Monday, April 27, 2020

Recap of USTA Webinar on Tennis Parenting, Featuring McNally Family; ITA Announces Online College Tennis Panel Next Monday

The topic of today's weekly USTA Player Development Learning Series webinar was entitled "The Role Parents Play in their Children's Tennis Experience." In addition to moderator Johnny Parkes, the webinar featured Director of Coaching Education and Sports Science Paul Lubbers, Mental Skills Specialist Larry Lauer, USTA National Coach Lori Riffice and Lynn, Caty and John McNally.

Dr. Lubbers spoke about the importance of a development plan that puts the parents, the coach and the player on the same page and working toward the same goals.

Dr. Lauer provided strategies for finding the right amount of parental push; enough to teach the importance of commitment and persistence, while not so much that pressure for results obscures the reason the child took up the game in the first place.

One of the reference materials from the webinar, "Sport Parent “Do’s and Don’ts” can be accessed here.
Riffice took over from Parkes to conduct the McNally interview, which featured a discussion on how Lynn McNally balanced being a full-time coach at a private club, while still coaching her children and being a parent. Riffice, who also coached her son Sam, now at the University of Florida, knows all the benefits and drawbacks of a relationship that requires two different mindsets. Both Riffice and McNally agreed that practice quality is much more important that quantity.

The choice between college and professional tennis is never an easy one, and Lynn McNally said that she discouraged the agents that began showing an interest in Caty in her early teens, with Caty not signing a professional contract until last March, when she was 17 and had already won a $100,000 tournament.

"I know that Alex [Sohaili, Caty's agent] and Octagon would probably tell you that I waited a long time, but I felt I waited until the right time, that it was the best decision for Caty," Lynn McNally said. "For John, going to college right now, the men's and women's games are very different and so to put yourself in a viable position for your future, no matter what it is, is highly important to me and my entire family."

"Like my mom said earlier, once you make that decision to turn pro, there's no going back," Caty said. "I could get a full scholarship anywhere to play tennis, so that takes a lot off my parents' backs money-wise. I was being recruited by Octagon when I was 12, 13 years old and I wanted it, but my parents were always like no, Caty, you need to wait; it's not a good time. I didn't really understand that, so I think I kind of got annoyed at that, but looking back at that now, I'm super grateful that I....waited, because I was mentally more prepared for it, everything that comes with it."

For John, the decision was less complicated.

"I think for me it was a little bit different," John said. "I think, quite honestly, I wasn't good enough to go pro at 18. It would have been a very bad mistake. Sam [Riffice] and I grew up playing the same tournaments and our age group was tough. It was Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Alex De Minaur, Alejandro Fokina Davidovich, all these guys that are Top 100. Coming out of the juniors, I think I got to as high as 13 in the world in the ITFs, but it was never really an option for me to go pro, because I would never do that to my family financially--go play Futures, that's what I would have had to play, qualies in Futures, just go waste money...For me, as an 18-year-old guy, I wasn't the strongest, I wasn't the fastest, I didn't have a 130 mph serve, I wasn't a circus freak, so college was a no-brainer for me. Did it hurt the ego? Yeah, a little bit that some guys my age were going pro and I wasn't. But at the end of the day, you just have to suck it up and I thought the best decision was to go to college and try to get an education."

The complete webinar will be available on demand at the USTA PD Learning Series page, which is also where registration for future webinars is found. Next week's webinar, at 3 p.m. Eastern, is entitled Building a Junior Program, with Kent Kinnear, Parkes, Tracy Lawson and Vesa Ponkka.

The latest issue of the USTA High Performance Coaching News also came out recently and can be found here.

The ITA announced an online panel of coaches with ITA CEO Tim Russell as the moderator, with the panel entitled Eligibility, Recruiting and the Future of College Tennis. The following coaches are expected on the Zoom call:

Division I Women – Claire Pollard (Northwestern)
Division I Men – David Roditi (TCU)
Division II – Lauren Conching (Hawaii Pacific)
Division III – Pam Rende (Arcadia)
NAIA – Chase Hodges (Georgia Gwinnett)
Junior College – Dash Connell (Tyler Junior College)

I would like to listen in on this, but unfortunately, it is scheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. Eastern, the exact same time as the USTA's Learning Series webinar. Registration is available here.


Texas Tennis Insider said...

That webinar got me to thinking of how many people involved in it would even be able to make a living in tennis in the future. USTA is going to have huge cuts in staffing and players outside the top 100 are going to have to scramble to find money tournaments outside the majors that will still exist. The 40th ranked doubles player is now making ends meet by working in a supermarket in Germany. People need to plan for the new reality, not be stuck in the past.

Boca Tennis Mom said...

John McNally sounds like a very wise young man. We know many families who paid the bills for kids to play futures and it is just money down a hole. Most of the ones good enough to make money in tennis rise up through the rankings very quickly.

I think his sister may have to join him in getting an education. Its not going to be easy to turn a profit in the WTA with less money to go around. She is a very good player but not likely at the level needed to make it a career in the smaller, more competitive tour that will emerge after the virus.