After several years of serving as a staff coach for the USTA Phoenix Early Development Camps, I was selected to run the program this year. Through my work with the USTA locally and the national USTA Player Development, I was invited again to attend the Junior Pathway Symposium at the USTA National Campus in Orlando back in February (before the COVID crisis). As I took in the presentations from the leaders of the USTA, I was overwhelmed with the passion and vision for junior tennis development in this country. The red, orange and green (ROG) ball pathway took a long time to become generally accepted by the American coaching community (I could never understand the resistance). However, seeing the work and research done by the USTA, and the enthusiasm of the leaders and coaches in attendance was very inspiring. Having "grown up" as a coach using the ROG pathway in Melbourne, London, and Chicago, it's exciting to see other coaches and parents come to understand how effective and fun it can be for players as they work through the levels and develop their skills, starting with Red and all the way through Yellow Ball. My involvement in these USTA programs has been a nice validation of my long-held belief in the ROG pathway, and a wonderful opportunity to continue to learn about junior tennis development.
Speaking of coaches and excitement for teaching tennis the right way, we are thrilled about how much our program has advanced since our new Head Pro Scott Mantelman joined us at the end of summer 2019. Scott is a fantastic technical coach, who has been leading our Red Ball program, guiding many of our high school players as they prepared for their season, and developing a group of Orange Ball players that were selected to participate in the Early Development Camps with Net Generation and the USTA. It is rare for a coach to have a balanced blend of technical knowledge and personality to connect with young players. Scott is one of those rare coaches, and we are extremely happy to have him as a leader in our program.
Matt's Point (get it? Match Point!) is Matt's blog covering all the goings-on at IJP Tennis.