The NCAAs Are Where They Belong

NCAAs

For the past two days – and for the next 10 – I have been in Athens, Georgia at the NCAAs at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. My Happy Place.

I’ve missed attending the NCAA Championships the past two years. For some reason, the Powers That Be thought there was a better place than UGA to host this premier college tennis event. Imagine that! And, after next Monday, Athens won’t see the Championships again until at least 2023. It’s at Wake Forest next year followed by UCF (i.e. the new USTA mega complex in Lake Nona), Oklahoma State, UCF again, then University of Illinois in 2022. Word on the street is that Lake Nona could become the permanent home of the Championships if all goes as planned in terms of attendance and the growth of the UCF tennis program under John Roddick’s guidance. I absolutely wish UCF all the best, but I hate to think of the NCAAs anywhere but Athens.

Driving onto the UGA campus brings back so many fond memories for me. My son attended Bulldog Tennis Camp starting at age 9. My middle daughter spent her Collegiate Tennis Hall of Famecollege years on that campus. And the energy it exudes during the Jewel in the College Tennis crown is unmatched. To top it off, this campus is the home of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. If that doesn’t make you believe the Championships belong here, well . . .

Just walking around the tennis complex is like Old Home Week. I run into friends made at junior tournaments around the country. I runNCAAs

Maria Cercone

into coaches I’ve interviewed. I run into industry people I’ve gotten to know over the past several years. I run into fellow tennis fans that I’ve met on the court myself. It’s just an amazing atmosphere.

Today, I’ll be back out there for four more men’s matches. My alma mater – UCLA – faces my daughter’s alma mater and the host team – UGA – this afternoon. It should be a great match, filled with all the elements that make college tennis so great. And it will be enhanced by the fact that the home team does such a bang-up job at getting its fans out en force to create an energy that rivals any football game.

I’m going to soak up everything about this year’s NCAA Championships because who knows when it will return to its rightful place: the University of Georgia Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

For everything you need to know about this year’s NCAAs, click here to go to the official website. For updates on scores and results during the matches, be sure to follow Bobby Knight @College10s2day on Twitter. I’m tweeting updates and posting on Instagram as well (@ParentingAces).

Today’s schedule: Men’s Quarterfinals

Noon:
#10 Texas vs. #2 Virginia
#6 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State

4pm:
#13 UGA vs. #5 UCLA
#9 UNC vs. #1 Wake Forest

Tomorrow’s schedule: Women’s Quarterfinals

Noon:
#6 Texas Tech vs. #3 Ohio State
#7 Stanford vs. #2 UNC

4pm:
#9 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Florida
#12 Pepperdine vs. #4 Vanderbilt

Note from Lisa: I seem to be having trouble formatting the photos so that they appear right side up on both computers and mobile devices. Please bear with me as I try to sort this out!

 

Summer Tennis Camp

Summer Tennis Camp
Image courtesy of trimptennis.com

Y’all know how I feel about sending your kids to summer tennis camp – it’s a fantastic experience and, if that camp is held on a college campus, it’s a great introduction to college tennis.

Every year, more and more camps seem to pop up. While I don’t have first-hand experience with the majority of the ones listed below, I do have some connection to them. For many, I know the coaches through podcast interviews or through meeting them at various tournaments and events over the years. For others, I have been to their facilities or they have been recommended by other Tennis Parents.

Some are day camps only and some offer overnight accommodations for campers. Some are for high-performance players while others are geared more toward recreational players, and some offer multiple programs to suit all types of players. Click on the name of the camp to go to their website and get more detailed information.

Most colleges with a tennis program offer summer camps as do many local academies and country clubs, so please look for those if you want to stay close to home.

I am happy to add camps to my list, so please contact me if I’ve left off a good one! If you have experience at any of these camps, I would love for you to share it in the Comments below.

Please do your due diligence before selecting a camp for your junior player(s). The most important thing is that they have FUN!

