Adidas Announces New Junior Academy Partnership Program

Image courtesy of www.wuufashion.net
Image courtesy of www.wuufashion.net

I received the following notice from Adidas and thought I would share it. This is great news for junior players and their families, especially if Adidas (and maybe other manufacturers, too?) spreads the love to more coaches and academies!

Today adidas announces a new junior tennis academy program for the US. The academy program is an all-encompassing partnership that includes outfitting all coaches and top level players, adidas branding at the facilities and retail operations. adidas will also utilize each academy for future product wear testing and development feedback to assure we continue to deliver the best tennis footwear and apparel. Aligning adidas Tennis with the most respected academy programs in the country allows adidas to work and connect with some of the best junior talent.

The select group of academies are located in key tennis markets including Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Florida and New Jersey. Some of the programs adidas had already established relationships with and others are part of the adidas Tennis family for the first time. Below is a full list of the programs in the US:

  • CenterCourt Academy – Chatham, NJ
  • Tucker Tennis Academy – Tulsa, OK
  • T Bar M Tennis Academy – Dallas, TX
  • Kansas City United Tennis – Kansas City
  • Midtown Weston High Performance Junior Tennis Program – Weston, FL
  • 4 Star Tennis Academy – Fairfax, VA

NOTE: After reading a comment below, one of my readers reached out to HEAD to ask which academies were part of its “sponsorship” program. Amy Wishingrad, HEAD’s national promotions manager, replied with the following list . . .

  • John McEnroe Academy in NY
  • Ramp Tennis Academy in Carson, CA
  • Van der Meer in Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Sanchez Academy in Naples, FL
  • Greater Midland Community Centers in MI
  • Dimitar Tennis Academy in Santa Barbara, CA
  • Giammalva- Rivers Tennis in Houston, TX
  • Scarborough East Tennis in MI

Summer Tennis Camps

Tennis Camp

 

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know I’m a big fan of summer tennis camp for junior players.  For younger players, a few intensive days on a college campus or at an academy with a group of amazing guys or gals can be incredibly inspiring and motivating.  For older players, camp can serve as a reminder of what’s around the bend if they stick with tennis throughout high school and decide to play in college.

Since summer is just a few weeks away, I figure now is as good a time as any to put together a list of some of the camps being offered across the country.  This is just a sampling – please post any additional camps in the Comments box below.  I only have direct experience with UGA’s camp – it’s the only one my son has attended – but the rest of the camps listed have been recommended by various coaches, parents, and others.  I’ve included links to the camp websites, so please take a look at the details listed there.

