Tennis Parents Wayne Bryan, Steve Johnson, Melanie Rubin from 2014 US Open

Tennis ParentsThis week’s podcast:

Since I’m not yet at the 2017 US Open, I thought I would throw things back to my last trip to our Home Slam and my conversation with Tennis Parents Extraordinaire: Wayne Bryan (father of Bob & Mike, the Bryan Brothers), Steve Johnson (father of Stevie who passed away earlier this year), and Melanie Rubin (mom of Noah). These three have so much knowledge and great advice to share to those of us coming up behind them. I hope you enjoy hearing from them.

I plan on releasing another episode later this week directly from the 2017 US Open, so please keep an eye out for it. The US Open Juniors tournament is now underway, and the Collegiate Invitational starts Thursday, both of which will provide lots of great content for another podcast!

If you aren’t following ParentingAces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, you should go ahead and do so before I get to New York! I hope to do some live broadcasts on Facebook and/or YouTube while I’m at the Open, and if you follow us then you’ll get a notification when I’m online. Of course, if you’re at the Open this week, too, I’d love to meet up with you – who knows, maybe we can do a live broadcast together?!?!

For those interested, we are now accepting new sponsors for the ParentingAces Podcast. If you’d like to learn more, please visit parentingaces.com/sponsorshippackages-aug-2017/

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Jim Harp Discusses Coaching the Tennis Journey

Jim HarpThis week’s podcast:

High-performance coach Jim Harp has been around a few years, more than 30 to be exact, and he knows his stuff! He makes it his mission to learn something new every day so he can better coach the junior players under his care. He works with all levels of juniors – from the very beginners to the D-1 college bound and everything in between.

In this week’s podcast, Jim and I discuss his coaching philosophy as well as his new role as an advisor to TennisMentors.net. He has a lot of wisdom to impart to Tennis Parents and is more than happy to answer your questions if you’d like to reach out to him. You can find him online at HarpTennis.com or via email at Jim@harptennis.com

To learn more about Tennis Mentors, listen to last week’s podcast here.

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Advice to Parents of Young Players

advice

Here is another article written by Andy Brandi for the USTA Player Development website and reprinted here with his permission. Coach Brandi served as a partner of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute since 2007 before joining the USTA staff in August 2010. From 2001-06, Brandi was Director of Tennis for IMG at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, and from 1984-2001, he was the head coach of the University of Florida women’s team. During his career, Brandi has worked with top professionals, including Elena Dementieva, Shahar Peer, Maria Kirilenko, Lisa Raymond, Ryan Sweeting and Jesse Levine. While at the University of Florida, he led the Gators to three NCAA Division I Team titles, coached four NCAA women’s singles champions and four NCAA doubles champions. Brandi will be returning to college tennis as the Head Coach of the LSU men’s team this Fall.

Consistency in coaching is essential. Avoiding going from one coach to another keeps the process and development going. There has to be trust amongst the team – player, coach and parent all have to be on the same page. Changing coaches is like restarting the process. Coaches have different styles, systems and philosophies. Your job is to find one that best fits your child.

Try any program for about a week before you commit to that program. Do research! Be sure there is a plan when you start. A developmental plan, two areas of focus and a tournament schedule is essential in the planning. The two areas of focus are to be evaluated every two months and then replaced if they have been achieved.

Be supportive and patient with the coach. If you have issues with him or her, discuss them without the child present. Understand where the coach is coming from and why he is doing things a certain way. Give the coach a chance.

Parents who are the coaches need to be patient and should not get so consumed that the child only lives, sleeps and eats tennis. Seek help in areas where you might feel you are weak in your knowledge or expertise. I coached my son until he was 15. At 15, I wanted to be his father and not his coach. My role was to give him advice and support when he was training under a new coach. His job was to learn to make decisions and be responsible and accountable for his tennis. Good tennis players are independent thinkers. He now asks, “Why did you not make me do this or that?” My answer is, “I gave you choices; you made the decisions.”

Tennis has to be left at the club or courts, not brought home every day. At home, let them have a normal life. They need friends. They need to develop their social skills. They need to build good character. They need to be good students in school. Provide a balance of tennis, a social life and academics. Remember, 99 percent of all players go to COLLEGE!!!! In the process, be sure you do not try to skip steps or cut corners. There are no shortcuts!!!! It takes time! It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication by you and them. Set goals and keep the training fresh to keep them engaged and to prevent burnout.

A few things to keep in mind:

Kids do not always need to practice with someone better. They do not always need to play up in age groups. The ratio of practice should be 25-50-25, meaning 25 percent with weaker players, 50 percent with players of their own ability and 25 percent with players better than them. Does Roger Federer practice with someone better than him all the time? No! He practices with young pros, juniors or college players!!!!!! And 50 percent of the time, they need to experience the pressure of playing with and against their own peers.

