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!

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!

  • 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)

 

#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!

#TheSol

14115070_331410673860060_7610644223125533679_oI don’t even know where to begin in writing about this past weekend’s Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In tournament . . . aka #TheSol. I find myself at a loss for words as I attempt to describe exactly what transpired in Pikesville, MD at the Suburban Club. It was a junior tennis tournament, yes, but I feel as though we experienced something way beyond your typical weekend of matches.

I’m not going to re-tell my Sol stories here – y’all can read my previous posts and listen to my podcasts to get a feel for who Sol Schwartz was and why we wanted to create a tournament in his honor. I guess the best thing to do is simply to recount the weekend to the best of my ability and hope that those who were present will chime in with Comments to add depth of meaning to what was surely the most special tournament I’ve ever attended.

I arrived in Baltimore on Friday afternoon, and Melanie Rubin, who was part of the planning committee, picked me up on her drive in from Long Island, NY. We went directly to the Suburban Club to check out the space and figure out how best to set up for the weekend. After hanging our tournament and sponsor banners, we grabbed a quick (albeit very late!) lunch at Panera (how appropriate given the hundreds if not thousands of meals I ate there during my son’s junior tennis years!) before meeting Sol’s sisters-in-law, Laurie and Sherri, back at Suburban to complete the player goody bags and figure out our strategy for the next morning’s tournament check-in. player tableMelanie and I had our stuff spread out all over the pro shop but finally got organized to the point where we felt comfortable leaving for the night. We stopped by our hotel to check in and unpack, grabbed dinner at a local sushi spot, then both fell asleep to the sights and sounds of the Olympics on tv.

The next morning we got up early to dress, eat breakfast in the hotel lobby, and get to Suburban before the players started to arrive. When we got to the club, there were already a few players warming up on the courts, and Sol’s mother-in-law, Ina, was waiting for us outside the pro shop. Once Eric, the staffer on duty, arrived to open up, we got to work with tournament director Salman Bader from UTR organizing the draws, player credentials, goody bags, t-shirts, and check indrinks. As each player checked in, Ina was in charge of handing out their credentials, I checked them off the player list, and Melanie handed them their goody bag and tournament shirt. They were then free to go warm up or just hang out and wait to be called for their first match.

Let me talk about the player goody bags for a moment . . .

These were NOT your usual junior tournament player gift! Here’s what every player got – inside of a racket-sized nylon backpack from Holabird Sports:14067925_331410630526731_5562744538765482222_o

  • Full-color player book
  • Under Armour socks
  • $10 Holabird gift card
  • Packet of Genesis string
  • ArrowBar
  • Bryan Brothers poster
  • Autographed photo of Noah Rubin
  • Travel umbrella
  • Player patch from 10sBalls.com
  • Magnets from Holabird and Kassimir Physical Therapy
  • Miscellaneous other items such as pens and stickers

At promptly 9am, the first matches were sent on court amid blue cloudless skies. The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect. Sol was working his magic from above! With 32 players, we had 12 matches at 9, another 4 at 10:30, and then a nice break to enjoy the delicious lunch provided by Steve’s Deli. lunch

During lunch, it was amazing to walk around the club and see kids sitting together, parents sitting together, and Sol’s friends and family taking it all in. In most tournaments once your child’s match is finished, you’re rushing off to find them something to eat so you can get them back for the next round. Not so at #TheSol! We wanted to honor Sol’s commitment to creating a sense of community around junior tennis, and providing lunch on site was just one way we accomplished that goal.

Round 2 took place in 2 shifts after lunch, and Day 1 finished around 2:30. Many of the players hung around to hit a little more, but most went their separate ways as Melanie, Salman, and I cleaned up and got everything ready for Day 2. That included going back to the hotel (and my laptop!) to set up a Facebook page (click here) for the event and get the gazillion photos (click here and here) Melanie had taken uploaded! That night, Sol’s wife, Ilene, and her sister, Sherri, took us to dinner at one of their favorite Italian restaurants. Let me just say that the wine and brownie sundae were especially delicious!

