Day 2 at #theSol Atlanta

#theSol AtlantaToday was another fantastic day of tennis and activities at #theSol Atlanta!

Our first matches went on at 10am after a quick briefing by Tourney Director David Stolle, reminding the players to be on their best behavior for their final day of matches. The weather was hot and humid, but the kids stayed calm and collected on the court and off.

Once the first wave of matches was complete, we had sub sandwiches and Voss water waiting for the players inside. Promptly at noon, WTA player Melanie Oudin arrived to talk to the families about her life as a junior player, making the decision to turn pro, and the challenges of staying healthy now that she’s been out on the tour for several years. We opened up the floor for questions. The kids themselves were a bit shy, but the parents had plenty to ask! Afterward, Melanie autographed some tennis items for the kids and posed for photos with them. She was so sweet and engaging, sticking around to make sure everyone who wanted a picture got one. A huge thank you to her for taking the time to be part of our tournament!

Pardon my poor videography skills, but enjoy Melanie!

After lunch, we still had 2 matches left to play, one to decide the winner of the White Draw and the other to decide the Runner-Up of the Blue Draw. The White Draw final went the distance, with Eli Hagan emerging at the winner after a long 3-set battle that ended in a tie-breaker.

Photographer David Kapper of Clix Photography was on hand again today to capture the players in action. He has uploaded all his photos to www.clixnorthatlanta.com. You can view and order them by clicking on View & Order Prints, then Search – TheSol Atlanta should be the first event listed. Enter password “ACE” to view and/or order any of the photos from the tournament.

Click here to view the Day 2 Slideshow

I want to thank everyone who participated in #theSol Atlanta tournament, hosted by Georgia Gwinnett College’s Tennis Facility and Coach Chase Hodges! We had a fabulous 2 days, led by our super competent Tournament Director David Stolle of Universal Tennis Academy, and brought to you by the best sponsors ever:

  • 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

We hope to be back next year and hope everyone who participated in our first Atlanta event will join us again! A huge thank you to the players, parents, and grandparents who played and cheered in the spirit of Sol Schwartz!

Here are the results from Day 2:

Red Draw
Gavin Segraves (12.20) d. Cole Brainard (10.97) 6-4 6-0
Luis de la Mano (UTR unknown) d. Cole Brainard (10.97) df
Winner: Gavin Segraves received Wilson Prize Package including racket, backpack, shoes, 6 packs of string

White Draw
Kelli Osajima (9.12) d. Jonathan Molner (6.94) 6-1 6-4
Taylor Galloway (8.55) d. Brenna Reilly (8.50) 6-4 6-4
Kiran Gadde (6.24) d. Samantha Birger (6.55) 7-6 (1) 6-3
Eli Hagan (8.40) d. Jake Young (8.43) 6-3 4-6 7-6 (6)
Winner: Eli Hagan received 2-month subscription from Tennis Trunk, Solinco string
Runner-Up: Jake Young received gift certificate from Clix for family portrait, Solinco string

Blue Draw
Brent Nieri (5.20) d. Raines Grassi (5.55) 6-3 6-4
Peyton Schuchart (5.94) d. Grayson Balloon (5.69) df
Winner: Peyton Schuchart received 2-month subscription from Tennis Trunk
Runner-Up: Brent Nieri received Solinco string

Green Draw
Chloe Zigliara (3.11) d. Clara Balcom (3.58) 6-0 6-3
Matthew Pinto (4.41) d. Teja Gadde (4.26) 6-2 6-3
Sydney Balcom (3.80) d. Christopher Pinto (3.0) 6-0 6-1
McKenzie Oliver (4.71) d. Shek Berry (4.55) 6-1 6-1
Winner: McKenzie Oliver received Solinco hat, sweatbands, headband, and string
Runner-Up: Shek Berry received gift certificate from Clix for family portrait

European-Style Jr Tourney Comes to US with Kriek Cup

Kriek Cup

 

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/.

Check out our latest podcast!

The Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament

Sol Schwartz

Listen to this week’s podcast here:

My dear friend, Sol Schwartz, passed away suddenly in March 2016, and a group of us decided to honor his legacy and try to continue his life’s work by creating a very special junior tennis tournament. The inaugural tournament was held in Sol’s hometown of Baltimore in August of 2016. This year, we are excited to expand the tournament to two cities: Atlanta July 17-19 and Baltimore August 12-13.

In this week’s podcast, we hear from others affiliated with the tournament as well as from Sol’s wife, Ilene. My hope is that you’ll feel compelled to sign your junior players up for these tournaments after hearing from them! After all, in what other junior tennis tournament is your child guaranteed 3 matches all for the low cost of $15 per day?

