Monday, April 15, 2013

“Zero Serving Zero, Love-Love”

Is your child beginning to participate in USTA sanctioned events? This blog will help you get prepared for on-court matches.

With only a few tournament experiences under our belts, we’re already learning that there’s a ton of rules, regulations, protocol, etiquette, etc that will not only help your child compete with confidence, but will underscore a positive experience for him/her.

This is the second part of a two-part blog in helping you prepare your child for competitive tennis.

Once on court, your child will have five minutes to warm up (this includes serves) and you won’t be able to offer advice. Well, if they split sets, you’ll be able to ‘coach’ her.

After the five minute warm-up, the kids start playing their match. The server calls out the score and if the receiver doesn’t agree with the called out score, she should speak up now. The players can walk to the net and discuss what they think the score should be. If disputes arise, a player should put down her racquet and go seek an official. Parents and spectators are not allowed to answer questions or call lines. However, in 10 & Under Tennis, the tournament staff can appoint a court monitor to help out with tiebreaks and scoring.

Players changes ends of the court after the first game, then again on each odd game. This is the player’s opportunity to take a 90 second break. Prior to competition, encourage your child to drink a few sips of water or power aide during these changeovers--even if she swears she’s never thirsty during match play.

After the last point has been played, it’s customary for players to met at the net and shake hands, signaling the end of the match. The winner is responsible for reporting the score and turning in the tennis balls, but both players are responsible for verifying when their next matches start.

NOTE: never assume your child is ‘out’ of the tournament; check the draw and the desk to confirm.

In addition…if play format states ‘third set match tiebreak in lieu of third set’ your child might play three matches in one day. And if your child has registered for doubles, she could play three singles matches and one doubles match in one day.

On-Court Supplies

Your child is allowed to bring her tennis bag, a small cooler and a water jug on court.

What to pack in her bag? A small first aid kit customized for your child’s needs, i.e. Tylenol, bandages, allergy medicine and sunscreen. Also, pack something like, ‘second skin’ in case blisters occur. Blisters can really interfere with performance levels and ‘second skin’ helps alleviate additional pain caused by shoes or racquets (depending on where blisters are located).

 Packing a hat, visor or sunglasses helps against sun glare. T-shirts, socks and flip flops help to regulate body temperature after matches. Including snacks and candy like skittles can provide a quick energy boost during extremely long matches. Never eat anything when you aren’t hungry. Also, some people recommend packing mustard packets which is supposed to help players recover with muscle cramps.

No matter how prepared you still will probably run into something new during each tournament. After all, there are a bah-zillion rules and regulation to USTA sanctioned events.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ready, Set, Match!

Getting your child ready for USTA sanctioned events takes time.  Here are a few things you can to help smooth the process.

We’re fairly new to competitive tennis.  Rebecca’s played in three events; we’re scheduled to participate in a local event this upcoming weekend.

I've gathered some information retrieved from coaches, other parents and from my just beginning to be a tiger mom experience.  This is a two-part blog on how to get your child prepared for competitive play.

Before you sign up for an event, know whether it’s sanctioned or if the rules will follow the ‘Friend at Court’ book. The ‘Friend at Court’ book is like the bible for tennis players.  The book explains all the rules of sanctioned play as well as covers a section on friendly match and league match play. 

You can’t get a ‘I’m new at this’ pass.  Even novice players are held to the rules.  Just like in real life, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Knowing the rules ahead of time makes for a smoother run for you and your child will be happier knowing what to expect.

Don’t worry.  Learning the rules takes time and seasoned players know this, seasoned tournament staff knows this.  Tournament staff is usually quite helpful if you call ahead of time for clarifications.

Before the Event - If time permits, travel to the site prior to match play.  Familiarize yourself with the layout of the courts and facility.  Ask about practice courts.

Before your first match – Arrive 30 minutes ahead of match time. You’ll need to track down the “tournament desk” for check-ins.  Remember that some facilities have separate areas for Tournament Central than the front desks of their facilities.  Finding the “tournament desk” means you are at the right spot.  Here you’ll provide your signed medical release and receive player information. Tournament check is NOT the same thing as match check-in. 

Once you are ready, match check-in.  Ready means you’ve already gone to the restroom have your tennis bag and water, etc.  Remember, match check-in must be done prior to the start of each match. 

Check in for your matches 15-20 minutes prior to the official start time of your match to avoid point penalties or defaults.  If you know you’ll be late, contact the tournament desk or tournament referee.  Sometimes (and I’m really stressing sometimes) the referee can postpone the match. 

Once you've match check-in stay within earshot because your match could be called at any time both players have checked in – even if it’s early.

