As we prepare for the IJP Tennis End-of-School Celebration this weekend, I have been reflecting on the first half of the year. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and am looking forward to continuing that progress through the summer and fall.
We were very well represented in the high school season this year by Katie R, Bradley, Katie B, Sydney, and Ryan. Success came in many forms—from making the team for the first time, to achieving excellent individual and team results. Katie R was a state doubles finalist in her division, and along with Sydney, made the quarterfinals of the team competition. Bradley helped lead his team to a state semifinal appearance, and also played in the state doubles tournament. As a freshman, Katie B played in the state tournament in doubles, and helped her team reach the finals. Ryan earned a spot on his team, and will have a big task next year defending his team’s state championship title. Also, Coach Karen led her high school team to the quarterfinals of the state competition. High school tennis is great for our older players, as it is a fantastic team environment, and always presents healthy challenges, like making the team or earning a higher position. Plus, it is great for our high schoolers to push our younger Yellow Ballers in practice (while the younger ones are nipping at their heels!).
Our young gun Orange Ballers have been working tremendously hard this year, with the results to prove it. Their major focus has been the development of racquet control in the various strokes. The use of the continental grip is a key part of our younger players’ development, as is understanding how to absorb the ball onto the strings while using this grip. This allows players to not only develop sound volley technique but also help with their serves and overheads by becoming more comfortable with the grip. We had a handful of Orangies selected for the USTA Early Development Camps, and expect more in the coming camps. These camps are designed for young, motivated players to foster athletic development, match tactics, and stroke production.
We can’t forget our Red Ballers! I observed a class last month and am really happy with the solid foundations they are are building. They have the entire movement and shot pattern down: split, unit turn, set up, swing, & recover. It is fun to watch, and I am excited to see the little ones grow into Orange Ballers.
I spend a lot of time educating my students, but also make time to educate myself, as a coach. If I wasn’t open to learning, then I would not have developed into the coach I am today. And I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing coaches and tennis minds over the years. Recently, I was selected to coach at the USTA Southwest Section Team USA Camp. The 3-day event at ASU included a coaches workshop, and two days of instruction with the players. I enjoyed the interaction with the USTA faculty and the other high-level coaches in the Southwest. I was happy to help this section (and myself) grow and improve.
Moving into our summer season, our theme will be "efficient movement." Players will learn movement patterns from the back of the court, using fewer steps to cover more ground. Bigger steps, without wasted energy, will allow players to cover the court better. Our players are learning to absorb the ball with a big drop step, to move wide to the ball and then step inside the baseline to take time away and control the tempo of points. We’ll also take these efficient movement patterns to the net. Players are working on a 2-step volley to explosive to the ball, and practicing moving for their overheads. We aim to train our players to be all-court players, and great all-around athletes.
Although the heat can be off-putting, summer is a vital part of a player’s development. Without the day-to-day worries of school, and with the opportunity for consistent repetition, players can make huge jumps in their games. You can see our summer schedule here.
See you out there.
Matt's Point (get it? Match Point!) is Matt's blog covering all the goings-on at IJP Tennis.