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Numbers Don’t Lie with Craig O’Shannessy of Brain Game Tennis

Craig O'ShannessyThis week’s podcast:

Coach Craig O’Shannessy knew there had to be more to developing players and analyzing matches than simply relying on the opinion of others. He looked to other sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer and found that those sports relied on a unified method of collecting data, analyzing it, then using it to improve performance. The eyes, afterall, don’t always tell the whole story!

In early 2010, Craig started Brain Game Tennis (click http://www.braingametennis.com to go to his website) so he could share his data with others in the tennis world. As Craig writes on his site, “Tennis looks like a game of pinball, with the ball careening here, there, and everywhere. But it’s not. It’s actually the exact opposite. Tennis is a game of repeatable patterns in four specific areas – serving, returning, rallying and approaching. Study the patterns, learn the winning percentages, and make the game simple. That’s what Brain Game Tennis stands for. No more guessing. No more opinions. Just the facts please…”

And now Craig has introduced Gameplan, his newest product for use in junior development, college tennis, and beyond. Listen to this week’s podcast for more information on Gameplan and how you can purchase it. Then go to this link (https://www.braingametennis.com/stop-guessing-start-knowing/) to read more.

NOTE: If you purchase Gameplan – or any of Craig’s other Brain Game Tennis products – during the two weeks of the 2017 US Open, you will receive a 20% discount.

To contact Craig directly, go to his homepage here (http://www.braingametennis.com) then scroll to the bottom for the Contact Craig O’Shannessy link.

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Little Mo Internationals

Before the US Open gets into full swing, I want to focus attention on the “Little Mo” Internationals in Forest Hills. The tournament finished this past weekend with lots of big trophies awarded and the winners of the Sportsmanship Awards and the Shannon Duffy Kindness Awards recognized as well. The West Side Tennis Club, host of the 2017 event, raised the Maureen Connolly banner at the famous stadium court where she completed the Grand Slam in 1953. She was the first woman to win the Grand Slam – winning all 4 majors in one calendar year (1953), and she is still the only American woman and youngest (age 18) to have accomplished this magnificent feat.

What exactly is the “Little Mo”? The “Little Mo” Internationals, put on by the Maureen Connolly Brinker Foundation (MCB), is one of the premier tournaments for boys and girls ages 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. The “Little Mo” is unique in that it gives young players the opportunity to gauge their ability against others who are the same age. These events are designed to provide good competition for the younger player while also encouraging players to develop new friendships, learn good sportsmanship, and most of all, have fun.

The festivities began on Monday, August 21 with a complimentary clinic for all players on the historic grass courts of The West Side Tennis Club. Following the clinic was the spectacular Player Parade, whereby all players paraded onto the stadium court waving their country flags proudly. Zia Victoria sang the National Anthem and Maureen Connolly’s daughter, Brenda Brinker Bottum, was the guest speaker at the Opening Ceremony. Players competed in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles during the week.

There was a fun player party held at The West Side on Tuesday evening featuring a Beach Tennis tournament on hard court in addition to laser tag, music, a video game trailer with Wii games, and a special dinner on the beautiful patio at The West Side clubhouse overlooking the grass courts and stadium. “Little Mo” Tournament Chairman and MCB Executive Vice-President Carol Weyman presented the trophies. Wilson was the Official Ball and Racquet sponsor, and K-Swiss was the Official Apparel and Footwear sponsor. My Game Solutions was also an Official Sponsor of the event.

Srikar Polisetty from Alpharetta, GA, was a finalist in the Boys 10 division and won the Boys 10 doubles with partner Noah Johnston. Srikar’s coach, Tim Seals, shared that his charge loved playing kids from Japan and Germany (and beating Lindsay Davenport’s son in doubles!). Srikar also loved practicing on the grass courts and wearing all whites, just like at Wimbledon!

