One Word

yoga

For the past 18+ years, I’ve been part of an online community of women who were all due to have babies in July 1996 – we call ourselves the July Moms. We’ve gone through pregnancies, miscarriages, potty training, mastitis, preschool woes, kindergarten separation anxiety, bullying, puberty, teen drinking, drivers ed, and now the college application process together. There’s a lot of collective wisdom in that group of moms, believe me!

As 2013 came to an end, one of the moms posted about a piece she had seen on The Today Show regarding New Year’s resolutions. The guest was Jon Gordon who suggested that, instead of making resolutions, we should each choose one word to guide us in the coming year.

I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot and have struggled to come up with just one word, so I cheated a bit and chose a Sanskrit word that embodies what I need more of in my life: Santosha.

According to an article in Yoga Journalsantosha has been described as a “peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires.” It is a sort of contentedness, peacefulness, and acceptance.

Given that I have one child graduating from college in 2014 and another who will be applying to college and going through the recruiting process, living the idea of santosha will definitely challenge me. “Letting go” is not one of my strong suits. Trusting others to do what I think they should do is tough for me. Trusting others to do what they know they should do is next to impossible.

So, if my husband and children are reading this post, my commitment to you in 2014 is to be more content, more peaceful, and more accepting. To live with less judgement and more trust. To practice Santosha.

Namaste.

Mallorca, One Week In

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As predicted, I don’t have a whole lot of information to share about my son’s first week at Global Tennis Team in Mallorca.  I have successfully resisted the urge to contact anyone at Global to check in on him, and I have successfully resisted the urge to ask probing questions of my son when we text.  I figure (I hope!) he’ll eventually decide to share some of the details of his life in Spain.

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Mallorcan coastline

That said, it sounds like he’s working very hard and at a much higher intensity than he is used to at home.  He developed a pretty nasty blister on the palm of his right hand (he’s right-handed) about mid-week and texted me asking for advice.  I replied that there really wasn’t anything I could do from here and that he should ask the Global coaches for help.  Then, I didn’t mention it again. But, my husband found out from our son that one of the coaches picked up some treatments from the local pharmacy, and he figured out he needs to start wearing sweatbands to keep his hands dry while the blister heals. It must’ve worked because he played some sort of competitive match on Sunday at a facility about 30 minutes from Global  – I’m still not clear on what type of competition it was! – and was just fine.

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Salmon & Goat Cheese, Octopus & Potato

He has told me that the food is good (and he’s eating well – last night’s dinner included pasta with pesto and cheese, meat and potatoes, and yogurt with fruit), and he’s getting along well with his roommates. After tennis on Saturday, one of the coaches took 6 of the players to the beach then to a tapas restaurant for what looked like a really yummy lunch. Apparently, 2 Italian players arrived today, one older and one younger than my kid. I don’t know if they’re boys, girls, or one of each. Also today, after tennis, my son went to the supermarket and to some shop where he was able to buy more sweatbands. Oh, and he had some racquets re-strung.

That’s it!  That’s all I’ve got so far!

A fellow parent suggested I ask my son to tell me one non-tennis thing he does each day.  That may be asking too much.  I’ve asked for 3 times a week. We’ll see what I get.

My New Mantra

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This is written on my bathroom mirror (in lipstick, not blood as my son says it appears!).  It is my new mantra.  I have asked my son and my husband to hold me accountable to following it.  It will be a challenge – a HUGE challenge – for me to do so, but I am committed.  I will report back from time to time to let you know how it’s going.  Wish me luck.

More Slashing of Opportunities

slashing swordIn case you haven’t heard (!), USTA changed the national junior competition schedule, effective January 1, 2014.  A big reason for the change, according to USTA, is to drive competition back to the sections instead of having so many big national tournaments requiring travel all over the country.

Those opposed to the changes, including Yours Truly, kept asking USTA what it was doing to ensure the sections would step up and fill in the gaps.  We never got a clear answer.

And, now, that which we feared – that sections would not take on that task but would actually slash competitive opportunities instead – has come to fruition.

I found out this week that the Southern California section is taking a big step in that direction (click here to read the information posted on its website which includes a link to a Comment form where you can share your opinion before the plan is finalized).  Traditionally, all SoCal “designated” tournaments (comparable to our Bullfrogs in the Southern section) have had open draws.  That is, any player who signed up got to play.  And many of the age groups wound up with 128 or 256 draws played over two consecutive weekends.  However, beginning January 1, 2014, Southern Cal will limit its designated draws to either 96 or 64 players (I’m still not clear on how they’ll make that decision for each event), in essence eliminating the opportunity to compete at that level for hundreds of juniors.

The reasons SCTA gives for the reduction in draw size have to do with weather delays (it rains, on average, 16 days a year in Southern California), lack of enough large facilities, and difficulty in completing the large draws over two weekends – all valid reasons. However, the fact that these reductions come at the very same time as the reduction in national play opportunities under the 2014 changes seems short-sighted.  Isn’t this the time that sections should be increasing opportunities to compensate for what’s happening at the national level?

Interesting to note is the fact that a member of the 2013-2014 National Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee (the one responsible for passing the new 2014 national schedule) also chairs the committee in the SoCal section responsible for these designated tournament draw reductions.  She obviously understands that the sections are supposed to be picking up the slack left by the national reductions; however, instead of making sure her section added competitive opportunities for its players, she pushed through this major slashing of opportunities in her own backyard.  I just don’t get it!

To put things in perspective, at this year’s Southern California Anaheim Designated, 166 boys and 105 girls would not have gotten to play if the SCTA had limited the tournament to a 64 draw.  And the Boys 16s are going to be hit the hardest since that is typically the group with the largest number of players. The 16s is usually the first age group where college coaches are watching players to scout out future recruits. What will these reductions do to the chances for the kids “on the bubble” in terms of being seen by these coaches?

