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 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!

Click here to view the Day 1 Slideshow

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!

  • 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

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)

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

Luis de la Mano (UTR unknown) v. Cole Brainard (10.97)


Young Guns at the 2017 BB&T Atlanta Open

BB&T Atlanta OpenListen to this week’s podcast here:

I will once again be covering the BB&T Atlanta Open, the kick-off men’s event to the US Open Series. This year’s tournament will be held at Atlantic Station in the heart of Atlanta’s Midtown district July 22-30, 2017. For more information on the tournament, go to

At this year’s Media Day, I had the opportunity to chat with Young Guns Chris Eubanks and Trent Bryde (who is coached by Viv Chhetri and Will Wright) about their tennis goals and the role tournaments like this one play in their overall development. I also had the chance to talk to Trent’s dad, Bruce, not only about Trent but also about the other two Bryde children, Karlee and Kyle, and how he and his wife, Kathi, balance the various interests of their offspring.

Be sure to enter the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In tournament(s) before the deadlines! For the Atlanta event (July 17-19) go to For the Baltimore event (August 12-13) go to If you’d simply like to make a donation to our fund which will provide grants to college tennis programs at risk of being cut, you can do so via check made payable to The Sol and sent to 70 1st Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30317 OR you can now donate via Venmo to Thank you for any support you can give!

This is also the last week to take advantage of the ParentingAces discount on Match!Tennis App. If you haven’t downloaded it and taken advantage of a 30-day free trial, what are you waiting for???? For more information, visit

Check out our latest podcast!

Mallorca: Final Chapter

IMG_1409My son’s month in Mallorca came to an end on August 30, 2013. He returned home to Atlanta safe and sound, maybe a bit taller, more than a bit stronger, and definitely more mature and responsible.

As we expected, additional information about his time in Mallorca has come to light since his return. My son has shared his experiences with the other players training there and his experiences with the various coaches – both on and off the court. We found out that he had a narrow escape with an early exit his first week, something neither he nor the coaches informed us about at the time. Instead of calling home in a panic, my son handled the situation himself, making amends for his transgression, and was allowed to stay and flourish for the remainder of the month. Whew!

We also found out that the first week was really tough – even tougher than my son let on when we spoke to him – but that things got progressively better as he became acclimated to the expectations and intensity of the Global Tennis Team program. He played a tournament each week of his stay, progressing and even eventually winning his final event, beating a player he had lost to in the early days there. The coaches were very pleased with his development over such a short period and encouraged him to keep working hard once he returned home.IMG_0986

Perhaps one of the best things that came out of this experience was my son’s recognition that his version of 100% effort really wasn’t 100%, that he had more inside of himself to give. It took some tough words from Jofre to spark that realization, but once it hit, my son was able to train at a much higher level and to see that he could set his goals a bit higher because he had it within himself to reach them with hard work and commitment. He brought that realization home and shared it with his coach, Julius, in hopes that they can continue to build on that foundation created in Spain. My son told Julius that he now understands that what happens on the court should stay there, that just because a coach is harsh during training doesn’t mean he can’t be your friend and confidant once the training is done. Because Julius is generally such a nice guy, my son wasn’t sure Julius could be tougher on him during their training, but Julius assured him he can be as tough on him as he needs!

My son has met with both Julius and his fitness trainer, Marcus, to discuss the specifics of his daily routine at Global. While he was still in Mallorca, he even went so far as to write notes about the drills and workouts each day so he could replicate them at home. He has seen what’s available to him internationally, tennis-wise, and he wants a piece of it! My hope is that his enthusiasm stays with him as he faces the inevitable ups and downs of being back at home and back at school – the rules and laws here are certainly much different than what he experienced in Mallorca. To his credit, though, he has adapted well and is even getting himself up on time for school – an enormous improvement to our morning routine!

Another “best thing” that came out of the trip was the post-training evaluation sent to us by Jofre. I’ve never received such a detailed report on my son’s training and competitive strengths and weaknesses, including not only his tennis strokes and movement but also his attitude and “mentality” as Jofre dubs it. And, coaches, take it from me: this kind of thing goes a very long way with us parents. The report was formatted in 4 sections: Introduction, which included a summary of his progression and commitment; Technique, which discussed his forehand, backhand, return of serve, and volley; Tactical, which addressed the pattern of his game, strategy, tactics, and mentality; and Conclusion, which finished with this very thoughtful statement: “Well-aimed ambition helps us grow as human beings.”