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2017 “Little Mo” Internationals tournament:

Boys 12 – Gonzalo Zeitune (Yerba Buena, Argentina)
Boys 11 – Jordan Reznik (Great Neck, New York)
Boys 10 – Dominick Mosejczuk (East Elmhurst, New York)
Boys 9 – Sebastian Bielen (Glen Cove, New York)
Boys 8 – Tadevos Mirijanyan (Palm Coast, Florida)
Boys 8 (green dot) – Drew Hassenbein (Roslyn, New York)
Girls 12 – Stacey Samonte (Whittier, California)
Girls 11 – Christasha McNeil (Massapequa, New York)
Girls 10 – Akasha Urhobo (Lauderhill, Florida)
Girls 9 – Natalie Oliver (Fallston, Maryland)
Girls 8 – Zaire Clarke (Greenacres, Florida)
Girls 8 (green dot) – Luiza Viesi Santoro Pereira (São Paulo, Brazil)

Also, congratulations to Jagger Leach (Newport Beach, California) and Ellie Ross (Port Washington, New York) for receiving the “Little Mo” Sportsmanship Awards. The “Little Mo” Kindness Awards were presented to Noah Johnston (Anderson, South Carolina) and Stacey Samonte (Whittier, California).

MCB is excited to announce that the yellow ball results for all ages from the “Little Mo” Internationals in New York will count towards Universal Tennis Ratings (UTR only accepts yellow ball results). For more information on UTR, please visit their website here. MCB is also excited to announce that the results from the Boys and Girls 12’s divisions in New York will count towards Tennis Recruiting Network (TRN) ratings. For more information on TRN, please visit their website here.

 

Some Interesting First-Round Match-Ups

First-RoundThe US Open draws were revealed earlier today, and there are some very interesting first round matches, especially involving the college players and junior wildcards.

Let’s take a look at the women’s draw first.

Jen Brady, who left UCLA after her sophomore season, will take on veteran German player Andrea Petkovic, a former top-10 women’s player on the WTA tour. Jen had an amazing Australian Open this year, reaching the 4th round there, and has a real shot to at least equal that performance in New York.

To do that, though, she would potentially have to get past fellow young American Taylor Townsend who faces Romanian Ana Bodgan in her first match. Taylor has been playing well during the US Open Series this summer – it would be fun to see her do well at our home Slam.

This year’s NCAA Champion, Brienne Minor, faces Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. Brienne got a wildcard into the US Open Main Draw as a result of winning college tennis’s biggest tournament in May. She will also be playing in the US Open Collegiate Invitational which begins September 7th at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The 2017 National Hardcourts Champion, Ashley Kratzer, who also received a wildcard as a result of that win, faces Tatjana Maria of Germany, another veteran player.

Eighteen-year-old Sofia Kenin faces fellow American Lauren Davis in her first round match. Both women are playing some good tennis right now, so this could be a fun one to watch. Another teenager, Kayla Day, also faces a compatriot, Shelby Rogers who has been on the upswing the past couple of years. And perhaps the best known of the teenage Americans, CiCi Bellis, faces Nao Hibino of Japan who has yet to win a singles match at a Grand Slam event.

Now onto the men’s draw . . .

Patrick Kypson, this year’s Kalamazoo champion, has to be pretty excited about his draw. He faces a qualifier in the first round with the chance to play Juan Martin del Potro if he wins. Nineteen-year-old Frances Tiafoe is hoping to learn from the maestro,  3-seed Roger Federer, in his first match at the Open. The two have played once before, at this year’s Miami Open where Federer came out on top 7-6, 6-3.

I will be keeping a close eye on Tommy Paul, too, who faces Japan’s Taro Daniel in the first round with a chance to play Rafa Nadal in Round 2. Tommy is having a great summer on the hardcourts, and I hope to see him do well in New York.

Chris Eubanks, a rising senior at Georgia Tech, received a USTA wildcard into the Main Draw and faces Israel’s Dudi Sela in his first ever Grand Slam match. I suspect Chris’s serve and forehand will pose some real problems for Sela! Chris is another of the players in the Collegiate Invitational.

Once the Qualifiers are put into the draws, I will take another look in hopes that more young Americans will make it through. So far, Sachia Vickery, former USC Trojan Danielle Lao, Allie Kiick, recent UVA graduate JC Aragone (who will also be playing in the Collegiate Invitational during the 2nd week), and Tim Smyczek are into the Main Draw with potentially more to come. NOTE: 17-year-old Wimbledon Jr Champ Claire Liu just made it through Qualies as well, and things are looking good for Nicole Gibbs and Evan King, 2 more former college players.

Main Draw matches begin Monday at 11am. If you haven’t already, be sure to download the US Open app so you can stay on top of all the matches, events, and results.

Seeds Announced for 2017 US Open

SeedsSo, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m kinda in US Open mode right now and will be for the next couple of weeks. This will be my first Open since 2014, and I’m super excited to spend some time there this year. My focus will be on the Junior and the College events, but I will also be writing a bit about the Main Event as well.

