OKLAHOMA & MISSOURI VALLEY TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE
10 & UNDER DEVELOPMENT
FROM OUR DIRECTOR
n behalf of our teaching staff, we hope this Player Development Packet will be beneficial for parents and players as a quick reference for different aspects of the game that we feel is important. You will find such things as nutrition, guidance for tennis parents, player development and much more. We have taken articles from different publications that we feel as a collective group will aid you in your tennis journey as a player or a tennis parent. We will continue to update this packet through the year with updated rules and regulations as well as new articles that we think is a good resource.
As always, please reach out to us with any questions you might have.
David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional
Director of Tennis
3. Place cursor over TOURNAMENTS
4. Click on Tournament Advanced Search
1. Go to usta.com
2. Click on Tennislink
6. Click on tournament you wish to register for.
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5. Define your search by....
Missouri Valley - Oklahoma
Note: Select Missouri Valley if player wishes to view entire section schedule
How to Find a Tournament...
3. Place cursor over TOURNAMENTS
4. Click on Rankings Advanced Search
6. Click on circuit and most recent published list. Oklahoma standings lists are published on Monday's.
5. Define your search by....
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How to Look Up a Players Standing
If you have been to sport science presentation lately, it is likely that you have heard some information about dynamic warm-up and flexibility training. This is an area of training that is receiving more and more attention in the sporting community and many of the conclusions that have been drawn about this type of warm-up are directly applicable to tennis.
Dynamic warm-up and flexibility training is an essential element of any pre-practice or pre-competition routine and helps prepare the body for the demands of today’s tennis game. An effective warm-up does five very important things for tennis players:
Increases body temperature allowing muscles to work more efficiently.
Gets the heart and lungs ready for vigorous activity.
Stretches muscles actively, preparing them for the forces experiences during tennis.
Ingrains proper movement patterns and the coordination needed in tennis.
Wakes up the nervous system and gets the brain talking with the muscles.
A dynamic warm-up, which involves stretching with movement, accomplishes all of these tasks.
Pre-practice and pre-competition warm-up routines have typically focused on static stretching. While this type of stretching is still important for maintaining flexibility and joint range of motion, it really should be performed after play, not before practice or competition. Recent research has shown that static stretching can reduce the force and power the muscle can generate and that this impaired function can last for over one hour.
To get you started, here is a list of dyanmic Warm-up exercises:
Jogging with Progressive Arm Circles (jog or backpedal)
Carioca (shoulders square, rotate from hips down)
Knee-to Chest Tuck (maintain proper posture)
Lunge with reach back (focus on balance)
Side shuffle (Push off inside leg, swing arms across body)
High step with trunk rotation (same side)
Three-way jumping jacks (x 10)
Inverted hamstring (flat back, hips square)
Lateral lunge (push hips back)
Walking spiderman with rotation (eyes follow hand)
Leg swings (F/B/S - 10 times each)
High knees (Knees up, toes up)
Butt kicks (knees down, slight forward lean)
Inchworms (hips up, knees straight)
A-skips (aggressive march w/ rhythm)
Reverse skip with hip rotation (knee up and out)
Sprint 50/75/100% (proper running form)
Note: Perform ALL exercises in a controlled manner with abs engaged. Focus on deep breathing.
Courtesy of USTA Player Development
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DYNAMIC WARM-UP AND
FLEXIBILITY TRAINING FOR TENNIS
JULY 26-28, 2019
Don't wait until the last minute to register. USTA Oklahoma, USTA Missouri Valley and USTA National tournaments do not accept late entries.
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Your contact information is extremely important to a tournament director. Double check your email and phone number when registering. An invalid email or no email provided puts players at risk in missing out on important information pertaining to that specific tournament.
Read the tournament notes on the homepage. Seems simple, but by reviewing all the information prior to the start of the event can save you a ton of possible headaches.
Sept 6-8, 2019
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What's in Your Bag? Every player needs a few balls for warm up, band-aids, extra shoelaces, socks, shirt, jump rope and towel. Make sure you have your rackets freshly strung and re-gripped. It is always a good idea to bring an extra set or two of string and grip in case you need it during the tournament.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Before play, drink 12-16 ounces about 1 hour before play begins. Drink fluids often throughout the day begins. Prepare at least 2 quarts (64 ounces) to drink during play. Sports drinks are preferable for long matches or during play in hot weather. -USTA Sports Science
You have now been assigned to a court and have completed the match. After packing up your bag, it is important that you report directly to the tournament desk, win or lose. Any conversation with your parents or coach can wait after you check back in. Failure to do so can delay the tournament. Confirm the score with your opponent and get your next assigned match time and day.
When checking in, inform the tournament director who you are and the event you are checking in for. For example, "My name is Anthony Chang and I'm checking in for Boy's 14s." The tournament director will then assign you to a court or inform you if they are running a little behind.
Properly preparing for a tournament is critical to the success you might have at your next event. It is also important to understand that you have your check list completed when checking in for your match and after the completion of the match.
Prior to checking in for your match, make sure you have used the restroom, water jug is full, you have spoken to your coach and your tennis bag is with you and not in the car.
Players need to check in 15 minutes prior to each match throughout the tournament. Don't wait until the last minute to check in!
Have your water jug, sports drink, fruit and energy bars prepared well in advanced before each match.
Preparation and Checking-In at the Tournament Desk
Click on the Pic!
USTA: returning against the i-formation
JUNIOR COMPETITION CHANGES FOR 2020
Catch-All Junior Info Site
There is a ton of information about USTA junior tennis. To help parents, players and coaches find what they are looking for, USTA Oklahoma has created a catch-all google site that houses all relevant information that pertains to USTA Oklahoma and Missouri Valley junior tennis. You will see such things as rules & regulation documents, “How To” information, Youth Progression, the new Junior Pathway and much more.
Click here or click on the below link to view the site.
For additional information, please reach out to David Minihan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Casey McKenzie at McKenzie@ustaoklahoma.com.
