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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
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    414

    Tips for starting out youngsters...........

    It seems there are a few people wondering about how to get their kids started with tennis. It is kind of tough figuring out the best road to take when everyone else has a "wonderful suggestion". Having worked with numerous pros and ITF juniors over the years, I think (I say I think because even with the things I have done in tennis, I still do not know everything, not even close) I have come up with some simple suggestions. Take them or leave them.
    1. Tennis is a game and it should be fun. I have watched too many juniors who were never going to make it on the pro tour be forced to play tennis. It never, ever works that way. The desire to be great must come from inside and if your child does not have that desire, you can't force it. So, make it fun. The more they enjoy playing, the more they will want to play.

    2. Start them off with good technique. The one thing that drives me crazy as a coach is to see a forehand grip on the serve and on the volley. Continental is the right way. There are few Boris Becker's out there who can use an eastern grip to hit the serve. Please, as a coach, I beg you, the parent, to take a lesson yourself and learn proper technique if you are going to work with your child. NOt doing so will create mega obstacles and problems in the future. Would you try and teach someone to fly a plane if you knew nothing about it besides having watched a pilot on television? No Way! Starting off slow with good technique will help them progress faster in the future and they will not have to relearn a stroke when they start playing competitive tennis.

    3. Do not EVER fuss at your child when they play poorly. It happens. Deal with it with a smile and keep having fun. It's a game.

    4. Find the coach whose personality helps your child have a good time. I ask you, would you ever go out and continuously hang out with someone who you did not like or made you unhappy? Think about it. There are plenty of great coaches out there with great personalities and awesome teaching skills.

    5. If they take up the game, let it be because they want to. No need to live vicariously through the child. If tennis is that important to you as a parent, pick up a racquet and learn to play yourself.

    If you support your child quietly and help them to learn to love the game of tennis with no pressure, you will be well ahead of most. I played three years on the ATP Tour and can rightfully say that I didn't make enough money to call it a living. I was out there because I loved the game. Noone forced me or pushed me. I never would have made it had anyone done so. I pushed myself. I hope this brings a little incite..........

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    As my new friend TennisKing says, enjoying Tennis is first & foremost. Speaking as a High School Tennis Instructor & Private Tennis Instructor, I'm asked this question quite often. This is what I know and maybe TennisKing can fill in things I've missed.
    All of the steps below are assuming your child or you are enjoying tennis and have commited yourself to being the best you can be at Tennis.

    1. First if you aren't already, you must join the USTA in order to compete in a USTA sanctioned tournament so that you can begin to amount a USTA Ranking.

    *You must compete at as many levels as possible which include Sectional Tourneys, Regional Tourneys and National Level Tournaments.*

    2. When you've acquired a USTA Ranking you can enter Pro Level Tournaments based upon the number of entries they have available. *If a particular tournament is made up of 64 Players however depending on your USTA Ranking, for those ranked ahead of you, they will fill the spots before you.

    Example: Southwestern Bank Tennis Classic Tournament which is a Clay Court Tournament has a draw of 64 Players. You have a regional ranking of 73, that means all 64 players will get in before you however do not despair because many times Players drop out for one reason or another. You will always know where these Tournaments are being held because you can get that info from the USTA, I believe they even publish it on their website. The better you do in these tournaments the higher your ranking becomes and if/when given the opportunity to play someone wit a higher ranking, you want to do your best to win those matches if you can because like on the Pro Circuit, you are awarded quality points for beating higher ranked players.

    3. You want to get involved in the USTA Player's Development Program, so for those who are on the road and haven't done this as yet, pick up the phone or go online to sign up.

    4. Like on the Pro Circuit, it's all about the points !!! The better you do, the more points you amass and once you've gained enough points, you can then enter the Qualifying Rounds of tournaments on the Pro Level Circuit.

    * In the event that you are not aware of this, if you become lucky enough to get an invite to the qualifying rounds of a Major Event, you must play 3 matches and win them. If you win all three matches, guess what? You just may be looking at someone seeded in the top 32 or higher for your next match in the Main Draw. No, you won't see Rafa or FedEx in the 1st Rd because they generally get Byes for their 1st Rd. matches. But should you win your first match in the Main Draw, you could see Roger Federer for your next match, so that's when you start packing your suitcase and making reservations

    5. The cost for all of the expenses you will encounter will be in the neighborhood of about $25,000 for the year. The USTA will not help you out with this expense however they can put you in touch with various people who are always looking to invest in the next Maria Sharapova if you have what it takes to fill those type of shoes.

    If not, then it's time your parents started taking out loans if they haven't done so already. I joke with my kids when I tell them to get their parents to buy lottery tickets but hell, for one dollar .. go buy a ticket.

    That's a very simplified path to the Pros and like I said, my new friend TennisKing should be able to support or correct any of this information from his hands on experiences.

