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!
Listen to this week’s podcast here:
Two-time Australian Open Champion, Johan Kriek, has been working hard for the past several years to change how we train junior tennis players here in the US. Last year, he moved his academy from Charlotte, NC down to the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL in order to maximize the opportunity for young players to train and learn.
This summer, Johan is partnering with Ten-Pro Global’s Junior Tour to offer the Kriek Cup, an age-group tournament for players age U10 through U16 August 13-19, 2017.
Players can register to compete in their own age group PLUS one age group up to maximize the number of matches played with a minimum of 4 matches guaranteed to each player. On-court coaching is allowed during the set breaks. Johan’s academy is also offering a special training camp the week prior to the tournament to help players adapt to the clay and to the South Florida heat and humidity.
Per the press release from the Johan Kriek Tennis Academy:
All highly talented junior tennis players around the world are invited to participate in the KRIEK CUP USA International Junior Tournament organized by TEN-PRO Global Junior Tour. The tournament which takes place at PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida during school vacation, August 13 through 19, 2017 gives the perfect possibility to combine a holiday with World top junior tournament and also promises participants an enjoyable stay at the beautiful and sunny Florida resort. This tournament is part of a very successful series that is being played at the world’s most prestigious tennis academies such as the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, Kim Clijsters Academy and the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy. The Johan Kriek Tennis Academy is the first and only academy in the US to host this event.
The tournaments results are counted by UTR (Universal Tennis Rating) and will be played in separate competitions in each age category at the same time (U9), U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15, U16. As part of the packages embedded in this great tournament, four matches are guaranteed per person with new coaching on court. Johan Kriek and the Johan Kriek Tennis Academy team will also conduct a Kriek Cup Preparatory Camp right before the tournament. For more information on the camp visit https://www.johankriektennis.com/kriek-cup-tennis-camp
For more information on the Kriek Cup, go to https://www.johankriektennis.com/events/kriek-cup-2017-this-august/
Registration is still open for both Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournaments. For the Atlanta event (July 17-19), go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/261/. For the Baltimore event (August 12-13), go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/336/.
Another guest post from coach Todd Widom . . .
This article was prompted by numerous parents calling me over the years about their child lacking confidence. Some of the questions I receive are around developing confidence and being nervous in tournaments. I explain that their child is nervous in tournaments because they are unsure of what the outcome will be and they are looking into the future when they have not even struck the first ball in the warm-up. Let’s look at this at a deeper level.
How does a junior tennis player build confidence in themselves? The easy answer is that they go play a bunch of tournaments and hopefully they win more matches. They will then be more confident in themselves. No one does well on an important test in school without learning and studying the material. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Junior tennis players do not just get lucky to have better results. Your homework is your training and your exam is the tournament.
Your child cannot hide when they are in tournaments and results never lie. Building confidence is as easy as preparing so well that your child is sure they are ready to perform at a good level in tournaments. When I speak to parents about confidence, one of my first questions is, does your child feel proud of what they are accomplishing on a daily basis at practice? A junior tennis player knows and feels if they are improving, and the way to improve is to have a disciplined plan on how that particular player is going to reach higher levels of tennis. Then you must work towards that plan on a daily basis. A one-hour lesson is not what I am speaking about, but rather training and working on the plan for hours on a daily basis. Your child must get off the court and feel proud of what they worked on in that session and if they do not feel proud after that session, then it was not productive. No productivity means no progress. From a coaching standpoint, you can tell when the student is working on the proper things and improving because they are usually happy because they are seeing the results, and feeling the results on the court.
Another question I am frequently asked is what does my child need to work on to become a more confident player? Each student is different and so are their techniques. No two players are alike. In my experience, some of the players I have trained have needed some form of cleaning up on the technical side, but almost all of the kids have little or no understanding of how to properly move and balance themselves on a tennis court, as well as how to construct a proper point strategically. The players have taken a bunch of tennis lessons where the coach has fed or hand fed balls to them. This is not wrong, but this is strictly technical tennis teaching, and is only one piece of what your child needs. This is not teaching your child how to learn the game and how to apply their game to be able to win more matches.
I also receive phone calls from parents wondering why their child is struggling in tournaments when they are taking many tennis lessons. The parents thought process is, if my child is taking a bunch of tennis lessons, then my child should be winning more, and as a result should be becoming more confident in themselves. This is incorrect. When your child is trained to understand what they are good at, and how to break down other opponents due to being smarter and more disciplined with their tennis, they will as a result win more matches and become more confident.