You have mastered power and/or consistency as a major weapon. You can vary strategies and styles of play in a competitive situation and hit dependable shots in a stress situation
This player is fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks accuracy when trying for directional control, depth, pace or altering distance of shots. This player is more comfortable at the net, has improved court awareness, and is developing teamwork in doubles. Players at this level may start to utilize mental skills related to concentration, tactics and strategy
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This player is learning to judge where the oncoming ball is going and how much swing is needed to return in consistently. Movement to the ball and recovery are often not efficient. Can sustain a backcourt rally of slow pace with other players of similar ability and is beginning to develop strokes. This player is becoming more familiar with the basic positions for singles and doubles, and is ready to play social matches, leagues and low-level tournaments. Ability to keep score independently.
This player can vary the use of pace and spins, has effective court coverage, can control depth of shots, and is able to develop game plans according to strengths and weakness. This player can hit the first serve with power and accuracy and can place the second serve. This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which his or her game can be structured. This player can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and puts away volleys. This player tens to overhit on difficult shots. Agressive net play is common in doubles.
You have good shot anticipation and frequently have an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. You can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys. You can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overheads and have good depth and spin on most second serves. sets
This player has developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. The player has sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. This player can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. This player tends to over hit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.
Level: Advance tournament players
Tournament type: Varies
Scoring Format: Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak or best of 3 full sets
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Level: Advance tournament players (Sweet 16)
Tournament type: Feed-In through R16
Scoring Format: Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd; Indoors singles Con Best of 3 short sets; Outdoors Consolation Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd
Draws limited: 32
Level: High level Intermediate tournament players (Dist Championships)
Tournament Length: Up to a 3 day tournament
Tournament type: Round Robin or Feed-In
Scoring Format: Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd
Level: Emerging tournament players (Challengers)
Tournament Length: One day tournament
Tournament type: Non-elimination
Scoring Format: Short sets
Level: Intermediate tournament players (Champs)
Tournament Length: Up to a 2 day tournament
Tournament type: Round Robin or Feed-In
Scoring Format: Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd
Level: Advance tournament players (Futures & Supers)
Tournament type: Feed-In through R16
Scoring Format: Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd; Indoors singles Con Best of 3 short sets; Outdoors Consolation Best of 3 with Match Tiebreak in lieu of 3rd
Draws limited: 32
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Ranking Tables and Tournaments:
● All ranking tournaments (section and district) will use the same ranking point table.
● The section ranking point table will have 7 levels
● Level 1 and Level 2 are allocated to national tournaments
● Level 3 Closed to players of the Missouri Valley section
● Level 4 All eight L4 tournaments Closed to players of the Missouri Valley section
● There shall be no requirement to play in any Section Closed Level 3 and 4 Tournaments
● Level 5 will be allocated to Districts
○ For Oklahoma , all six level 5s per will be open to all districts within the Missouri Valley section.
○ Level 5 tournaments may have flighted draws within the same tournament and will use a point table designed for this type of event.
● Level 6-7 will be allocated to tournaments sanctioned by the District and will be Open to players from any District in the Missouri Valley section.
○ Flighted and waterfalled draws are permitted within the same event.
○ No more than 4 rounds may be played in a draw.
○ Points earned will be simplified: a specified number of points per win will be earned for the main draw and slightly fewer for a consolation win (with the ¾ playoff treated as a consolation match).
● Any Level 7 Tournament with a limited draw will select players from the bottom up.
● Each District must sanction tournaments at all applicable levels.
● Open tournaments may not reserve spots specifically to accept players from the home District.
● USTA Membership is required to play a L1-L7 Tournament (including a Green Ball L7). Additionally, a player must either be 11 years of age or shall have completed the USTA’s 10 and Under Youth Progression.
Section Level 3-7 Tournament Descriptions
● Green Ball (12 Division only) and Yellow Ball are permitted at L7 only; All other levels are Yellow Ball only
● Tournaments may be Singles Only; Doubles Only; or Singles with Doubles.
● No late entries accepted
● Match formats may be shortened when inclement weather or other circumstances prevent a tournament from finishing on time.
2020 USTA Missouri Valley
● A player’s ranking and standing will be based on the player’s best 6 singles and best 6 doubles results during the previous 12 month period and will be calculated in the following manner with respect to: combined ranking (15% doubles); bonus points; counting points up; points counting down; treatment of defaults, withdrawals, walkovers, retirements, byes; minimum win requirement; breaking ties.
● USTA Sanctioned District and Section tournaments (L3-L7), USTA National tournaments (L1-L3) or ITF tournament (that use TDM) will be included.
● When ranking lists are used for selection for Section L3 and L4, L5, L6, L7, the USTA Missouri Valley Standings List will be the lists used. In the case of Closed Section and Closed District tournaments, the USTA Missouri Valley Standings Lists will be used, but only players from the Section or Districts will be selected.
● Standings Lists will be published weekly.
Ranking Table Implementation: All 2019 tournaments points will not be retroactively changed to L1-L7 points. The new L1-L7 points will move forward beginning January 1, 2020.
Sectional Endorsement List (Name change to Quota List in 2021): Sectional Endorsement Lists will be based on the player’s best 6 singles and best 6 doubles results during the previous 12-month period, except that
● In the BG 18,16, and 14 Divisions, no more than 3 singles and 3 doubles results can be from tournaments sanctioned by an entity other than the USTA Missouri Valley; and
● In the BG 12 Divisions, no more than 2 singles and 2 doubles results can be from tournaments sanctioned by an entity other than the USTA Missouri Valley.
Section Endorsement Lists will be published as follows:
● USTA National Clays - players are listed in the order in which they appear on the USTA Missouri Valley Standings List published immediately after June Level 4
● USTA National Hards - players are listed in the order in which they appear on the USTA Missouri Valley Standings List published immediately after June Level 3
● USTA National Indoors - players are listed in the order in which they appear on the USTA Missouri Valley Standings List published immediately after September Level 4
● USTA National Winter Championships (BG14-18 Divisions) - players are listed in the order in which they appear on the USTA Missouri Valley Standings List published immediately after November Level 3
● National Doubles Championships - USTA Missouri Valley will order teams who register based on the highest combined singles ranking of the most recent USTA Missouri Valley Standing List available
By USTA Missouri Valley
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Implementation Date: January 1, 2020
If a player is not one of the top 16 players selected, they have until NOON the Tuesday prior to the tournament to register for the concurrent L7 event.