  • Adidas Tennis Camps – Adidas sponsors many camps around the country.  There are day, extended-day, and overnight options for all levels of juniors, from beginners to high-level tournament players.
  • Down The Line & Beyond Summer Camp – Open to high school and college players, this unique camp located in the Philadelphia area also offers a Character Development element in keeping with the DTLB philosophy.
  • Dubrovnic Summer Tennis Camp – Offered July 28–August 4.  Tennis Club “Ragusa” in cooperation with Tennis Centre Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik-neretva County Tennis Association is organizing an international camp for children under the guidance of one of the greatest tennis player of all time and sports role model Goran Ivanišević.
  • Ed Krass College Tennis Exposure Camps – Open to players ages 15-18 and taught by current college head tennis coaches, these camps will give your junior a taste of what’s coming if he/she decides to pursue a college tennis career.
  • Furman Tennis Camp – Run by Furman Head Men’s Coach Kelly Jones, this camp is located on the beautiful Furman campus just outside Greenville, SC.  Campers have access to 19 outdoor and 4 indoor courts.
  • Hightower Summer Tennis Camp – Directed by Ron Hightower, former US Jr Davis Cup Captain and national coach, these one-week camps will be held at Hightower Tennis Academy in Woodland Hills, CA.
  • Holabird Sports Tennis Camp – Holabird in conjunction with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) is offering a variety of camps this summer on the UMBC campus in Baltimore, including a half-day camp for the youngest players as well as a full-day camp and overnight.  UMBC Head Coach Rob Hubbard will be running the camp – he’s a great guy!  Bonus: save 10% if you register by May 1 and use promo code EARLYBIRD.
  • IMG Summer Camps – Held at the world famous Bollettieri Academy, the multi-week camps are open to players of all ages and abilities.
  • Jamie Stafford Tennis Academy Summer Camp – I received notice of these camps via LinkedIn.  They are set in Ireland and are for players ages 4-17.
  • Johan Kriek Tennis Academy Summer Camp – Available for intermediate to advanced players, these camps run Monday-Friday 11am-3pm.  Each week is limited to 40 players to ensure personal attention and instruction.  Johan’s academy is located in Charlotte, NC.
  • Nike Junior Tennis Camps – Nike offers a variety of day and overnight camps in many cities around the US.  Their camp website will tell you everything you need to know!  For the first time, the University of Georgia is doing its camps through the Nike program this year – I’ll give y’all a report after my son’s week there!
  • Nike Tennis Camp at CSU East Bay – Led by Coach Bill Patton, these camps are offered several times over the summer and are geared toward junior players of all levels.
  • Presbyterian College Summer Tennis Camp – With three one-week sessions beginning the first week of June, PC camps are open to players of all stages ages 5-18.
  • RAMP Tennis Camp – RAMP Tennis camps, directed by former USTA Coach (and May 13 ParentingAces Radio Show guest) Marc Lucero, are open to players of all ages (6-18) and levels and are located at the USTA Training Center-West on the grounds of the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
  • Schwarz Elite Prospect Tennis Camp – Held on the beautiful Brown University campus in Providence, RI, these camps are geared toward those players looking at playing collegiate tennis.  That said, there are a variety of options available at Brown, so please take a look at the website.
  • University of Illinois Summer Tennis Camp – How fun to go to camp at the site of the 2013 NCAA Tournament!  Head coach Brad Dancer and Marcos Asse run the camp together and employ current D1 players to help coach the kids.
  • Van der Meer Summer Tennis Camp – Recommended by a parent on my Facebook page, this gorgeous facility in Hilton Head would be a great spot to spend a week (or two)!
  • Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps – 17 locations nationwide this summer, from California to Miami, FL to Rhode Island and in between.   In addition, as a camp resource, they are co-blogging a series about tennis camps with the USTA Midwest.  The first two parts of this series can be found at PART I and PART II.

I asked Ross Greenstein of Scholarship for Athletes for his opinion on the various camps available. “For 3 and 4 star kids the Brown and Dartmouth camps are very good – they get Division 3 coaches to work the camps so it really helps the kids get seen by coaches.  For 1 and 2 star kids, UCLA and Pepperdine have great camps, as do Florida and Georgia. We tell our clients if they don’t get into clays [National Clay Court Championships] then the Dartmouth Elite Camp and Brown Camp are very good. They are also much better than the Donovan Showcase because the kids get to interact with the coaches and the coaches know exactly what the kids are like on and off the court. The problem with all of the showcases is the coaches never talk to the kids and they don’t get to really know the kids. It is also important the kids get to know the coaches. It is against the rules for the coaches to work the showcases but they get to be on the court with the kids at the summer camps.”

Time is of the essence with many of these camps, so please don’t wait too long to get your child(ren) registered.  If you run a camp and would like me to add it to the list above, please email me at lisa@parentingaces.com with the details and website.

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Who’s Really #1?

USTA rankings vs. Tennis Recruiting star ratings vs. Universal Tennis levels . . . is anyone else confused here?  I don’t know about the rest of you, but this obsessed Tennis Momma spends an inordinate amount of time trying to understand what the different ratings and rankings actually mean and how my son can best use the information to improve as a player.

A quick overview of some of the different ranking/rating systems out there . . .

USTA currently uses the Points Per Round (PPR) system which awards ranking points based on the level of tournament and which round the player reaches in the tournament.  A player’s top 6 singles tournament results and top 3 doubles tournament results for the previous 12 months are included in his/her ranking.  There is a National PPR chart, but each USTA Section also has its own PPR chart based on how its tournament levels are set up.  Please note that it doesn’t matter if a player loses his/her first round main draw match or whether that player wins several rounds in the main draw – all that matters is where the player ends up in the draw at the end of the tournament.  So, in a 64-draw, a player who loses in the first round of the main but gets to the semifinals of the backdraw will earn more ranking points than a player who wins three rounds in the main then loses his/her first backdraw match.  Head-to-head wins/losses are not considered in the PPR system.  Quality of wins is considered only when a lower-ranked player has a win over a player in the top 100, though this can also vary by Section.