To that end, I wanted to let y’all know that the seeds have been published for both the Men’s and the Women’s draws. The following is from a USTA release sent out yesterday afternoon:

The USTA today announced that world No. 1 and two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal and 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray have been named the top two seeds, respectively – with five-time US Open champion Roger Federer seeded No. 3 – in men’s singles at the 2017 US Open. The 2017 US Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship is presented by Chase.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who has won five ATP singles titles this seeded fourth, while fifth-seeded Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, joins Nadal (2010, 2013) Murray (2012), and Federer (2004-08) as the former US Open champions seeded in the Top 10. 2017 French Open semifinalist Dominic Thiem, of Austria, is seeded sixth. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who last week won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the US Open Series’ Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, is seeded seventh. Three-time US Open quarterfinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, of France, is seeded No. 8.

Juan Martin Del Potro, who won the 2009 US Open, is seeded No. 24.

Nadal, 31, regained the No. 1 ranking this week for the first time since June 2014. He won his tenth French Open singles title this year and also reached the final at the Australian Open. Murray, 30, comes into the US Open after reaching the semifinals of the French Open and quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year and holding the world No. 1 ranking for all of 2017 until Nadal recaptured it this week.

Federer, 36, is competing at the US Open to become the first male player to win 20 Grand Slam singles titles. By winning his sixth singles title in New York, Federer would also break the three-way tie between him, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for most US Open singles titles won in the Open Era.

Three American men are seeded at this year’s US Open—No. 10 John Isner, No. 13 Jack Sock, and No. 17 Sam Querrey.

Defending US Open champion and world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka will not be competing in this year’s US Open due to a knee injury, while two-time US Open champion and world No. 5 Novak Djokovic will not be competing to recover from a right elbow injury. 2014 US Open finalist and world No. 10 Kei Nishikori will not be competing because of a right wrist injury, while No. 11 Milos Raonic has withdrawn due to a left wrist injury. [Note: USTA also announced yesterday that Raonic’s spot in the draw will be filled by a Lucky Loser from the Qualifying draw. There are 5 US men left in the Qualies, 2 of  whom play each other in today’s final round.]

For 2017, the US Open followed the Emirates ATP Rankings released Monday, August 21, to determine the men’s singles seeds. This is the 17th consecutive year that the US Open will seed 32 players in singles.

The USTA also announced that world No. 1 and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova has been named the top seed in women’s singles at the 2017 US Open, while world No. 2 and 2016 French Open finalist Simona Halep is seeded No. 2. 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza is seeded third, and 22-year old world No. 4 Elina Svitolina is seeded fourth. The 2017 US Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by J.P. Morgan.

The Top 10 women’s seeds at the US Open mirror the current Top 10 of the WTA rankings. Following the top four are No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, a two-time US Open finalist; No. 6 Angelique Kerber, of Germany, the defending US Open champion; No. 7 Johanna Konta, of Great Britain, a 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist; No. 8 and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia; No. 9 Venus Williams, a two-time US Open champion, and No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland.

In last year’s US Open final, Kerberwon her second Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, defeating Pliskovain the final, and becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Four American women are seeded at this year’s US Open — No. 9 Venus Williams, No. 15 Madison Keys, No. 20 Coco Vandeweghe, and No. 32 Lauren Davis.

Eight-time US Open champion and former world No. 1 Serena Williams, who is currently ranked No. 15, will not be competing in this year’s US Open after announcing her pregnancy. Victoria Azarenka, who would have entered with a protected ranking of No. 6, withdrew because of a personal issue. World No. 28 Timea Bacsinszky, of Switzerland, will not be competing due to a left leg and right hand injury. 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, of Australia, withdrew due to a right hand injury. [Note: There are 8 US women in the Qualies final round with several playing each other today.]

The US Open followed the WTA rankings released Monday, August 21, to determine the women’s singles seeds. This is the 17th consecutive year that the US Open seeded 32 players in both singles events.

The singles draws for the 2017 US Open will be revealed live during an official draw ceremony, which will be open to the public for the first time, on Friday, August 25, at 12 noon ET at the US Open Experience at the historic Seaport District NYC. The ceremony will conclude with an appearance by defending women’s singles champion Angelique Kerber and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, as well as other special guests.