2020 USTA Oklahoma Tournament
There is not an entry limit for Level 7 tournaments. Deadline will be the Tuesday prior to the tournament at NOON.
Players will be selected off the most recent USTA Missouri Valley standings list. Entry count limited to 16 players per singles event. Deadline will be the Monday prior to the tournament at NOON.
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Players will be selected off the most recent USTA Missouri Valley standings list. Entry count limited to 24 players per singles event. Deadline will be the Monday prior to the tournament at NOON.
If a player is not one of the top 24 players selected, they have until NOON the Tuesday prior to the tournament to register for the concurrent L7 event.
Note: Some tournaments might not have a concurrent Level 7 event. Please check the searchable schedule.
After intense training sessions, what you eat really matters. Choosing the right foods can help replenish energy depleted in your muscles and liver, repair damaged muscle fibers and reduce inflammation throughout your body. Here are a few foods and tips to speed up your recovery.
Goals for Recovery Nutrition
Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat
Replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during exercise
Choose protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue
Begin recovery by eating a snack (carbohydrate + protein) within 30 minutes of completing exercise, and eating a meal (carbohydrate + protein + fat) within two hours of completing exercise
Carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat
Monitor urine color—dark color indicates dehydration (may also be due to vitamins and/or foods ingested); lighter color indicates adequate hydration
Monitor sweat loss through change in body weight before and after exercise to prevent dehydration
Top 10 Recovery Foods
Tart Cherries—heals joint pain and muscle soreness
Coconut Water—restores fluid balance and potassium (an electrolyte lost in sweat)
Blueberries—anti-inflammatory; quercetin improves endurance and recovery
Chia Seeds—omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and improve flexibility
Salmon—vitamin D increases jump height, power, and strength
Kefir—boosts immunity with probiotics
Beets—nitrates increase blood flow and delay fatigue
Oranges—vitamin C supports collagen formation and joint health
Kale—vitamin A improves vision and skin
Ginger—anti-inflammatory that relieves muscle soreness and joint pain; improves digestion
Recovery Snack and Meal Ideas
Smoothie (kefir or whey protein + berries + tart cherry juice + dark leafy greens + ginger)
Low-fat chocolate milk + protein bar
Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt + fresh fruit + chia seeds
Salmon + mashed potatoes + Mixed Veggies
Burrito bowl (brown rice + chicken + beans + cheese + salsa + avocado + lettuce)
Stir fry (lean meat + broccoli + bell pepper + carrots + brown rice)
Turkey sandwich + salad
By usta.com Player Development
Low fat and fiber
High salt (if hot/humid weather)
Moderate to high protein
Moderate fat and fiber
High salt (if heavy sweater)
Suggested snack combos
Chocolate milk + fresh fruit
Tortilla chips + salsa or guacamole
Peanut butter + jelly sandwich
Tortilla wrap + deli meat + cheese
English muffin + scrambled eggs + cheese + veggies
Hummus + pita chips + veggie sticks
Greek yogurt + granola + fruit
Cottage cheese + fruit
Bean- or broth-based soup
Apple + almond or peanut butter
Hard boiled egg + pretzels
Beef or turkey jerky + grapes
Air-popped popcorn + cheese stick
What to eat before exercise
Eating before exercise is similar to filling up your gas tank—this fuel will give you energy and help prevent injury.
Eat: meal = high carbs + moderate protein + low fat (three to four hours prior) snack = moderate carbs (15-60 minutes prior)
Drink: adequate fluids and electrolytes to produce clear/light yellow urine
Avoid: high fat (cream, excessive oil, fried foods); high fiber (beans, corn); gas-producing vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts); spicy foods; foods that are unfamiliar to digestive system; any known food sensitivities
What to eat during exercise
Depletion of muscle "energy" stores can impair athletic performance. If exercising for more than 60 minutes, supply your body with regular fuel and fluid to maintain performance.
Eat: 30-60 grams of carbs per hour of activity
Drink: water + sports drink
What to eat after exercise
Demanding practices and matches deplete glycogen, fluids and electrolytes. Begin replenishing these nutrients within 30 minutes of completing exercise; liquid protein shakes are a convenient snack to help hold you over until a full meal can be consumed.
Eat: snack = high carbs + moderate protein (≤ 30 minutes after) meal = high carbs + moderate protein + moderate fat (≤ two hours after)
Drink: adequate fluids to replace sweat loss
By: Tara Gidus Collingwood
Does Timing Matter
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When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Paying attention to what you eat before, during and after practices and matches can help you maintain energy levels, decrease injury risk and promote recovery.
Stay true to you. Depending on activity level and body composition goals, athletes should eat every two to four hours to maintain proper energy balance. Low energy and nutrient intake over time can contribute to fatigue, poor recovery, and increase injury risk.
Allow time for digestion. Consuming food too close to exercise can result in improperlyfueled muscles and an upset stomach. On the other hand, allowing too much digestion time doesn’t supply muscles with adequate energy and can lead to early fatigue.
Don’t neglect hydration. It can take up to 90 minutes for fluid to clear the kidneys. As little as a 2 percent loss of body weight due to dehydration can adversely affect the body’s ability to cope with physical demands and impair performance, concentration, and precision.
PREPARE YOUR GAME TO COMPETE
1. Rest: Follow a consistent schedule of at least eight consecutive hours.
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1. Practice the way you want to play. This includes practicing between points routines.
2. Have your bag/equipment ready - racquets strung and gripped, healthy snacks, lots of water, sports drink if needed, extra clothes, extra pair of shoes, towel, hat, sunscreen, etc.
