Slideshow from #theSol Atlanta Day 1

A huge thank you to David Kapper of CL!X Portrait Studio for the great action shots of our players from Day 1! You can order your own copies of the photos directly from his website using password “ACE”. I hope you enjoy the slideshow – Day 2 coming soon!

#theSol

Day 2 at #theSol Atlanta

#theSol AtlantaToday was another fantastic day of tennis and activities at #theSol Atlanta!

Our first matches went on at 10am after a quick briefing by Tourney Director David Stolle, reminding the players to be on their best behavior for their final day of matches. The weather was hot and humid, but the kids stayed calm and collected on the court and off.

Once the first wave of matches was complete, we had sub sandwiches and Voss water waiting for the players inside. Promptly at noon, WTA player Melanie Oudin arrived to talk to the families about her life as a junior player, making the decision to turn pro, and the challenges of staying healthy now that she’s been out on the tour for several years. We opened up the floor for questions. The kids themselves were a bit shy, but the parents had plenty to ask! Afterward, Melanie autographed some tennis items for the kids and posed for photos with them. She was so sweet and engaging, sticking around to make sure everyone who wanted a picture got one. A huge thank you to her for taking the time to be part of our tournament!

Pardon my poor videography skills, but enjoy Melanie!

After lunch, we still had 2 matches left to play, one to decide the winner of the White Draw and the other to decide the Runner-Up of the Blue Draw. The White Draw final went the distance, with Eli Hagan emerging at the winner after a long 3-set battle that ended in a tie-breaker.

Photographer David Kapper of Clix Photography was on hand again today to capture the players in action. He has uploaded all his photos to www.clixnorthatlanta.com. You can view and order them by clicking on View & Order Prints, then Search – TheSol Atlanta should be the first event listed. Enter password “ACE” to view and/or order any of the photos from the tournament.

I want to thank everyone who participated in #theSol Atlanta tournament, hosted by Georgia Gwinnett College’s Tennis Facility and Coach Chase Hodges! We had a fabulous 2 days, led by our super competent Tournament Director David Stolle of Universal Tennis Academy, and brought to you by the best sponsors ever:

  • 10sBalls.com
  • Holabird Sports
  • Steven J Schwartz, MD and the Intensivist Team
  • Judie Schwartz
  • Kassimir Physical Therapy
  • Match! Tennis App
  • Universal Tennis Academy
  • ParentingAces
  • UTR
  • Maller Wealth Advisors
  • Michael Sellman
  • Ilene, Dori, & Evan Schwartz
  • Solinco
  • Dunlop
  • Tennis Trunk
  • Melanie Rubin
  • Voss
  • TournaGrip
  • PNC Bank
  • Summit Group

We hope to be back next year and hope everyone who participated in our first Atlanta event will join us again! A huge thank you to the players, parents, and grandparents who played and cheered in the spirit of Sol Schwartz!

Here are the results from Day 2:

Red Draw
Gavin Segraves (12.20) d. Cole Brainard (10.97) 6-4 6-0
Luis de la Mano (UTR unknown) d. Cole Brainard (10.97) df
Winner: Gavin Segraves received Wilson Prize Package including racket, backpack, shoes, 6 packs of string

White Draw
Kelli Osajima (9.12) d. Jonathan Molner (6.94) 6-1 6-4
Taylor Galloway (8.55) d. Brenna Reilly (8.50) 6-4 6-4
Kiran Gadde (6.24) d. Samantha Birger (6.55) 7-6 (1) 6-3
Eli Hagan (8.40) d. Jake Young (8.43) 6-3 4-6 7-6 (6)
Winner: Eli Hagan received 2-month subscription from Tennis Trunk, Solinco string
Runner-Up: Jake Young received gift certificate from Clix for family portrait, Solinco string

