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  • Kimberly Runyan

PBI Associate Spotlight: Art Santos

Fate… a word I would use to describe the pathway that has led to a career in PBI. That pathway, even though I had no clue it was happening, started even before PBI was founded back in 1975. Growing up in Hawai’i, my tennis all started due to a natural disaster. As a child, a tsunami destroyed much of the coastal town of Hilo, including our home. After a few years of searching, we finally settled in a home next to the only public tennis courts in town, right in my backyard! I truly believe I would not have been in the tennis industry if not for this relocation at the age of 7.

As I continued to play this sport throughout my childhood, a chance encounter at age 17 was my first introduction to Peter Burwash. Unfortunately, it was in the first round of a doubles tennis tournament where Peter and his partner were the #1 seeds. We got shellacked but after the match, Peter spent about 5-7 minutes talking to me and in true Peter fashion, started with all the great things I did in the match (took about a minute) and then spent the rest of the time pointing out things that I could work on. But I left with a feeling that he cared, wanting me to improve and succeed in this game, and as it turns out, also in life. After college, a tennis friend of mine told me about a start-up company by Peter, made up of tennis teaching professionals that was headquartered in Honolulu and that I should check it out. At that time, a career as a tennis professional was not common. Maybe a summer job or do it for a couple of years before, as my parents would put it, “finding a real job!” So, I thought, “Why not try it for a few years, get a chance to see the world, while doing something that I enjoyed... tennis.“

Joined PBI in 1979, the thought of doing this gig for a couple of years has come and gone… 44 years to be exact coming up in September. Peter’s vision of forming PBI was to establish a pathway for the opportunity to have a career in tennis, and as the company continued to grow, it also established a pathway for my own life. I must pinch myself sometimes. With all the opportunities from a professional and personal growth perspective, having been educated in all aspects of the tennis business and life lessons, traveling to places I only read about in school, living the culture, language, and making life-long relationships with people and fellow PBI professionals… all this being accomplished simply through a connection of a ball and racket!

The most difficult question to answer is “What has been your highlight in PBI?” It’s hard because the answer is never short. I joined PBI for teaching tennis and travel, but it opened so many more exciting and rewarding opportunities. At the time I joined PBI, the company was just developing and as the company grew, so did I. PBI brought the adventurous nature out of you, delving into what was perceived as challenges at the time, turned into positive, life-changing experiences that I will forever be grateful for.

Fulfilled my initial PBI goals, traveled the world (32 countries), lived in the culture of many foreign lands, languages, and people, taught and played in some of the best tennis venues. I found myself to be an eternal student, never-ending learning that goes on even after all these years. I was provided the tools to have a passion for teaching and playing the game even at this stage of my career, obtaining an enormous amount of knowledge and skills from mentors like Peter along with the unselfish contributions from so many of my fellow PBI colleagues. Being part of so many exciting PBI events like the special programs for the disadvantaged, charity fundraisers, assisting and participating in PBI programs all over the world, including the unique PBI program, the PBI Tennis Show, has given me an enormous appreciation for the culture that Peter envisioned for PBI. Fate, destiny, or just plain luck, I’ll take any of those words to describe my enriched and wonderful 40-plus years in PBI.

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