Summer Tennis Camps (Listed alphabetically)

Random Thoughts from Coach Darrick Yun

From time to time, a junior coach will contact me about writing for ParentingAces. A few days ago, Darrick Yun (dyun@thepgcc.org), Head Tennis Pro at the Peninsula Golf & Country Club in San Mateo, California, 417004_101365400029905_869682234_nsent me the article below. It’s a random assortment of his thoughts and experiences during this summer’s tennis camp sessions. Enjoy!

Reboot the Mission – Summer 2016

Eyes on the prize, reboot the mission
I’ve lost the sight, but not the vision

-The Wallflowers

Introduction

Greetings from Northern California. It’s summer, the time when so many tennis coaches and USTA junior players work together for a big push forward in the junior’s game. But there’s another side of coaching. Because at our country club, even though we do have juniors both ranked in Northern California and preparing for college tennis, on any given summer day, we may not coach a USTA playing junior all day! Our mission, my mission, is a little different. Read on!

Part 1. More Than Fun and Games

Child Obesity, Popular Psychology, and Junior Tennis. Tennis coaches are well aware of the implications of child obesity combined with the overload of indoor stagnant activity. We, like various other sports coaches, get all the statistics. In TennisPro magazine (November/December 2015), a coaches’ magazine where most of the contributors are working tennis and fitness experts, Jack Thompson and Mark Allen of Performance Tennis Academy (North Carolina) state that child obesity affects 33% of America’s 10-18 year olds. But they go further with what the implications are for junior tennis development in general and professional tennis development specifically, especially how we currently compare to other elite world-class players; i.e., they chart that we’re more obese than other countries that produce elite players and that is partially to blame for how difficult it is for us competing with the world’s best players. They correlate this information with a timetable showing our pro level decline. They are stating that our obesity is affecting the size of our talent pool! Then, referring to informal conversations with college coaches, Thompson and Allen feel that “pop psychology” (what they feel is mass media, celebrity psychologists influencing family and teaching dynamics mainly through theory only) is an additional aspect of the overall health and sports developmental problem, that basically our youngsters are needing to be coddled to the point where these coaches felt their “coaching hands” were being tied behind their back.

Part 2. Trying to Make a Difference

So my first mission here, especially during summer, when we get new kids trying tennis out, is to try my darndest to get your kid addicted to tennis, just for the fitness of it! The above health issues are serious stuff! But all current tennis coaches worth anything have to think about these issues. After all, though it’s a small amount of time during the day, during the week, whatever the case, your kids are in a coach’s hands. Many times I’ll work with parents and find out what the family’s, and the child’s tennis goals are and what my tennis visions for the child might be. Because what’s fun for some kids is not fun for others. Like simply getting exercise, learning the game, being able to play with their families, or…the other fun. This one: some want the push because they want to learn how to compete and find it fun to be able to do things to the ball that they weren’t able to do before.

Part 3. Facing the Music

So I’m on a mission. But what about the tennis experience? What’s reality here? From our kids’ eyes. How do they know I’m thinking of them? They’re just going to find me bossy. Well one day, way before summer, I got the lowdown. In the first afterschool session this fall, the kids were still “California Dreamin'” as they were picking up balls after a set of drills, still reminiscing about the summer camps that had just ended, talking about everything and then everyone, and then… every coach, even past summer coaches that have long gone. There were clusters of kids (we were full, with about 57 kids throughout the week) everywhere picking up balls. And about three or four of them kneeling down picking up balls together, putting them on their racquets, just riffing out loud on the coaches, who’s mean, who’s nice, the whole rundown. Yep, they didn’t know, but I heard my name. The debate was furious because it’s not easy to earn your own category…and I quote, one of the kids ended the topic of me like this: “Coach Darrick is Coach Darrick.”