Let’s also consider the issue of players who are trying to prepare for aging up to the next division.  I’ve been told that the SoCal section is trying to figure out how to accommodate juniors who are in that situation, but, for now, there is nothing on the SCTA website to indicate there will be spots in the draws for these players.  I hope that changes before the smaller draws take effect.

High School Tennis Revisited

State Champs

Last year, about this time, I was writing regularly about my son’s experience on his high school tennis team – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

However, due to some ridiculous eligibility rule changes by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), my son did not play for his school team this year.  It was HIS choice, don’t get me wrong, but, basically, our state governing body made it very unattractive for any high-level players to join their high school teams this year – to summarize, the rule said that a player lost eligibility if he or she trained for his/her sport during stated school hours.  For my son and many other tennis players, their school hours are modified in such a way as to include “zero period” and online classes so they can get to the courts earlier in the afternoons for training.  In other words, they get out of school an hour or two earlier than the rest of the student body.  Under the new GHSA rule, that modified schedule and their extra training made them ineligible to play.

That said, there were still many talented high-schoolers who played this season as evidenced by the tight matches during this past weekend’s State Finals.  And, there is hope for the rest of the players as I recently heard GHSA reversed that eligibility rule for the 2013-14 school year.

And now, especially in light of what recently happened at UGA with its number 1 singles player on the men’s side, it seems to me that high school tennis needs to take on a bigger role in preparing our juniors for tennis at the collegiate level.

A fellow tennis mom feels exactly the same way.  “I’m so tired of hearing ‘nobody cares about high school tennis’. In light of the recent events [sic], shouldn’t college coaches reconsider the high school player? These kids play for the sheer joy and camaraderie that they get from being a member of a team and representing their school (and they don’t get paid to do it)! They give up individual opportunities to earn tournament points and improve their rankings so they can play and practice with their team. Isn’t that exactly what college coaches are or should be looking for?”

I would love to see high school tennis become a training ground for college.  Unfortunately, at least where we are, the level of coaching the high school teams receive is pretty amateurish.  Often times, a teacher or coach from another sport are recruited to coach tennis even though they may have little or no knowledge about the sport.  It makes it a very tough decision for a kid who is used to training at a high level to take a step backward in order to play for his or her school team.  Add to that the fact that many college coaches and recruiting consultants have said over and over that they don’t care whether a kid plays for his school; they simply care about tournament performance and ranking/rating.  Is it wonder that many top-level juniors are opting out of high school tennis?

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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Those three kiddos in the photo above belong to me and have taught me more about life than I ever thought I could learn. 

This morning, I read the following in an email from Janis Meredith of JBMThinks and wanted to share it with y’all.  I think she does a great job of recognizing the challenges of parenting!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you moms feel loved and I hope you dads make sure Mom feels loved.

But even in the midst of being appreciated, moms and dads can feel overwhelmed with the parenting job, and you may ever wonder if you will get this parenting thing figured out.

You might be thinking with all the rest of us, I’ll probably get the hang of it the day my my kids leave home!

My youngest turns 20 in a couple of weeks. I should have this figured out right?

Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy. Author Mark Batterson explains why:

The truth is, we’ll never figure it out, because children are moving targets. Just when you think you have them pegged, they become toddlers or teenagers or twenty-somethings, and you’re right back at square one. All you can do is learn a few lessons along the way and enjoy the journey. (And do a lot of praying!)

Every week I share parenting wisdom with you, stuff I’ve learned over the years. It’s not because I’ve got this thing all figured out, believe me I’m still learning too!

It’s because in every season, I learn something new…about parenting, about kids, and about myself.

So if you’re discouraged because you think you will never have it all figured out, you’re probably right!

The challenge is to enjoy the journey, grasp the lessons, love our kids, and stop beating ourselves us over our imperfections.

Meanwhile, enjoy your target practice.

Have a great week!

Still Parenting after 25 years,

Janis B. Meredith

http://jbmthinks.com

Now What?

The 2014 changes to the junior competition calendar are all but a done deal.  The Powers That Be at USTA, despite our best efforts, have decided they (not parents, not coaches, not the players themselves) know what’s best for our young players and have slashed competitive opportunities at the national level by a huge margin.  So, now what?

Add to the mix the fact that several USTA sections have also adopted a rather Draconian policy for the 10-and-unders and 12-and-unders, forcing them onto the ROG path, making it so they have to play all the way up in the 14s if they want to play with a yellow ball on a full-size court.  If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to the free podcast of my radio show with Lawrence Roddick (Andy’s older brother) about what’s happening in the Texas section and what’s coming in Southern and Midwest and NorCal.  Later this week, I’ll post the changes coming in Georgia in 2014.

What’s a tennis parent to do???

I think many of us are frustrated and stumped and just plain angry over all these changes – I know I am.  I feel like decisions are being made by executives who are so far removed from our World of Junior Tennis that they just plain don’t get it.  They still don’t acknowledge how many parents and coaches and players are opposed to what they’re mandating out of White Plains.  When asked about how they can still say that the opposition is small, they throw out the fact that only 160 some odd people emailed the LetUsKnow@usta.com address even though almost 4000 joined a Facebook group in opposition and almost 1000 signed a petition to stop the 2014 changes.  How do those numbers NOT make you sit up and take notice???

I would love to hear from y’all about how you’re planning to navigate starting in 2014.  What changes will you make to your child’s tournament schedule?  Will you add more ITF events, more non-sanctioned events, or have them play adult events instead?  What’s your plan?  I’m still working with my son’s coaches on figuring out the best path for him, but you can be sure I’ll report back once we come up with something concrete.

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