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!

 

PlaySight Livestreaming 2017 NCAA Championships

Playsight livestreaming at Stanford

PlaySight, the company behind the video and analytics SmartCourt, is partnering with the University of Georgia to provide livestreaming throughout the upcoming 2017 NCAA Championships.

PlaySight SmartCourt technology is powering over 40 NCAA tennis programs. Among the 16 teams entering the third round of the tennis championships later this week in Athens, 10 on the women’s side and eight on the men’s side use PlaySight technology for video and analytics training, performance and livestreaming.

To tune in to the livestreaming throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, bookmark this page for the live video and live scoring.

PlaySight technology is helping to shine the spotlight back on college tennis after years of losing out to other sports. The sport is full of great stories, coaches and athletes, and together with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, PlaySight is giving the very best sports technology to players and coaches across the country.

Coach Manny Diaz and the University of Georgia Bulldogs were the first NCAA tennis program to invest in PlaySight technology almost four years ago – so it is fitting that one of the finest facilities in the nation is now wired from top to bottom with PlaySight video and streaming technology.

Several schools across the nation – from USC in Los Angeles to Oklahoma State in Stillwater – credit PlaySight technology with improving various aspects of their programs, from training to fan and alumni engagement. Check out what the coaches from the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cowgirls had to say about PlaySight after the 2016 season (click here to read).

More PlaySight fast facts:

  • 12/25 men’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
  • 13/25 women’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
  • Vanderbilt University is the latest school to add PlaySight
  • PlaySight is now working with tennis programs across Divisions 1, 2 and 3
  • PlaySight has added two new SmartCourt products – the Live and Play – to provide a more affordable price point for all tennis programs
  • PlaySight successfully launched the PlayFair initiative this year along with the ITA, bringing video replay and challenge technology to college tennis – with plans to scale up for the future

To check out which schools are working with PlaySight, or to find out more about their three SmartCourt products, click here.

To watch PlaySight livestreaming from the University of Georgia throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, tune in here.

Note from Lisa: I will be in Athens covering the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships beginning this Thursday. If you plan on being there, too, please find me and say hello!

College Info Session at 2014 NCAAs

tennis-w_di

The last time the NCAA Division I Championships were held at UGA in Athens, USTA hosted a college information session with a fantastic panel of college coaches, college players, and others (click here to read my post on that event). This year, UGA is again hosting the Championships, and USTA and USTA Southern are partnering to offer an information session for junior players, parents, and coaches. Click on the link below for the particulars:

2014 Info Session at NCAAs Flyer

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

The Gift of A Mentor

Christian HarrisA couple of years ago, we were at a designated tournament in Mobile, Alabama, and my son struck up a conversation with a young man from South Carolina who was 2 years ahead of him in school. That conversation was the beginning of what was to become a really important relationship for my son.

The young man, Christian Harris, is now a freshman playing tennis for Clemson University. He and my son have stayed in regular contact, even playing each other in a sectional tournament last year, and Christian has become one of my son’s mentors in terms of college recruiting.

When my son was ready to begin contacting college coaches, the first person he reached out to was Christian, asking him the best things to say in that introductory email and getting his input on which coaches and programs to approach. Christian has checked in with – and guided – my son along the way, offering suggestions and support.

This weekend, the Southern Intercollegiate Championships was played in Athens, Georgia, a short 75-minute drive from our house. Christian texted my son to let him know he would be playing and would love for my son to come watch and have the chance to meet his coach and teammates. What a great opportunity! We headed over to Athens on Saturday, arriving about 30 minutes before Christian’s scheduled match time. I left my son to hang out with his friend/mentor and indulged myself in some pretty exciting tennis around the UGA complex. Christian talked to my son about how things are going at Clemson so far – balancing tennis and academics, finding time for a social life (a tough challenge for these student-athletes, for sure!), and trying to stay healthy through it all.

After Christian’s match, I had the chance to chat with him for a minute about what it means to be a mentor. Here’s what he had to say:

What was so interesting to me was to hear that Christian had had his own mentor, Harrison Kennedy, who has also been a valuable friend and resource to us, and is now paying it forward to my son. If your junior is lucky enough to find an older player who can help him/her navigate the various intricacies of tennis, be grateful! It is truly a gift, one that I hope each of our own children will pay forward to those coming up behind them.

Reporting from Kalamazoo

kalamazoo2013

I feel very lucky to have fellow Tennis Parent, Melanie Rubin, reporting from the 2013 USTA National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo. She is interviewing players, parents, coaches, and tournament personnel on various topics that I hope will be of interest to ParentingAces readers. Bookmark this post and check back over the next week – I will add interviews as Melanie sends them to me.  She will be joining me on the ParentingAces Radio Show on Monday, August 12th, at Noon ET as well.

Just click on the names below to download the audio files then click on the downloaded file to hear the brief interviews in your designated audio software (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc.).  The interviews are listed in the order in which I received them from Melanie.