We didn’t have to get quite as early a start for Day 2 since matches weren’t scheduled to begin until 9am. That said, when we arrived at Suburban, the courts were filled with players warming up, and the grounds were filled with parents, coaches, and spectators out to support this amazing event.

The weather forecast for Sunday was pretty iffy, but we got the matches started on time. Unfortunately, the rain came in right in the middle of our final round of singles, so we brought all the Facetiming with Noahkids into the pro shop for a special surprise: a FaceTime Q&A with Noah Rubin! He was gracious enough to take a little time away from his US Open Qualies preparation to chat with the players and answer their questions about how he trains, what he eats, what’s in his tennis bag, and balancing all the demands of a professional tennis player. The kids (and parents!) loved having the chance to talk with him!

As soon as the Q&A finished, Steve arrived with the day’s lunches, so we encouraged everyone tolunches go ahead and eat while we waited for the rain to clear out. The staff at Suburban went to work helping get the courts playable, and by 11:45 we had the kids back out there.

It didn’t take long to crown our first winner: Kaitlyn Chalker from Marietta, GA! She was smiling from ear to ear as she heard about her girls winnersprize from Wilson: 2 rackets, a pair of shoes, 6 sets of string, a 12-pack of overgrip, a racket bag, and 2 outfits of her choosing.

A bit later, the boys winner was decided: Ramanaidu Kotnana from Ellicott City, MD. Ram also got the same Wilson prize package and was so excited!Boys winners

But, we had 5 separate draws in this tournament, and the winner and runner-up for each draw received a prize. Our main draw runners-up got a $50 gift card from Holabird Sports (in addition to the $10 card in their goody bags). The winners of the other 3 draws each received a $20 Holabird gift card plus an additional small gift, and the runners-up received packets of string, hats, and socks. All of the awards were made possible through the sponsors we secured for the event.

We got a second bout of rain before the rest of the singles matches could finish. Thankfully, Suburban has a bubble with 4 courts, so we moved the rest of the matches indoors. By that point, the outdoor courts were sufficiently soaked, and we made the unfortunate decision to forego the afternoon’s doubles exhibition matches. The weather continued to worsen throughout the afternoon, so in retrospect it was a very good call.

All that was left was to clean up and get to the airport for my flight back to Atlanta. Sol’s family and the club staff helped out, and we left Suburban looking as though it had never been invaded by 32 players, their coaches and parents, and about 50 additional volunteers and spectators!

As I said, it’s difficult to put into words how this event felt. Even so, here are a few short (unedited – editing is outside my skillset!) interviews with some of the parents and players – as well as Sol’s wife, Ilene – to give you a better idea:

With massive amounts of help from Universal Tennis, I’m really hoping to make #TheSol into an annual event as well as to take it to other cities around the US. I think we have found a tournament formula that works! In all my years of schlepping to junior tournaments, I’ve never seen one where everyone just seemed happy to be there throughout the entire weekend. People were even smiling during the repeated rain delays. I’m not sure if it was allowing on-court coaching, the compass draw format, the player badges and goody bags, or what, but these kids had a great time and exhibited impeccable sportsmanship. And guess what? We had no officials other than our tournament director . . . nor did we need them!