A huge thank you to the tournament sponsors:

10sballs.com
Holabird Sports
The Intensivist Team
Kassimir Physical Therapy
Match Tennis App
Maller Wealth Advisors
Solinco
Dunlop
Tennis Trunk
Universal Tennis Rating
Universal Tennis Academy
Voss Water
Melanie Rubin
Michael Sellman
Ilene, Dori, and Evan Schwartz

For more information on the tournaments, you can visit the following links:
#theSol Atlanta: http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/261/
#theSol Baltimore: http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/336/
More info on this year’s tournaments: http://parentingaces.com/thesol-year-2/
Info on last year’s tourney: http://parentingaces.com/sol-schwartz-savecollegetennis-all-in-tournament/
Info on Sol: http://parentingaces.com/tribute-to-a-gentle-man/

Check out our latest podcast!

 

Registration Open for 2017 Little Mo Events

For those of you with younger players (12 and under), you should consider the Little Mo series of events. These tournaments are held across the country – and, now, across the globe – and have crowned champions such as Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison, Vicki Duval, and CiCi Bellis. The following is from a release sent out by the Little Mo organizers. To register, please click here.

The “Little Mo” tournaments are designed to provide good competition while also encouraging players to develop new friendships, learn good sportsmanship, and most of all, have fun. The “Little Mo” is also unique in that it gives youngsters the opportunity to gauge their ability against players who are their same age (8’s play 8’s, 9’s play 9’s, et cetera).

We will be kicking off our 20th Annual “Road to the Little Mo Nationals” circuit in March. We have 18 sectionals planned around the USA in the spring, leading up to four regionals in the summer and culminating with the “Little Mo” Nationals at the end of September. We will also be offering three international tournaments (California, New York, and Florida) for players from the USA and worldwide.

The “Road to the Little Mo Nationals” is a fun, yearlong circuit of sectional, regional, and national tournaments for talented, high-performance players living in the United States. Yellow ball divisions will be offered for boys and girls ages 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 in addition to a green dot option for ages 8, 9, and 10 at the sectional level.

The top eight players (quarterfinalists) from each age division at each sectional will advance to the four “Little Mo” Regionals. Please note the top 8 players from the yellow ball and green dot divisions will advance to the “Little Mo” Regionals, but all green dot players will need to play with the yellow ball at the Regionals as there will be no green dot divisions. The top four players (semifinalists) from each age division at each regional will advance to the “Little Mo” Nationals held at the Austin Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas from September 29 – October 2.

2017 Eligibility:
12s — born in 2005
11’s — born in 2006
10’s — born in 2007 
9’s — born in 2008                    
8’s — born in 2009 or 2010
Players can play in any “Little Mo” Sectionals they wish but must follow the path to the appropriate “Little Mo” Regionals:
  • North Regionals: 
    Midwest, Middle States, New England, Northern, and Eastern Sectionals
  • South Regionals: 
    Texas and Missouri Valley Sectionals
  • East Regionals: Mid-Atlantic, Southern, and Florida Sectionals
  • West Regionals: Northern California, Southern California, and Pacific Northwest Sectionals

Players can play in more than one “Little Mo” Sectionals. Anyone who lives in the USA or a USA territory (i.e. Puerto Rico) can play in the “Little Mo”.

Sectionals
Pacific Northwest
TBA                    TBA
 
Florida
March 11-12        Ironhorse Country Club – West Palm Beach, FL
June 3-4               Sarasota Racquet Club – Sarasota, FL
June 10-11           Crandon Park Tennis Center – Miami, FL
Southern
May 5-7               Laurel Park Tennis Center – Marietta, GA
TBA                     Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club – Hendersonville, TN
Texas
March 25-26        Arlington Tennis Center – Arlington, TX
April 29-30          Fair Oaks Ranch Golf and Country Club – Fair Oaks, TX
 
Missouri Valley
April 29-30          Genesis Health Club – Wichita, KS
Northern
May 12-13           Lifetime Fitness – Fridley, MN
Middle States
May 13-14           Aronimink Tennis Center – Newton Square, PA

 

Eastern

May 19-21           Armonk Tennis Club – Armonk, NY

Midwest

May 27-28           H-F Racquet & Fitness Club – Homewood, IL

New England

May 27-28           Longfellow Club – Boston, MA
June 24-25           Chris Lewit Tennis Academy – Londonderry, VT
 
