The key to much of Courtney Nagel’s success has been to follow the bouncing ball.
It led her to college, where she earned a degree. It led her back to Bentwood Country Club, where she played and trained as a girl. And it has led her to raise a small fortune for local charities, to a minority stake in Bentwood, to ownership in several businesses … and to a permanent spot in her sport’s mecca – the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“Tennis has been my life,” said Nagel, 37. “It’s always given back to me. And it’s always made me happy.”
Slender and tall, Bentwood’s director of tennis started playing at age 5, when her mom would take her to the court and toss her balls. By age 12, she was playing in national tournaments. She knew then “tennis was going to be my path.”
After playing at and graduating from the University of New Mexico with honors, she came home to teach tennis during the summer while she searched for a “real job.” She jokes she’s still working her “summer job.”
“I don’t think I would like being in a cubicle in an office,” Nagel said. “That’s when I made the decision to stick with tennis.”
Nagel has helped grow Bentwood’s tennis program to more than 1,000 adult members, 300 junior players and a full-service fitness center. Her adult leagues boast the state’s highest percentage of participation of any U.S. Tennis Association program with at least 1,000 players. She also serves as director for seven local USTA tournaments that bring more than 2,500 people to town annually.
“We have a supportive and tennis-loving community,” she said. “They make my job easy.”
Her events, particularly Bentwood’s annual Slamfest, have raised more than $200,000 for local charities, mostly benefiting children. Those include the West Texas Boys Ranch and the Court Appointed Special Advocates.
“Being a good leader,” she said, “is not what you do for yourself; it’s about what you’re doing to help others.”
Bentwood’s community outreach was a factor that won it the USTA’s outstanding facility award at this year’s U.S. Open. The club’s robust leagues and renovated facilities also helped it claim the top prize.
“Now when you go to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” Nagel said, “there’s a board on a wall that lists all the outstanding facilities … and Bentwood Country Club is up there.
“So, of course, I got my picture taken next to it.”
Nagel’s professional interests aren’t limited to tennis. She co-owns two real estate ventures, an oilfield services company and Bentwood’s tennis shop.
“It’s a different outlet, but it’s definitely not as much fun” as tennis, she said. “I’d rather be out on the court.”
She’s begun teaching the game to her two young children, so she expects to be there – and at Bentwood – for a long time.
“I can’t see myself not on the court,” she said. “It’s been my life since I was a little kid.”