Part 4. Endless Summer

So we’re in that season that fills me with fond memories of teaching kids, even if some of those memories didn’t even take place during summer. It’s just that everywhere I’ve taught, I’ve been lucky enough to be in a thriving summer program where there are a ton of kids flying around during summer. So when I think of summer, I think of teaching kids. I also learned this: When teaching kids, things will happen that you cannot even begin to make up. And it’s not always super serious. For example…

Part 5. Maybe, Somewhere, Way Back in his Mind, but Doubtful, was Tennis

One of my first tennis teaching jobs, about 20 years ago, was on the Stanford Campus. There’s a small swim and tennis club there for university staff, alumni, and the nearby community. Now picture this, an impressionable coach, me, starting out and hearing this, because I did, and I seriously started to wonder what kind of career I got myself into. One sunny quiet afternoon when school had just let out, Tennis Director Andrea, along with coaches Ann, Jeff and myself were preparing for our Pee Wee class, 6 year olds. We were already on the court when…

“F1 is always Butterfinger! F1 is always Butterfinger!” The little guy was screaming his lungs out running from the tennis clubhouse to the courts. Andrea who has a kid herself by the way, so no stranger to daily trauma, said “Okay lets slow down here and you can tell me the problem…” But all she got was, face turning red with anger, the beginning of tears, and “F1 is always Butterfinger!”

I’ll  keep you from further suspense. The poor little guy came in on the same day every week and automatically went to our vending machine, ate a candy bar, and then came on the court. And as you by now surmised, always ate a Butterfinger and Butterfinger was always selection F1. The thing he didn’t know was, Andrea filled that vending machine herself. So she was automatically putting Butterfingers in the F1 slot. But it wasn’t conscious. Everyone knew you had to look at the selection you wanted and then push the corresponding button. But the little guy went on auto pilot and since Andrea had been putting it with that button, he’d run in and just push F1 without looking at the candy. Well today, F1…was…wait for it…Snickers!!! That equals total chaos!

But what about me? I was kind of just starting out and taking it all in, thinking I was in for the worst afternoon possible, after all that tension, until fellow coach Jeff Burt, a surfer guy if you know what I mean, and part of the infamous tennis playing Burt clan of Palo Alto, saunters up to my side and mumbles, “Best commercial for Butterfinger I’ve ever seen.”

Part 6. A Very Short Story entitled either “There’s that Certain Age Group that of Course, Knows Everything” or “There’s Always One”

Many of our junior tennis players have grown up with me here at the club. I’ve taught them, and driven them around to interclub matches, so they know me and feel free talking to me, which is usually a good thing. But sometimes…well, picture this…so during our year round after school clinic, on this particular day, the 4:30 class was pretty good and pretty competitive, i.e., if you were an adult and couldn’t move, then some of these little guys, ages 10-14, could give you a run for the money. So we decided to end the class with competitive team games. We’re going to break the class up into 2 teams, so we start picking teams and then we decided that coaches should play also, not for fun, but for more competition, so I’m in, and the first coach picked. Everyone on my team is happy to have me, and I would hope so too, right? But wait, no, actually, not everyone. One guy starts to cry out, “What!? You’re gonna pick Coach Darrick!? Are you kidding me!? Do you know how OLD he is!? They drop shot him and he’s TOAST!”

Wow…just wow…right then I had a revelation, a huge revelation, right then. Like the kind where you hear symphony music between your ears and the clouds separate and a ray of golden sun shines directly on just you and angels sing, and the revelation is this: Disney is real. Disney movies and animation are 100% real. Because you know how in Snow White the queen transformed to an old lady who walked really slow, and then transformed back? That happened to me. For an instant, I got so very old and decrepit, and then came back. Fortunately for everyone concerned I handled the whole situation super responsibly and super maturely, like I always do, because that’s the kind of coach I am. So I think I replied with something like, and don’t quote me on this, but it was definitely with amazingly thick skin and no trace of being defensive, because again, that’s the kind of coach I am, “Oh ya, well I am on your team, and by the way, who died and made you boss?”