2. Wake up: Rise a minimum of two hours before the match (if match is at 8am). The optimal wake-up time is three before the start of a match to be alert at match time.
BODY TO COMPETE
Preparing to play a tennis match with positive energy is similar to entering the highway when driving. You don’t want to enter the highway at 30 mph; you may get run over! Instead, if the speed limit is 65 mph, accelerate to 55-60 mph as you enter the highway.
As you prepare for a match, use the time to mentally and physically get close to match speed with your shots, movement and mind. This will help you get off to a fast start and compete with your game plan immediately.
By Dr. Larry Lauer & USTA Player Development Coaches
Pre-Match Tips: Prepare Like a Champion
3. Visualize mentally the match that you will play (and be prepared for positive outcomes as well as adverse situations).
PREPARE YOUR BODY TO COMPETE
1. Choose three “how to play the game” goals to focus on before and during the match. These are usually things you have been working in practice; focus on tactical and competitive goals such as following your routine, running for every ball, dictating with your forehand, etc.
2. Rest seated alone in a quiet and cool place the final 15-30 minutes prior to your match (without talking to other players), listen to music or read (no distractions, phones, computers, etc., these things require mental energy and can make you mentally tired prior to the match).
5. Training before the match:
* Physical warm up: 15 minutes
* Technical warm up "on court" 30-45 minutes, including specific plays/situations in preparation of opponent. For example, beging aggressive on 2nd serve returns.
4. Hydration: Drink 1.5 liters of water with electrolytes two hours before the match begins and continue to drink during the match.
3. Breakfast: Choose juices, fruits, yogurts with cereals, toast, etc. (no milk, cheeses, butter, pastries).
Nutrition During Play
Carbohydrates and fats are the primary energy sources utilized during a tennis practice or match. However, carbohydrate and water are the only principal nutrients that need to be consumed while playing tennis. For some players, salt intake during play is important for maintaining fluid balance and preventing heat-related muscle cramps.
Even if a player eats well the night before and has a good pre-match meal, after 60 to 90 minutes of intense singles, carbohydrate stores within the body will be significantly reduced. This will generally cause the player’s blood sugar level to begin to drop off. This could prompt lower performance and accelerate feelings of fatigue. Therefore, ingesting carbohydrates during play becomes necessary. Most adult players can burn off up to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour during play. To offset this, a player can readily get 60 grams of carbohydrate by drinking about a liter (35 ounces) of a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink.
Carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drinks can have several distinct advantages over water alone: They
a) Provide energy in the form of carbohydrate,
b) Have been shown to delay the onset of fatigue and perception of effort,
c) Increase voluntary fluid intake, and
d) Provide electrolytes that help to maintain mineral and fluid balance.
All of these factors are important in maintaining performance, especially when playing in a hot environment (carbohydrates are used faster and a player loses more fluid through sweating). Sport drinks, designed for consumption during play, generally should have a carbohydrate concentration of 5% to 7%. This means, for each liter consumed, a player will get 50 to 70 grams of carbohydrate, respectively. Higher carbohydrate concentrations (i.e., > 10%) slow down emptying of the stomach, which, in turn, delays water and carbohydrate from getting into the bloodstream where they are needed.
When a player drinks more than 1 liter (35 ounces) during each hour of play, it is often better to drink a sport drink and plain water at each changeover (usually with an emphasis on the sport drink). Drinking just a sport drink (even if the carbohydrate content is in the 5% to 7% range) in large volumes (e.g., 1.5-2.0 liters/hour) might not be well tolerated, because too much carbohydrate could be ingested. Ingesting a high amount of fructose (via a sport drink or solid food) could also cause gastrointestinal distress, since fructose is absorbed more slowly than other carbohydrates in sport drinks like glucose, sucrose, and glucose polymers. Again, for a quick energy “boost”, a small, easily digestible, high-glycemic index snack (e.g., crackers, a plain bagel, raisins, jelly beans, etc.) can be very effective during competition or practice.
If a player has a very high sweating rate (e.g., > 2 liters per hour), it may be impossible to avoid a progressive fluid deficit. However, most older adolescents and adults can comfortably drink up to 48 ounces (~1.4 liters) per hour, which can match sweating rates (and thus prevent significant fluid deficits) for most people. Again, if a player is prone to heat cramps, a little salt can be added to their on-court sport drink (about ¼ tsp. per 32 ounces).
Coutesy of wwwplayerdevelopment.usta.com
Can lower resting heart rate and blood pressure
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Lowers body fat & burns calories
You can play it FOREVER! It is for all ages
Great way to meet friends
Can be competitive or fun or both
It is good for your body and your MIND
Just need one other person to play
Has a level for EVERYONE
And much, much more!
Increases aerobic and anaerobic health
Helps social skills
Good cross-training for other sports
Improves brain power
Makes your heart healthier
Why is Tennis
Good for your Health?
Helps reduce stress
Helps with self-esteem, mood, & anxiety
reasons why tennis is the best sport
Increases bone density
Improves muscle tone, strength, and flexibility
Before I get started, let me just say that I hit the lottery when it comes to parents. They gave me every opportunity in life to be happy, and to lead a productive life. They sacrificed, encouraged and took the time to discipline me and love me. As a parent of two children myself, I now have an obvious appreciation as to how challenging it can be to navigate the parenting process which is fraught with missteps. Fortunately, I had two great role models in my parents, and view my role as a parent as the most important task I will be ever faced with during my short time on this planet.
Like many parents trying to help their children pursue their passions and dreams, my parents had no education, experience or background in the hobby I wanted to pursue at a high level, which for me was tennis. Despite all the things they got right, they got just as many wrong. This is not meant to be an indictment on my parents, quite the opposite in fact. This is simply an objective view of the process I went through as a high performing young athlete, and what I believe impacted me positively and negatively as a tennis player. I have learned a great deal from them as to the things I should do, and not do, as I try to encourage and support my children in the interests they want to pursue. I write this in the hope that it can have some tiny influence on tennis parents, and the actions they take to help support their children.