2017 US Open Men’s Singles Seeds

1. Rafael Nadal, Spain
2. Andy Murray, Great Britain
3. Roger Federer, Switzerland
4. Alexander Zverev, Germany
5. Marin Cilic, Croatia
6. Dominic Thiem, Austria
7. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
9. David Goffin, Belgium
10. John Isner, United States
11. Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain
12. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain
13. Jack Sock, United States
14. Nick Kyrgios, Australia
15. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
16. Lucas Pouille, France
17. Sam Querrey, United States
18. Gael Monfils, France
19. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg
20. Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Spain
21. David Ferrer, Spain
22. Fabio Fognini, Italy
23. Mischa Zverev, Germany
24. Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina
25. Karen Khachanov, Russia
26. Richard Gasquet, France
27. Pablo Cuevas, Uruguay
28. Kevin Anderson, South Africa
29. Diego Schwartzman, Argentina
30. Adrian Mannarino, France
31. Feliciano Lopez, Spain
32. Robin Haase, the Netherlands

2017 US Open Women’s Singles Seeds

1. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic
2. Simona Halep, Romania
3. Garbiñe Muguruza, Spain
4. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine
5. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
6. Angelique Kerber, Germany
7. Johanna Konta, Great Britain
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
9. Venus Williams, United States
10. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
11. Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia
12. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
13. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic
14. Kristina Mladenovic, France
15. Madison Keys, United States
16. Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia
17. Elena Vesnina, Russia
18. Caroline Garcia, France
19. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia
20. Coco Vandeweghe, United States
21. Ana Konjuh, Croatia
22. Shuai Peng, China
23. Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic
24. Kiki Bertens, Netherlands
25. Daria Gavrilova, Australia
26. Anett Kontaveit, Estonia
27. Shuai Zhang, China
28. Lesia Tsurenko, Ukraine
29. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia
30. Julia Goerges, Germany
31. Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia
32. Lauren Davis, United States

The US Open is Here!

US OpenI know I’m a couple of days late here, but there is so much going on with the 2017 US Open right now, and, even though I won’t be there for another 13 days, I wanted to bring y’all up to speed!

First of all, the Qualies . . . one of the best parts of the Open because (a) it’s free and (b) you can see some of the hungriest players in the world battling for a coveted spot in the Main Draw (and a $50,000 paycheck just for making it in!). Even getting into the Qualies comes with a paycheck for these players, though it’s significantly smaller than what they can potentially earn by making it through 3 rounds and into the Big Show.

This year’s US Open Qualies includes some of the best junior and college players as well, thanks to wildcards. The Kalamazoo and San Diego 18s runners-up – JJ Wolf (a rising sophomore at Ohio State) and Kelly Chen (a rising freshman at Duke) – each received a wildcard but, unfortunately, both lost their first-round qualies matches. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today is posting updates on all the qualies matches involving college players, so be sure to check out his site each day this week. Colette Lewis of ZooTennis is keeping an eye on both the college and junior players competing, so check out her site, too.

Secondly, the US Open Juniors . . . wildcards were announced this week for the qualifying and main draw of the Junior event (see below). Qualies begin Friday, September 1, and the Main Draw will start Sunday, September 3. Since many of the early-round matches are held on the outer courts outside of the main gate, you can stop by and watch the world’s top juniors compete free of charge. You can also expect to see college coaches from all around the US there scouting for their teams, so it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and get to know them a bit.

Thirdly, watching the pros practice . . . through this Sunday (August 27) you can enter the grounds free of charge. In addition to seeing those playing in the qualifying, you can also watch some of the biggest names in the game descend on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to acclimate to the courts and get ready for their first-round matches. If you’re in the area, you should definitely try to get out there over the next few days and watch these men and women practice – it’s incredible to hear the sound of the ball coming off their racquet and see their footwork up close and personal!

Fourthly, the US Open Experience at the Seaport District NYC . . . today and tomorrow you can see booths, games, music and more, and an introduction to Net Generation, the USTA’s new platform that is making it easier for kids and teens to get into tennis. Plus, on Friday the US Open Draws will be unveiled.

Lastly, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Powered by Net Generation . . . this Saturday beginning at 9:30am. Per the US Open website, “The free Grounds Festival offers interactive games, music and tennis activities for all ages and abilities to promote the many health benefits of tennis. The Grounds Festival also features a free concert with exciting up-and-coming talent on the Festival Stage hosted by Radio Disney. Proceeds from Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day benefit the USTA Foundation which helps fund the National Junior Tennis & Learning Network (NJTL), a nationwide group of more than 500 nonprofit youth-development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis, education and life-skills programming to more than 225,000 children each year, founded 48 years ago by Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.”

