My First Major As Media

Rafael+Nadal+Arthur+Ashe+Kids+Day+bXesWeIzZpNl

In case you missed my announcement several weeks ago, I was approved as Media for the upcoming US Open. This is a HUGE DEAL! I am beyond excited! And just a little nervous. I’ve never had media credentials at a big event like this (truth be told, I’ve only ever had credentials once, and that was at the end of last year at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoff in Atlanta). I have no idea what to expect. I’m just hoping I get at least one opportunity to be in the press room when Rafa is there!

Seriously, though, ever since I got word that my application was accepted, I’ve been asking questions and doing research and trying to come up with ideas that will make my experience at the Open worthy of sharing with you via this blog and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the radio show. I think I’ve come up with some good stories to tell. The challenge will be getting in front of the folks who can help me tell the stories by sharing their own stories with me. The parents, the players, their coaches – both at the junior level and professional – those who have been-there-done-that and are willing to talk about it. Melanie Rubin will be helping me, too – she did such an amazing job with her interviews at Kalamazoo – and I’m looking forward to sharing much more of her insights as her son competes at the Open (in case you missed the news, Noah received a Wild Card into the US Open qualifying tournament which starts Tuesday!).

Lucky for me, I’ve come in contact with so many experienced people since I started ParentingAces a little over a year and a half ago, people who are generous and gracious with their knowledge.  They are helping me formulate a plan for my week at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. They are sharing their contacts with me and making introductions. They are offering to show me the ropes and hold my hand as I learn. I owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude.

I will be in New York from August 27th through September 3rd. I will be at the Open every one of those days, soaking up as much tennis and media savvy as possible. Be sure you’re following ParentingAces on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you don’t miss anything! If you’re there during that same week, please let me know where we can meet and chat. You have stories to share, too, and I want to include each and every one of them in my first foray as US Open Media!

Boys Will Be Boys Update

We just got back from the orthopedist.  The Good News is that there is nothing torn or broken in my son’s knee.  The Bad News is that he has to continue to avoid any lateral movement on the tennis court for the next 2-3 weeks while the bruising continues to heal.  That means no camp with Carlos Goffi next week, which is a big bummer for sure!  But, it also means no physical therapy and no surgery, which is a HUGE RELIEF!

On another note, I got word today that I’ve been approved to have Media Credentials for this year’s US Open – I’m beyond excited!  So, my task for the next few weeks is to come up with a game plan for what I will cover and how I will report from the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.  If you have any suggestions for me, please share them in the Comments below.

Hope y’all all have a very happy – and safe! – 4th of July.

US Open Playoffs: Dream Big!

US Open Playoff

 

Once again, it’s time for your junior player to Dream Big to see if he/she can earn a spot to play at the US Open!

Any player aged 14 or older is eligible to play in the men’s and women’s singles and the mixed doubles. The winner of each sectional qualifying tournament in each division will advance to the US Open National Playoffs Championships in New Haven, CT during the New Haven Open August 16-19 (singles) or August 21-24 (mixed doubles).

The Southern Sectional Qualifying Tournament is being hosted by One Love Tennis May 27 through June 2 at the Sandy Springs Tennis Center in the Atlanta area.  Please note that while these dates overlap the Georgia Qualifier junior tournament (which begins May 31), Rick Davison, Director of Junior & Adult Competition for USTA Georgia, has issued a statement saying it is fine for players to enter both events as long as it doesn’t conflict with them meeting their obligations to participate in the Georgia Qualifier to be endorsed into the Southern Closed.  Event organizers feel that the US Open Qualifier will be the perfect warm-up event for top-level juniors entering the Georgia Qualifier.

My son played in the Southern Qualifier last year and had a blast!  He played in both the singles and mixed doubles divisions – while he, unfortunately, didn’t get past the first round in either, he did have the opportunity to face some very high-quality opponents in both divisions and made some great contacts.  Please consider adding this great event to your junior’s schedule if there’s room.

For the full schedule of 2013 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments around the country and their entry deadlines, please visit USOpen.org.

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Life Experience

Tennis, like life itself, is full of various experiences.  Our goal should be to learn from these experiences in order to make ourselves better human beings.  After all, it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game . . . right?

A couple of weeks ago, my son asked if he could play in the US Open Sectional Qualifier tourney that was being held at a local club.  The entry fee was higher than we were used to paying ($100 for singles, $65 for mixed doubles, single elimination in both draws), but my husband and I agreed to let him play.  We figured he might have the chance to play against some very high-level players which would be a great opportunity to see how his game holds up.  We were right.

In the first round of the tournament, my son drew David Hopkins (see photo above), the recently-graduated #1 doubles player and #1/#2 singles player for Wake Forest University.  One look at David and I immediately thought “football player” – he’s a 6’2″, All-ACC player who is built like a linebacker!  During the warm-up (in the 100+ degree heat, I might add), David simply stroked the ball on both sides, moving very little, looking like he was just out for a simple pick-up match at the local park.  But, once the match started, the All-ACC player came out in full force and didn’t leave until the match was won.  He hit double-digit aces.  He had an inside-out backhand that was so flat and so hard that you didn’t even see it coming.  And, he just didn’t miss.

During the match, one of David’s teammates, Adam Lee, was sitting next to me, and we struck up a conversation.  He told me how David had been continually recruited by the Wake Forest football coach throughout his college career but chose tennis over football time and again.  He told me how David is a gentle, unassuming character whose fierceness takes you by surprise on the court.  He told me how everyone feared coming up against him in a tournament.  Later, I spoke with both David and Adam about my son and his tennis goals.  Both young men were very complimentary and encouraging about my son’s chances to play D1 tennis.  David’s words:  “Tell him to keep working hard.  He’s way ahead of where I was at his age.  It just takes lots of hard work.”

In the mixed doubles, my son again had the opportunity to play against very experienced players.  In fact, the man on the opposing team played on the 2005 Davis Cup team for Puerto Rico, and the woman was a 4-time ITA All-American at Georgia College & State University.  Our kids held their own.

After the tournament, I gushed to my son about how well he played and what incredible opportunities he had to play such experienced and accomplished opponents.  In typical teenager fashion, he replied, “I wasn’t out there for a good experience, Mom.  I was out there to win!”  Sigh.

At some point, he will realize where I’m coming from with all this “good experience” talk.  It will sink in, and he will see that he’s on the right track to achieve his tennis goals.  He will understand that it’s not always about winning the match but sometimes about having a barometer to measure your progress.

Maybe he’s getting it sooner rather than later.  Last night, he signed up to play the ITA Summer Circuit tournament at UGA.  The tournament overlaps the Georgia State Junior Open by one day.  When I pointed that out to my son, he said, “Mom, I’m going to be in a draw with college players.  I don’t think I’m going to make it to the Finals.  It’s okay.”

I love it when the lightbulb turns on!