Blue Draw
Brent Nieri (5.20) d. Raines Grassi (5.55) 6-3 6-4
Peyton Schuchart (5.94) d. Grayson Balloon (5.69) df
Winner: Peyton Schuchart received 2-month subscription from Tennis Trunk
Runner-Up: Brent Nieri received Solinco string

Green Draw
Chloe Zigliara (3.11) d. Clara Balcom (3.58) 6-0 6-3
Matthew Pinto (4.41) d. Teja Gadde (4.26) 6-2 6-3
Sydney Balcom (3.80) d. Christopher Pinto (3.0) 6-0 6-1
McKenzie Oliver (4.71) d. Shek Berry (4.55) 6-1 6-1
Winner: McKenzie Oliver received Solinco hat, sweatbands, headband, and string
Runner-Up: Shek Berry received gift certificate from Clix for family portrait

Day 1 at #theSol Atlanta

#theSolThe weather was perfect (well, a bit warm, but what else is new in July in Atlanta?). The Georgia Gwinnett College courts were newly-refurbished. The players were ready to do battle. A wonderful start to the first #theSol Atlanta tournament brought to you by 10sballs.com and Holabird Sports!

Tournament Director, David Stolle, did a fantastic job of dividing our 24 players into draws that suited their UTR, ensuring the most competitive matches we could hope for in the first two rounds. We wound up with 4 draws: a 4-person round robin draw for the top UTR players (Red Draw), an 8-person compass draw for the next level (White Draw), a 4-person round robin draw for our 3rd group (Blue Draw), and an 8-person compass draw for least-experienced players (Green Draw). Since the players were promised a minimum of 3 matches, most draws played 2 rounds today, though we did have one last-minute withdrawal due to injury and one due to illness which means that our Red Draw and Blue Draw players are only getting 2 matches unfortunately.

One of the coolest things about our tournament is the way the UTRs fell. We wound up with girls and boys competing against one another as well as young junior players competing against college players. What a great experience for these kids!

We also made the executive decision to NOT have officials at this event. Now, with all the discussion around cheating and bad behavior at junior tournaments, you would think this would be a recipe for disaster. Quite the contrary! Every single one of the matches was played without conflict! I gave a little talk at the beginning of the day regarding our expectations. I told the players (and the parents) that we were trusting them to be on their best behavior, to show respect for their opponents, to play fairly and by the rules, and to show respect for my dear friend, Sol. These kids did not disappoint! There were no disputed calls, no racket throwing, no accusations – only fair play with courtesy and exemplary sportsmanship. I was so proud of each and every one of these players!

Tomorrow is our final day, and we have some fun things planned. Melanie Oudin will make a personal appearance to meet the kids, sign autographs, and take photos. We have some great gifts from our sponsors which we will give away. We’ll once again provide lunch for the players. And we’ll have a professional photographer on hand to capture all the special moments of the day.

I’m looking forward to seeing these kids compete with heart and joy, just as Sol would’ve wanted. If you’re in the Atlanta area, come on out to Georgia Gwinnett College and join us for another great day of tennis! Matches start at 10am with the last matches scheduled to go on court at 1:30pm.

One last thing . . . a TREMENDOUS thank you to all our sponsors – we couldn’t put on such a great event without them!

  • 10sBalls.com
  • Holabird Sports
  • Steven J Schwartz, MD and the Intensivist Team
  • Judie Schwartz
  • Kassimir Physical Therapy
  • Match! Tennis App
  • Universal Tennis Academy
  • ParentingAces
  • UTR
  • Maller Wealth Advisors
  • Michael Sellman
  • Ilene, Dori, & Evan Schwartz
  • Solinco
  • Dunlop
  • Tennis Trunk
  • Melanie Rubin
  • Voss
  • TournaGrip
  • PNC Bank
  • Summit Group

Day 1 Results

Red Draw (Round Robin)
Gavin Segraves (12.20) d. Luis de la Mano (UTR unknown) 6-0 6-0

