One Tennis Ball
Years ago, the French Tennis Federation junior development coaches would regularly give each pair of juniors just ONE BALL to play with. They were not on a tight budget. There were no ball shortages. And, there was no Covid-19. With one ball, all sorts of “hands-free” drilling can take place WITHOUT anyone touching a ball. (Yes, sweaty hands that wipe sweaty faces can contaminate a tennis ball.) Give it a try. Your players will keep the ball in play longer, knowing they will have to chase down that one ball if they play too loose and unfocused! And, the parents will appreciate your efforts! You can even promote it as “One ball drilling! Improve faster while playing safer!”
Why a gradual reopening of clubs could be detrimental!
We are all eager to get back on the courts but the reality of a tennis court is its vast size and the need to churn traffic in order to make private facilities viable. Slow openings mean that patrons will not be able to come and go as freely which means they will quit their membership dues. Plus a slow reopening will mean that clubs will start to compete for the little business that they are getting and as in the early 2000’s you will see the price of membership and lessons go down. It might be more beneficial to continue to plan and strategize and utilize federal and state benefits so that clubs reopen at full capacity. Just a thought, not a sermon!
What we did at the club
Thanks for the excellent issue, good stuff! I agree, surveys are not helping me and the USTA message sounds nice but doesn’t give us much meat! The things we’ve done that helped the most:
1. Day 1 and every 2 weeks I send a message to our members updating them and thanking them for their patience. We’ve developed relationships with most of our 1000+ members and they have stood by us. The newer ones are the ones asking for refunds.
2. Staying in touch with our staff guiding them along with whichever process was beneficial to them, from unemployment, loans, and safety.
3. I kept my controller on the payroll so she can be aggressive with the government aid programs… my feeling is that the government shut me down so they have a responsibility to help me just as I’ve supported them from Day 1 (for us it was March 15th).
My advice for tennis professionals
If your club is closed, this is a great time to take care of self-enrichment – learn the latest from other professionals. Videos are available for free now for a limited time for USPTA pros on Tennis Resources. This is a great way to get your required continuing education for free while sitting at home! Plus you can view the entire catalog of videos and pick-up new tips and drills to use once this virus closure is over. We will return back to normal in a few weeks or months so why not be prepared to be the best you can be as a pro on the court?
Also, this is a great time to organize your professional life. Put your computer files in order so things will be at your fingertips once you return to teaching. Organize your work history, awards, letters of appreciation, certificates, everything else you might need for two reasons, one is if your club makes a change in staffing, or two if you want to apply for Master Pro level. This should be a goal for most professional tennis instructors.
Offer video lessons. Doctors are offering video diagnosis and treatments, why can’t tennis pros do some of that? Sure, much of it requires on-court diagnosis, but some strategy lessons, conditioning, match prep, long term planning, etc. can be done on video calls. Plus you will have some income. And the students will want to hear from their coach.
This is a hard time for tennis pros, no doubt. But you can make the best of it. Have a plan for each day, make them productive, but safe.
Good luck and I’ll see you on the courts when this is all over.
Head Tennis Professional
Carmel Valley Tennis
Tennis and Gambling
Hi Rich, first time reaching out to you and nice to virtually meet.
I am an avid reader of your work and respect the fact that your platform consistently challenges the status quo. Although we haven’t met, we do share many common goals. We are passionate about tennis, we challenge the status quo, we want to make tennis more approachable for all, we believe in accountability and transparency, and ultimately we want to grow the incredible game of tennis to ensure our sport is relevant for many generations to come.
So on to gambling in our fine sport… Let me first say, I am not a gambler. I am an entrepreneur, so by way of default, I guess it is safe to say I gamble on myself and the businesses we create (see our latest invention underway at: ). When I first read the question you pose “am I ok with betting on tennis”, I instantly had mixed emotions and several questions I needed answers to before I rendered a “for” or “against” stance on the subject. My knee jerk was HELL NO! I did take a few minutes to research the idea with my friend Google, so it is safe to say I am no expert on the subject and have a lot more research to do before I would endorse or disapprove.
Questions I have and would like for you and your readers to considerer/research before rendering your own conclusion:
To what extent is gambling in our sport already taking place? Check out where it is already legal at: https://www.bettingusa.com/sports/tennis/
Will it hurt the integrity of the sport and would it change the relationship between fans and players (or vendors/merchants)?
How do you take governance over the players and the industry to the next level to ensure matches are not fixed? (which already exists, but could our sport handle an onslaught of gamblers which increases the probability of bribing athletes and fixing matches).
Would it enhance and increase interest in watching tennis? Would it generate incremental tennis players due to them being exposed to a sport they may not otherwise watch?
If legalized throughout the United States (and internationally), could there be a tax imposed on the legal transactions that ACTUALLY flow back to growing the game?
If there was such a tax, who would be responsible for managing and deploying the funds? How would one ensure these funds are designed to grow grassroots tennis in diverse communities across our country?
If considered, who would be the governing authority over gambling in tennis and what rules & regulations could be imposed to ensure there are guard rails for all involved?
At the end of the day, clearly I have more questions than answers but I think it is a worthy exercise for someone to properly study the impacts of legalized gambling in tennis. There is plenty of data on the pros and cons of gambling in other sports to render a verdict. One thing I do know, if we do nothing different and don’t take a few bold (calculated) risks, we will continue to get the same results. Another thing I know, it will take capital (plus great people + great intentions + great plans) to grow our sport.