SOME THINGS THEY THEY GOT RIGHT
INDEPENDENCE: my parents were strict but had very few rules. They held me to high standards and trusted me to make sound decisions which in turn allowed me to fail and figure things out for myself. When I started to get very serious about tennis at the age of 11/12 it was on me to get myself to a lot of my practices and matches. I would take the bus, train, walk, run, bike. When they did drop me off to practices they did not hang around to watch every move I made, critique the coach or give feedback on the process. This was my time for myself to pursue what I wanted, they did not make these situations about them in anyway. They had a life away from my tennis and would come to my matches when it was convenient to them. I never questioned their love for me because they did not attend every match or practice.
DISCIPLINE: I always had jobs to do around the house or in the garden. I learned at a young age how to work hard at menial tasks. I never wanted to do these jobs, but I was not given a choice! Learning this discipline at an early age helped me in my pursuit of high performance tennis and continues to serve me well to this day.
ROLE MODELS: they not only taught me the meaning of hard work, they worked hard themselves and held themselves to a high standard. They were not sitting back while I was working hard. They were paving the way and modelling the actions I should be taking. They explored a lot of interests themselves and supported my passion in a number of different ways whether they knew it or not.
SOME THINGS THEY GOT WRONG
WINNING ABOVE DEVELOPMENT: my parents did not understand the need to focus on long term tennis development over short-term wins. When I first started to receive some private coaching, the first thing the coach changed was my serving grip, from a western (frying pan grip) to a continental grip. In competition this would lead to a lot of double faults. My mother would encourage me to just to tap it in (Happy Gilmore style), “just tap it in, just tap it in…”. She did not understand that for me to develop as a tennis player I would have to suffer through a lot of double faults and some losses as I learned a new technique and grip. This is a simple example, but it leads to confusion and stagnation as I was torn between making the necessary improvements for the long term, versus winning NOW to please my parents.
PARENTS: There should not be any confusion for a young tennis player about whether they should put winning ahead of long term tennis development. Players have to be allowed and encouraged to pursue the development process, and that losing tennis matches to those you expect them to beat will be part of this process. Players need to be able to test out their technical changes in tournament play without concern of how mistakes or a loss will impact their parents emotional state.
VISIBLE REACTIONS: there is nothing worse as a young tennis player to catch a glance of your parents shaking their heads in disgust after you miss an “easy” shot or lose an important point. Tennis is a very difficult sport and you see the best players in the world miss “easy” shots, lose commanding leads and lack composure at times. To have some expectation that your child should not fall into the same categories is in my opinion, ludicrous! Like I mentioned earlier, my parents did not come to all my matches but when they did their reactions to these scenarios did not help me in anyway, and only led to me
parenting for dummies By David Mullins, www.davemullinstennis.com
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questioning my own decision making on the court and become even more outcome focused. This thinking would then lead to me playing a more conservative game style or maybe even tanking/making excuses to protect my ego and their ego in the process. It is much easier to say that I lost because I did not try, or I was sick/hurt then to say the other player was actually better than me!
PARENTS: If you are watching your child play tennis, remain stoic at all times. I hear parents say sometimes that it is harder to watch than play! I assure you, it isn’t. Don’t justify your actions by saying that you are just as nervous or that you just want them to do well. No, you want them to win, and maybe even win at all costs. You may ignore some bad behavior, cheating, or some other questionable actions so that they get over the finish line in first place. You may even think that the world is against yourself and your child if the referee or umpire makes a decision you don’t agree with, but would you have agreed with their decision if it had happened to the opponent? I am familiar with this “lack of control” feeling as a parent and a college coach, but at the end of the day we are the adults, with the life experience to know better. If your “nerves” can’t handle the moment, then you need to question why you are feeling this strongly about this particular event. There will be more tennis matches and there will be far more important trials and tribulations your children will endure. If you can’t remain stoic, then walk away and let your child play for themselves and not to please you.
THREATS: If I lost a match to someone I supposedly should not have lost to, or behaved poorly on the court, I would quickly be reminded of the financial costs or sacrifices made for my tennis. I think my parents believed they were motivating me in some way, but I did not need motivation, I was very self-motivated. I simply lost a match or acted my age in a situation because I did not have the mental skills to deal with it in any other way. Being reminded of these sacrifices led to feelings of guilt and the questioning of my own abilities. I worried about what opportunities or securities I was costing my family and if it was all worth it. Obviously, my parents did not understand the negative impacts this was having on me and would not have done so if they did understand how it would affect my thinking.
PARENTS: If you are supporting your kid’s tennis do not expect anything in return. Don’t expect your child to love you more or say thank you all the time or win more tennis matches because of the sacrifices YOU are CHOOSING to make. Do it because you want to do it regardless of the short or long-term outcomes. If you need to remind your children of everything you are doing for them, and what you are giving up, so they can pursue their tennis, then stop supporting them in these ways. If it is putting a burden on your finances or more importantly your relationship with your children, then it is not worth it. Go back to the drawing board and see how you can make it work without everyone in the family feeling a huge amount of pressure. Your children will still love you regardless of how many tennis rackets they own or what tournament they could not go play. They may not understand it in the moment, but they will eventually, especially if it is communicated to them in a rational, loving way.
MIXED SIGNALS: I can’t be the greatest thing since slice bread when I win a tournament and then the worst person in the world when I don’t. My mother loved to tell everyone how great I was at tennis, how I was going to be a future star etc. Firstly, this obviously is extremely embarrassing for a teenage boy, but secondly it puts undue pressure on a child. This can lead to a feeling of having to be perfect at all times, and trying to live up to the tennis player my mother is telling everyone that I am. Yes, in her world I was a superstar tennis player but internationally I was just another good little tennis player that loved to play tennis. I was far from a child Phenom!!
