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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Junior Coaching Carousel; Weinhold Wins in Rancho Mirage; Falconi Falls in Midland; Kutrovsky Spotlight

The Tennis Mom has a new guest post up, with longtime coach Steve Smith addressing the question of why so many juniors frequently change coaches. Although I think Smith could have boiled down his very long answer to a more effective 1000 words, he touches on several crucial issues about the triangle of parent, coach and young player.

Coach swapping becomes like musical chairs. It is a merry-go-round. The parent, based on various day-to-day circumstances, can only go so far down the road to find a new coach. It is unlikely the parent goes on a national search for another coach. The next coach is right around the corner. The grass is not usually any greener on the other side. But parents and players seek out someone who will tell them what they want to hear and give them what they want. When the new coach does not work out, if they live in a densely populated area, the parent can easily find another coach.
Ours is not a society well-versed in "making do." We want the best, and we want it now, and we are optimistic that it's possible. That's not necessarily a bad cultural trait, optimism, but it must be based in reality. Tennis is hard, mastery takes thousands of hours, and even the best coach can only direct, he or she cannot create. Please feel free to comment here(please use a name when you do so) or on The Tennis Mom blog.

2010 ITA Player of the Year Irina Falconi was beaten in the Dow Corning Tennis Classic final today in Midland, Michigan. 2009 champion Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic won the title 6-4, 6-4, breaking serve once in each set and not facing a break point on her serve. Jamie Hampton and Anna Tatishvili won the doubles championship when Falconi and Alison Riske were unable to compete due to Riske's fever. Falconi's next tournaments will be the WTA events in Acapulco and Monterrey later this month. For Josh Rey's account of the Midland final, see this post at Tennis Panorama.

Ashley Weinhold, who won the USTA girls 18s National championship in 2007, captured the $25,000 Pro Circuit singles title in Rancho Mirage, beating No. 5 seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. It the first professional singles title for the 21-year-old since 2006, when she won a $10,000 event in her home state of Texas. For more on her comeback win, see this release from the tournament.

Complete draws can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com. The first round qualifying results from the $25,000 tournament in Surprize, Ariz. are also available there.

Today in Memphis, wild card Beatrice Capra lost to Alexa Glatch in the first round of the Cellular South Cup 6-2, 6-0. Wild cards Catherine Harrison and Ajla Tomljanovic will play Monday. For the complete order of play, see the tournament website.

Former University of Illinois All-American Kevin Anderson also plays Monday, taking on qualifier Robert Kendrick, who also developed his game in college, at Washington and Pepperdine. Anderson's alma mater had a big win last night, defeating No. 7 Florida 4-3, with the match coming down to No. 1 singles. For more on that match see fightingillini.com.

I hope you have bookmarked Challenger Tennis to stay up-to-date on Futures and Challenger action around the world. He also does player spotlights, with his most recent an interview with former Texas All-American Dimitar Kutrovsky.


watched many said...

so to summarize, the reason so many people change tennis pros is because generally most are poorly trained, with little knowledge or insight, and they are simply overcharging customers and do not understand the young athlete or the game and have only a single minded purpose which is to seperate parents from their money.

they have no formal training or any qualification standards of significance.

But just ask almost all of them and they will tell you they know everything (except of course why they failed at their dream of being the best) unless they give the standard reason that they got injured and that's why they did not finish college

Jin from PBG said...

watched many, you left out the part where parents have unrealistic expectation and/or blame the coach for their kids laziness. And the part about parents and kids wanting instant gratification.

There are bad coached AND bad tennis kids and parents.

watched many said...


you are correct.
the parent's ignorance is real and widespread. it is one reason the coaches can be so "successful"

A fool and his money are soon parted.

But, it is unfortunate that so-called "professionals" can pull such a scam as I expect more of those who use that term. USTA and pointless ranking system for children is also what makes it all work so poorly

Jon from PBG said...

watched many....I agree 100%. The USTA ranking for little kids is silly. They bunt the ball back and forth to collect ranking points and most times the highest ranked kids in the lower ages are long gone by the 18s when it starts to matter.