If you are considering a program like Global for your junior, I am more than happy to chat with you in more detail about my son’s experiences. All of my contact information is on the About Lisa page of this site, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

He Made It To Mallorca


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!

Life as a Tiger

lsuI have heard from several parents, coaches, and college recruiters that – now that my son is a high school sophomore – we should be combining tournament travel with college campus visits, either official or unofficial, so my son can start to get a feel for what he likes and doesn’t like about various types of schools.  This past weekend, we finally did just that.

We were in Baton Rouge for our Designated (Bullfrog) tournament.  A couple of days before the tournament, my son emailed the LSU coach, Jeff Brown, to let him know we’d be in town in case he was available to meet or come watch my son play.  And, it just so happens that a friend of my son’s, Harrison Kennedy, is a freshman on the LSU men’s tennis team, and it just so happens that the team was scheduled to play at home, so we took the opportunity to spend some time with Harrison picking his brain about life as an LSU Tiger.

Harrison graciously spent about 2 hours with us, showing us his apartment in the athletes’ housing quad and walking us all over the campus.  We saw the dining hall, various athletic facilities, the student union, and the very cool building where Harrison takes his business classes.  Harrison talked to us about a typical day and a typical week, stressing repeatedly how full his schedule is and how much tougher his training is as a college player versus during his junior tennis days.  He also talked about how great it is being part of a team and the challenges of working his way into the lineup as a Freshman player.  When he got to the part about the team’s track training – doing sprints and running the stadium – I could see the expression of horror on my son’s face!  I don’t think he realized how intensely these athletes train day in and day out, even though he had certainly read about it on the Twitter feeds of the college players he follows there.  There’s something about standing at the track, seeing how big it truly is, then looking up at the stadium and seeing its massive size, too, then hearing from a guy who’s doing it, to make you realize how tough it can be.

Harrison also talked about the academic requirements of being a student-athlete.  He showed my son a couple of lecture halls and a couple of smaller classrooms and told him how the professors don’t care whether or not you show up for class.  But, he added, the Athletic Director DOES care and has “classroom checkers” monitoring the athletes’ attendance.  Harrison then explained the mandatory study hours and about the tutors available to help.  He emphasized that the coaches WANT their athletes to be successful academically and will do their best to provide whatever assistance is necessary to achieve that goal.

Shortly after returning to our hotel, I saw a quote on the JBMThinks Twitter feed: “Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for.”  How timely!  I couldn’t help but think that hearing about how tough college tennis life can be would give my son pause, would make him really stop and think about whether or not this is truly what he wants.  My husband and I have always told our son that where he takes his tennis is 100% up to him.  If he wants to play in college, great!  If he doesn’t want to play in college, great!  If he wants to try playing professionally, we’ll support that choice, too.  But, we want him to make his decisions having as much knowledge and information as possible then committing completely to the path.  Of course, if he changes his mind and chooses another path after giving it a fair shot, then we’re okay with that.  We just want him to go into it with his eyes wide open.

The next day, I spent some time chatting with a junior coach at the tournament site about the training he does with his players.  He invited my son to join them for some track and stadium training back in Atlanta.  When I mentioned it to my son later that night, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I would get – would he take the coach up on his offer and see how he handles the challenge or would he say no thanks and leave it at that?  I was relieved and happy to hear my son say, “Cool!  Sure, I’d love to go!”  Looks like he’s up for the fight!

Blast from the Past

84123-retro-dance-partty-lunch-napkinsThis past weekend, we had one of the Regional Segment tournaments in Atlanta.  My son didn’t play, but one of his good friends from North Carolina did.  And we invited him and his dad to stay with us.

My son met Danny (and I met Danny’s mom) about 3 years ago when they were both playing a tournament in Augusta.  The boys hit it off right away and have stayed friends ever since.  While they don’t get to see each other as often as they would like, they communicate daily and are a strong presence in each other’s lives.