Summer Tennis Camp

Image courtesy of puretennis.net
Image courtesy of puretennis.net

Summer tennis camp has played a huge role in my own kid’s junior tennis journey as evidenced by the opening line in TRN’s profile on him: “Going to University of Georgia Bulldog Tennis Camp for the first time at age nine was the catalyst behind Morgan Stone’s realization that he wanted to play college tennis one day.” If you’d like to read my past articles on the value of tennis camp, click here and here.

So, in hopes that other young players will be inspired as well, here is an alphabetical list of Summer Tennis Camps to check out. Many of them still have plenty of spots available for this summer. If you have a favorite camp that isn’t already on my list, please send it to me so I can add it.

Adidas Tennis Camps – various locations & dates

Bollettieri Tennis Camp – Bradenton FL, various dates

Brenda Shultz Tennis Camp – Blue Ridge Mountains, July 19-August 8

Coach Slezak’s Tennis Training Camp – Gibsonia PA, June 15-August 14

Navy Blue & Gold Tennis Camp – Annapolis MD, July 5-24

Nike Tennis Camps – various locations & dates

RAMP Tennis Camp – Carson CA, various dates

Saddlebrook Junior Tennis Camp – Tampa FL, various dates

Southern California Tennis Academy Camp – Long Beach CA, June 15-August 28

Steve Smith’s Great Base Tennis Camp – Raleigh NC, May 17-June 27

Van der Meer Tennis Camp – Hilton Head SC, June 1-August 29

Wilson Tennis Camps – various locations & dates

 

Summer Plans

Photo courtesy of revgalblogpals.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of revgalblogpals.blogspot.com

I know it’s hard to believe, but summer is almost here. I would love to hear from y’all what you have planned for your junior player and your family. If you’re still trying to come up with ideas of how to spend the Dog Days of Summer, here are a few suggestions:

CampIf you missed last year’s article on summer tennis camps, click here to check out some of them. Going to a college camp is what really turned my son onto his dream of pursuing tennis beyond just one half-hour lesson each week. These camps can be a great learning experience for any level of player. I urge you to take a look around to find one that fits your child’s needs. I can almost guarantee it will be money well spent!

TournamentsSummer is a great time to explore tournaments outside of your geographic area, whether that means traveling to another section of the country or even traveling internationally. For players 13 and older, ITF events will give your child exposure to an international field of competitors. For high schoolers, the ITA Summer Circuit offers some wonderful competitive experiences. Also, be sure to check out the New Balance High School Tennis Championships being held on the Harvard University campus this July.

Match PlayOne of my readers, SeminoleG, posted on another article that he and a few other families are joining forces this summer to take their kids all over Florida to play practice matches at various academies across the state. They are combining tennis with sight-seeing, too, making stops at Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and the like to keep things fun. I love this idea! I’m a huge proponent of match play and don’t think kids and coaches do enough of it. Maybe you can convince your child’s coach to partner up with another area coach this summer to do Match Play Days, alternating sites, providing lunch, and, if available, maybe swimming later in the day? If your coach isn’t up for that, there’s nothing to stop you from arranging something similar. If you get 4 players together, they can do a singles round-robin then partner up for some doubles as well. There’s no reason match play has to only happen during tournaments!

Attending Pro Events: There are professional tennis events of various levels happening all over the country and all over the world. Many of them are very inexpensive to attend and can provide hours of entertainment. If your child has never seen a professional tennis match live, he/she is in for a big treat! There’s so much to learn by watching these amazing athletes compete. There may even be an opportunity for your child to be a ball kid – how fun is that?!?

Taking a BreakSummer break can also mean a break from tennis if that’s what your child and your family need. Your child may be mentally and physically burned out from the rigors of competing and training and performing in school. Respect that and give him/her some time to relax and just be a kid. You may be surprised at how much stronger and more dedicated your child is after that time away from the game.

Okay, what am I leaving out? Please comment and let me know what you’re up to this summer!

