In this month's topic, coach Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida explores the benefits of international play for juniors.
Q: How important is it to play international competition during the development years?
A: We think that international play should be part of successful junior developmental plan. By successful, we mean junior players who have elevated themselves from top sectional players to elite national junior players.
It has always been our thinking that before juniors start to exclusively play up or play only international events, they should be among the handful of dominate players in their age groups.
There is a lot to be gained by getting to play international junior tennis. In the past, the best players came from the States, now the baton has been passed and the best players in the world are predominately in Europe and South America. If American juniors want to know if they are behind or ahead of the world's juniors, then international competition will give them a good idea of where they stand and what they have left to work on in their games.
Playing on different surfaces such as red clay and grass can give juniors invaluable experience if and when they become good enough to entertain professional careers. The red clay of Europe and South America is far different from American clay and requires players to develop different shots and styles to be successful. We also think it is valuable for players who will eventually become professionals to have the experience of playing at some of the world's great tournament sites so that by the time they play at those sites as professionals they are less overwhelmed by the experience.
We think that the whole experience of traveling overseas, getting used to foreign languages, different cultures, different foods, different players and playing conditions are an important part of an elite player developmental plan.
Do you have a question for Andy Brandi or Harold Solomon? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010