I swear, having Danny and his dad, Steve, at our house made me feel like I had gone back in time to when I was playing tournaments as a kid!  My family always had kids staying with us during tournaments, and my favorite events to play were the ones where I could go stay at a friend’s house instead of cramming into a hotel room with 4 or 5 other kids and parents.  My son was so excited to have Danny staying here, especially since he could now, under Georgia driving laws, take Danny in his car and show him around town.

On Thursday night, after Danny arrived, the boys hung out and did schoolwork together (sadly for him, my son had to go to school the next morning!).  On Friday afternoon, they hit for a while then started making the rounds to their Atlanta-based tennis buddies’ houses.  After a nice dinner at home, they hit the road again, visiting with friends and doing whatever it is teenage boys do (and, no, I really don’t want to know the details here!).  Early the next morning, they warmed up together for Danny’s first match, then my son hung out at the tournament site and watched his friends play.  That night, it was more riding around and hanging out with tennis friends before settling back at home to sleep and prepare for the next day’s matches.  Sunday was more of the same.

In between all that, Steve and I had lots of time to visit.  We talked about Tennis Stuff – sure! – but we also talked about Life Stuff.  We talked about the challenges of raising teenagers.  We talked about the challenges of parenting in general.  We talked about travel and food and marriage and Modern Family.  It was really fun to get to know each other and to plan future weekends where our boys will be together and where we, as couples, can spend time together, too.

I know I’ve written about this a lot, but this is what junior tennis is about, and this is where our focus, as Tennis Parents, should be: on building relationships, on supporting friends, on having fun.  Yes, it’s important for our kids to understand and do the hard work necessary to reach their tennis goals.  Yes, it’s important to win matches.  Yes, it’s important to eat healthy meals and snacks and to get enough sleep, especially during tournaments.  But, it’s equally important to balance all those things and to – sometimes – let go and Just. Have. Fun.

You should see the amount of junk food that made its way into my pantry in just 3 days – chips, candy, sodas, packaged cookies, Krispy Kremes – I hardly ever buy that stuff!  But, it was all part of what made the weekend special, what made it fun.  And, no one is any worse for the wear.  It was just 3 days, after all!

I hope we get lots more chances to have Danny and his parents stay with us for tournaments.  Or to travel to Charlotte and stay with them.  Or to plan the boys’ tournament schedules so they intersect somewhere fun like Hilton Head.  This is one of my favorite parts of the journey!

Social Media In Action

Tom Walker (you’ll recognize his name as the one who wrote the Call to Action on the Junior Competition changes in March 2012) has created a Facebook page entitled USTA – Stop 2014 National Junior Tennis Tournament Changes (click here to see it).  His mission is reprinted in its entirety below.  I encourage you to visit the page, “like” it, then share it with your tennis friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other means you have available.  There is definitely strength in numbers, and Tom’s goal is to show USTA in no uncertain terms that a critical mass of its constituents are opposed to these changes and want to see the Junior Competition Committee go back to the drawing board:

This page is dedicated to spotlighting the insane 2014 changes to the USTA National Junior Tournament Calendar and hopefully to motivate Dave Haggerty, Kurt Kamperman, the new Junior Tournament Competition Committee, the 17 Sections and the new USTA Board of Directors to permanently pause these changes and devise a new plan that is thoroughly vetted, transparent, and agreed upon by the tennis industry at large.


Last year the USTA sections passed a sweeping new National Junior Tournament Plan that was to take effect in 2013 and 2014. This plan involved shrinking the opportunities to play National tournaments for US juniors by a significant margin.

The goal of the changes as stated by the USTA was to address three major concerns:

• The rising costs of competing at the national level for juniors and their families;
• The desire to reduce the amount of time juniors would be absent from school;
• The creation of a logical progression of earned advancement from local play to sectionals to nationals to ensure that the best players move on to nationals (the best have earned the right to play) – not the players from families with more economic flexibility.

While those stated goals are noble on the surface, many in the industry question if those were the actual goals and anyone with the slightest knowledge of junior tournament tennis quickly realized that the 2014 plan did exactly opposite of these stated goals for the overwhelming majority of players.

Cost – under the 2014 plan, players will have 9 chances to play National tournaments during the course of the year. If a player was going to play 9 national events in the year, they would now be completely wed to this schedule. You could likely poll first graders and realize that if a player had 9 chances to 9 events, it is going to cost more than if they had 30 or 40 chances to play 9 events.