White Draw (Compass)
Round 1:
Eli Hagan (8.40) d. Kelli Osajima (9.12) 6-2 6-2
Brenna Reilly (8.50) d. Samantha Birger (6.55) 6-0 6-1
Jake Young (8.43) d. Kiran Gadde (6.24) 6-3 6-1
Taylor Galloway (8.55) d. Jonathan Molner (6.94) 6-2 7-5

Round 2:
Eli Hagan (8.40) d. Brenna Reilly (8.50) 6-3 6-2
Jake Young (8.43) d. Taylor Galloway (8.55) 6-3 7-5
Kelli Osajima (9.12) d. Samantha Birger (6.55) 6-1 6-0
Jonathan Molner (6.94) d. Kiran Gadde (6.24) 6-2 6-2

Blue Draw (Round Robin)
Brent Nieri (5.20) d. Grayson Balloon (5.69) df
Peyton Schuchart (5.94) d. Raines Grassi (5.55) 6-0 6-2
Peyton Shuchart (5.94) d. Brent Nieri (5.20) 6-1 6-1
Raines Grassi (5.55) d. Grayson Balloon (5.69) df

Green Draw (Compass)
Round 1:
McKenzie Oliver (4.71) d. Sydney Balcom (3.80) 6-3 6-3
Matthew Pinto (4.41) d. Chloe Zigliara (3.11) 6-4 6-2
Teja Gadde (4.26) d. Christopher Pinto (3.0)  6-0 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4)
Shek Berry (4.55) d. Clara Balcom (3.58) 6-1 6-2

Round 2:
McKenzie Oliver (4.71) d. Matthew Pinto (4.41) 6-4 6-3
Shek Berry (4.55) d. Teja Gadde (4.26) 6-4 6-0
Chloe Zigliara (3.11) d. Sydney Balcom (3.80) 6-4 6-4
Clara Balcom (3.58) d. Christopher Pinto (3.0) 7-5 6-1

Day 2 Schedule of Play

10am
Cole Brainard (10.97) v. Gavin Segraves (12.20)
Kelli Osajima (9.12) v. Jonathan Molner (6.94)
Brenna Reilly (8.50) v. Taylor Galloway (8.55)
Samantha Birger (6.55) v. Kiran Gadde (6.24)
Chloe Zigliara (3.11) v. Clara Balcom (3.58)
McKenzie Oliver (4.71) v. Shek Berry (4.55)
Sydney Balcom (3.80) v. Christopher Pinto (3.00)
Teja Gadde (4.26) v. Matthew Pinto (4.41)

1:00pm
Eli Hagan (8.40) v. Jake Young (8.43)
Brent Nieri (5.20) v. Raines Grassi (5.55)
Peyton Schuchart (5.94) d. Grayson Balloon (5.69) df

1:30pm
Luis de la Mano (UTR unknown) v. Cole Brainard (10.97)

Tennis Parent Re-Education

Tennis Parents

Navigating the world of junior tennis is tough – we can all agree on that, I think. And, once we Tennis Parents figure out a system that works for us, we tend to get comfortable and poo-poo any suggestions to change how we’re doing things.

I’m here to tell you, though, that the world of junior tennis is changing, and we Tennis Parents have to change, too, if we hope to keep up. There are a couple of specific changes that I want to address in this article in hopes of helping you shift your mindset just a teeny tiny bit.

The first thing is the way you search for tournaments for your junior player(s). Most parents start with TennisLink to find tournaments of a certain level or in a certain time period or area of the country. You go to the Find A Tournament page, select the gender, age group, USTA section, and date then click the Search button to see what comes up.

Others of you may also use the ITF Juniors website to search for events. You may use the UTR Events site, too. And these are all great resources to find junior tournaments. But, I’m sure you see that this is a bit problematic in that you have to go to all these different websites to find the available events for your players. What if you could find every single junior tournament in one place?

Well, good news! You can!