The Tennis Recruiting Network (TRN) uses the Star Rating system which awards stars based on a player’s ranking within his/her high school graduating class.  The Star Ratings are updated twice a year – once in the Fall near the beginning of the school year and once in the Spring in mid-March.  TRN does consider head-to-head match-ups in its rankings, so many coaches, players, and parents consider these rankings to be more accurate and reliable than the PPR system.  (See my blog post on TRN for more details.)  As one fellow tennis parent commented, unlike USTA’s system, “TRN rankings aren’t influenced at all by where you go to play a tournament and which #900 ranked player in the nation you happened to knock off in the back draw for your only win of the event (to secure those prized PPR points).”

Universal Tennis features 16 levels of tennis and provides tennis players worldwide a common rating system to determine their level of play. The 16 levels – ranging from 1 for beginners to 16 for the top professional players – are based on actual match results (the last 30 matches within the last 12 months) without regard to age or gender using the Competitive Threshold (i.e. how close were the matches?) to determine accurate ratings.  This system – developed by Harvard Head Coach David Fish and former Old Dominion players Dave Howell (who will be my radio show guest on December 3rd) and Alex Cancado – is relatively new on the tennis scene and is meant to be used in conjunction with the other rating/ranking systems.  Thankfully, it, too, is becoming more recognized as a reliable resource for parents, players, and coaches.

Unfortunately, all sanctioned USTA junior tournaments currently use only the PPR rankings – the least reliable of the three, in my opinion – to determine which players get into the events and who is seeded in those events.  One complaint that I hear repeatedly is that PPR rankings can be “bought” by players who have the means to travel to tournaments with weaker draws in order to win more matches and, as a result, wind up with better rankings, allowing them entry into the higher-level events.  I am loathe to admit that my son and I have taken that approach on more than one occasion – driving to the other side of our very large section where the competition runs a little less deep – in order to boost his USTA ranking to the point where he could get into events closer to home without going through the alternate list.  And, sadly (but fortunately, I guess), it worked, but is it honestly in the best developmental interest of a junior player to take this tack?

Of course, the answer is no, but it’s oftentimes a necessary step under the current PPR ranking system in order for a player who is aging up or is a late bloomer to get into the tournaments where he/she has competitive matches.  One parent commented on a previous blog post, “How do you reasonably explain to a 12 year child (or any child, for that matter) that a child he/she has beaten easily (possibly numerous times) is ranked above him/her [and, therefore, getting into tournaments when your player is not]?  The only reasonable explanation is that he plays more tournaments. In other words, his parents spend more money.”  It may not necessarily be that the child is playing more tournaments but that he/she is traveling all over to tournaments with weaker fields to get those match wins and coveted ranking points.

Another parent shared, “It would be great to see at least a few tournaments each year use that [TRN] ranking system to select and seed fields. If the USTA were to switch to TR[N] as their primary ranking system, I think that would solve many of the problems they’ve been trying to address with the proposed changes to national tournament structures, etc. (i.e., players/parents trying to buy PPR points/rankings by traveling to all the big national events).”  I agree wholeheartedly!  At the very least, USTA could use other ranking or rating systems in conjunction with PPR for a more accurate overall picture, especially when creating acceptance lists for the larger national tournaments.

We’re now seeing some creative tournament directors putting on events – like the Holabird-Adidas All-In Junior Tennis Challenge – where PPR ranking isn’t the sole criteria for entry or seeding.  Hopefully, our junior players will have more opportunities outside of USTA to develop and test their tennis skills.  ITA, ITF, and other organizations offer several options.  In the meantime, though, we have to work with what we’ve got and either (1) learn to play the system effectively and/or (2) be creative ourselves and help our kids find opportunities outside the system to become better players.

I would love to hear from you about how your junior player is balancing the challenge of getting into the tournaments he/she wants (needs?) to play while at the same time continuing to develop his/her game.  Please share your Comments below.

Holabird-Adidas Recap

I know I say this a lot, and please indulge my gushy-ness here, but sometimes it’s about so much more than just the tennis.

My son and I spent this past weekend in Baltimore at the Holabird Sports-adidas All In Junior Tennis Challenge.  The event was like no other tennis tournament my son has ever played.  First of all, it was an open draw which meant that any player age 18 and under could play.  Secondly, on-court coaching was allowed during changeovers which gave the players a chance to hear suggestions as to how they could tweak their game plan and, hopefully, improve their outcomes.  Also, service lets were played, adding a college-tennis twist to the matches – for some players, it took several lets before they got in the habit of playing those balls.  Finally, because it was an unsanctioned event, it wasn’t about ranking points or a trophy – the winner of the boys and girls draws each took home a one-year sponsorship from Adidas.

