Articles

PlaySight’s Role in Playing Fair

This is the first of my podcasts recorded during the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships in Athens, GA.

PlaySight Head of Sales Racquet Sports, Josh Graves, grew up in tennis. Upon graduating from Northwestern where he played #1 for the men’s tennis team, he sought a job. Using the vast store of resources he developed throughout his tennis career, he landed his ideal job: working with a cutting-edge tech company in the tennis arena.

PlaySight has really changed since I was first introduced to it at the 2014 NCAA Tennis Championships. The company has created more affordable options for colleges and other facilities that want to bring the latest video, streaming, and stats technology to their users.

Now, PlaySight is situated in 20 of the 32 schools represented at the NCAA Team Championships as well as at the new USTA Lake Nona facility. They also have a presence in several private clubs around the world, including the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The PlaySight folks have also created a great new tournament format called PlayFair using their video replay capabilities as a sort of challenge system (click here for my article on the first collegiate PlayFair tournament). So far, PlayFair has been very well received by key players, including coaches, officials, and players. PlaySight has partnered with USTA to test out the PlayFair format at some junior tournaments. We should expect to see more of these tournaments over the coming months which is great news for junior tennis.

PlaySight has developed an app as well, which can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store or the PlaySight website. It provides free video annotating and sharing as well as free viewing of livestreaming.

To reach PlaySight, go to www.playsight.com. You can also find them on the various social media outlets.

To listen to my 2014 podcast with PlaySight founder Gordon Uehling, click here.

The NCAAs Are Where They Belong

NCAAs

For the past two days – and for the next 10 – I have been in Athens, Georgia at the NCAAs at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. My Happy Place.

I’ve missed attending the NCAA Championships the past two years. For some reason, the Powers That Be thought there was a better place than UGA to host this premier college tennis event. Imagine that! And, after next Monday, Athens won’t see the Championships again until at least 2023. It’s at Wake Forest next year followed by UCF (i.e. the new USTA mega complex in Lake Nona), Oklahoma State, UCF again, then University of Illinois in 2022. Word on the street is that Lake Nona could become the permanent home of the Championships if all goes as planned in terms of attendance and the growth of the UCF tennis program under John Roddick’s guidance. I absolutely wish UCF all the best, but I hate to think of the NCAAs anywhere but Athens.

Driving onto the UGA campus brings back so many fond memories for me. My son attended Bulldog Tennis Camp starting at age 9. My middle daughter spent her Collegiate Tennis Hall of Famecollege years on that campus. And the energy it exudes during the Jewel in the College Tennis crown is unmatched. To top it off, this campus is the home of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. If that doesn’t make you believe the Championships belong here, well . . .

Just walking around the tennis complex is like Old Home Week. I run into friends made at junior tournaments around the country. I runNCAAs

Maria Cercone

into coaches I’ve interviewed. I run into industry people I’ve gotten to know over the past several years. I run into fellow tennis fans that I’ve met on the court myself. It’s just an amazing atmosphere.

Today, I’ll be back out there for four more men’s matches. My alma mater – UCLA – faces my daughter’s alma mater and the host team – UGA – this afternoon. It should be a great match, filled with all the elements that make college tennis so great. And it will be enhanced by the fact that the home team does such a bang-up job at getting its fans out en force to create an energy that rivals any football game.

I’m going to soak up everything about this year’s NCAA Championships because who knows when it will return to its rightful place: the University of Georgia Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

For everything you need to know about this year’s NCAAs, click here to go to the official website. For updates on scores and results during the matches, be sure to follow Bobby Knight @College10s2day on Twitter. I’m tweeting updates and posting on Instagram as well (@ParentingAces).

Today’s schedule: Men’s Quarterfinals

Noon:
#10 Texas vs. #2 Virginia
#6 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State

4pm:
#13 UGA vs. #5 UCLA
#9 UNC vs. #1 Wake Forest

Tomorrow’s schedule: Women’s Quarterfinals

Noon:
#6 Texas Tech vs. #3 Ohio State
#7 Stanford vs. #2 UNC

4pm:
#9 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Florida
#12 Pepperdine vs. #4 Vanderbilt

Note from Lisa: I seem to be having trouble formatting the photos so that they appear right side up on both computers and mobile devices. Please bear with me as I try to sort this out!

 

Assessment Could Save Your Child’s Tennis

assessment

The following was written by Todd Widom and reprinted with his permission.

This article was prompted by an increasing number of parents over the years contacting me for a truthful assessment of their child’s tennis. It is not so easy to receive the truth for some so I am here to give you the truth. Many parents get very excited when their 12 or 14 year old is obtaining excellent results. Does it mean that the child will go on to do great things in tennis? Maybe, but in many cases the real answer is no. The strategy of spending money is easy, because as long as your child is winning everyone is happy. However, you may not be so happy in the later stages of your child’s junior career when they need to peak to get into a great school.