A huge thank you to everyone involved! To our planning committee – Melanie Rubin (Tennis Parent), David Hirshfeld (Holabird Sports), Randy Jenks (Universal Tennis), and Rob Hubbard (Sam Houston State University Head Coach). To our sponsors – Presenting Sponsor Holabird Sports; Division I Sponsor Wilson Tennis; Division II Sponsors 10sBalls.com, Universal Tennis, Kassimir Physical Therapy, ParentingAces, Judie Schwartz, Rob & Robin Hubbard; Division III Sponsors Melanie Rubin & Family, Ilene Schwartz & Family, Michael Sellman & Family, Jason & Laurie Sklar & Family, Lisa & Matthew Stone & Family; In-Kind Sponsors ArrowBar, Genesis String, Lucy Prendeville, The Bryan Brothers, Steve’s Deli. To the staff at the Suburban Club – Ross Coleman, Jim, Brad, and Eric. To Sol’s family – Ilene Schwartz, Dori Schwartz, Evan Schwartz (thanks for Sol's familythe crabcakes!), Judie Schwartz, Cyndy Schwartz, Steve & Lisa Schwartz, Jake Schwartz, Josh Schwartz, Ina and Jeffrey Legum, Sherri & Gary Kassimir, Ali Kassimir, Laurie & Jason Sklar,  Skylar Sklar, Landon Sklar, and Dari Jo Sklar. To Sol’s friends who came out to support the tournament. And, most of all, to Sol for inspiring us to do better.

Finals match results (Name followed by Universal Tennis Rating):

Wilson-Williams Draw (8-player compass draw)

Kaitlyn Chalker (6.17) def Caroline Askew (5.39) 6-1 6-2

Wilson-Federer Draw (8-player compass draw)

Ramanaidu Kotnana (11.18) def Bear Lee (10.13) 7-5 6-3

Holabird Draw (8-player compass draw)

Tyler Mast (6.59) def Maxim Khurgel (6.46) 6-2 6-4

10sBalls.com Draw (4-player round robin draw)

Dessian Oula (4.00) overall winner

Daniel Polsky (4.00) runner-up

UTR Draw (4-player round robin draw)

Paige Sawyer (2.00) overall winner

Aleyah Abdullah (1.00) runner-up

 

Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament

tounament-logoLately, I’ve posted several opportunities for junior players to get in some tournament play outside of the traditional USTA system: ITA Summer Circuit, Oracle ITA Junior Masters Series, and a variety of money tournaments. None is closer to my heart than the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament presented by Holabird Sports.

As you may recall, the Tennis World lost one of its biggest advocates this past March when my dear friend, Sol Schwartz, passed away unexpectedly. I was unable to go to his funeral in Baltimore, but I knew I wanted to do something meaningful to honor the memory of my friend. For several weeks I wracked my brain to come up with something. Making a monetary donation wasn’t going to cut it. Neither was setting up a scholarship fund. Sol was all about effecting change through tennis, so I knew that whatever I did needed to be sustainable and impactful. That’s how the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament idea was born.

Since I’ve never run a real tournament before, I knew I needed help. Lots of help. I reached out to others in the Tennis World who were close to Sol and who had connections to the tournament realm. That’s how our amazing organizing committee came to be: David Hirshfeld (Holabird Sports), Rob Hubbard (UMBC Tennis which has sadly been cut), Randy Jenks (UTR), and Melanie Rubin (Tennis Parent Extraordinaire). We have also consulted with Sol’s family who have been a great help in terms of logo design (thank you to Sol’s niece, Ali!), promotion ideas, and sponsorship.

The tournament is now a reality. It will take place August 20-21, 2016, at The Suburban Club in Pikesville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore where Sol lived with his family. It is open to all junior players age 18 and under. In keeping with Sol’s commitment to making tennis affordable for all, we have kept the entry fee very low at $30 per player.

Here are the particulars:

  • The title sponsor is Holabird Sports
  • 16-draw for boys and 16-draw for girls (it is an open 18-and-under draw)
  • Selection and seeding will be done using UTR
  • Compass draw ensures each player will get 4 matches
  • On-court coaching is allowed at changeovers
  • Each player will receive a print program which will include player photos and bios
  • The winner will receive a one-year clothing and equipment sponsorship from a major tennis manufacturer
  • This event is non-USTA sanctioned but will be included in UTR

My hope is that this event will grow and spread to cities across the US. While I wanted to host this inaugural event on a college campus, we weren’t able to make that happen this year. But, the goal is to have Sol Schwartz tournaments in several cities by next summer, all hosted on college campuses in order to raise awareness about the beauty of college tennis. Ever since I met Sol, his mission was to #SaveCollegeTennis, and I’m hoping these tournaments help achieve that mission. Long-term, we would like to establish a 501(c)3 non-profit so the proceeds from these events can be used in the form of grants to college programs in danger of being discontinued.

