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USTA SoCal Player Development Camp

As most of you know by now, I recently moved from Atlanta to Orange County, California, to be closer to my three kids. One of the first things I did upon moving was to reach out to the USTA Southern California (SCTA) office to find out how I could get involved in the local tennis scene, both from the Junior side as well as from the Adult side. After all, I wanted to be sure I had a place to keep playing myself!

Almost simultaneously to my move, former top professional player, Scott Lipsky, contacted me to let me know of his new position: Director of Player Development & College Readiness with the SCTA. What incredible timing! 

USTA is piloting Scott’s position in its Southern California section with the idea of rolling it out nationwide if things go as planned. The top 200 or so junior players in the SoCal section have been identified for regular match play with coaching, small group camps, and college information sessions for both players and parents with the possibility of a local college combine (modeled after the Lake Nona event) later in the year.

Scott and I had lunch last week to discuss how the SCTA and ParentingAces might be able to work together to assist Scott in his new role. Among other things, Scott is charged with helping local junior players get ready for and fully understand the college recruiting process. Having played at Stanford himself, Scott is very familiar with how college tennis works at the highest levels but wanted some assistance in understanding how best to educate SoCal families on all levels and divisions of college tennis. To that end, he told me about a series of camps he had in the works.

As it turns out, the first of these camps was held last weekend in Irvine for the girls and in Carson for the boys. Over the coming months, the camps will be planned for specific birth years so coaches can tailor the information appropriately. This first one was for 2003s, 2004s, and 2005s – basically, high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.

The remainder of this post – including coach, player, and parent video interviews from the camp – is only available to our Premium Members.

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Since Irvine is only about 20 minutes from my house, I decided to stop by the Racquet Club of Irvine on Saturday morning to see what was going on. Former Furman Coaches, Kelly Jones and Tami Whitlinger-Jones, and Debbie Graham Shaffer who played at Stanford and on the pro tour and is now coaching junior and professional players, were the coaches for 8 junior girls ranging in age from 13-17.

I missed the player introductions to start the day, but Kelly told me he was thrilled to learn that most of the girls had played other sports before specializing in tennis. He felt this was so important to instilling a strong athletic base for young players who aspire to reach high levels in our sport. 

For this particular segment of the camp, the girls were divided into doubles teams and placed on adjoining clay courts. When I arrived, they were playing no-ad sets and receiving coaching after almost every point. I hope you can hear the coaches’ comments in the videos below:

After the sets were completed, the coaches worked with each group of 4 girls on their volleys:

Next, it was time for a quick cool-down and some lunch. Before moving into the clubhouse for stretching and tacos, the coaches did a debrief of the morning session, explaining to the players how they can use what they learn in the camp in their daily training:

We then moved inside where I had an opportunity to chat with a couple of the players and their parents:

The afternoon session started with a Q&A about college tennis and recruiting. Although I had to leave part way through the Q&A, Coach Kelly shared with me that the girls were scheduled to play singles against one another with on-court coaching throughout for the remainder of the afternoon. However, several of the players had requested to continue working on doubles, so I’m not sure what they wound up doing! 

I did record part of the Q&A and will add that video at a later date.

 

It looks like Scott and the SCTA are off to a great start with the camps and other programs and activities they are hoping to have in place by the start of 2020. I’m really looking forward to working with them and meeting more of the Tennis Parents and Junior Players in the area. If you have any suggestions for Scott as he refines his new role, please feel free to Comment below or reach out to me via our Contact Us form.

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