The Match!Tennis app (click here to listen to my podcast with its creators) now contains not only every USTA tournament but also all ITF (coming soon!) and UTR events, including the ITA Summer Circuit. You can go to one place and search for tournaments to your heart’s content. You can search by type of tournament, age group, geographic area, and date. You can flag the tournaments to add them to your personal calendar and to send you an email reminder when the entry deadline is approaching. You can also use the app to find a doubles partner which definitely makes life easier. And, bonus: the ParentingAces community gets a free 30-day trial plus a 20% discount if you sign up by July 15th. Just click here to try it out for FREE.

The second change I’d love to see Tennis Parents make is the way you sign up for tournaments.

The typical MO is to decide you want your child to play in a specific tournament then go to the Applicants list to see who has already entered, do a little mental rankings calculation, then wait until one minute before the entry deadline to sign up your player. Hey, I’m not judging – I did the exact same thing when my son was in the Juniors. I wanted to see who else was signed up so I could figure out if he would make it into the tournament or have any opportunity to go far enough in the draw to impact his USTA ranking.

Now, with UTR making such big inroads into the junior tournament landscape, and with more and more college coaches explicitly saying they rely on UTR for recruiting purposes, the most important thing you can do for your child is simply to make sure he or she is playing matches on a regular basis, whether it’s tournament matches, high school matches, or league matches. They all count equally toward a player’s UTR.

So, once you decide a tournament is a good fit for your player and your family in terms of level, date, and location, just go ahead and register.

With UTR Events and many other events using UTR for selection and seeding there is no need to shop for tournaments looking for a strong draw, weak draw, points per round considerations, etc. There is no rationale in waiting to sign up and find out who else may decide to play. Your placement in a level-based draw will be based on your UTR. You will get a set number of matches in a draw that will increase the likelihood that you have matches both good for your development and good for your opportunity to improve your UTR. In the event that there are not enough players within a near enough UTR range for this to be possible, then the Tournament Director will not place you in a draw that isn’t good for you. If it’s a UTR event, your fees will be refunded. If everyone is waiting on the sideline to see who else enters then nobody ends up entering.

I know. This is a new way of thinking.

If you want your junior to play in a specific tournament, then register with confidence and without regard for who else is playing. Again, the Tournament Director – if he/she follows the guidelines suggested by UTR – will not allow players to be placed in draws that are not beneficial for the player.

So, Tennis Parents, let’s practice what we preach to our kids. Let’s have a growth mindset when it comes to our kids’ competition.

For years our only choice for junior competition was USTA tournaments but now there are several options available. Let’s embrace a new way of doing business now that we have the option to do so. Our children will benefit and so will we.

 

#theSol Year 2

#theSol

It’s hard to believe that almost a whole year has gone by since our inaugural Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All In Tournament. Last year’s event (click here to read all about it) was a tremendous success by all measures, and we hope to do even better this year.

As in 2016, this year’s #theSols will be run through the Universal Tennis Rating tournament platform which gives our tournament directors great flexibility in terms of scheduling, communication, and draws. Unlike last year, we are hosting TWO events in 2017, one in Atlanta July 17-19 and one in Baltimore August 12-13. A huge thank-you to our presenting sponsor, 10sballs.com, and our title sponsor, Holabird Sports! Registration is now open for both tournaments. Click here for Atlanta. Click here for Baltimore.

Why should you add these tournaments to your junior player’s summer schedule? Well, let me tell you why!

  1. This is like no other junior tournament your child will play!
  2. Players are guaranteed at least 3 matches.
  3. On-court coaching. Players can receive assistance during the side changes.
  4. Where else can your child play matches that will count toward their UTR plus be coached on court during side changes?
  5. And, speaking of UTR, all matches will count toward your child’s rating.
  6. Players will get an amazing player goody bag and we have an incredible prize package for the overall winner.
  7. Players will have official player credentials.#theSol credential
  8. Players will get a full-color player book.
  9. Complimentary lunch for players and parents.
  10. Full-color high quality dri-fit tournament shirts.

