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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coaches Q and A: Should I Play Futures and if so, When?

After a three-month hiatus, Coaches Q and A is back.

Andy Brandi, who coached at the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is now a USTA National coach, so Harold will be doing most of the heavy-lifting going forward. Take advantage of the opportunity to have one of best American players of his generation and one of the nation's most respected coaches answer your questions about junior tennis and player development.

Today's question: Is there an appropriate age for juniors to begin playing Futures and Pro Circuit events?

Harold Solomon responds:

There isn't a specific age that I would recommend for juniors to compete in futures tournaments. If juniors have played well in national events and then gone on to have some success in ITF tournaments, especially at the top levels, then playing Futures events can be a good idea.

It's important for the player to be sufficiently physically developed so that playing against bigger stronger players doesn't cause injuries. For juniors who have had success in ITF events, playing some future events can be important as an indication of where they stand. It is still much easier for women who mature earlier to have success at a younger age in futures events and at the tour level.

I would shy away from requesting too many wild cards into the main draws. Use wild cards occasionally as a barometer for your level of play but the track record of former players who have virtually lived on wild cards at these and higher events is not very good. It's important to go through the growing pains of working your way up the ladder and feeling like you belong at a certain level because you earned it and have done the mental, physical, and technical development necessary to become successful.

Do you have a question for Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.