But, beyond all that, what my son will take away from his time in Baltimore is more than just what happened on the court.  And the more I reflect on our weekend, the more emotional I get – it’s exactly these types of experiences that you hope your child gets to have during his or her Tennis Journey.

The tournament’s creator, Sol Schwartz, went above and beyond to make our weekend special.  One of Sol’s players, Justin (who happened to be the top seed and eventual tournament champ), spent his practice time with my son from the moment we got to town.  The boys hit Thursday night then went to dinner together, sharing music, YouTube videos, and lots of laughs.  They hit again Friday morning and made arrangements to warm up together before their first matches on Saturday.  After they both played (and won!) their first rounds, my son went with Justin and his family to the UMBC campus to help Justin move into his dorm – Justin starts his freshman year this week and will be a vital member of the UMBC men’s tennis team.

When I called my husband to tell him about our son’s new buddy and what an exceptional young man he is, my husband’s response was, “That’s worth the price of the trip up there regardless of how the tennis part goes.”  Bingo!  Finding a player who is willing to mentor a younger guy, share his experiences, and help the younger one achieve his goals is a rare occurrence.  And, the best part is that my son recognized the gift he had been given almost immediately and spent the entire weekend with a smile on his face (those of you with teenage boys know what a rarity that is!).

My son wound up losing in the semis to the #2 seed.  But, here’s the cool thing:  rather than coming right off the court feeling disappointed about the loss, my son sat there for about 45 minutes after the match with his surrogate coach for the weekend, UMBC Head Coach Rob Hubbard, dissecting what went well and what could’ve gone better.  Coach Rob told him that he’s on the right track, that he needs to keep working hard, and that he’s “got game” but still has some maturing to do.  Coach Rob spent a long time talking to me after the match, too, helping me better understand what college tennis is all about at the mid-major level.

As Sol shared with me after the event ended, “I think the players that played walked away very happy on all levels.  One way or another, I think every single player in the event was able to benefit, whether in being able to play against players of a level that they don’t usually get to compete.  Being able to get some matches in to prepare for another event.  Being able to experience on court coaching while playing something meaningful, not just a practice set.  I heard a lot of different things that the kids and parents had to say.  Nobody left the event empty handed.  Players, coaches, parents, or people watching. ”

The most telling comment I heard, especially in light of USTA’s recent explanation for shrinking the draws for its National Hardcourt Championships in 2014, came from the very wise young man my son played in the first round.  “I’m just glad I got to be on the court with these really good players.  Where I live, we don’t have guys who are this good.  I learned so much from playing against them and can now see what I need to do to get better.  I’ll definitely be back next year!”  For the record, this young man only won 2 games in the entire tournament, but he came off the court feeling encouraged rather than discouraged.  USTA, please take note!

For those of you who didn’t make the event this year, please consider adding it to your child’s tournament schedule in 2013.  You will not be disappointed!

Holabird Sports-Adidas “All-In” Junior Tennis Challenge

With the various changes that USTA is implementing throughout the junior competition calendar, several forward-thinking individuals and companies are stepping in to offer players and their families alternative ways to maximize their tournament experiences.  The Holabird Sports-Adidas All-In Junior Tennis Challenge is one such event.  I had the opportunity to speak with the tournament’s creator, Sol Schwartz, and to ask him a few questions:

ParentingAces: Why did you decide to create this tournament?

Sol Schwartz: The tournament was created for a few different reasons, the main one being that it will create an atmosphere that is going to be totally unique for the junior tennis player.  Our event has a variety of rules components that players very well may face as they move on to the collegiate and maybe professional levels.  It is also a contradiction to many of the new rules that are being, or have been, instituted into junior tennis.  First difference will be that all third sets will be played out.  No tie breakers.  A second difference is that all net cords will be in play.  A third difference is that coaching on changeovers will be allowed.  A fourth difference is that there is only one draw for the boys and one for the girls – all ages will be put together and will compete against each other.  Finally, and most importantly, is that the winner of each of the draws will receive an Adidas footwear and apparel sponsorship package.  Details of the package can be found in the link for the event.  We also have a runner-up package for the 2nd place finisher in each event.