In closing, I am repeatedly seeing tennis players with the same deficiencies. If you would like to have a more confident junior tennis player, that confidence will come with a greater understanding of the game as well as of their own game. A lesson is great, but that is just one little piece of the puzzle. Understanding how to compete, understanding your game, and understanding how you are going to break down the opponents game is how you will have better results. Productivity, purpose, and understanding why you are working on a specific skill is how you are going to see results. Keep in mind that you must work on these aspects all the time so they become ingrained habits. When your child does not need to think about these aspects in tournaments, it means the habits are ingrained and they should be on their way to winning more, and as a result, becoming more confident.
I’m a big believer in young tennis players learning how to do all of the things necessary to be ready to step on the court and compete. From learning how to tie their own shoes to carrying their own tennis bag and water bottle, these skills are part and parcel of being a competitive junior player. They need to learn how to keep score. They need to learn the rules in Friend At Court. They need to learn how to wrap an overgrip. And they need to learn how to string a tennis racket.
We all read and talk about the expense of developing a junior tennis player – and I’m not here to try and convince you otherwise – but there are definitely some things you can do to help offset that expense. Having your child string his/her own rackets is a big step in the right direction.
Want to know how much you spend a year on stringing? Click here for a calculator.
Now, doesn’t it make sense to purchase a stringing machine and make sure your child learns how to use it? When my son was in middle school, we purchased an electronic stringer. We set it up in my son’s room, and he strung rackets for himself and others (a nice way for him to earn a little money!). It worked great, but we still had to pay for stringing when we traveled to tournaments. After about 6 months, though, the machine started losing tension and causing major stress. After trying to work with the manufacturer and distributor to no avail, we sold the stringer and went back to paying $20/racket. Grrrr!
I recently came across a new stringing machine that is not only affordable but is also portable. That means no more paying inflated stringing fees when you’re away from home!
The Platinum Pro Stringer is the brainchild of tour player Rubin Statham. On tour Rubin saw players paying racket stringers at each and every tennis event. These tournament stringers had a variety of stringing methods and stringing machines, which meant the players were getting inconsistent tensions in their string bed leading to impaired performance on the court. When the tension wasn’t just right, the racket would have to be restrung, adding an enormous financial cost throughout the year. Rubin and his twin brother spent over $17,000 on restringing labor alone in their first year on tour.
Like many players, to save money and to attain consistent string tensions, they resorted to travelling with a “portable” machine that was the size of a large suitcase. The machine weighed over 45lbs (not sure why they called it portable) and was ineffective at producing consistent string tensions.
Rubin, who is currently playing in the ITF Pro Circuit Futures event in Pittsburgh, tapped into his entrepreneurial side and put together a team of engineers from the US and Korea to design a truly portable stringing machine that was accurate and affordable. After 5 years of R&D and 3 years of testing on both the ATP and WTA tours, Rubin decided his machine was ready for public consumption and is now selling it and supporting it with individualized customer service.
The Platinum Pro Stringer weighs only 4.4 pounds! Fully-packed in its case with the necessary tools, it weighs only 8.8 pounds. And it comes complete with table clamp, mounting bracket, frame retainers, butterfly screws, flying clamps, power supply and cables, universal power adapter, string cutter, string pliers, and a padded carrying case with room for your string. Oh, and every Platinum Pro Stringer machine comes with one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and one year of complimentary support.
Luckily for all of you, Rubin and I connected between his matches, and he graciously offered a very nice discount to the ParentingAces community! The Platinum Pro Stringer retails for $790.00 (plus shipping). But, if you buy it through the special web page set up exclusively for ParentingAces, you will only pay $690.00 (plus shipping)! Make sure to enter the special promo code “ACES100” during checkout to get your special ParentingAces discount of $100 off!
Note: ParentingAces is NOT a paid endorser nor do we receive any compensation if you buy this product.
I will be doing an episode of the ParentingAces Podcast with Rubin in a few weeks, so if you have any questions about the Platinum Pro or life on the tour, please feel free to send them to me.
