It's been several weeks since we've seen triple-digit temperatures, so I think it's safe to say that fall is here. Our players battled through the hottest conditions over the summer. They worked extremely hard, and showed great improvements. As I always say, summer is the time I see players make their biggest improvements. The tough conditions really challenged the kids (and their coaches!). Since school has resumed, we have been building off of that great momentum from the summer.
I had been working with a talented group of Orange Ballers for several years. I was beyond happy when they all transitioned to the Green Ball at the beginning of June. Three of our players have been selected to the USTA's Green Ball Early Development Camp, and we now have a fresh batch of Orange Ballers poised to follow in their footsteps. Our Red Ball program is growing every week. Since the summer, we've added two new classes, including one for 4- and 5-year-olds to work on their hand-eye coordination and basic movements.
Our program is built on the belief that there are different skill-sets that junior players must develop before advancing to the next stage of court and ball. Red Ballers work on basic athleticism and introductory tennis-specific movements. Orange Ballers learn basic footwork patterns, how to hit with top spin to control the ball, how to find the ball in their strike zone, the fundamentals of a platform serve, and how to play matches. Our Green Ballers work on more advanced skills, such as taking the ball on the rise, complex hitting strategies (hitting the ball cross court, then down the line), transitioning to the net with a slice backhand, using a slice serve to open up the court, and of course, competing on a full-size court.
Moving from one color to the next is a big deal. As exciting as it is for the kids, it’s also one of the most rewarding parts of coaching to have a player learn the necessary skills to transition to the next stage of their development.
To help us guide our players from stage to stage, we recently added a great new coach from the UK, Steve Etchells. He has been a welcome addition to our awesome coaching staff. Steve has an extensive background in teaching, and is excited to be on-board to help develop our junior players.
With our amazing fall and winter weather, we have just entered into tournament season. There are tournaments and events for junior players nearly every weekend, from Junior Team Tennis to highly competitive USTA-sanctioned tournaments. If you ever have questions about tournaments for your players, please don't hesitate to speak to Karen, Steve, or me.
Matt's Point (get it? Match Point!) is Matt's blog covering all the goings-on at IJP Tennis.