If you or your child is at the Kalamazoo tournament this week, please seek out Melanie and ask her to interview you, too!  It’s great hearing from everyone about their experiences at one of the country’s most prestigious junior tennis events.  If you have photos you’d like to share, please email them to me so I can upload them – scroll down to see the ones I’ve gotten so far.

And, for detailed daily coverage of Kalamazoo, as well as the other national hardcourt events, be sure to subscribe to Colette Lewis’s ZooTennis.com blog.  A new Facebook group, US Tennis, is also reporting results and other related information.  To see the draws and follow the action, go to the tournament’s website.  For a wrap-up of the week in Kalamazoo, be sure to listen to the ParentingAces Radio Show podcast from August 12, 2013 (click here to listen).

Players                              

Emil Reinberg & Sam Edwards – Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

Nick Crystal – New York (uploaded 8/2/13)

Alex Diaz – Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

John Mee – Texas (uploaded 8/3/13)

Jason Seidman – Connecticut (uploaded 8/3/13 – dual interview with dad)

Josh Pompan – Northern California (uploaded 8/3/13 – dual interview with dad)

Stefan Kozlov – Florida & Henrik Wiersholm – Washington (uploaded 8/3/13)

McClain Kessler – Georgia (uploaded 8/5/13)

Christopher Eubanks – Georgia (uploaded 8/5/13)

Alexander Lebedev – New York (uploaded 8/5/13)

Tyler Schick – New Jersey (uploaded 8/5/13)

Abhin Sharma & Alex Phillips – Georgia (uploaded 8/6/13)

Terrell Whitehurst & Terrance Whitehurst – Florida (uploaded 8/6/13)

Luca Corintelli – Virginia & Jared Donaldson – Rhode Island (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Parents/Family

Diane Crystal, Nick’s mom (uploaded 8/2/13)

Sue Goodman, Trey Daniel’s grandmother (uploaded 8/3/13)

David Seidman, Jason’s dad (uploaded 8/3/13 -dual interview with Jason)

Masumi Hamanaka, Taiyo’s mom (uploaded 8/3/13)

Jeff & Kathy Johnston, parents to Connor (uploaded 8/3/13)

Don Pompan, Josh’s dad (uploaded 8/3/13)

Beata Redlicki, Martin’s mom (uploaded 8/3/13)

Zaza Corintelli, Luca’s dad, & Igor Kerznerman, Daniel’s dad (uploaded 8/4/13)

Christine & Brad Baughmann, Deiton’s parents (uploaded 8/4/13)

Anita Wilczynski, David’s mom (uploaded 8/4/13)

Lauren Levine, Robert’s mom (uploaded 8/5/13)

Mark Nardella, Matthew’s dad (uploaded 8/5/13)

Roochi Sharma, Abhin’s mom (uploaded 8/6/13)

Courtney Farren – Connor’s sister (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Coaches

Brett Masi – University of San Diego (uploaded 8/2/13)

Nick Carless – Cal Poly (uploaded 8/2/13)

Ryan Sachire – Notre Dame (uploaded 8/2/13)

Brett Ross – Wake Forest (uploaded 8/2/13)

Manny Diaz – University of Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

Drew Barrett – Davidson College (uploaded 8/3/13)

Clancy Shields – Utah State University (uploaded 8/4/13)

David Geatz – University of Pennsylvania & Dave Morin – Western Michigan University (uploaded 8/4/13)

Bob McKinley – Texas A&M (uploaded 8/5/13)

Chris Cooprider – Junior coach (uploaded 8/5/13)

Bruce Berque – University of Michigan (uploaded 8/5/13)

John Roddick – University of Oklahoma (uploaded 8/5/13)

Mark Dickson – University of Miami (uploaded 8/5/13)

Greg Patton – Boise State University (Part 1) (uploaded 8/6/13)

Greg Patton – Boise State University (Part 2) (uploaded 8/6/13)

Chuck Kriese – The Citadel, Part 1 (uploaded 8/7/13)

Chuck Kriese – The Citadel, Part 2 (uploaded 8/7/13)

Sam Paul – University of North Carolina (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Tournament Personnel & Vendors

Bob Wood – Volunteer (uploaded 8/2/13)

Rick Buckles – Transportation Volunteer (uploaded 8/2/13)

Mark Riley – Tournament Director (uploaded 8/5/13)

Darrell Davies – The Referee (uploaded 8/5/13)

Bill Kallenberg – Captured In Action Photograph (uploaded 8/6/13)

Lloyd & Melissa Clayton – Your Game Face photographers (uploaded 8/6/13)

 

 

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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Student of the Sport

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a USTA College Information Session for high school players and their parents held during the NCAA Championships in Athens, Georgia.

The panel, led by USTA’s Senior Manager of Junior and Collegiate Competition, Erica Perkins Jasper, included the following heavy-hitters from the tennis world:

  • Bobby Bayliss – Head Men’s Coach at Notre Dame University
  • Christine Bader – Head Women’s Coach at Ball State University
  • Maria Cercone – junior coach in Florida whose daughter plays #3 doubles and #5 singles for the University of Florida
  • Rick Davison – Director of Competition at USTA Georgia
  • Steve Johnson, Sr. – Father of top-ranked D1 player, Steve Johnson, of USC and top junior coach in Southern California
  • Colette Lewis – Creator of zootennis.com and renowned junior/college tennis journalist

Here’s what I learned . . .