    Coach
    Last edited by Coach; 08-07-2009 at 08:19 PM.
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
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    414
    You are correct coach. It is not an easy path at all. I remember when i first started out, Patrick Rafter couldn't win a match in the satellites and challengers in the states. He ended up going to Malaysia and picking up enough points and ex[erience and wallah. History was made. The first couple of satellites I played here in the U.S. (Macon, Ga. and Mount Pleasant, S.C.) had full 128 person qualifiers. You didn't get a single point for winning any of those matches either. The top 16 qualifiers made it into the main draw. No joke! It was crazy. Basically played a full tournament the week before the main draw and then played the main draw. Yikes. There were guys sleeping in their cars. Parents, a word of advice. Shoot for college tennis and anything over that is just a bonus. Shooting for the pros with no other eggs in the basket is a true risk. I truly thought I was going to take the tennis world by storm back in 1993 and boy did I get a rude awakening. Just help your kids enjoy it and see what happens. You never know.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    So the question becomes, when did Tennis become such a big money sport? Was it Andre Agassi, who brought the sponsors out with their wallets or maybe Johnny Mac before him? Or was it possibly Chris Evert who was at the time, the best looking female on the tour?

    For most people who do not play the game, tennis is nothing less than boring to them. These people will however stand or sit and watch guys hitting golf balls around an open field. Tennis didn't get sponsorship until John McEnroe did is Bic Razor Commercials or was it Shick But really Tennis had to have Glam in order for average Joe & Jane to pay attention. Up until then, there was no money in the game at all. When Monica Seles won the USO the first time beating Navratilova in the Finals, she made $400,000 for that accomplishment.

    As we know, today the winner on the ATP & WTA take home $1,000,000 plus bonus money under certain conditions. But today Tennis has it all, the game has the beautiful women who can actually hit the ball very hard and make it entertaining and it has the men who make the game exciting, like the rivalry between Federer & Nadal with other personalities in the mix like Djokovic, Roddick, Murray and others.

    On the women's side, the excitement never ends way beyond the William's Sisters. The Russian & Serbian Women have made Tennis a main page event once more and we thought after Steffi & Monica were gone, everyone would go home. Boy were we wrong. Even Hingis made tennis interesting enough for people who don't play to watch. In the beginning, I didn't even like Martina but I had to watch her matches.

    So with Tennis becoming a Main Event challenging Baseball & Football (American), you can bet the system adopted a position that if you want in on all the money there is to be made in this sport, you must jump through a whole bunch of hoops first. No, it's never going to be easy to get in the door folks. But the same goes for everything, like my field (Music) when I first began playing professionally, it was nothing to cut a record or get a deal.

    Today, it's no longer about the talent because everyone especially in Pop / Hip Hop can do it of they are marketable. You have a young girl who looks like Maria Sharapova who has a little game and then you have a young lady who isn't that great in the looks department. Who do you think will get sponsorship?

    finally take a look at the careers of Aaron Krickstein, Jimmy Arias, David Weaton and even Jay Berger. They were all excellent Players who never saw the fame & fortune that our Fab Four enjoyed. Why is it that these guys who could essentially play as well as the Fab Four except for maybe Pete, never won a Major? Certainly one of them should have brought home a Trophy in the mid to late 80's but no. Sponsors can't make you win but has anyone ever wondered why there are times certain Players get the absolute Dream Draw and others have to play the biggest hitters on Tour to get to the Finals?

    I recall about three years ago, Maria Sharapova got a draw that you would have thought she made up herself. She didn't play a single Seed until the Qtrs. Can you believe that? This was at the Australian Open and it was beginning to look like she would win the whole thing because all the best Players were stacked up against each other away from Maria.

    Can you imagine that sponsor money could have anything to do with that?
    How are you going to help your child realize their dream if the cards are stacked against them? You know your kid is good but being good isn't what it takes in Tennis anymore, it's being marketable.

    Coach

    .
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
    Posts
    414
    Andre Agassi changed tennis. Not even a question. He and Michael Jordan really turned things up with their Nike contracts. McEnroe was still fairly traditional and people that already loved tennis liked him. Agassi brought a new crowd to tennis. Parents, noone became more traditional than Agassi did his last couple of years. He found a true love for the game. Probably because he became happy inside when he and Steffi got married. He no longer was the rebel. Please parents, teach your kids to respect their opponents and the game. No gamesmanship, no cursing, no whining. If you are going to lose, lose with some class. Watch Stefan Edberg or Patrick Rafter. True class acts. Teach them to applaud their opponents good shots. Teach them to never wake the sleeping giant by being rude or talking smack about an opponent. If there is something I know, it is harder for me to get motivated to beat someone I respect and like than it is for me to beat someone I can't stand.

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