When choosing to play up, they need to have a 65 percent winning record or better in their age group to justify it. Keeping track of match counts is very important. We do not want them playing 130 matches a year at 12, 13 or 14! It is not the number of tournaments but the match count that matters! Burnout and injuries will occur if you overplay them.

One area that we tend to neglect in their training is off-season breaks. Pros take 4-6 weeks at the end of each year to set a fitness base and improve on specific areas. They will follow up with a couple of weeks off before the clay season and a couple of weeks off after Wimbledon. They build in regeneration, fitness, cleaning their games out to be sharp, fit and healthy. In the junior schedule, we could build this in after Winter Nationals, after Easter Bowl and finally after Hard Courts.

The pros in the off season at the end of the year do not touch their racquets for a couple of weeks. They focus on physical fitness and mental conditioning. Then comes the tennis. Our ‘99s recently did a six-week-off season where they did not play tennis for two weeks. Jez Green, who was Andy Murray’s fitness coach, supervised the six weeks. His comment was that our juniors are 16-18 months behind in fitness than the Europeans. Why? Because we do not do this! We have to play, play, play! We are very short-minded and short-sighted!

Give them responsibility and accountability in their game and preparation. Let them get their tennis bag organized. Let them get their own water, bars and snacks. Let them carry their own tennis bag! We want to facilitate, not incapacitate. Remember, they have to be able to be independent thinkers. They have to be able to take care of themselves out there. They have to learn to survive in the heat of battle. They have to learn to compete and love it. Doing minor tasks builds their confidence and self-esteem.

Lastly, be supportive. We tend to forget that they are the ones competing. We forget what it is like to compete. It is the team that gets them prepared, and they are the ones who are playing and competing. We are not playing! We are part of their support group.

When they play, we tend to get too emotionally involved. Stay calm and control your emotions. I got too nervous watching my son. My wife was the one who went to tournaments with him. As I used to tell my wife, figure it out. I can sit through a Grand Slam final and not get nervous but cannot stay calm watching him! They will react to you and how you react! They will feel your emotions and nervousness. Stay level-headed and even keel! Show them support, winning or losing.

It is easy to criticize from outside. Things are crystal clear when you are outside the ropes. Being in the heat of battle clouds your reasoning and how you perceive things. After matches, give them time to settle down, and yourself, too, before you start discussing the match. Ask questions. Point out things that they did well and things that they need to work on in future matches. Do not be just negative! Give them positive feedback! Let them give you their perspective of what happened out there. They have to be aware of what happened and how they can control that the next time. Win or lose, love them for who they are – your child!

Like building a house, we need a good foundation. You build the outside of the house, followed by the inside. It takes time to build a house. It takes a long time to develop a tennis player. Good luck with the journey!

BB&T Atlanta Open State Team Championships

State Team Championships
Image courtesy of Scott Colson

A few days ago, I received an email from fellow Tennis Parent, Scott Colson, telling me about a new 10-and-under team event – the BB&T Atlanta Open State Team Championships – that was taking place in Atlanta as part of the BB&T Atlanta Open and asking if I could possibly come out to see the kids in action. Of course, that was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!

Yesterday, I drove up to Lifetime Athletic & Tennis Club, a facility I have been to a million times to see my son play. It’s a gorgeous club with indoor and outdoor courts, including pickle ball courts, a pool, fitness center, cafe, and even classrooms for those academy kids wanting to participate in the virtual school program offered by certified teachers on site.

I was curious about this new U10 event being run by experienced Tournament Director Turhan Berne. When I looked on the TennisLink site, here’s what I found:

  • Mandatory check-in for the tournament will take place Friday, July 28, at 1:00 p.m. at Lifetime Athletic, 6350 Courtside Drive, Norcross, GA 30092. Players will receive a gift bag with their VIP credential, complimentary tickets, a jumbo-sized ball for autographs, and tournament information. Players must have a signed release and player conduct agreement form.
  • Friday July 28th:
  • 1:00 Check-in meet team mates and coaches
    1:30-5:30 EDC Camp Training
    7:00 Watch matches at the BB&T tournament
    Saturday July 29th:
    9:00 Team Singles matches begin
    12:00 Lunch
    1:30 Team Doubles matches begin
    4:30 Break for day
    6:00 Watch matches at BB&T tournament
    Sunday July 30th:
    10:00 Team Playoff singles matches begin
    12:30 Lunch
    2:00 Doubles matches begin
    3:30 Conclusion of Play and awards presented
    5:00 Watch Singles final of BB&T Atlanta Open
  • PARTICIPATING STATES
    Alabama
    Georgia
    Mississippi
    South Carolina
    Tennessee
  • MATCH FORMAT
  • Each team match will consist of the following:
    3 boys singles matches
    3 girls singles matches
    1 boys doubles match
    1 girls doubles match
    1 mixed doubles match
  • SCORING FORMAT
    For singles, scoring shall be the best of two short sets (first to four (4) and win by two), with a set tiebreak (first to seven (7) and win by two) at 4-4 in each set, and a set tiebreak (first to seven (7) and win by two) for the third set. Doubles matches for 10 and under tournament play shall consist of a regular six (6) game set, with a set tiebreak (first to seven (7) and win by two) at 6-6. No-ad scoring will be used during all matches.