PARENTS: People will take you far more seriously if you are aware of your child’s strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a tennis player. Telling family, friends, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker about how good your child is at tennis, in front of them, does nothing to help them. Maybe you feel like it is improving their self-esteem or some other misguided assumption, but in most cases, it is only increasing the pressure they already feel on their young shoulders. It is not exactly preparing them for the real world, unless they have the mental skills and work ethic behind them to utilize that praise in a productive manner. Plus, the guy packing your groceries could care less about your child’s latest medal winning performance! Be consistent with your praise and criticism, focus on a few core values that you would like to instil in your child, and don’t let wins or losses influence the life lessons you hope your children will learn through their athletic endeavours.
As parents, we need to understand what we do not know. Just because we competed in high school sports or play some tennis at the local club does not mean we know what is best. There is so much information out there as to what the best practices are to helping raise a high performing young athlete, yet I still see parents making the same mistakes over and over and over again. We are all constantly making mistakes as parents but many of these mistakes can be avoided. As your children go on this journey, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about which parenting skills are most effective for helping high performance tennis players. This is effortful and will take some time and work on your behalf, but I assure you it will go a really long way to helping your child develop in all the ways you hope they will.
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Advice to Parents of Young Players
Consistency in coaching is essential. Avoiding going from one coach to another keeps the process and development going. There has to be trust amongst the team – player, coach and parent all have to be on the same page. Changing coaches is like restarting the process. Coaches have different styles, systems and philosophies. Your job is to find one that best fits your child.
Try any program for about a week before you commit to that program. Do research! Be sure there is a plan when you start. A developmental plan, two areas of focus and a tournament schedule is essential in the planning. The two areas of focus are to be evaluated every two months and then replaced if they have been achieved.
Be supportive and patient with the coach. If you have issues with him or her, discuss them without the child present. Understand where the coach is coming from and why he is doing things a certain way. Give the coach a chance.
Parents who are the coaches need to be patient and should not get so consumed that the child only lives, sleeps and eats tennis. Seek help in areas where you might feel you are weak in your knowledge or expertise. I coached my son until he was 15. At 15, I wanted to be his father and not his coach. My role was to give him advice and support when he was training under a new coach. His job was to learn to make decisions and be responsible and accountable for his tennis. Good tennis players are independent thinkers. He now asks, “Why did you not make me do this or that?” My answer is, “I gave you choices; you made the decisions.”
Tennis has to be left at the club or courts, not brought home every day. At home, let them have a normal life. They need friends. They need to develop their social skills. They need to build good character. They need to be good students in school. Provide a balance of tennis, a social life and academics. Remember, 99 percent of all players go to COLLEGE!!!! In the process, be sure you do not try to skip steps or cut corners. There are no shortcuts!!!! It takes time! It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication by you and them. Set goals and keep the training fresh to keep them engaged and to prevent burnout.
A few things to keep in mind:
Kids do not always need to practice with someone better. They do not always need to play up in age groups. The ratio of practice should be 25-50-25, meaning 25 percent with weaker players, 50 percent with players of their own ability and 25 percent with players better than them. Does Roger Federer practice with someone better than him all the time? No! He practices with young pros, juniors or college players!!!!!! And 50 percent of the time, they need to experience the pressure of playing with and against their own peers.
When choosing to play up, they need to have a 65 percent winning record or better in their age group to justify it. Keeping track of match counts is very important. We do not want them playing 130 matches a year at 12, 13 or 14! It is not the number of tournaments but the match count that matters! Burnout and injuries will occur if you overplay them.
One area that we tend to neglect in their training is off-season breaks. Pros take 4-6 weeks at the end of each year to set a fitness base and improve on specific areas. They will follow up with a couple of weeks off before the clay season and a couple of weeks off after Wimbledon. They build in regeneration, fitness, cleaning their games out to be sharp, fit and healthy. In the junior schedule, we could build this in after Winter Nationals, after Easter Bowl and finally after Hard Courts.
The pros in the off season at the end of the year do not touch their racquets for a couple of weeks. They focus on physical fitness and mental conditioning. Then comes the tennis. Our ‘99s recently did a six-week-off season where they did not play tennis for two weeks. Jez Green, who was Andy Murray’s fitness coach, supervised the six weeks. His comment was that our juniors are 16-18 months behind in fitness than the Europeans. Why? Because we do not do this! We have to play, play, play! We are very short-minded and short-sighted!
Give them responsibility and accountability in their game and preparation. Let them get their tennis bag organized. Let them get their own water, bars and snacks. Let them carry their own tennis bag! We want to facilitate, not incapacitate. Remember, they have to be able to be independent thinkers. They have to be able to take care of themselves out there. They have to learn to survive in the heat of battle. They have to learn to compete and love it. Doing minor tasks builds their confidence and self-esteem.
Lastly, be supportive. We tend to forget that they are the ones competing. We forget what it is like to compete. It is the team that gets them prepared, and they are the ones who are playing and competing. We are not playing! We are part of their support group.
When they play, we tend to get too emotionally involved. Stay calm and control your emotions. I got too nervous watching my son. My wife was the one who went to tournaments with him. As I used to tell my wife, figure it out. I can sit through a Grand Slam final and not get nervous but cannot stay calm watching him! They will react to you and how you react! They will feel your emotions and nervousness. Stay level-headed and even keel! Show them support, winning or losing.
It is easy to criticize from outside. Things are crystal clear when you are outside the ropes. Being in the heat of battle clouds your reasoning and how you perceive things. After matches, give them time to settle down, and yourself, too, before you start discussing the match. Ask questions. Point out things that they did well and things that they need to work on in future matches. Do not be just negative! Give them positive feedback! Let them give you their perspective of what happened out there. They have to be aware of what happened and how they can control that the next time. Win or lose, love them for who they are – your child!
Like building a house, we need a good foundation. You build the outside of the house, followed by the inside. It takes time to build a house. It takes a long time to develop a tennis player. Good luck with the journey!
Courtesy of www.usta.com
By Andy Brandi
By David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional
Every week I receive a volume of calls from new tennis parents requesting information on how our junior system works or what is the best path their child should take. Being a tennis coach and parent, I have picked up a few tips that might help your journey with your tennis champion.