Before your child even starts thinking about which colleges he might be interested in, have his tennis skills evaluated by – as Steve Johnson put it – “someone you’re not writing a check to” in order to get an honest opinion of which college programs might be a good fit.  The panelists repeatedly told us that there is a program for everyone; sometimes you have to do a little more digging to find the right one(s), but it IS out there.  You and your child need to be honest about his level of play, though, and make sure you are looking at schools that have open spots in their lineups that match your child’s skill set.

During the college recruiting process – which, by the way, your player should begin thinking about as early as the summer following his freshman year of high school – it is crucial for both the player and the parents to ask a lot of questions.  Ask the coaches.  Ask the current team members.  Ask people familiar with the program.  Just ask . . . a lot!  What questions should you ask?  Well, that depends on what type of college tennis experience your child seeks.  But, all of the panelists agreed that coaches would rather you ask the tough questions up front so your player can cross off the schools that don’t have what he’s looking for and so the coaches don’t waste precious time and resources recruiting if your kid is dead set against their program.  It is important that each player find his fit, and be assured that there is a right fit for everyone out there, whether it be D1, D2, D3, or a Junior College program.

To the players, it is important to start visiting the various colleges as early as you can.  Yes, you can email the coaches, but it’s just not as personal as a face-to-face visit.  You’re allowed as many unofficial visits (i.e. visits that you arrange and pay for yourself) as you would like to take.  On those visits, meet the coaches, meet the players, ask if you can attend the team practice and workout, and get a feel for the team environment.  If possible, go look at the dorms and see where the players live and eat.  Take advantage of your junior tournament travel and visit colleges in the cities and towns where you’re playing.  Figure out if you have a preference in terms of school size (big or small) and location (urban campus or college town) – that will help you narrow down your list of target colleges once you’re ready to start the official recruiting and application process at the end of your junior year.

Familiarize yourself with the NCAA Division 1 recruiting rules as early as possible so your child doesn’t risk his eligibility.  The D1 rules are the strictest, so, even if your child is looking at D2, D3, or Junior Colleges, following the D1 rules is your safest bet.  Then, before the end of your child’s junior year, make sure he registers with the NCAA Eligibility Center so all his ducks are in a row before the official recruiting begins.

After coming up with a list of potential colleges, have your child write down the 5 most important reasons he wants to attend each school.  Some examples might be playing tennis, a high level of academics, a particular academic major, the tennis coach, or scholarship availability.  He should ask himself, “What happens if one of those things disappears?”  For instance, what if he gets injured and can no longer play tennis or what if the coach retires or goes to another school or what if he fails to earn the necessary grades to keep his scholarship – will he still be happy at that school?  If the answer is NO, then cross it off the list.

Once your child does start communicating with coaches via email, make sure he includes a link to his tennisrecruiting.net bio (which he should first make sure is up to date!), his high school graduation year, and his upcoming tournament schedule.  Your child should not be afraid to ask coaches if they’re even interested in him as a potential team member – no need to waste anyone’s time here!  Also, he should ask how many scholarships (if it’s a D1 or D2 program) and roster spots are available and if there’s an opportunity for an official visit during his senior year.

Also (please forgive me, High-Tech Tennis, but I’m just sharing what the panelists told us!), before you spend money having a fancy recruiting video made for your child, make sure your child asks the coaches if they would even like a video and what they want included on it.  In most cases, a 10-minute home-made video, uploaded to YouTube, of some match play will suffice.  The coaches are busy.  They don’t have time to sift through the fluff.  So, keep to the basics – forehands, backhands, serves, volleys, overheads, and footwork.  And, by all means, make sure you only show your child’s best behavior on the video!  [One panelist confessed that several of the coaches have compiled a Top 10 Worst Recruiting Videos list on YouTube!]

During his senior year of high school, your child will probably begin taking official (i.e. paid for by the university) visits to one or more colleges.  This is the time to ask the more pointed questions such as whether or not he can walk on the team if no scholarships are available and whether walk-ons ever get to play in the lineup.  He can also ask about the coach’s influence with the admissions department in case his academics are borderline.  In many cases, the tennis coach does have some pull and will be willing to use it if your child is a desirable candidate for the team.  And, your child should absolutely let the coach know if he doesn’t NEED scholarship money from the Athletics Department – either because he has other scholarship money coming from academic or other resources OR because you have stockpiled money to pay for his college education yourself – it’s a definite plus to coaches to know that they can use their limited funds elsewhere.

I know this is a bit long-winded, but USTA really did share a ton of great info with us!  If you have a chance to attend one of these sessions, I highly encourage you to do so.  Even though my son sort-of fought me about going (it required waking up pretty early on a Sunday morning to make the drive to Athens), I think he got a lot out of it and now has a clearer picture of the work he needs to do.  Besides which, a perk of the program was that we got to watch an incredible day of tennis at the NCAA Championships afterward!