was adamant to continue training even after moving to live in Montego Bay, St James, on the cusp of adulthood. Fresh out secondary school, the Papine High School graduate found himself teaching tennis to tourists at various resorts on the north coast.
It is said that opportunities present themselves to those who go looking for them, and in search for more, Hall was invited to Minneapolis in the United States in 1990 to teach tennis to teenagers at a summer camp. There he met other tennis players who were also avid pickleball enthusiasts, and with a desire to upskill himself, Hall began training to add this to his list of talents.
Four years later he would find himself travelling once again to build on his skill, this time to Germany to continue his training in tennis. Over the years he seized opportunities to train and play with many athletes in both sports, including top pickleball player Kyle Yates, and to assist in training Jamaica's national tennis team.
While working in Montego Bay in 2014, Hall was recruited to join the Sandals South Coast team as a tennis pro. Though he was not familiar with the parish of Westmoreland, he knew it was an amazing opportunity and jumped at the challenge.
"Being one to always challenge myself, I knew joining the Sandals Resorts team was an undertaking that would be fruitful for me," said Hall.
With hopes of sharing his knowledge and skills with as many guests as possible, Hall can be found training first-time and committed returning guests at the break of dawn, daily. His goal with every guest is to ensure they approach learning in a relaxed manner.
"Tennis is best experienced when you don't take it too seriously. I teach my guests to focus on having fun. Growth takes time and you cannot develop a passion for something if you are too fixated on being perfect," he expressed with a smile.
Through his passion for tennis and pickleball, Hall has built a strong relationship with his guests and has seen many planning their vacations around their daily sessions with him. Among them are Sandals repeat guest and travel agent Celeste Gammon and her husband Tony Gammon. Even on their last day of vacation before catching their flight back home, they just had to fit in one last session with him.
"Norman is excellent and he works hard to make sure we have a great time. I have improved my pickleball skills tremendously," Tony said.
For Hall, his time at Sandals South Coast has pushed him to challenge himself and find new avenues to ensure his guests get the best out of their experience on the court.
He noted that over the last nine years he has had the opportunity to look at the hospitality industry through new lenses and has gained a deeper appreciation for exceeding guests' expectation and assisting to build their confidence in trying new things.
In his spare time, Hall maintains a consistent tennis instruction programme back home in Montego Bay, where he continues to impart his expertise to both children and adults. The father of five stated that one of his favourite memories was being able to play friendly matches with his children.
When asked what his advice would be to his 13-year-old self, Hall said it would be to stay committed to the plan and trust the process.
"I really appreciate my mother for taking the step to get me involved in tennis as this was what set the tone for a life and career I have grown to love. I could do this for the rest of my life, it is truly a gift that keeps on giving," said a reflective Hall.