Selecting a Competent Coach
You need to select a coach that not only can teach the technical and tactical parts of the game, but one that understands the junior pathway within USTA, ITF and ITA. Can your coach answer the question, what circuit your child should play? Is your coach making sure your champion is training with the correct ball color and racket size?
Stick with your coach. Don't fall into the trap that it is "greener on the other side." Jack Sock is a great example. Currently he is our best American on the ATP tour. He stuck with one coach throughout his entire junior circuit. Jumping from one coach to another, can often do more harm than can be helpful. Changing coaches is like starting over. So, do your research, find someone that fits your child's personality and stick with them.
Understand the Junior Tennis Pathway
I strongly believe it is the responsibility of the coach to educate you and your child on the junior pathway in the area you reside. However, it is a good idea that you stay up with the current rules and regulations within USTA so you can make wise decisions on what tournaments best fit your child's playing level. Everything you need to know is on www.usta.com, but you can always reach out to your USTA junior competition coordinator for guidance.
Visit www.universaltennis.com and become familiar with the UTR rating system. This rating system is more important than ever now that collegiate coaches all across the country are using this system as a way in evaluating a player and whether they fit into their program. Certain USTA sections and districts are also using UTR as a vehicle within their junior system. Oklahoma uses UTR for their seeding criteria while sections like NorCal uses UTR to group players into draws. UTR is no longer the future of tennis, it is here, and in my opinion, here to stay.
Play Junior Team Tennis and School Tennis
Some of my best tennis years were when I played collegiate tennis. I loved the team atmosphere. I'm not alone in this thinking. Unfortunately there is a trend within junior tennis that top players are not playing high school tennis because parents believe it is a waste of time or it perhaps takes away from their training. Team tennis provides an alternative to the traditional tournament environment where players can hang with their friends in a non-stressful atmosphere.
The only time I would ever endorse players not playing high school tennis is if the high school doesn't allow players to train with their personal coach during the high school season. Sometimes this rule is within the specific high school the player attends or the entire governing body of the state. These are stupid rules that does a dis-justice to the student-athlete.
Competing in Your Backyard
Don't waste your money on traveling to tournaments out of state until your child can beat the majority of players in your own city and state. Unfortunately you will find a lot of parents that travel outside the state trying to chase points when they can't even beat players that live across the street. Take your time and save your money, there is no rush!
Enjoy the Journey
Enjoy this tennis journey with your child as it will fly by! I remember speaking to a tennis parent who had two highly nationally ranked players, telling me taking their kids to tournaments were some of the best family memories during their childhood. Embrace this time of your child's life because before you know it, poof!, it will be gone and they will be off to college.
David Minihan can be reached at email@example.com
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One rule when I was growing up was that the second you left the tennis court and exited the tennis facility, there was no talking about tennis. I can understand that a family may sit down and watch a tennis match on television, but to speak about your son or daughter’s tennis practice or tournament match outside the tennis facility is danger for the child. You may ask yourself, why?
To bombard your child with so much information on a regular basis, whether it is good information or not, is like playing with fire. The junior player never gets separation from the sport and getting tired or burned out is becoming more prevalent. Keep in mind that teenagers today could be spending more hours on the court then the players did in my generation due to home schooling opportunities. In addition, junior players today could be spending more time with their parents due to home schooling opportunities. In society today, a couple of clicks of a button and there is so much information at your fingertips. There are so many ways to hit a forehand or backhand from so many different so-called master teaching tennis professionals on the internet. I can personally tell you that many times I cannot even figure out what the pro is trying to teach. It confuses me. So if it confuses me, I can only imagine what it does to your son or daughter, if it is discussion outside of the tennis court.
Time outside of the court is exactly what it is. It is to speak about other things other than tennis. The topic or discussion at the dinner table should not be about rankings or ratings, tennis strokes, or how this one or that one did in their last tournament. I have had some of the best amateurs in this country living with my family and I over the past several years, and I have tried not to speak about tennis inside my house unless we are watching a tennis match on television. These students hear my voice on the court 4, 5 or 6 hours a day. They do not need to hear my voice for more hours inside the house. Fortunately, I have not had to deal with a student burning out or a student losing the love for the game of tennis. As I have said many times, if you want the most out of your students, it comes down to much more than groups and lessons at the high performance level of tennis. Educating everyone involved in a child’s tennis development and their overall development as a human being is crucial, so that mistakes are minimized and most importantly, so that you can get a great amount of joy and personal growth out of the great game of tennis.
By Todd Widom
No Tennis Talk Outside The Courts
The role of parents in junior tennis is an important component of player development, and coaches frequently find themselves searching for the best way to interact with parents and educate them about their role in the development of elite level tennis players. Visit USTA's Player Development Role of Parents in Junior Tennis for more parent resources.
Teaching Good Sportsmanship -
The Responsibility Falls on Parents
By Rodney O'Dell, USPTA & Oklahoma Junior Tennis Parent
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Alex was excited about getting to play in his first 12 and under tennis tournament. He had worked hard to make it through the challenger circuit and was excited to be among the champs. During his first match he called a close shot out. His opponent angrily questioned the call, yelled at him and called him a cheater. As the match progressed, the opponent’s parents began clapping every time Alex would make a bad shot, trying to mentally break him down. Alex lost the match and approached the net to shake hands, only to have his opponent slap his hand away and say, “Loser.” Alex never played in another tennis tournament and ended up giving up the sport, all because of the bad sportsmanship of a child and his parents. It’s shocking to witness a parent display bad sportsmanship but what is even more shocking is the number of parents who sit back and do nothing when their child is displaying bad sportsmanship. A few examples of bad sportsmanship include throwing rackets in frustration, yelling at the opponent/umpire, calling opponent names, refusing to shake hands, negative gestures or blasting balls over the fence or onto another court in anger. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior!