Some of the players also had the opportunity to come in a day early and meet with Dr. Neeru Jayanthi for evaluation. Dr. J works closely with the junior tennis program at Lifetime and is in the midst of a long-term study of injury in junior tennis players. He put the State Team Championships players through an extensive evaluation that tested their flexibility, agility, and stroke analysis. He also spent time with the parents to identify points of concern for future injury and will be sharing that information with the individual coaches. Dr. J even came back out to the event yesterday afternoon to watch the kids compete and offer further insights. According to Tennis Parent Scott Colson, “We plan to continue checking in with Dr. J periodically to monitor [our son’s] progress. Dr. J runs an amazing program and is highly recommended.”

Back to the event itself . . . I love the idea of bringing our youngest players from neighboring states together to train and compete with their own coaches as well as other USTA coaches on hand to help. I also love the idea of pairing the event with a pro tournament so the kids can, as Wayne Bryan loves to say, “take it in through their eyes and ears.” Y’all know how I feel about short sets and no-ad scoring, so I won’t comment on that again. The cherry on top of this particular team event was that BB&T Atlanta Open Quarterfinalist and Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks came out to visit with the kids yesterday morning, giving them a chance to ask him questions and take photos. How cool!

But, instead of just hearing my take on the State Team Championships, watch my Facebook Live video and hear from some of the parents themselves (click on the Full Screen option to enable the audio):

 

BB&T ATLANTA OPEN RESULTS – JULY 29, 2017

Men’s Singles – Semifinals

[2] J. Isner (USA) d [3] G. Muller (LUX) 6-4 6-2
[4] R. Harrison (USA) d [5] K. Edmund (GBR) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals

[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [PR] J. Millman (AUS) / Sa. Ratiwatana (THA) 6-2 6-3
W. Koolhof (NED) / A. Sitak (NZL) d [4] P. Raja (IND) / D. Sharan (IND) 7-6(3) 6-4

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017

STADIUM COURT start 5:00 pm

[4] R. Harrison (USA) vs [2] J. Isner (USA)
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) or [PR] J. Millman (AUS) / Sa. Ratiwatana (THA) vs W. Koolhof (NED) / A. Sitak (NZL)

Tickets available at www.bbtatlantaopen.com

Tennis Parent Re-Education

Tennis Parents

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.

 

Tennis Parents: You Gotta Get This App!

match tennis app

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Like most of us Tennis Parents, Lindsay Lee Waters (who also happens to be a touring pro) found herself spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with her son’s junior tournament scheduling. Between searching for tournaments on TennisLink, UTR, and other sites then choosing which tournaments were appropriate given her son’s current level then signing up without missing the deadline then checking every few days to see if her son got in and whether the draws had been posted, Lindsay was overwhelmed. She knew there had to be a better way.

So, Lindsay and her husband, Heath, a high-performance junior coach, enlisted the help of some techies to develop an app for that. A few months later, the Match!Tennis app was born.

I won’t spoil the podcast by laying out all the features of the app in the show notes, but suffice it to say that if your child plays junior tennis, you absolutely have to download it. And, the fact that, as part of the ParentingAces community, you get a 30 day free trial PLUS a 20% discount makes this a no-brainer! Here’s how to take advantage of the discount:

Match!Tennis App Discount

1. Go to http://matchtennisapp.com/parenting-aces/

2. Enter promo code “acesmonth” into the promo code box during registration to get your 20% discount to a monthly Match Tennis App subscription.

3. Enter promo code “acesyear” into promo code box during registration to get your 20% discount to a yearly Match Tennis App subscription.

4. Make sure to use the correct phone number and email address during registration as you will be sent verification code to your text or email in order to secure your registration.

5. If you have any issues completing registration or need any assistance contact support@matchtennisapp.com and they will help you get squared away.

6. The discount codes are only good through July 15, 2017, so act quickly! The Match Tennis app is nationwide so every state in the US is able to use it and take advantage of the 20% discount.

NOTE: You will need to put in your credit card info during registration. However, you will receive a 30 day free trial to give you time to see if the app is right for you. You can easily cancel using the desktop app before the 30 day trial ends by clicking “My Account” then scrolling to the big red “Cancel Subscription” button to avoid any charges on your credit card.

Entries for the 2nd annual Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tennis Tournament are now open. We are thrilled that Match Tennis App will be a sponsor this year! For the Atlanta tournament (July 17-19) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/261/. For the Baltimore tournament (August 12-13) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/336/.

Also, registration for the ITA Summer Circuit is now open. Go to http://www.itatennis.com/Events/ITA_Summer_Circuit.htm for information.

LISTEN TO OUR LATEST PODCAST EPISODE HERE!

 

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!