In case you missed my announcement several weeks ago, I was approved as Media for the upcoming US Open. This is a HUGE DEAL! I am beyond excited! And just a little nervous. I’ve never had media credentials at a big event like this (truth be told, I’ve only ever had credentials once, and that was at the end of last year at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoff in Atlanta). I have no idea what to expect. I’m just hoping I get at least one opportunity to be in the press room when Rafa is there!
Seriously, though, ever since I got word that my application was accepted, I’ve been asking questions and doing research and trying to come up with ideas that will make my experience at the Open worthy of sharing with you via this blog and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the radio show. I think I’ve come up with some good stories to tell. The challenge will be getting in front of the folks who can help me tell the stories by sharing their own stories with me. The parents, the players, their coaches – both at the junior level and professional – those who have been-there-done-that and are willing to talk about it. Melanie Rubin will be helping me, too – she did such an amazing job with her interviews at Kalamazoo – and I’m looking forward to sharing much more of her insights as her son competes at the Open (in case you missed the news, Noah received a Wild Card into the US Open qualifying tournament which starts Tuesday!).
Lucky for me, I’ve come in contact with so many experienced people since I started ParentingAces a little over a year and a half ago, people who are generous and gracious with their knowledge. They are helping me formulate a plan for my week at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. They are sharing their contacts with me and making introductions. They are offering to show me the ropes and hold my hand as I learn. I owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude.
I will be in New York from August 27th through September 3rd. I will be at the Open every one of those days, soaking up as much tennis and media savvy as possible. Be sure you’re following ParentingAces on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you don’t miss anything! If you’re there during that same week, please let me know where we can meet and chat. You have stories to share, too, and I want to include each and every one of them in my first foray as US Open Media!
I wish I could tell you I had tons of news to report from my son in Mallorca about his time at Global Tennis Team. Alas, that’s not the case.
We are still getting very little information from him other than that he’s playing a lot of backgammon and going to the beach during his off time. Most of the photos he’s texted us would just make everyone jealous, so I won’t share any more – suffice it to say that the coastline of Mallorca is nothing less than magical! I know he’s playing tennis, but I really don’t know much about what he’s doing on the court or with whom or for how long. I suppose I might get those types of details once he’s back home and has had a chance to digest his experience abroad. Then again, maybe not.
My mindset throughout my son’s experience in Spain is to avoid asking too many questions, to remind him that I love him, and to be patient. Y’all know that last one is especially challenging for me.
Maybe I’ll have more to tell you next week. Then again, maybe not.
Those of you who know me personally know that I’m kind of a Facebook addict. Well, not “kind of” . . . I am a Facebook addict. I don’t try to hide my addiction. I embrace it. It has led me to some fantastic information and to some even more fantastic people.
Like Florida-based tennis parent Patrick Barbanes and his adorable daughter, 10-year-old Maddie, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with when they came to the Atlanta area for the Regional Little Mo tournament. And like Coach JP Weber who, even though he lives about 10 minutes from me, I had never met until after we connected on social media several months ago.
A few weeks back, I saw a post in a Facebook group that Patrick and Maddie would be in town and were looking for a hitting partner a day or two before Maddie’s matches began. I knew JP worked with several players around Maddie’s age and might be a good resource, so I put them in touch. Sure enough, JP arranged to hit with Maddie himself and to include her in his summer camp so she could meet some of the other kids. He then made some phone calls to schedule practice matches for Maddie. Perfect!
Patrick posted an update on Facebook about Maddie and JP meeting each other, and I, being the addict that I am, saw the post and commented that I would love to meet up with them while they’re in town. One thing led to another, and I wound up driving over to Laurel Park Tennis Center after teaching my fitness class (that’s my way of saying, “Please don’t judge my appearance too harshly in the photo above”!) to say a quick hello to JP and then grab coffee with Patrick, Maddie, and their friend Jaya – what a treat! We visited for about an hour before heading back over to the courts where Maddie asked me if I could hit with her for a few minutes. I begged her to go easy on me, but she had me running back and forth with her mean inside-out forehand and two-handed backhand – she may look little but you know what they say about big things and small packages!