Parents, you need to take the initiative in teaching and being examples of good sportsmanship. You should not be able to tell whether your child is winning or losing according to their body language or actions. No trophy, no points, no ranking, nothing should be more important than teaching your child good sportsmanship, how to treat others with respect and how to overcome challenging situations with grace and dignity. These are the life lessons and reputation they will carry for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, sometimes it’s not the competitors but the parents, coaches and fans displaying bad sportsmanship, such as yelling negative comments or cheering/clapping when the opponent makes an error. Adults need to realize that young athletes are looking up to them and learning what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. These young athletes will mirror the actions of the adults in their lives. Therefore, what they should be witnessing are adults who are in control of their emotions, mouths and actions.
Many thanks goes out to USTA Oklahoma, tournament directors and volunteers in regards to their repeated attempts at trying to assure good sportsmanship at tournaments. An e-mail is sent out to parents prior to a tournament with information and a video to watch regarding how they and their child are expected to conduct themselves during the tournament. In addition, umpires and court monitors are present at some tournaments to assist with recognizing and correcting any bad sportsmanship. So a big THANK YOU to them. However, parents, this does not free you from your responsibility of teaching your child good sportsmanship, nor does it shift the role of correcting your child’s behavior to others. As a parent, YOU are responsible for teaching your child good sportsmanship, not your child’s coach, doubles partner, tournament director, umpire…none of them. The responsibility is yours! There should never be a child like Alex, who walks away from the game due to bad sportsmanship. It’s time to take on that responsibility and help USTA Oklahoma, tournament directors, volunteers, competitors and fans enjoy going to tournaments and value sportsmanship over winning.
EMAIL SENT TO PLAYERS PARENTS OCTOBER 11, 2019
I wanted to share an article that I wrote in 2017 that was published in The Baseliner magazine. We are often asked about low compression balls and why we train on a smaller court. The answer is short and sweet...It will accelerate your players mechanical development. The knee jerk reaction with a lot of parents is that racing to the yellow ball will improve their child's game quicker. This cannot be any further from the truth! Studies are showing that children that graduated all ball colors have more successful tournament results compared to those that did not train with low compression balls. A great example of this is Gracie Epps who is mentioned in the article. She graduated all ball colors and now is top 50 in the country in Girls 18s. Here is a quote from her mother in a recent article published by USTA...
USTA.com: You know better than most about the Red-Orange-Green-Yellow ball progression for youth tennis. What do you make of that innovation? Summer Epps: "So first, honestly, I was against it because I think I didn’t like someone telling me what to do with my kids. But as I watched the strokes develop, it has been amazing. It is so great to watch my 9-year-olds in these long 30-ball rallies on orange ball, green ball, which I know wouldn’t happen on the yellow ball. It’s really been the best thing for tennis, to teach kids the mechanics and to teach them how to play tennis without being so frustrated."
Remember, tennis is a journey, not a race.
Please feel free to email us any questions you might have.
David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional
Director of Tennis
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A few months ago I had parent call me pretty upset about receiving a letter from me informing their child they completed the orange ball mission and is now able to begin playing with green ball. Confused by why she was upset, I asked her to explain a little more in detail. Come to find out, she was given bad information that once he had completed the orange ball mission, he was now forced to play green ball. Of course this couldn't be any further from the truth. I told her, this was the best complaint I have ever received. This mother was concerned about pushing her son into green when he wasn't ready. This was music to my ears.
The number one complaint I receive from a 10 and under parent is that their child is way to good for orange or green and should be playing yellow. Don't get me wrong, there are players that are the exception. BUT not very many of them. In my experience, I have only seen a couple of players that had the ability to accelerate through low compression faster than the norm.
I have told this story many times, but will tell it again. Jose Higueras came to view one of our 10-11 age group Regional Tennis Camps in Overland Park, KS about six years ago. These were our sections best players in that age group. Higueras was scheduled to speak to all the parents for a brief period. The parents were excited to hear him speak. Keep in mind, Jose has coached some of they greatest tennis players of all time including Roger Federer and Pete Sampres. Jose walks into the room, everyone is quite. I hear one parent whisper to his wife, I'm going to get his autograph when he is done. Jose gets in front of the parents and with his thick Spanish accent speaks his first words, "Your kids have problems." Immediately the room went from excited to hear him speak to "How dare you say that about my kid." Jose went on to talk about how American tennis is behind the rest of the tennis-world because we don't use low compression balls and that we need to train our champions on clay courts. The point he was making, slow the game down and make sure the ball is in the hitting zone, not above the players head.
I am proud to say, Oklahoma and our section is one of the leaders in the US when it comes to 10 and Under tennis. USTA launched a national tracking system called Youth Progression (YP) at the beginning of 2016. This was an easy transition for our section as we already had something very similar in place for two years previous to the launch of YP.
So, what is Youth Progression? YP is for players 10 and under and follows the same logic as other youth sports like baseball or soccer, which use kid-sized equipment. Courts are smaller and easier to cover. Balls bounce slower and lower. Racquet's are easier to grip and swing and shorter scoring system equates to more matches.
To graduate from orange, a player needs to achieve 20 virtual stars and/or trophies. Once they complete this mission, they are now eligible to play green ball. The same rule applies to move to yellow. Once 20 stars/trophies has been accomplished in green, the player now may begin playing 12 and under challengers (green ball) and/or 12 and under champs (yellow ball). However, anyone that completes the missions may stay in that particular ball color. For example, a player that completes their mission in orange does not have to play green, they can stay in orange or play both colors.
My advice, don't rush. Your champion is only 10 or younger. There is zero reason to race to the yellow ball. We have seen players that have graduated Youth Progression are far more advanced than the players who does not have low compression ball experience. A great example of this is Gracie Epps, Oklahoma Girls 12 Champ player. Gracie competed and trained in orange and green and now is a top 5 sectional player and has reached #16 in the country in Girls 12s. She didn't rush, but rather played with the proper ball color which in turn has benefited her game immensely.
Click here on more information on Youth Progression.
Click here for 2017 Smasher tournament schedule.
You can reach David Minihan at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have about Youth Progression.
Youth progression, guiding
10 and under players one ball color at a time
By David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional
USTA Oklahoma executive director