PA: What are the specifics of registering for the tournament?

SS: Registration for the tournament can be done directly through the link that is on the Holabird Sports website, www.holabirdsports.com.  The cost of entry is $100, and the deadline to enter is August 16th at 11:59pm.  Entry will be limited to the top 32 boys and girls that enter each of the events.  The criteria for entry acceptance and seeding information is online.  It can also be found on the USTA website in their list of non-sanctioned events.  There is no housing provided for the event, but special event rates have been secured at hotels that are within  5 minutes of the host site, McDonogh School.

PA: How did you decide on Adidas as the sponsor?  What’s in it for them?

SS: There are several reasons that Adidas was chosen to be the lead co-sponsor with Holabird Sports in this event.   Going with a prize package that included shoes and clothing immediately brought them to mind.  Right now, there is really no bigger company in that side of the business than Adidas.  On a bigger picture front, there is going to be a huge blow out for the weekend of the tennis event at McDonogh.  On the Sunday of the final, August 26th, Holabird Sports and Adidas will also be holding The Coach Jerry Martin Memorial XC Run.  This race is a tribute to a legendary track and field coach from the Baltimore County School System whom I also had the honor of having as part of my retail staff at Holabird for many years.  Several of the people that are with Adidas in the tennis and running divisions have a great relationship with us, and many have had the experience of knowing Coach  Martin.  It just made this a perfect match.  These events will enable Adidas to get a lot of exposure in more of  a grassroots type of setting.  They will be blowing out their brand there throughout the whole weekend.  They will have products on display. They will have their  Mi Cell and Mi Coach training systems out there for the players to experiment with as well.

PA: What do you say to the players and parents who ask why they should play if it won’t help their ranking?

SS: My reasons for keeping this tournament unsanctioned, at least for the first year, are kind of selfish.  I did not want any outside influences coming in and trying to dictate how I should run the event.  I wanted this to be a different type of experience for the kids that gain entry, and I didn’t need or want any outside organizations getting in our way, or for that matter, capitalizing on my vision for what this event can and hopefully will be.  Being able to expose your child to the type of atmosphere that this tournament will create – along with the rules of play that are being implemented – should be exciting for all that enter.  These kids are used to playing under sets of rules that are contrary to what the game of tennis should be about.  Our event bucks that trend.  Why should they play if it won’t help their ranking?  From the kid’s view, it is to compete in a totally different atmosphere than at any event they play.  To get a good taste of what it is like to compete at the next levels of the game.  As a parent, I simply look at the prize package.  A lot of these players will have some sort of racket sponsorship, but they often can’t attain footwear and clothing.  The package that is being awarded to the winners of the event will help offset some of the largest expenses that add up throughout the course of the tennis calendar.

PA: Do you think this type of non-sanctioned tourney will survive and thrive when facing the competition from USTA/ITF events?  What can the tennis community do to ensure the survival of these alternative events?

SS: When I sit back and look at this event, I wouldn’t necessarily say it is in competition with any USTA or ITF events.  What it is is a totally different type of event than those put on by other organizations.  Just because the event is not a sanctioned event does not mean that it never will be.  This event is designed to be different.  It is designed to create an atmosphere that is a celebration of what is great about different areas of our sport.  This event is a model of a vision that I have as to what could potentially grow into a larger series of events down the road.  There is a ton of negativity that exists in the tennis community across our country.  This negativity comes at every single level and a lot has to do with the overall structure of the junior tennis tournaments and changes that have been made or are going to be made in the near future.  Everybody has a view on the issues from the coaches to the parents to the kids themselves.  I listen to these conversations and engage myself in a lot of them because both myself and my company have a vested interest in the success of the game of tennis.  We at Holabird Sports, in conjunction with Adidas, have put this event out there to create some new excitement in the junior tennis world.  The Holabird Sports- adidas “all-in” Junior Tennis Challenge will take place the weekend of August 24th-26th.  Hopefully it provides a bit of a positive kick back to tennis and creates some excitement.  When that happens, who knows where we may take this in the years to come?  It’s in the hands of the tennis community to promote these types of events and bring non-tennis people in.  There needs to be an all-out attack by players, coaches, parents, and supporters to bring more people to the game.  We need to show others that tennis is a great game to be enjoyed by anyone who can hold a racket.

My son and I will be in Baltimore for this exciting tournament – hope to see you there!