But that is a great piece by Mr. Smith.

By the way, I mistyped my name the first time, its Jon!

Rigo said...

I agree, the article could have been condensed. However, I thought it was excellent. I’ve played tennis for 25 years in the NorCal section. I had to laugh about the part where he mentioned the “parasite” coaches. They’re everywhere, especially at the nicer public courts. They advertise by the dozens on craigslist!
Ultimately, I believe the parents have to be held responsible for the quality of coaching they receive. The most important point in my view is that tennis must be seen as a marathon. If a junior wants to be an excellent player then he/she has to put in the time and pay the price with hard work. There is no short cut at all in this sport. A coach can't do the work for the player, no matter how famous the coach is, or how much success he/she has had with past players. I spar with a few local kids, some of them pay between $80 and $100 dlls an hour for private lessons with their coaches but then don’t do any work outside of their private lessons. They’re only interested in playing points and bashing the ball mindlessly during baseline points. If I ever bring up doing drills to work on their weaker shots they roll their eyes and aren’t interested. Big mistake.

watched many said...


you are correct but it goes deeper.

the "hard work" is not simply the drilling. The part the parents do not get is that the hard work and sacrifice actually involves losing matches and giving up meaningless ranking points as a player tries to master the game in competition.

For exampls those who truly learn a kick serve will double fault many times in many matches to get there.

Those who wiwh to learn a real backhand will lose many matches as a youth while others run around and hit only forehands (until the ball gets faster) and the dedicated athletes hit backhands and lose matches.

I could go on but most parents and coaches don't get it. getting youth ranking points is almost the opposite of developing an adult game

watched many

Rigo said...

watched many, I agree with you. The story I always think of is the one pertaining to Pete Sampras who switched from a two-handed backhand to the one-hander fairly late in his development (15 or 16 years old). He lost a lot of junior matches but in the long haul it was obviously an excellent choice. Many parents would have questioned Fischer's (Pete's coach at the time) choice to switch backhands and perhaps fired him once the kid started losing matches. There's a lack of patience and ability to look in the long term in the development of many kids.


Texastennismom said...

I liked this analysis.
From a parents' point of view...
* Absolutely when our daughter started playing tennis, we sort of slipped into it as she was a totally beginner, just an all round very good athlete who liked all ball sports. Went to tennis camp for a couple of weeks in the summer. The tennis coach identified her immediately and encouraged her and us to put her in the regular program. As she progressed, we stayed with it without ever really asking too many questions and when we did ask questions, not getting a very satisfactory response:-)
* We were forced to make a change by a crisis at that center, and it was the best thing that ever happened. As we looked around, we were astonished - since we are usually very careful consumers - at how we'd slipped into spending large amount of $$ without any comparison shopping. Moved to a far far better situation and only wish we had moved her earlier.
* But don't blame the parents. Coaches need to communicate better, more honestly & realistically, and to do a better job with bringing the kids along. In our area, there are far too many "academies" charging high $$ for a very limited pool of kids, talent and parent financial resources-wise. That's not a viable business model so....

nocomment said...

to all of you who have slammed parents involvement in thier kids tennis development. Here's a recent quote from Raonic on the ATP site:

How did it feel having your Dad there with you to take in your first title?
It was amazing. He was there from the beginning when nobody really wanted to coach me. He was there putting the balls in the ball machine and doing all that kind of stuff. It’s amazing to just have family there, but for me being able to see that joy on his face was an amazing feeling.

coach said...


noone slammed parent's involvement-which is necessary. just criticism of widespread ignorance and lack of understanding of the real issues by many, including parents and coaches.

unfortunaately i think you just demonstrated that.


nocomment said...

To coach

Respectfully disagree. Parents, or should I say most parents, know more than anyone else what is in the best interest of their child. Coaches have to make a living and often have to be more concerned with how they will make a living than giving an upcoming junior the time and unrequited emotional support they need to navigate the ups and downs of junior tennis.