 

 

 

Making Tennis Fun!

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There are many challenges involved in junior tennis.  Among the most common are (1) getting kids to choose tennis over other sports; and (2) keeping them interested in tennis, especially once they hit their teens.  One tennis facility in the Southern California section came up with a great solution to both!

At the end of June, the Palisades Tennis Center had a camp for top players across the country. About 40 kids convened in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles where they trained all day then went to the movies and the beach and basically hung out together at night.

On two of the camp days, PTC brought out a film crew with one of the fastest production cameras in the world and shot the kids moving and hitting forehands. To film at this high frame rate is a very challenging task: it’s not easy to move the camera around, and you can only record for 8 seconds at a time before the camera has to process the footage for several minutes.  But, the film crew created some of the best super slo mo footage of top kids performing at a really high level. Actually some of the best tennis slo mo period that I have ever seen (not that I’m all that experienced in this area, but still . . .).

Mike Thoeresz, general manager of the PTC, says, “I believe that junior tennis is pushing the envelope more than any other sport right now. Our kids start earlier. They compete earlier. They have too much coaching when not in competition and then no coaching when in competition. But mostly because they have to do it all. They are the point guard, the forward and the center. They are the quarterback, the fullback, the wide receiver, the linebacker, the punter…tennis players have to do it all. They can hit 1000s of balls and run many miles in a match. So tennis players end up pushing the level of sport more and take it to higher places. When you watch some of these videos, you’ll can see the amazing skills that these kids have.”

Some of the kids at the PTC camp:

Claire Liu – won the Orange Bowl and National Clay Courts – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles
Keenan Mayo – won the Winter Nats – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles
Roscoe Bellamy – won the Hard Courts – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles & doubles
Aiden Mayo – won the Little Mo – highest ranking: #1 in nation singles
Ilana Oleynik – won the ITF Level 1 in Carson doubles
Caroline Vincent – won the Copper Bowl singles and doubles
Max Mendelsohn – won the Nationals in Dallas
Katie LaFrance – won the Nationals in Oklahoma City

Click here to take a look at PTC’s super slo mo videos.  Of course, not every facility has access to this type of equipment, but is your child’s coach or facility doing something similar to keep the kids interested and having fun?  If so, please share in the Comments below!

Summer Tennis Camps

Tennis Camp

 

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know I’m a big fan of summer tennis camp for junior players.  For younger players, a few intensive days on a college campus or at an academy with a group of amazing guys or gals can be incredibly inspiring and motivating.  For older players, camp can serve as a reminder of what’s around the bend if they stick with tennis throughout high school and decide to play in college.

Since summer is just a few weeks away, I figure now is as good a time as any to put together a list of some of the camps being offered across the country.  This is just a sampling – please post any additional camps in the Comments box below.  I only have direct experience with UGA’s camp – it’s the only one my son has attended – but the rest of the camps listed have been recommended by various coaches, parents, and others.  I’ve included links to the camp websites, so please take a look at the details listed there.