I heard from the coach of last year’s #theSol winner that it was the best tournament she’s ever played. Not just because she won it, but also because of the atmosphere created by our incredible volunteers and committee. Don’t you want your junior player to have this type of positive tournament experience?

NOTE: We’ve just added another great perk to this year’s tournaments! We will be using the Match Tennis App for all tournament updates and communications. Why should you care? Because that means that, once you register to play, you get a FREE 30-day trial of the app! For more information on the Match Tennis App (plus a nice discount to use after your trial expires!), listen to our podcast here.

Enter the Atlanta #theSol here
Enter the Baltimore #theSol here

In case you’re wondering why we’re going to all this trouble to put on junior tournaments, it’s because of Sol Schwartz and the legacy he left behind in the Tennis World. He was a man devoted to preserving the sanctity of the sport, especially when it came to college tennis. The tournament committee is committed to continuing Sol’s legacy. All of the net proceeds from these events are going into a non-profit fund that will eventually be used to provide grants to college tennis programs at risk of being cut. For reference, from 2010-2015 twenty-two (22) men’s programs were cut with an additional nineteen (19) women’s programs. That does not bode well for the future of our sport.

NOTE: Per data from the ITA, four (4) men’s tennis programs were dropped during the 2016-17 academic year, and five (5) women’s programs were dropped. At the same time, five (5) men’s and four (4) women’s tennis programs were added. For more information, see the document below.

I hope to see you in Atlanta or Baltimore or both (!) this summer! If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to email me at lisa@parentingaces.com.

We all have to band together to #SaveCollegeTennis!

Summer Tennis Camp

Summer Tennis Camp
Image courtesy of trimptennis.com

Y’all know how I feel about sending your kids to summer tennis camp – it’s a fantastic experience and, if that camp is held on a college campus, it’s a great introduction to college tennis.

Every year, more and more camps seem to pop up. While I don’t have first-hand experience with the majority of the ones listed below, I do have some connection to them. For many, I know the coaches through podcast interviews or through meeting them at various tournaments and events over the years. For others, I have been to their facilities or they have been recommended by other Tennis Parents.

Some are day camps only and some offer overnight accommodations for campers. Some are for high-performance players while others are geared more toward recreational players, and some offer multiple programs to suit all types of players. Click on the name of the camp to go to their website and get more detailed information.

Most colleges with a tennis program offer summer camps as do many local academies and country clubs, so please look for those if you want to stay close to home.

I am happy to add camps to my list, so please contact me if I’ve left off a good one! If you have experience at any of these camps, I would love for you to share it in the Comments below.

Please do your due diligence before selecting a camp for your junior player(s). The most important thing is that they have FUN!

Summer Tennis Camps (Listed alphabetically)

The Curtis Consolation Draw

It is mid-April, and I have just become aware of a change to the junior competition protocol for the Southern section that I want to share with the rest of you. Historically, the Southern section has been a testing ground for several rule changes in junior tennis, so even if your junior doesn’t live or compete in the South, you should familiarize yourself with this latest tweak. It’s probably coming to your section very soon!

The change I’m referring to is in the way the consolation draw is handled in Southern Level 2 events, specifically the addition of a second backdraw called the Curtis Draw. Here’s how it works . . .

If a player loses in the first or second round of a Southern L2 tournament (these tournaments use a 64-player draw), then they feed into the regular consolation draw. However, if a player loses in the Round of 16 or Quarterfinals, then they feed into the Curtis Draw. Neither of these two draws plays the Finals match though both draws do have matches on the final day of the tournament, typically Monday, requiring players to miss a day of school.