There’s something so amazing about meeting someone in person who you’ve previously only interacted with via social media. Patrick’s first comment when we met: “You look just like you do on Facebook!”
As predicted, I don’t have a whole lot of information to share about my son’s first week at Global Tennis Team in Mallorca. I have successfully resisted the urge to contact anyone at Global to check in on him, and I have successfully resisted the urge to ask probing questions of my son when we text. I figure (I hope!) he’ll eventually decide to share some of the details of his life in Spain.
That said, it sounds like he’s working very hard and at a much higher intensity than he is used to at home. He developed a pretty nasty blister on the palm of his right hand (he’s right-handed) about mid-week and texted me asking for advice. I replied that there really wasn’t anything I could do from here and that he should ask the Global coaches for help. Then, I didn’t mention it again. But, my husband found out from our son that one of the coaches picked up some treatments from the local pharmacy, and he figured out he needs to start wearing sweatbands to keep his hands dry while the blister heals. It must’ve worked because he played some sort of competitive match on Sunday at a facility about 30 minutes from Global – I’m still not clear on what type of competition it was! – and was just fine.
He has told me that the food is good (and he’s eating well – last night’s dinner included pasta with pesto and cheese, meat and potatoes, and yogurt with fruit), and he’s getting along well with his roommates. After tennis on Saturday, one of the coaches took 6 of the players to the beach then to a tapas restaurant for what looked like a really yummy lunch. Apparently, 2 Italian players arrived today, one older and one younger than my kid. I don’t know if they’re boys, girls, or one of each. Also today, after tennis, my son went to the supermarket and to some shop where he was able to buy more sweatbands. Oh, and he had some racquets re-strung.
That’s it! That’s all I’ve got so far!
A fellow parent suggested I ask my son to tell me one non-tennis thing he does each day. That may be asking too much. I’ve asked for 3 times a week. We’ll see what I get.
I feel very lucky to have fellow Tennis Parent, Melanie Rubin, reporting from the 2013 USTA National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo. She is interviewing players, parents, coaches, and tournament personnel on various topics that I hope will be of interest to ParentingAces readers. Bookmark this post and check back over the next week – I will add interviews as Melanie sends them to me. She will be joining me on the ParentingAces Radio Show on Monday, August 12th, at Noon ET as well.
Just click on the names below to download the audio files then click on the downloaded file to hear the brief interviews in your designated audio software (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc.). The interviews are listed in the order in which I received them from Melanie.
If you or your child is at the Kalamazoo tournament this week, please seek out Melanie and ask her to interview you, too! It’s great hearing from everyone about their experiences at one of the country’s most prestigious junior tennis events. If you have photos you’d like to share, please email them to me so I can upload them – scroll down to see the ones I’ve gotten so far.
And, for detailed daily coverage of Kalamazoo, as well as the other national hardcourt events, be sure to subscribe to Colette Lewis’s ZooTennis.com blog. A new Facebook group, US Tennis, is also reporting results and other related information. To see the draws and follow the action, go to the tournament’s website. For a wrap-up of the week in Kalamazoo, be sure to listen to the ParentingAces Radio Show podcast from August 12, 2013 (click here to listen).
There are many challenges involved in junior tennis. Among the most common are (1) getting kids to choose tennis over other sports; and (2) keeping them interested in tennis, especially once they hit their teens. One tennis facility in the Southern California section came up with a great solution to both!
At the end of June, the Palisades Tennis Center had a camp for top players across the country. About 40 kids convened in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles where they trained all day then went to the movies and the beach and basically hung out together at night.
On two of the camp days, PTC brought out a film crew with one of the fastest production cameras in the world and shot the kids moving and hitting forehands. To film at this high frame rate is a very challenging task: it’s not easy to move the camera around, and you can only record for 8 seconds at a time before the camera has to process the footage for several minutes. But, the film crew created some of the best super slo mo footage of top kids performing at a really high level. Actually some of the best tennis slo mo period that I have ever seen (not that I’m all that experienced in this area, but still . . .).
