I received the following press release earlier today and wanted to share it with y’all – take a peek and share your thoughts in the Comments box below:

New website helps junior tennis players find matches, easing challenges for parents.  Helps juniors become more competitive too.

Finding competitive matches for junior tennis players – something parents struggle with all the time – just got easier thanks to a new website recently launched by Paula McLure, a junior tennis mom.

The site – www.juniortennnismatch.com – allows parents find tennis partners for their juniors all over the country. Players under the age of 18 are considered juniors.

With more than 250,000 junior tennis players nationwide (some 20,000 in Texas alone) there should be numerous opportunities for parents to find non-tournament matches for their youngsters. But until now, finding those junior players was very much hit or miss.

“I knew my junior needed to play more matches – especially against other juniors – but finding those matches in our home town or as we traveled cross country was very difficult,” Website founder Paula McLure explained.

That was her impetus for creating juniortennismatch.com.

“The fact is experience matters. The more juniors play the better they become,” McLure noted. “My new website will help parents get that experience for their juniors.”

Parents pay just $5.00 per month or $49.99 per year to join the site which will let them find competitive playing partners for their juniors and scout coaches anywhere in the U.S.

And, since the site is new, registration for the first 10,000 families is free. Use the promotional code FREE when registering for your account.

Website membership also includes the ability for a parent to register an unlimited number of their juniors for one fee, rate and review coaches and facilities, rate a player’s experience (after a match), and begin and contribute to forum topics.

Additional fee based services include: Level of Play (LOP) confirmation by a coach at $5.00 per confirmation and obtaining a progress report (written evaluation of a lesson or camp) from a coach for just $12.99. Coaches will be compensated for these services.

Initially, 5% of all membership fees will be placed in a separate fund named the Tennis Expense Assistance Ministry (T.E.A.M.) to assist gifted but financially challenged players to obtain equipment, cover tournament expenses, training and travel and more.

Life Experience

Tennis, like life itself, is full of various experiences.  Our goal should be to learn from these experiences in order to make ourselves better human beings.  After all, it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game . . . right?

A couple of weeks ago, my son asked if he could play in the US Open Sectional Qualifier tourney that was being held at a local club.  The entry fee was higher than we were used to paying ($100 for singles, $65 for mixed doubles, single elimination in both draws), but my husband and I agreed to let him play.  We figured he might have the chance to play against some very high-level players which would be a great opportunity to see how his game holds up.  We were right.

In the first round of the tournament, my son drew David Hopkins (see photo above), the recently-graduated #1 doubles player and #1/#2 singles player for Wake Forest University.  One look at David and I immediately thought “football player” – he’s a 6’2″, All-ACC player who is built like a linebacker!  During the warm-up (in the 100+ degree heat, I might add), David simply stroked the ball on both sides, moving very little, looking like he was just out for a simple pick-up match at the local park.  But, once the match started, the All-ACC player came out in full force and didn’t leave until the match was won.  He hit double-digit aces.  He had an inside-out backhand that was so flat and so hard that you didn’t even see it coming.  And, he just didn’t miss.

During the match, one of David’s teammates, Adam Lee, was sitting next to me, and we struck up a conversation.  He told me how David had been continually recruited by the Wake Forest football coach throughout his college career but chose tennis over football time and again.  He told me how David is a gentle, unassuming character whose fierceness takes you by surprise on the court.  He told me how everyone feared coming up against him in a tournament.  Later, I spoke with both David and Adam about my son and his tennis goals.  Both young men were very complimentary and encouraging about my son’s chances to play D1 tennis.  David’s words:  “Tell him to keep working hard.  He’s way ahead of where I was at his age.  It just takes lots of hard work.”

In the mixed doubles, my son again had the opportunity to play against very experienced players.  In fact, the man on the opposing team played on the 2005 Davis Cup team for Puerto Rico, and the woman was a 4-time ITA All-American at Georgia College & State University.  Our kids held their own.

After the tournament, I gushed to my son about how well he played and what incredible opportunities he had to play such experienced and accomplished opponents.  In typical teenager fashion, he replied, “I wasn’t out there for a good experience, Mom.  I was out there to win!”  Sigh.

At some point, he will realize where I’m coming from with all this “good experience” talk.  It will sink in, and he will see that he’s on the right track to achieve his tennis goals.  He will understand that it’s not always about winning the match but sometimes about having a barometer to measure your progress.

Maybe he’s getting it sooner rather than later.  Last night, he signed up to play the ITA Summer Circuit tournament at UGA.  The tournament overlaps the Georgia State Junior Open by one day.  When I pointed that out to my son, he said, “Mom, I’m going to be in a draw with college players.  I don’t think I’m going to make it to the Finals.  It’s okay.”

I love it when the lightbulb turns on!