All for now, keep Swinging!
DUTCH GUIDELINES FOR TENNIS
The KNLTB (Royal Dutch Tennis Federation) has released guidelines for junior tennis 18 and under starting this week. In my previous post, I shared this awesome mini-poster and was requested by several for a translation into English.
In addition to the translation, I took the liberty to re-design the poster. Please be advised that these guidelines are only recommendations for Dutch tennis clubs, players, and coaches. Therefore these guidelines may not directly apply to your facility and/or club in the US or other countries.
Feel free to share. We are all in this together…
For those of you interested in purchasing a CUSTOMIZED POSTER for YOUR club, please send me a message.
Director of Tennis
World Team Tennis vs USTA League Play?
Could and should World Team Tennis replace USTA leagues?
Billie Jean King is such a proponent of WTT where men and women compete as a team. We have seen a growth of WTT among the pros and it seems to be growing even more. Tennis is often an individual competition but a team competition is always fun, competitive, and social.
What a great way to get kids and adults to discover tennis as a team. Junior Team Tennis Leagues already exist around the country now. It is a fun format where the strategy can be substitution of players, there can be mixed skill levels, the scoring is quick and it is a fun, competitive team event.
The kids do it, so why can't we have Adult Team Tennis as well? We have often played our club vs other clubs in a WTT format. We compete in our geographic area and compete for a team trophy that rotates to the winning club at the end of a season. You can have singles or not have singles, but the doubles and mixed doubles are really fun. You can have skill division like a doubles team that has to be made up of a 3.0 and 3.5 team, same in mixed, a 3.5, and 4.0 team that competes against a similarly skilled team from the opponents.
We encouraged team uniforms and cheering and strategical substitution for your team to really make it a fun format.
The rules are already outlined by the pros version of WTT and would be easy for club teams to adopt the WTT format vs USTA league play. We have seen the proliferation of USTA leagues dominate court time. The USTA keeps adding new leagues that overlap ones that are not yet completed. Members have less free play court time and the cost of USTA league play keeps rising.
Would you be in favor of World Team Tennis vs USTA League Play?
Open Play vs USTA League Play
Remember going to the club and playing with friends? You would play, change partners and play again then go get a drink or a bite to eat.
With USTA league play, everyone plays to protect their ranking and you play or practice with just the players on your team. It can be challenging for a new member to find a way to meet players and feel like they belong to their new club. It is difficult to find competition above your NTRP rating because no one wants to play with a lower level player.
We have 3 times during the week where we have Drop-In Match Play for the adults. It can be handled in several ways. We have a coordinator who randomly pairs players to play doubles or mixed doubles for 1 set, no add scoring. When they are done, the coordinator reassigns teams to go play again, mixing skills and gender for a 2 hour period.
Another way is, as the players arrive, they are teamed up with mixed skill levels and gender. Everyone plays for a time limit. At the end of the time, the winning team moves up a court and the losing team moves down a court. When the team moves up or down, they change partners by design or spin of the racquet and play again. You get to meet players you seldom play with and it is a quick and fun format vs getting locked into a cast system based upon your NTRP rating.
How does a new pro meet the members and demonstrate their skill with groups and their personality?
When I first came to my new club, I didn't know most of the players and I wanted them to get to experience my teaching style. So during the Saturday morning drop-in match play, I offered a free, 1 1/2 hour drill clinic. As the number of players arrived, no one had to wait to be paired with a partner, they would just join in on the free drop-in clinic. As players finished their one-set matches, our match play coordinator would pull players from my drop-in clinic who had signed up and were waiting to play. They would go to play a one-set match and the 4 players who finished play would join the drop-in drill clinic
This allowed me to meet all the members, learn their names, and skillsets. The members got to meet me, experience my skill at managing large groups of various skill sets, and the members never had to stop and wait for a game for the entire drop in match playtime. Players were all mixed levels, including new members, beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. It is true, as the pro, you have to have the ability to do drill clinics with multiple players of a variety of skill levels and make it happen so there is little standing around. But members hit more balls in my drop-in clinic than in your drop-in match play doubles. If fact, many members chose to stay in the clinic and pass on their turn to go play doubles.
This has also lead to multiple private lessons and members who joined my scheduled group clinics.
Director of Tennis
I want to quickly share a few ideas that can help with eliminating the spread of disease. I’m piggybacking off another idea but here goes:
People are afraid, and it’s best to reassure them as much as possible. So take every precaution you can.
As soon as I get back on the court, which looks like it won’t be until June, because I am in one of 6 Bay Area counties that announced today that we are in Stay at Home until May 31st. Which means that we will have had nearly two full months of lockdown. When I get back on the court, I will have hand sanitizer ready. This is a good idea anyway.
When picking up balls in a lesson, no one will handle them except for me. Everyone else can use only their racquets to move balls around. I have a ball mower. Those who are concerned can wipe down their racquets at the end of the lesson.
For play, until everyone is assured that there is enough herd immunity with antibodies being developed, we can use two cans of balls with different numbers for singles, and three cans for doubles, and using a marker we can indicate two balls each for the servers with the 9th ball held in reserve if one gets lost. Some courts have issues with non-retrievable balls over the fence.
Over-communicate, and show more concern than you feel is necessary because going the other way is not a good look.
YouTuber - The Athlete Centered Coach
Master Tennis Coach