One of the things that makes the US Open so special is the myriad events offered outside of watching tennis! For a complete list of happenings at this year’s tournament, be sure to visit USOpen.org

Also, be sure to download the US Open app which will keep you updated on livescoring, draws, results, and other happenings around the grounds such as the player’s practice schedules and live concerts. If you’re an American Express card holder and you’ll be on site at all during the next two weeks, you can register your card through the app to receive discounts and a rebate when you shop at any of the tournament stores.

As I mentioned above, I won’t be there until September 6th, and I hope to see many of you during my 4 days there. If you’re around, please reach out to me so we can meet – y’all know how much I enjoy connecting live and in person!

US Open Juniors Wildcards

Boys main draw:
Andrew Fenty (17, Washington, D.C.; Coach: Asaf Yamin)
Ryan Goetz (17, Greenlawn, N.Y.; Coaches: Matt Gordon, Keith Kamborian, Chris Goetz)
Lukas Greif (17, Newburgh, Ind.; Coaches: Bryan Smith, Stephanie Hazlett)
Brandon Nakashima (15, San Diego; Coaches: Larry Stefanki, Christian Groh)
Axel Nefve (17, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Nick Saviano)
Sangeet Sridhar (17, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Coach: Lou Belken)
TBD: French reciprocal
TBD

Boys qualifying draw:
William Grant (16, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Juan Alberto Viloca)
Trey Hilderbrand (17, San Antonio; Coach: Mark Hilderbrand)
Govind Nanda (16, Cerritos, Calif.; Coach: Vahe Assadourian)
Brian Shi (17, Jericho, N.Y.; Coach: Andre Daescu)
Yuta Kikuchi (Japanese High School Champion)
TBD

Girls main draw:
Angelica Blake (16, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coaches: Nick Saviano, Eric Riley)
Kelly Chen (18, Cerritos, Calif.; Coach: Debbie Graham)
Salma Ewing (16, Long Beach, Calif.; Coaches: Reyana Ewing)
Abigail Forbes (16, Raleigh, N.C.; Coach: Cameron Moore)
Cori Gauff (13, Delray Beach, Fla.; Coach: Gerard Loglo)
Natasha Subhash (15, Fairfax, Va.; Coach: Bear Schofield, Bob Pass)
Katie Volynets (15, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Richard Tompkins, Mark Orwig)
TBD

Girls qualifying draw:
Elvina Kalieva (14, Staten Island, N.Y.; Coach: Nick Saviano)
Gabriella Price (14, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Rick Macci)
Charlotte Owensby (14, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Yulia Beygelzimer)
Nikki Redelijk (15, Windermere, Fla.; Coach: Ferdinand Redelijk)
Marina Kurosu (Japanese High School Champion)
TBD

Jim Harp Discusses Coaching the Tennis Journey

Jim HarpThis week’s podcast:

High-performance coach Jim Harp has been around a few years, more than 30 to be exact, and he knows his stuff! He makes it his mission to learn something new every day so he can better coach the junior players under his care. He works with all levels of juniors – from the very beginners to the D-1 college bound and everything in between.

In this week’s podcast, Jim and I discuss his coaching philosophy as well as his new role as an advisor to TennisMentors.net. He has a lot of wisdom to impart to Tennis Parents and is more than happy to answer your questions if you’d like to reach out to him. You can find him online at HarpTennis.com or via email at Jim@harptennis.com

To learn more about Tennis Mentors, listen to last week’s podcast here.

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#theSol Baltimore

#theSolIt has taken me a few days to write this article because, honestly, I just haven’t been able to find the words to describe this past weekend in Baltimore at the 2017 #theSol.

I won’t go into my history with Sol Schwartz – you can read this article if you’re curious – but this tournament is about so much more than junior tennis or college tennis or anything having to do with hitting a yellow ball over a net. It is about honoring the legacy of a man who truly loved the game . . . LOVED the game . . . and devoted his adult life to fighting for its survival and the survival of its traditions.

That’s why #theSol participants play 2 out of 3 full sets. That’s why they play regular scoring (none of that no-ad stuff that makes me crazy). That’s why we empower the players with their own matches, trusting them to play by the rules and to exhibit impeccable sportsmanship without interference from officials. That’s why we encourage on-court coaching at side changes, helping players learn from each game and each match. That’s why we solicit quality sponsors and use the money (instead of charging high entry fees) to create the highest-quality tournament experience we can, providing goody bags filled with fun and useful items, creating a full-color Player Book (thank you to Sol’s niece, Ali, for the beautiful design!), serving lunch and drinks to players and parents, using the net proceeds to #SaveCollegeTennis through grants.