I wish this machine had been around when my son was in the juniors. It would have saved us thousands of dollars over the course of his developmental years! I hope you’ll take a look at the website here, watch the videos, read the testimonials, then use the special ParentingAces link to give this little gem a try. You can thank me later! 🙂
The following article is the latest contribution from coach Todd Widom. Enjoy!
A catastrophic mistake parents and junior tennis players make is that when they become the best player at their academy or current training arena, they feel like they have outgrown that environment. This is where the problems begin. First, you should never change a winning formula and this goes for your strategy during a match or your current coaching situation. It is great your child has become the best player where they train, and it may mean your coaches are doing a great job.
What I am seeing and hearing is that once a player reaches the level where they are the best at their current training environment, it is time to move on. This is incorrect thinking as the player is having good or even great results in tournaments. All this particular player may need is just some tougher match play situations once or twice a week, but you should not change training environments.
The reasoning behind this is because it takes quite some time to connect with a new coach and have them understand how that student clicks with many different ways of communication. Every child is different and the cookie cutter mold does not work for every student. How one learns may be completely different from how another learns. I have learned that you may need to adapt the communication depending on each student. I believe the job of the coach is to try to get the best out of each student, no matter what it takes.
I was very fortunate from a very young age to be trained at an extremely high level from two coaches who produced tennis champions. Because of this training, I achieved a good level of play through my early teenage years, but my game really took off when I was about 16. At this point, I started to get my feet wet in professional tennis. I was playing at a high national level, and I was, and had been the best player where I trained for years. I never thought for a split second to change my tennis training environment. I wanted to be a champion, and my coach had been producing champions for many years. I kept having better results without training with anyone better than me. I was determined to be a professional tennis player.
I was trained from day one to learn how to be disciplined with my tennis and how to have tunnel vision concentration. All practices were very productive no matter who was across the net. I had a plan on what I was working on and it was work every single day. You have a plan and you work towards it every day. If you are not executing the plan well, you stay after normal practice hours and keep working on it until you are happy with what you have accomplished that day. This is how you get better.
One of the boys I played against regularly was an excellent player. He was one of the top players in the country and played at a top Division I college in Florida. One weekend we decided to play some practice matches against each other. On Saturday, we played and I won 6-0 6-0. Was the practice match beneficial? Absolutely. I worked on all the aspects I had been working on and I executed them well. We came back on Sunday and I beat him again 6-0 6-0. Once again, it was an extremely productive practice. I was able to follow my plan, execute what I was working on, and do it in such a discipline manner. I never made silly mistakes, which would be a lack of discipline and concentration. To beat someone 6-0 6-0 takes a lot of concentration to not give away any free points. This boy was an accomplished player and a top nationally ranked player, so it showed me I could sustain a high level of tennis for a long period. It was a test of my brain and I passed the test twice that weekend. It was up to me to make the practice productive and it was very productive because it gave me confidence to know I did not have any mental lapses.
Soon after this weekend, I won the boys 18’s Super National Clay Courts. I had many 6-0 sets in that tournament and only lost one set enroute to winning the tournament. My brain was trained to sustain a certain level. It is all about what your child wants to put into the practice and what they want to take out of the practice, not who is across the net.
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.
Y’all may remember my article last year about a new monthly delivery service, Tennis Trunk. Well, yesterday, I received my latest box, and I thought it might be a good time to remind y’all of what Tennis Trunk is all about!
With Tennis Trunk you’ll get a box of carefully selected tennis gear and equipment every month. You’ll always get the essentials for the courts like tennis balls, overgrips, and energy bars. And, each month’s Tennis Trunk will also have some fun extras . . . this month, my box contained a great pair of Zensah tennis socks and Tourna Rx Grip Enhancer plus some adorable Tennis Trunk vibration dampeners. The box it comes in is awfully fun, too!
Tennis Trunk makes a great gift for the Tennis Lovers in your life, including your junior players, but it’s also a great service to set up for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I’m always scrambling to find balls for my matches, and with Tennis Trunk, I know I’ll have 2 fresh cans on hand every month. The fact that this month’s box has the grip enhancer was the icing on the cake for me – do you know how hot and humid it gets in Atlanta in the summer?!?!?!?
I hope you’ll check out the Tennis Trunk website and get signed up for your monthly delivery. If you select the 6-month prepay option, it comes out to only $29.95 a month. You know you’re already spending at least that much on balls and grips anyway!
Take a look at their website and enjoy the goodies!