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

Listen to our podcast here:

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!

 

Sweet Spot of Sport Parent Involvement

CLICK ON THE PLAYER BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:

Coach John O’Sullivan of Changing the Game Project discusses transactional vs. transformational coaching (read more here) and why we parents need to seek out coaches who are truly invested in the development of the whole child, not just the tennis player. We also talk about the “sweet spot of involvement” for parents and how we parents need to adjust constantly throughout our child’s junior development. Lastly, we touch on the challenges of coaching your own child and how best to separate “coach” versus “parent” on and off the court.

You can find John’s podcast here – I encourage you to check it out! Coaches may be interested in the Way of Champions conference coming this summer to New Jersey. You can find out more here. To listen to John’s TED Talk, click here.

Building Tennis IQ

Coach Jorge Capestany does these amazing videos on his YouTube channel, many of which I’ve shared on the ParentingAces Facebook page over the years.

His latest video is actually a livestream presentation that Jorge gave at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida. Thankfully, the USTA recorded the stream and has posted it online for all of us to watch.

In this presentation, Jorge explains why simply having the best strokes doesn’t necessarily produce wins in tennis. It’s more important to understand where and how you’re hitting the ball and what your opponent is likely to do in return, much like playing a game of chess. Awareness is the key word here. Jorge illustrates how to teach these concepts by having 2 junior players demonstrate them throughout the presentation.

If you want to watch the Tennis IQ presentation please click here. Jorge says, ‘You should move forward in the video to the 11:30 mark because that is when we started!”

This is a great presentation for players and coaches, as well as Tennis Parents, to watch. Some coaches are actually carving out time during training to show it to their players as a group. You know how much I love that idea!

I hope you enjoy it. It’s almost 2 hours long (!), so find some time in your busy schedule and get started.

Again, thanks to the USTA for sharing the footage. Watch it HERE!

A Sense of Irony at G12s Hardcourts

Installment #3 of Craig Cignarelli’s coverage of the G12s National Hardcourts at Windward Lake Club –click here for all match results.

For the past few days, Windward Lake Club’s sidelines have seen parents and umpires expressing their dissatisfaction when a young girl conveys her displeasure via a banged racquet or a verbal outburst. As these young athletes chase the elusive gold ball which signifies the national champion, the Girl’s U12 Supernational tournament resounds with frustration. We see parental reprimands and authoritative commands where parents order their children to control their emotions and to stop acting like a child. Irony, however, is a cruel mistress.

With matches scheduled to begin at 8:00am, Mother Nature intervened today. A 7:56am downpour left the club’s courts looking like last night’s Olympic Swimming venue. At 9am, the weather broke, and parents and umpires took to the courts to squeegee (think giant sponge on a stick) off the water in preparation for play. Ten minutes later, another rain cell came in. Groaning ensued. At 10:15, the radar showed blue skies ahead and all hands came on deck once again. They pushed water for nearly forty-five minutes and the players saw a few dry patches appearing. Two minutes later, the skies opened up again and rain flooded the courts for a third time. Umpires moaned, parents cursed, and the local maintenance staff banged squeegees into oblivion. Equip the kids with the authority to call code violations and you’d have had many defaulted adults. One sensed Kubrick’s chimps would have been more courteous.

Thankfully, the kids weren’t around. Instead, they were in hotels playing card games and watching some version of SpongeBob or Snapchat on the small screen. If they could have seen these adults acting out in frustrated tirades, they’d have had “You’re such a hypocrite!” fodder forever.

Eventually play got under way. I got another chance to watch the Katja Wiersholm. She’s an interesting talent. After winning clay courts with solid court awareness, she comes into hardcourts as the number two seed. Her long red ponytail and bubbling personality belie a severely competitive kid. At age twelve, we expect focus to be about as narrow as Bill Clinton at a Miss America pageant. Katja though, has found a range where champions compete. She is mentally and physically engaged in every single point. It is said war is “hours of boredom with moments of terror.” For Wiersholm, she is winning the battle. Today she entered the round of 16 without dropping a set. On the opposite side of the draw sits defending champion Nikki Yanez. From their intensity, one gets the sense their meeting in the final is destiny. Then again, we’re talking about not yet fully-evolved humans, which I guess takes us back to those parents this morning. 🙂

Musings from Day 2 of the G12s Hardcourts

Installment #2 of Craig Cignarelli’s coverage of the G12s National Hardcourts at Windward Lake Club – click here for all match results.

It is Day Two of the United States Tennis Association’s U12 Girls Supernationals. Yesterday, sixty four girls lost in their first round matches and the flowing tears were a precursor to the afternoon rainstorm. As players sprinted inside to avoid the weather, card games broke out in front of the big screen television where Rio’s tennis-playing Olympians were on screen. It is impossible to describe the competitive dichotomy between first round winners and losers other than by this example. The top three seeds sat studying the patterns of Serena Williams, while three first-round losers found unyielding joy stuffing the three of hearts inside an adorable four year-old little boy’s shirt and then yelling at him that “he stole their heart.”

Today though, the sun is up and all competitors are back on court. The format here is a compass draw, aptly named because the winners move into the east bracket, the losers move into the west bracket, and then players branch out into all directions as the tournament progresses. Imagine what a windshield looks like after a baseball hits it and you’ll get close.

Got a chance to watch the #2 seed today, Katja Wiersholm’s personality is so big and bright, Billy Shakespeare would struggle for metaphor. Her brother is Henrik Wiersholm, who plays for the University of Virginia, so there are enough genetic markers here to give you confidence the girl will do well. Today she did. After a slightly shaky start, the 5-foot tall redhead fist-pumped and “c’mon’ed” herself to a first set win. This kid’s optimism make Tony Robbins look like Eeyore.

Few seeds have lost here, most pushing into the third round without trouble as they await the pivotal round of 32 where they are likely to face another seed. The quick matches gave me some time to get around the grounds here at Windward Lake Club. The quad in front of the tournament desk has been a fertile battleground for Ping Pong players. At any given hour, one can see young tennis players waging forehead-slappingly good points as other slack-jawed adolescents stand around admiring the war. You’ll hear ooh’s and aah’s and sometimes they’ll get pissed off when someone’s little brother runs under the table and prevents a competitor from executing a kill shot. At least one five year old has been clotheslined in the fray. On that note, the tournament trainer has been kept busy. Twelve year-old athletes tend toward the hypochondriacal and this poor guy who paid 200 grand to cut his teeth at the local Univ. is now placing band-aids on blistered hands and wondering how to trim toenails off pre-pubescent toes.

The Wiersholm kid is done now, routing her opponent 6-2 in the second and bouncing up to the tournament desk with an ear-touching smile. For the most part, the parents have been quiet today. Though the competition is increasing, the first day jitters are gone and no one is in the running for a title shot yet. For now, it’s just a bunch of kids playing their hearts out while nail-biting parentals pop Xanax and watered down margaritas and hope they don’t have to change their plane tickets.

Tomorrow the seeds meet upon the cement rectangle.