Southern California
May 27-28           La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club – La Jolla, CA
Mid-Atlantic
June 3-4               Dominion Valley Country Club – Haymarket, VA
Northern California
June 3-4               University of The Pacific – Stockton, CA

 

Regionals
South (Texas, Missouri Valley)
May 27-29             T Bar M Racquet Club – Dallas, TX
North (Midwest, Middle States, New England, Northern, Eastern)
TBA                       TBA
East (Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Florida)
July 28-30              Naples Grande Beach Resort – Naples, FL
West (Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest)
July 28-30              Woodbridge Tennis Club – Irvine, California
Nationals
September 29 – October 2        Austin Tennis Academy – Austin, TX
2017 “Little Mo” Internationals
California, New York, Florida
The “Little Mo” Internationals offers young players the unique opportunity to compete against players from around the world. The tournaments are open to any player from the USA and worldwide, ages 8 to 12 in addition to the “Big Mo” division for ages 13 and 14 (California and Florida). Players will be competing in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Yellow ball divisions will be offered for ages 8-14 in addition to a green dot option for ages 8, 9, and 10.
The “Little Mo” Internationals in California is also the 1st leg of the 2017 “Little Mo” Slam! In honor of Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly’s 60th anniversary of winning the Grand Slam in 1953, MCB created the ultimate challenge in 2013 for any player to win the “Little Mo” Slam. If a player can win all three ‘”Little Mo” Internationals (yellow ball division only) in the same year, the player will receive the tallest trophy ever given in junior tennis (6 feet tall) and the title of “Little Mo” Slam Champion! There have been six “Little Mo” players who have accomplished this great achievement in the past four years. Who will it be this year?
Little Mo” Internationals – California
The Woodbridge Tennis Club
Irvine, California
June 30 – July 4
“Little Mo” Internationals – New York
The West Side Tennis Club
Forest Hills, New York
August 21 – 26
“Little Mo” Internationals – Florida
PGA National Resort & Spa 
and 
BallenIsles Country Club
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
December 1 – 6
We hope you will let your friends know about the “Little Mo” Internationals in California, New York, and Florida. As an incentive, we are offering players an opportunity to earn cash for referring other players to sign up to play in any “Little Mo” Internationals. For every player you refer, you will receive $20 in cash. You will be able to pick up your cash prize at the “Little Mo/Big Mo” booth during the tournament. The more players you refer, the more you can earn. For example, if you refer 20 players, you will receive a check for $400 from MCB.
How do you refer another player?
Tell a friend about the “Little Mo” Internationals and encourage them to register. For instance, you could refer a player that you would like to have as your doubles or mixed doubles partner. A custom question has been added to the tournament registration process where the referred player can type in your name on their entry form as having referred them. Only the names entered during online registration will count towards earning cash prizes. Also, any player who withdraws from the tournament will not count. If you have any other questions about the referral program, please email Matthew Cody at mcodytennis@gmail.com.
The “Little Mo” tournaments are sponsored by the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation in memory of its tennis champion namesake Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly. Known by her nickname “Little Mo”, she was the first woman to win the Grand Slam of tennis at only 18 years of age in 1953. Maureen Connolly is still the youngest and the only American woman to have accomplished this magnificent feat. The foundation has promoted junior tennis development for the past 49 years and continues to benefit countless numbers of boys and girls throughout the country.

Could This Work for Juniors?

boxI know y’all are sick and tired of hearing about my travels, but this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a really unique college tournament at the University of Minnesota, and it got me thinking. . .

Here’s how the tournament worked: Colleges entered pairs of players who were selected into a round-robin draw based on UTR. After a 5-minute warmup, each pair played one set of doubles against an opposing pair immediately followed by (aka no additional warmup) a regular singles match with the top-rated players in each pair competing against one another and the next-rated players competing against one another. They used no-ad scoring, played let serves, and played a 10-point tiebreaker for the 3rd set. The doubles and each singles match counted as one point, and the team winning 2 out of the 3 points moved on in the draw.

On the first day (Friday), the teams played 2 full rounds – 2 doubles matches and 2 singles matches for each player. On Saturday, they again played 2 full rounds. On Sunday, they played 1 full round, giving each player a total of 5 doubles and 5 singles matches over the course of the 3 days.img_7924

Wouldn’t this be a great format for junior tournaments as well? It would give juniors a chance to work on their doubles skills since they would be playing multiple doubles matches during the tournament regardless of outcome. It would also give them a chance to get in some quality singles as well. What if we use this format for future iterations of #TheSol? Would you and your junior player(s) be interested?