  • Adidas Tennis Camps – Adidas sponsors many camps around the country.  There are day, extended-day, and overnight options for all levels of juniors, from beginners to high-level tournament players.
  • Down The Line & Beyond Summer Camp – Open to high school and college players, this unique camp located in the Philadelphia area also offers a Character Development element in keeping with the DTLB philosophy.
  • Dubrovnic Summer Tennis Camp – Offered July 28–August 4.  Tennis Club “Ragusa” in cooperation with Tennis Centre Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik-neretva County Tennis Association is organizing an international camp for children under the guidance of one of the greatest tennis player of all time and sports role model Goran Ivanišević.
  • Ed Krass College Tennis Exposure Camps – Open to players ages 15-18 and taught by current college head tennis coaches, these camps will give your junior a taste of what’s coming if he/she decides to pursue a college tennis career.
  • Furman Tennis Camp – Run by Furman Head Men’s Coach Kelly Jones, this camp is located on the beautiful Furman campus just outside Greenville, SC.  Campers have access to 19 outdoor and 4 indoor courts.
  • Hightower Summer Tennis Camp – Directed by Ron Hightower, former US Jr Davis Cup Captain and national coach, these one-week camps will be held at Hightower Tennis Academy in Woodland Hills, CA.
  • Holabird Sports Tennis Camp – Holabird in conjunction with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) is offering a variety of camps this summer on the UMBC campus in Baltimore, including a half-day camp for the youngest players as well as a full-day camp and overnight.  UMBC Head Coach Rob Hubbard will be running the camp – he’s a great guy!  Bonus: save 10% if you register by May 1 and use promo code EARLYBIRD.
  • IMG Summer Camps – Held at the world famous Bollettieri Academy, the multi-week camps are open to players of all ages and abilities.
  • Jamie Stafford Tennis Academy Summer Camp – I received notice of these camps via LinkedIn.  They are set in Ireland and are for players ages 4-17.
  • Johan Kriek Tennis Academy Summer Camp – Available for intermediate to advanced players, these camps run Monday-Friday 11am-3pm.  Each week is limited to 40 players to ensure personal attention and instruction.  Johan’s academy is located in Charlotte, NC.
  • Nike Junior Tennis Camps – Nike offers a variety of day and overnight camps in many cities around the US.  Their camp website will tell you everything you need to know!  For the first time, the University of Georgia is doing its camps through the Nike program this year – I’ll give y’all a report after my son’s week there!
  • Nike Tennis Camp at CSU East Bay – Led by Coach Bill Patton, these camps are offered several times over the summer and are geared toward junior players of all levels.
  • Presbyterian College Summer Tennis Camp – With three one-week sessions beginning the first week of June, PC camps are open to players of all stages ages 5-18.
  • RAMP Tennis Camp – RAMP Tennis camps, directed by former USTA Coach (and May 13 ParentingAces Radio Show guest) Marc Lucero, are open to players of all ages (6-18) and levels and are located at the USTA Training Center-West on the grounds of the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
  • Schwarz Elite Prospect Tennis Camp – Held on the beautiful Brown University campus in Providence, RI, these camps are geared toward those players looking at playing collegiate tennis.  That said, there are a variety of options available at Brown, so please take a look at the website.
  • University of Illinois Summer Tennis Camp – How fun to go to camp at the site of the 2013 NCAA Tournament!  Head coach Brad Dancer and Marcos Asse run the camp together and employ current D1 players to help coach the kids.
  • Van der Meer Summer Tennis Camp – Recommended by a parent on my Facebook page, this gorgeous facility in Hilton Head would be a great spot to spend a week (or two)!
  • Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps – 17 locations nationwide this summer, from California to Miami, FL to Rhode Island and in between.   In addition, as a camp resource, they are co-blogging a series about tennis camps with the USTA Midwest.  The first two parts of this series can be found at PART I and PART II.

I asked Ross Greenstein of Scholarship for Athletes for his opinion on the various camps available. “For 3 and 4 star kids the Brown and Dartmouth camps are very good – they get Division 3 coaches to work the camps so it really helps the kids get seen by coaches.  For 1 and 2 star kids, UCLA and Pepperdine have great camps, as do Florida and Georgia. We tell our clients if they don’t get into clays [National Clay Court Championships] then the Dartmouth Elite Camp and Brown Camp are very good. They are also much better than the Donovan Showcase because the kids get to interact with the coaches and the coaches know exactly what the kids are like on and off the court. The problem with all of the showcases is the coaches never talk to the kids and they don’t get to really know the kids. It is also important the kids get to know the coaches. It is against the rules for the coaches to work the showcases but they get to be on the court with the kids at the summer camps.”

Time is of the essence with many of these camps, so please don’t wait too long to get your child(ren) registered.  If you run a camp and would like me to add it to the list above, please email me at lisa@parentingaces.com with the details and website.

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