So why do the L2s need two separate consolation draws? According to USTA Southern, previously the Round of 16 losers on Sunday morning did not play again until Monday thus having only one match on Sunday.  Use of the Curtis consolation where the Round of 16 losers and Quarterfinal losers are in one draw provides for a consolation match on Sunday afternoon for the Round of 16 losers (the Quarterfinal losers will have played that Quarters match on Sunday afternoon) and then two more matches in that draw on Monday.

In theory, the Curtis draw looks good since it allows the regular consolation draw to continue moving without having to wait for R16 and QF players to feed in on Sunday. Ideally it will allow for faster play overall and not hamper the tournament director with timing challenges.

However, I am hearing some concern about the point tables for the L2 regular consolation draws in terms of the maximum number of ranking points available. If a player loses in either the first or 2nd round in the main draw, then the maximum number of points possible is either 100 or 135 depending on in which round the loss occurs. The small number of ranking points may not be worth the cost of sticking around the tournament – both in terms of money and missed school – for some families. USTA Southern assured me that they are evaluating the point table for the consolation draw to see if some adjustments are warranted.

NOTE from Maria Cercone at USTA Southern (April 20, 2017): Just wanted to let you know that the committee approved a point change for the Curtis Level 2 tournament. The 1st and 2nd rd losers (1st Consolation) will receive 40 points per win , instead of 25. We saw an issue and we fixed it! It will be retroactive for all the players that played last week.

In the most recent L2 held in Alabama, there were three backdraw walkovers in the Boys 14s and three in the Girls 14s while there were three backdraw walkovers in the Boys 18s and seven in the Girls 18s which would be expected in the older age group due to the fact that these players are typically in high school and missing school is much more significant at that age. (Whew! That was a long sentence – sorry!) Out of 32 players in a backdraw these are not huge numbers but still worth the USTA looking into moving forward.

In contrast to the regular consolation draw, the Curtis draw offers much more significant ranking points, 60 points for each match won in the Curtis draw versus 25 for each match won in the regular consies, again with neither draw playing out the Final round. In real terms, that means a player who loses in the R16 of the main draw still has the potential to earn a total of 324 ranking points, 360 if they lose in the Quarters. Again, to compare, a player who loses in the first round of the main draw then feeds into the regular backdraw has the potential to earn 100 ranking points, 135 points if they lose in the 2nd round. Just to reiterate, that means a player in the regular backdraw has the potential to earn only 50 additional ranking points by staying through Monday and missing an extra day of school (not to mention paying for an additional night in a hotel) while a player in the Curtis draw could earn 120 additional ranking points. That’s a pretty significant difference, especially when you look at the ranking lists and study the point spreads between the players.

Interestingly, this past weekend’s L2 was the first of 2017 to utilize the Curtis Draw even though there have already been two L2s this year. One parent told me they had no idea the new backdraw was being used until they arrived at the tournament. I looked at the tournament website on TennisLink, and there is no mention of the Curtis Draw in the Important Info area (click here).

I asked the folks at USTA Southern why they decided to change things mid-year and how they notified participants of the change. They told me that the changes had been discussed earlier but weren’t finalized until right before this latest L2. Participants were not notified directly (still one of my pet peeves since the tournament director collects email addresses for participants when they register for the tournament!) but the information was posted on the USTA Southern website (see links in the next paragraph). I think it was also supposed to be included on the tournament website as well though, as I mentioned above, I can’t find any mention of it there.

I do think the Curtis Draw has the potential to be a positive addition to the L2s and even some of the other higher-level tournaments. That said, there needs to be some tweaking, especially in the area of available points for each backdraw. It looks like USTA may agree and may be making those tweaks before the next Southern L2.

To read more about the Curtis Draw on the USTA Southern website click here and here.

Please let me know what you think of this latest change. If you were at the Southern L2 in Alabama, I would love to hear how it went for your player.

NOTE: I have added a page to this website with links and contact information for USTA staff and departments that are relevant to the Junior Tennis Journey. Click here or on the link in the menu bar on the left side of the page.