I would love to hear any feedback on the format and its use in the juniors. In my mind, it is a great way to run a junior tournament – you get players entering as a pair, so they have their partner there cheering them on throughout the event. All of the matches count equally toward UTR, so you’re less likely to have players pulling out if they lose their first or second match. Juniors can work on a variety of doubles skills and strategies since they’ll have multiple matches with the same partner regardless of the outcome. What am I missing? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.



 

Oracle ITA Masters Photo Gallery

I have so much to write about last week’s Oracle ITA Junior and College Masters tournament, but it’s going to have to wait until I get back to Atlanta! In the meantime, I thought I’d share some photos from this amazing event. A huge thank-you to Oracle, Malibu Racquet Club, the ITA, UTR, and all the other sponsors who came together to shine the spotlight on junior and college tennis!

You can click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image. You can also hover over them to read the captions.

 

What Made #TheSol So Different?

back of tshirtWe are 5 days out from the finish of the first Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament presented by Holabird Sports, and I can’t stop thinking about what an incredible experience I had in Baltimore!

There were many intangibles that made this particular junior tournament special, but there were also many tangible items that can be adopted by other tournaments to help improve the overall “feel” for the players as well as the parents and coaches, and that’s what I want to focus on today.

  • Tournament committee: Without a strong tournament committee (and volunteers), it’s next to impossible to put on a successful event. Involve community leaders, local business owners, and anyone else who loves tennis and is committed to making your event special.
  • On-court coaching: This is a very simple feature to add to existing tournaments that seems to have a huge impact on both the players and the parents. We all know how it feels to sit and watch our children compete, the tension building inside as we try to hide our true feelings behind forced smiles and positive body language. By allowing on-court coaching, we provide a release valve, if you will, so parents (and coaches) can say what they want to say to the players while there is still a chance for the player to act (or not) on the advice they’re given. At #TheSol, several parents and coaches took advantage of being able to – lawfully! – communicate with their player, and the overall atmosphere around the grounds was so calm compared to other junior tournaments I’ve attended.
  • Player credentials: Just like the pros get! The lanyards are pretty inexpensive, and once you get the hang of Avery’s online system, making the inserts is relatively simple.
  • On-site lunch: Secure a local restaurant sponsor and ask them to deliver lunch each day for players, parents, and coaches. I can’t tell you what a big impact this had on the overall atmosphere of #TheSol! Everyone stayed on site throughout the day. They didn’t have to scramble for something to eat and worry about being late for their next match. Plus, we were feeding the players healthy, fresh food.
  • Free water and sports drinks: Again, secure a sponsor and provide drinks on site. It sounds simple – and it is! – but it’s these little things that can make a tremendous difference in the overall tournament atmosphere.
  • Think outside the box in terms of prizes: Not every junior tournament can provide a Wilson clothing and equipment package like we did this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find alternatives to the plastic trophies awarded at most events. Again, it might mean seeking a major sponsor, but with a little effort you can find local and national businesses willing to donate items in exchange for publicity (and their name on the back of a nice dri-fit tournament shirt)!
  • Player Book: It takes a little extra work to put together a Player Book, but the kids and parents IMG_7376loved it! And, it’s another way to provide publicity for your tournament sponsors.
  • Take advantage of social media: Create Twitter and Instagram accounts for your tournament. Set up a Facebook page. Get a GeoTag for SnapChat. Then post to these social media outlets before, during, and after your tournament to maximize exposure for players and sponsors.
  • Get creative during weather delays. At #TheSol we had Noah Rubin on FaceTime doing a Q&A with our players. You could have ping pong, tables with cards and backgammon, a Karaoke machine – anything to keep the players engaged while they’re waiting to go back on court!
  • Host a Player Party: We didn’t do this at #TheSol this year, but we plan on adding it for future events. Again, find a sponsor to help cover the expense then get creative! A local amusement park, bowling alley, or restaurant party room are all great locations to bring players and parents together in a fun environment and relieve some of the tension inherent in junior tournaments.
  • Use UTR to select and seed players and put players into compass draws: What a difference it makes when juniors compete against other players at a similar level instead of getting blown out of the water (or blowing someone out of the water)! Of course, using UTR isn’t fool-proof, but it does a much better job than using traditional PPR rankings in terms of making sure every player gets competitive matches. Then, if you use a compass draw, too, players get multiple matches close to their level which is great for overall junior development. It’s a win-win!

If any of our #TheSol players and parents are reading this, please add your comments below in terms of how other tournament directors can learn from what we created in Baltimore last week. The goal is to make junior tennis more enjoyable and more valuable for everyone!