In my next blog, I’ll cover what to do on court and some miscellaneous stuff about competitive play.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Which Court? Ball? Racquet? and Why Size Really Does Matter

An informative equipment series of blog entries about 10 and Under Tennis and all the new equipment out there.

This is not your mother’s tennis game. Far from it; a lot has changed — and it all happened over the last several years. Until 2008, tennis, unlike youth football, basketball or baseball, made little concessions for kids. If you were 8 or 10, you played with the yellow ball on a full-sized court, holding an adult-size racquet.

Not today.

The U.S. Tennis Association, USTA passed new rules regarding youth play and competition play. Now, racquets are smaller and lighter; court sizes are shorter and narrower; balls bounce lower — more suited for kids’ strike zone. The move, controversial at the time, has gained more acceptance as time passes and parents and coaches alike see the positive results.

After all, parents don’t expect their peewee football players to use adult-size footballs to kick over adult regulation-height uprights. Nor do they put a Major League regulation bat in the hands of their 9 year old. Why should youth tennis players be expected to play matches using adult racquets on courts the same size that Roger Federer uses when he competes for the U.S. Open?

Now, with all the new equipment, kids not only learn a lifelong sport, they can have fun doing while training on the fundamentals of the game.

First, we’ll cover court size.

The smallest court size is 36 feet long and 18 feet wide. The net runs the entire 18 feet in length but is only 2-foot-9 in height compared to the 3-foot high regulation net.

Typically, if your child is 8 years or younger, he or she will play on a 36-foot court. However, many coaches use these nets for training purposes with older children. Also, if you are hitting with your child using a makeshift net in your driveway, this net height accommodates the small space area.

Don’t be surprised if you see today’s tennis coaches utilize rope, ‘crime-scene’ (caution) tape or flags to ‘net’ an area and allow the kids to hit the ball over AND under the net.

The next size up is the 60-foot court. This court is 60-foot by 21- for singles and 60-foot by 27- for doubles. Many facilities utilize blended lines to mark of these courts, especially since the net size is the same as a regulation court. Typically, kids ages 9 and 10 play on the 60-foot courts. Here again, coaches like to use these for training purposes – even for adults.

Between the ages 12 to 14, kids play on regulation-sized courts but use a different ball, which we’ll discuss in the next post.

Parent Tip:  If you want to hit with your kids, like many parents play catch or shoot hoops with their budding athletes, you can try “driveway tennis”. To learn more about driveway tennis, watch the following video. (I recommend using the red ball or the soft red ball when playing driveway tennis). To learn why, click here.

Driveway Tennis:

To purchase driveway tennis kits, try any one of the following:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Just Because the Shoe Fits Doesn't Mean You Should Wear It

Saucony Running Sneakers
Saucony running sneakers - copyright R. Bateman 
 Rebecca’s really gotten into this tennis stuff. She hits the courts five to six days a week for hour long — or even longer sessions. She plays the game so often she’s already retired her first pair of tennis shoes. I noticed a whole in the upper part of the toe! I went out and grabbed a pair form our local big box store.

I picked the wrong pair.

When it comes to proper footwear, athletes take head. I thought Rebecca could wear any ol' sneaker on court. Turns out, she should wear tennis shoes. I mean real tennis shoes, ones made specifically for tennis players.

Tennis shoes, compared to running, walking or other causal footwear, are designed to accommodate the quick change-of-direction movements along with the abrupt stops and starts tennis requires form those chasing down that little yellow ball. (Or orange, red or green-dot depending on age and body size — but more on that in another blog post).

A good tennis shoe should provide support, comfort, maneuverability, agility, flexibility and durability--shoes take a beating, especially on hard courts. Running shoes are designed to bare the brunt of impact from heel-strike to toe-strike. Runners don’t have to worry about quick direction changes, stops and starts, agility, and move-ability. Tennis players depend on their feet to get them to the ball whether it’s in the form lateral movements, forwards or backwards movements, tennis players shuffle, run, step, leap and even jump after the ball.

Wearing the proper footwear not only reduces the risk of injury, proper footwear helps tennis players improve their footwork skills, thus helping them play better tennis.

Places to purchase tennis shoes:

For more information on tennis shoes, read the following:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We're Not Experts

Many of you may remember Mike and me from our Macon Our Family blog on adopting Rebecca.

In this blog we will continue to update you on Rebecca but will focus on her love of tennis and what it’s like raising an athletic daughter.  Any advice or words of wisdom we pass along come strictly from our/my experiences as parents. We do not claim to be experts in the field of anything...well, maybe in some eating fettucini alfredo and naming the characters of "Good Luck Charlie" and "Suite Life on the Deck".

Join us as we learn about Love and Deuce Points, 10 & Under Tennis, the importance of real tennis shoes and why your child’s racquet size does matter.