School – school breaks and testing schedules have never been more fragmented. Again when choice is taken away, the homeschooled kids with flexible schedules or the lucky kids whose breaks and test schedules match up with the USTA schedule will be fine while the rest of the kids will be left missing more school and will have more balancing of tests and tournaments.

Earned Advancement – this is nothing more than propaganda to pretend like there are a bunch of rich kids flying around in private jets chasing points and unfairly advantaging themselves against the kids of lesser financial means. There has always been earned advancement. The 2014 plan doesn’t change any of the earned advancement for the rank and file junior tennis player, but it does give the USTA more wild cards so that their own players are not subject to have to play in their sections. So this plan of earned advancement not only doesn’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist, it creates a pathway for a few of the chosen ones to completely avoid earning their advancement.

So on all three stated goals, these changes completely fail any reasonable smell test.

The 2014 plan has been universally panned by an overwhelming majority of parents, coaches, junior players, college players, professional players, famous ex-pro players and virtually every person of significance in the tennis industry.

To the credit of some of the USTA brass in October of 2012, a group: Jon Vegosen (past USTA President,) Kurt Kamperman (USTA CEO of Community Tennis,) Dave Haggerty (USTA President,) Gordon Smith (USTA GM) and Bill Mountford (USTA rep) met with a resistance group of tennis parents and industry figures including: Antonio Mora (father of a junior,) Robert Sasseville (tournament director,) Steve Bellamy (father of 4 juniors and founder of Tennis Channel,) Sean Hannity (father of 2 juniors) and Kevin Kempin (father of 2 juniors and the CEO of Head.) From that meeting, the USTA agreed to “pause” the 2013 changes and have a “listening tour” in various parts of the country.

Right now as stated by the USTA President Dave Haggerty in the Atlanta meeting, “the 2014 changes will not go forward as they are now and there will likely be some sort of a compromise that puts some opportunity back on the table.”

The history of the changes are that Jon Vegosen (former President) enlisted Tim Russell (music professor no longer involved with the junior comp committee) and his committee of 20 (of whom virtually none were parents or coaches of junior players and 1/2 of whom are no longer on the committee) to come up with a new plan. That plan was then given to player development (which is no longer involved in the process) who supposedly were the ones who cut all the opportunity and gave themselves more wildcards.

This plan was then pushed around the USTA sections under the guise of cutting costs, upping school attendance, criminalizing the supposed points chasers and giving the sections back all their talent who were now playing Nationally. Although the plan was passed by a margin of 16 to 1, rampant were reports of anyone speaking out against the changes being ostracized, bullied to get on board and even fired. Many section leaders who voted for the changes now say that they would not have voted the way they did had they understood what they were voting for. Others have said they received substantial political pressure to vote for the changes. Basically an election in a country with a dictator took place to slam the changes through while Vegosen’s administration was in place.

Virtually no parent, coach, college coach or person in tennis was apprised of these changes prior to them being passed and there were specific directives from USTA managers not to let the tennis industry know about the changes until after they had passed.

Additionally, little foresight was given to the impact of the changes to college coaches. The changes will directly push a large portion of college coaches out of using their recruiting travel budgets for USTA events and move them to ITF events, therefore creating even fewer US players getting seen by college coaches which is the driving reason that many US kids play junior tennis.

We believe that these changes are going to be some of the most detrimental in the history of the sport and will basically do the following:

· Make junior tennis cost more

· Significantly detract from some kids’ school

· Overly benefit kids who can get wildcarded in

· Push more foreign players into college tennis by more exposure to college coaches

· Make kids quit tennis because so many kids will be playing the same kids week after week in their same section

There are many other negatives as well.

The goal of this page is to mobilize the tennis industry to push the USTA to get this process permanently paused and a new plan put in place that is transparent, smart and vetted by all the parties impacted in junior tennis.


I again urge everyone to attend one of the remaining “listening” meetings and/or to email with your thoughts regarding the 2014 Junior Competition changes.  If you need a refresher on the exact changes or dates of the meetings, please click on the 2014 Jr Comp Info tab above.