The essence of what I am getting at is if you think your child is having great results, be prepared that you are going to keep investing in his or her playing career. The issue is that you want your child to peak when he or she is 16 to 18 years old and what you must face is the reality that your child is going to require the necessary tools to attend a great university or maybe play professional tennis. Just because your child is winning, does not mean that they have the necessary foundation and tools to play great tennis in their last couple of years of junior tennis, which is when it matters most.

The younger divisions of junior tennis are for learning and developing your game for when you are older. What parents must understand, is that your child should be learning how to train, compete, construct points, have a great attitude, and be mentally prepared. There is no time to be trying various strategies, or going from academy to academy. You will lose precious time and no child has that luxury. Certainly, if an academy or coach is not working out then a change is required, but due diligence and research is required to find the right coach.

When a person gets an opinion from a doctor that they need surgery, they should get a second opinion. The same holds true in tennis. When a student is looking for a new coach or to improve on something in their game, they should interview coaches, obtain a second opinion, and select the one they feel like will get them to the best place in their game.

In addition, when your child is figuring out what college they would like to attend, they should have a list of schools, research them and visit them. I counsel many kids and their parents on these issues. You are making a financial investment in your child’s tennis, and your child is making a commitment to tennis. In addition, the coach is making an investment in your child and their tennis career. What I keep seeing over and over again are junior tennis players not peaking from sixteen to eighteen years old and this is not only a very significant problem, but this is also a costly mistake the parents absorb financially and the player absorbs physically, mentally and educationally. Even though each case is different, what I can tell you is that the majority of kids do not have the solid foundation required to play at higher levels of tennis. As a coach, mentor, friend, and teacher to my students, I make sure that all aspects of what creates a strong and solid foundation are set into motion from day one. This is the only way I know how to do it, and I am not merely a coach. My business actually started this way as parents were panicking that they have spent all this time, effort and money, and at the most important juncture of their child’s junior tennis career, their child is faltering, their foundation is cracking and their dreams are quickly dissolving into thin air. Do yourself a favor and get your child assessed by someone experienced so that you will save yourself major headaches in the upcoming years.

PlaySight Livestreaming 2017 NCAA Championships

Playsight livestreaming at Stanford

PlaySight, the company behind the video and analytics SmartCourt, is partnering with the University of Georgia to provide livestreaming throughout the upcoming 2017 NCAA Championships.

PlaySight SmartCourt technology is powering over 40 NCAA tennis programs. Among the 16 teams entering the third round of the tennis championships later this week in Athens, 10 on the women’s side and eight on the men’s side use PlaySight technology for video and analytics training, performance and livestreaming.

To tune in to the livestreaming throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, bookmark this page for the live video and live scoring.

PlaySight technology is helping to shine the spotlight back on college tennis after years of losing out to other sports. The sport is full of great stories, coaches and athletes, and together with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, PlaySight is giving the very best sports technology to players and coaches across the country.

Coach Manny Diaz and the University of Georgia Bulldogs were the first NCAA tennis program to invest in PlaySight technology almost four years ago – so it is fitting that one of the finest facilities in the nation is now wired from top to bottom with PlaySight video and streaming technology.

Several schools across the nation – from USC in Los Angeles to Oklahoma State in Stillwater – credit PlaySight technology with improving various aspects of their programs, from training to fan and alumni engagement. Check out what the coaches from the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cowgirls had to say about PlaySight after the 2016 season (click here to read).

More PlaySight fast facts:

  • 12/25 men’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
  • 13/25 women’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
  • Vanderbilt University is the latest school to add PlaySight
  • PlaySight is now working with tennis programs across Divisions 1, 2 and 3
  • PlaySight has added two new SmartCourt products – the Live and Play – to provide a more affordable price point for all tennis programs
  • PlaySight successfully launched the PlayFair initiative this year along with the ITA, bringing video replay and challenge technology to college tennis – with plans to scale up for the future

To check out which schools are working with PlaySight, or to find out more about their three SmartCourt products, click here.

To watch PlaySight livestreaming from the University of Georgia throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, tune in here.

Note from Lisa: I will be in Athens covering the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships beginning this Thursday. If you plan on being there, too, please find me and say hello!

Story Behind Team Luke Foundation with Tim Siegel

On July 28, 2015, Tim Siegel received a phone call that tragically changed his life. In this week’s ParentingAces podcast, Tim talks about his son, Luke’s, golf cart accident and how his family has turned such a horrific event into a foundation dedicated to helping others.