Registration is open TODAY through August 14th. Click here to go to the tournament website. For information on sponsorship opportunities, click here or email me at lisa@parentingaces.com.

Hope to see you in Maryland!

Heading to the Open

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About 18 months ago, Sol Schwartz of Holabird Sports put me in touch with a fellow tennis parent he had recently met, Melanie Rubin. Sol thought Melanie and I would hit it off and wanted us to make contact.

For those of you who have been around ParentingAces a while, you may recognize Melanie’s name. She was a guest on my radio show in April 2013. She also did interviews for me at the 2013 National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo then helped me out at last year’s US Open.

If you’re new to ParentingAces, you may recognize Melanie’s name as the mom of 2014 Wimbledon Junior Champ and 2014 Kalamazoo Champ (and rising freshman at Wake Forest), Noah Rubin.

Well, my friend Melanie is about to see her son live his dream: playing in the main draw at the US Open right in his own backyard! And, I’m going to be there to document the experience from the parent’s side of things. It’s going to be a very exciting 2 weeks in New York, and I hope you’ll follow along with me to see how my amazing Tennis Parent friend fares as her son competes on one of the world’s biggest stages.

I’ll be at the Open starting this Thursday. If you plan to be up there, too, please reach out via text message, email, Twitter, or whatever so we can meet!

I know you all join me in wishing Noah and his momma all the best in his US Open debut! Stay tuned!

 

What’s in YOUR Bag?

bagcheck2[1]

Show us what you’ve got . . . in your tennis bag, that is! We are partnering with Holabird Sports to bring you a fun contest during the 2013 US Open. Here’s the scoop:

  • Using Instagram, record a 15-second Bag Check video (click here for an example)
  • Post it using hashtags #usopenaces and #holabirdsports
  • Share the video to Twitter using hashtags #usopenaces and #holabirdsports

All video submissions will be entered into the drawing for the Grand Prize, a Wilson US Open tennis bag and Wilson tennis racquet of your choice, courtesy of Holabird.

The contest runs Monday, August 26, 2013 – Monday, September 9, 2013. The deadline for video submissions is September 9, 2013, 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 16, 2013.

The contest is open to entrants of all ages, so Tennis Parents, we hope you’ll get in on the fun, too!

And, if you see me or my sidekick, Melanie Rubin, around the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, please stop and say hi. We’ll be the ones sporting the ParentingAces gear!

Share the Love

If you listened to this week’s ParentingAces Radio Show, you may recall Sol Schwartz of Holabird Sports talking about one of his ideas for raising money to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially those in the tennis community.  If you’re not aware of the damage done to our tennis compatriots in the Northeast, take a look at this video:

 

 

Sol’s fundraiser is a simple one to implement and goes something like this:

When your child registers to play a junior tennis tournament, have him or her contact the Tournament Director to ask if it would be okay to place a jar at the Tournament Check-In Desk.  That jar would be a collection point for whatever spare change players and their parents would like to contribute to the Junior Tennis Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort.  Your child could make a colorful sign to tape to the jar (or put in a plastic stand next to the jar) explaining the need for contributions.  The sign could be a variation on this one that I created using my computer’s Paint program:

Tennis Relief Sign

At the end of the tournament, your child would take the jar home, tally up the contributions, then you would send a check in care of Sol Schwartz to Tennis Pros of the Future, 411 Samantha’s Court, Reisterstown, MD 21136.  If you’d prefer to use your credit card or PayPal account, just go to the organization’s donation page at GoFundMe.

That’s it!  Simple, right?

It’s a great way for your child to do a great community service, one that benefits tennis directly.  If we all do our part, we’ll have the tennis facilities affected by Hurricane Sandy up and running in no time!  After all, we’d want others to do the same for us, right?