While last year’s Baltimore event found all of us who were close to Sol still feeling pretty raw – he had just passed away 5 months earlier – this year’s event felt more like a true celebration of his life. Sol’s wife, Ilene, did a great job of encouraging Sol’s friends and family to come out to watch the juniors and college kids compete, and, I swear, we had more fans in attendance than at many pro tournaments! I met people who had known Sol since childhood or who had played against him in the juniors or who had been coached by him or who had done business with him at Holabird Sports. The man knew everyone even remotely related to tennis in the mid-Atlantic section!

Now the details . . .

theSolWe wound up with 50 players ranging in age from 9 to 22 and ranging in UTR level from 1.0 (first tournament ever) to 9.85. Players came from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Tournament Director Scott Thornton divided them into 7 flights, some playing a round-robin format and others playing a compass draw, ensuring that everyone played 3 matches. Prizes were awarded based on the percentage of games won so that everyone had a chance at the awesome Wilson Prize Package and the 2-month Tennis Trunk subscription as well as other prizes donated by Solinco and the Bryan Brothers.

As I mentioned, the tournament provided lunch for the players and their families theSoleach day. During lunch on Day 1, NextGen star Noah Rubin joined us via FaceTime to chat with the players and answer their questions. He was prepping for his week at the Vancouver Challenger in Canada, so it was especially sweet of him to take some time to interact with us!

theSol
Richard Herskovitz & Ilene Schwartz

During lunch on Day 2, I got the opportunity to hit a little with Standing Adaptive player Richard Herskovitz, a long-time friend of Sol’s who came out to support our tournament. He definitely put me through my paces on the Har-Tru courts! When we found out that one of our final-round players needed to withdraw, Richard graciously stepped in and played against one of our juniors, ensuring that she got her 3rd match for the tournament.

Thanks to their generosity and connection to Sol and his family, we had two photographers on site documenting the weekend. If you’d like to see and/or order any of the photos, click here. The net proceeds will go into our grant fund. There are more photos available to purchase here.

But, enough from me! I want you to hear from the players and parents themselves!

Allen Au, whose 3 sons all played in this year’s tournament, posted on our Facebook page at the end of Day 1. “Awesome First day…. Best junior event I have been to ever.. Everyone was nice and played tennis in the spirit of competition.” What a wonderful testament to the heart of this tournament!

Juan Borga’s 17-year-old daughter, Ana, also played in the tournament. Her older brother, Juan, was supposed to play as well, but unfortunately he injured himself on the practice court a few days beforehand. Here’s Juan Sr’s take on #theSol:

For Tiffany Livingstone’s daughter, Alexa, playing in a tennis tournament was something she had wanted to try but really didn’t know how to go about getting started. Because of their personal connection to Sol’s wife, Ilene, Tiffany signed Alexa up for #theSol this year, and she had a wonderful first tournament experience:

And now hear from two of our players, Anya and Julianne, about their experience:

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the incredible support theSolof our Presenting Sponsor 10sBalls.com; Title Sponsor Holabird Sports; Division I Sponsor Wilson Tennis; Division II Sponsors Kassimir Physical Therapy, Judie Schwartz, and Steven J. Schwartz, MD; Division III Sponsors Maller Wealth Advisors, Match!Tennis App, ParentingAces, Universal Tennis Academy, and UTR; Lunch Sponsors Michael Sellman and the Schwartz Family; Ball Sponsor Jewish Community Center of Baltimore; and In-Kind Sponsors The Bryan Brothers, Crown Trophy, David Brooks, Dunlop, Melanie Rubin, PNC Bank, Solinco, The Suburban Club, Marc Summerfield, Summit Group, Tennis Trunk, TournaGrip, Utz Chips, and Voss Water.

If you would like to get involved in either the Atlanta or Baltimore #theSol tournaments in 2018, please reach out to me via email (lisa@parentingaces.com) or in the Comments below. If you would like to make a donation to our grant fund to #SaveCollegeTennis, you can do so via Venmo or by mailing a check payable to The Sol – just email me for details. Your donation may be tax deductible.

Thank you to everyone who played, donated, volunteered, or came out to support the event! I look forward to seeing y’all again next year!