Tim grew up in tennis, achieving the highest level as a junior player, college player, and on the pro tour before moving into college coaching at Texas Tech University. He lives with his wife, Jenny, and their children in Lubbock, Texas, now working full-time to care for Luke and to share Luke’s story in hopes of raising funds to assist other families that have a child suffering with a traumatic brain injury.

FoxTV will air a recently-produced documentary on Luke this summer. The ITA also produced a short video on Luke which you can view here.

Please take the time to visit the Team Luke Foundation website here. You can follow Luke’s story on Facebook here, on Twitter @TimSiegelTTU, and on Instagram @Luke.Siegel

Check out our latest episode!

Steve Johnson, Sr. In Memorium

Lisa & Steve Johnson, Sr

This week, the world lost a great man, a great supporter of tennis, and the Tennis Parent I aspired to be when Steve Johnson, Sr. passed away.

I first met Steve at the NCAA Championships in Athens, GA when he was on a panel for parents and high school-age players who were interested in learning more about college tennis. After the panel discussion, my husband and I spoke with Steve and thanked him for his candor. I never guessed that would be the beginning of a friendship that would find us together at the US Open, Indian Wells, the Easter Bowl, and at a variety of college matches in Southern California.

Whenever I traveled to SoCal, I would always let Steve know I was coming to “his coast” in hopes that we would have a chance to meet up and catch up. If he wasn’t too busy teaching tennis lessons or spending time with his family, he would make the effort to find a way to come to wherever I was and say hello. The last time was at the Boise State-UC Irvine match just a few weeks ago.

I will miss Steve’s friendship and his council. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Michelle, and his two well-loved children, Alison and Stevie. Godspeed, my friend.

This podcast was originally recorded in December of 2012. To read an interview between Steve and Frank Giampaolo, click here. For two other interviews I did with Steve, click here and here.

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Q&A on USTA College Combine with Stephen Amritraj

USTA logo college combine

The first college combine sponsored by USTA is coming up next month. I’ve fielded several questions about this new event, so I reached out to USTA’s head of collegiate tennis, Stephen Amritraj, to get some answers for y’all. You can also listen to my recent podcast with Stephen here.

ParentingAces: Why did USTA decide to put on a college combine and what does it hope to accomplish?

Stephen Amritraj: We understand the landscape for parents and players going into college tennis. One of the priorities of the USTA Collegiate team is to have more Americans playing college tennis and the USTA All American Combine is our biggest event to support that goal. We hope that by putting as many American players on as many courts in front of as many college coaches as possible, we can help increase the amount of Americans on College Tennis rosters.

PA: There are several other college exposure camps and events around the country. What sets the USTA Combine apart?

Amritraj: I would say there are several reasons why this is unique: 1) It’s only open to Americans. That in itself is a difference that aligns with our priorities and mission. 2) This will have tennis and fitness testing combined to showcase different sides of each athlete. 3) It’s at the USTA National Campus which is really an incredibly special place for the sport that we all love. 4) The various levels of players and coaches are going to be wider than other recruiting showcases mainly due to the fact that they are playing for a $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures Main Draw Wild Card to the winner based on a combination of tennis and physical components. All of the results from their set play will count for Tennis Recruiting and UTR. 5) Finally, we have also partnered with the ITA to host a coaches symposium the evening of June 15th for the college coaches that attend.

PA: How many players and how many college coaches are you expecting? What regions and college divisions will the coaches represent (i.e. D1, D2, D3, NAIA? Southeast, West Coast, etc.)?

Amritraj: We expect a national pull of 60-80 players. Currently, we have entrants from over 15 states. We will have college coaches from all over the country with all divisions being represented.

PA: What were the factors USTA considered when choosing the date and location for the Combine?

Amritraj: We chose the National Campus to host the event because of its location and great facilities. However, choosing a date was difficult because there is some overlap with Sectional events across the country. We selected the June date the after the Florida sectional so that we could capitalize on the college coaches that attend the final day.

PA: How do players sign up to attend? How will players be selected?

Amritraj: You can sign up on Tennislink.usta.com, tournament ID 150025417 (click here). All American players will be accepted into the combine.

PA: Are there any grants or scholarships available to help offset the $349.88 entry fee?

Amritraj: This year we do not have any, but we hope to add in the future.

PA: Has USTA arranged any type of travel and lodging discount for the players? What about meals?

Amritraj: We have a room block at the Courtyard Marriott (call 407-856-9165 to reserve) with a discounted rate for Combine participants, and we will provide a lunch voucher on Thursday, June 15th.

PA: Anything else you’d like us to know?

Amritraj: There will be something for everyone in the USTA All American Combine and would ask parents, players, and coaches to do their research throughout the collegiate decision process. We truly believe College Tennis has a place, at some level, for way more American junior players than are currently playing in it and hope this event can help.