Mike Thoeresz, general manager of the PTC, says, “I believe that junior tennis is pushing the envelope more than any other sport right now. Our kids start earlier. They compete earlier. They have too much coaching when not in competition and then no coaching when in competition. But mostly because they have to do it all. They are the point guard, the forward and the center. They are the quarterback, the fullback, the wide receiver, the linebacker, the punter…tennis players have to do it all. They can hit 1000s of balls and run many miles in a match. So tennis players end up pushing the level of sport more and take it to higher places. When you watch some of these videos, you’ll can see the amazing skills that these kids have.”
Some of the kids at the PTC camp:
Claire Liu – won the Orange Bowl and National Clay Courts – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles Keenan Mayo – won the Winter Nats – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles Roscoe Bellamy – won the Hard Courts – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles & doubles Aiden Mayo – won the Little Mo – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles Ilana Oleynik – won the ITF Level 1 in Carson doubles Caroline Vincent – won the Copper Bowl singles and doubles Max Mendelsohn – won the Nationals in Dallas Katie LaFrance – won the Nationals in Oklahoma City
Click here to take a look at PTC’s super slo mo videos. Of course, not every facility has access to this type of equipment, but is your child’s coach or facility doing something similar to keep the kids interested and having fun? If so, please share in the Comments below!
My son left Atlanta late Monday afternoon for his trip to Global Tennis Team in Mallorca. After a 2-hour departure delay – and a little snafu with security (let’s just say that apparently Accelerade [use code ACES15 for 15% off and free shipping if you want to order!] looks an awful lot like an illegal substance, especially when packed in a one-gallon Ziploc bag) – my son was in the air and on his way to Paradise.
My husband had asked him to call us once he landed in Barcelona, again when he got to the gate for his transfer to Mallorca, and one more time once he had met up with Afiza from Global at the Palma Mallorca airport’s central meeting point. Since there’s a 6-hour time difference between Atlanta and Spain, we knew we were in for an interrupted night’s sleep. At 4:10am, we got the first call. He was safe in Barcelona, no problems on the flight, but he had only slept about 30 minutes during the previous 9 hours in the air. My husband reminded him to call again once he was at the gate for his departing flight to the Palma Mallorca airport.
The next two hours crept by with very little sleep on our end. His connecting flight was due to leave at 12:30pm Barcelona time (that’s 6:30am Atlanta time), so we expected a phone call sometime around 5:30am at the latest. However, the next call we got was at 6:45am – from the airport in Palma! Our son had already arrived in Mallorca but was having trouble locating Afiza. Oops! He completely forgot to call us that second time from Barcelona! Okay, the important thing was that he was safe. And that his luggage had arrived. Now the task was helping him connect with Afiza, so my husband got on the phone with both of them and led them to each other. So far, so good. We asked our son to call us one more time once he had a chance to get the SIM card for his cell phone so we would have his local Spanish number.
By the time we heard from our son again, he had already been on the tennis court for an hour and a half, eaten lunch, picked up the SIM card, moved into his room, and was getting ready to head to the beach. Afiza emailed me to let me know that she was enjoying getting to know him (“Love your boy. Very charming.”) which made me feel great, of course. Turns out he’s sharing a room with Barbara Tipple’s son (see the podcast of my radio show with Barbara from July 15, 2013) from the UK as well as a young professional player from Mexico. I emailed Barbara to let her know our boys were rooming together, and she replied that she would be visiting Global mid-August to celebrate her son’s birthday and would make a point to meet my son and take him out for dinner one night – it’s nice to know another momma will be there who can report back!
This morning, when I first woke up, I texted my son via Viber to see how his first full day was going. He texted back right away that he had gotten a good night’s sleep, which I’m sure he needed. He had already hit and done a fitness session then gone to the supermarket to get some “essentials” (I’m not sure what that means!). Lunch was coming up shortly followed by another hitting session and more fitness.
Those of you with teenage sons will understand this, I’m sure, but my son is not the best communicator, especially on the phone or via text messages. It’s tough to get a read on how he’s truly feeling though I suspect we would know if something wasn’t going as planned.
That’s it so far. I hope to have more to report later!