Robert Carlbo – Head Tennis Trainer
Robert Carlbo prides himself more in being the best at his work than being the best known.
Born in 1967 in Liberia, Africa, to a Liberian mother and a Swedish father, Robert started playing tennis at the age of six. That same year, Robert was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes, a rare degenerative hip disease that affects 1 in 1,200 children. Motivated by his intense desire to play tennis, Robert kept moving, despite being forced at times to use crutches and a prosthetic brace.
“I wanted to play tennis so badly, I just kept moving,” said Robert, 42. “I spent a great deal of time focusing on being fast and fit. I continue that today, and usually spend 30 minutes jumping rope daily, along with my regular fitness program. I’m pretty fanatical about fitness.”
Robert attended a Swedish school in Liberia until he was 12 years old when he went to live in Sweden while his father recovered from a massive stroke. There, he played at a tennis club but was told he’d probably never amount to any kind of player and suggested he be a teacher of tennis instead. He did, in fact, become a certified tennis instructor in Sweden in 1982 at the age of 15!
Still playing while teaching at the club, Robert was noticed by one of Sweden’s Davis Cup captains and was elevated to the higher-level group of junior players and quickly found success. He moved to New Hampshire in the 10th grade to attend a college preparatory school and was undefeated during his high school tennis career. Acceptance to Pepperdine dictated a move to California where he played for the school following a red-shirted freshman year. Robert continued coaching during this time.
College was followed by 1 1/2-year stint on the professional tour where he played against the likes of countrymen Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Mikael Pernfors and Stefan Eriksson. He reached a world ranking of No. 429.
“After that period, I came to Florida, attended Eckerd College and earned a degree in international business with minors in marketing and anthropology,” said Robert. “I became a technical consultant in corporate America until I took a sales job, which I hated. It was then that I made up my mind never to do sales again but to focus on doing my own thing.”
Robert returned to teaching tennis and approached his career with a vengeance, becoming P-1 certified with the USPTA and a Professional P3 with PTR, as well as a special certification in teaching wheelchair tennis. He transferred his knack with detail and preparation skills from sales to teaching tennis and vowed to focus 100% on his students, no matter the age or level.
Robert taught for a while at Saddlebrook until the commute became tiresome. For nearly two years, he’s taught at the North Pinellas YMCA in Tampa, and teaches wheelchair tennis for both Clearwater at its McMullen Tennis Complex and Blaze Sports in Tampa.
Carlbo is the head coach of the East Lake High School boys’ tennis team, and teaches junior development tennis for the 11-17 age group. He runs a USTA 10 and Under Tennis program at the North Pinellas YMCA and at surrounding elementary schools, and teaches a variety of adult clinics. Carlbo coaches some of the top juniors in Florida and is visited regularly by ATP and WTA touring pros. He mentors coaches from Sweden, China, Great Britain and the U.S.
“I’m always trying to improve and find ways to become better,” said Robert. “I try to find ways to make tennis easier to teach by explaining the game as best I can for each of my students. I am a firm believer in good technique and start Day 1 with footwork.
“I take my lessons seriously and love my job. I wouldn’t want any other job.”
Unassuming? Definitely! Hard-working? Certainly! Dedicated to students? Absolutely!
Carlbo Tennis offers top high performance tennis training in Tampa Florida. We training and instruction for under 10 youth, juniors, adults, coaches, professional ATP/WTA, college players, and disabled athletes. Contact us to learn more about our private instruction and camps.
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