All American Team Tennis

Youth Tennis is Better With Field Trips

Check out that backhand!

On Sunday February 26, players from the All American Team Tennis youth tennis league would travel to Boca Raton to witness the Florida Atlantic University Owls men’s tennis team take on the Florida A&M Rattlers. Players had high expectations for this field trip and the FAU Owls did not disappoint. Having personally attended a number of tennis matches in the past, Coach Ken was prepared for an afternoon of college tennis. Armed with his trusty Shade Tech canopies and Coleman portable propane grill, he would escort his players onto the hallowed grounds of the brand new FAU Tennis Complex. Ok… maybe ‘hallowed’ is a bit much. But it is a really nice facility!

There are a number of reasons why Field Trips are such a phenomenal part of any youth tennis program. First, College Tennis is the best and most readily available tennis product for

Doubles on Court 3

those most interested in the game. Both players and non-players can enjoy an afternoon at the local university watching some of the best players in the world. 

Next, College Tennis teams play all of their Home games at the same location. Which means you have multiple opportunities to take in a match. Compare that with the pro tour where players sweep into town once a year for a week and then they’re off to the next exotic location. As a tennis fan, it feels kind of empty when there’s no tennis going on. Fortunately, the College Tennis season is 4 months long! And it’s 6 months if you count the pre-season matches in September/October. That’s what I call a “Full” season!

We found a shady spot

Third, giving players the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company away from the tennis court strengthens the bonds they’ve built on the court. From the anticipation leading up to the field trip, to arriving at the gathering place, to driving to/from the games, to the matches themselves, field trips are fun. Plain and simple.

This field trip would feature a matchup of the Florida Atlantic Owls of Conference USA hosting the Florida A&M Rattlers of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The energy level is always high when watching FAU but things really ratcheted up when the third court of doubles would need a tiebreak to see who would take the doubles point (“Why are the doubles only one point?” you ask. We’ll talk about that later). With all of the spectators watching the action on only one court, everything felt much bigger. And when the referee took a point away from the Rattlers

Our players getting autographs from FAU players

for one of their players hitting the net with his foot, things really heated up. Fortunately, the Owls would keep their composure and hold on to win the doubles point and roll in the singles to take the match 4-0, moving their record to 9-3. The win puts Florida Atlantic in a two-way tie for second place in the Conference USA standings.

There’s much more to tennis than tournaments… and Field Trips are a big part of that. Attending a tennis match by yourself is good, but traveling with friends is what makes Field Trips so much fun. And the FAU Owls appreciate it, too.

So join us on our field trip and see what all the excitement is about!

GO TEAM!

 

More Than Your Average Tennis Program

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These guys LOOOOOOOVE to travel!

The two things that separate All American Team Tennis from your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill tennis program are the two things kids enjoy the most. Remember the feeling of excitement when you would wake up on Saturday morning and put on your football pants and shoulder pads for Game Day? Remember the feeling of anticipation when your school was planning a field trip to the aquarium and you needed your parents to sign a permission to go with the class? Or maybe when the baseball team was entering a tournament out-of-town? Or when the marching band was scheduled to participate in the Citrus Bowl parade in Orlando, Fl and in addition to marching in the parade they were planning a visit to Epcot and  staying in a hotel on the east coast just a few miles from the beach? (That last one happened my freshman year of High School). More than anything else, children enjoy spending time with their friends doing the things they find fun.

Game Day + Field Trips = All American Team Tennis

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You missed a spot!

On Saturday February 20, All American Team Tennis held its first Car Wash Fundraiser in Greenacres, Fl, and it was a huge success. We’ve toyed around with fundraisers in the past (t-shirts, shoulder buddies) but this was probably the most visible fundraiser we’ve conducted because in crossing paths with so many new people it afforded us the opportunity to introduce them the the Youth Tennis League. The players and parents worked hard, we washed a bunch of cars, and received almost as many donations as cars washed. The atmosphere surrounding the event was very positive as the community really appreciates what All American Team Tennis does for the children of Palm Springs and Greenacres. But it doesn’t stop there.

UCF Field TripThe Car Wash Fundraiser was geared towards raising money for our upcoming field trip to Orlando to watch the University of Central Florida Knights Women’s tennis team take on the Green Wave of Tulane (they’re from Louisiana. I didn’t know that, either). The trip is scheduled for Friday March 25 and includes a visit to Disney Springs for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.

Now, this isn’t the first field trip our players have attended. In fact, this will be the 2nd of 3 field trips we are going on this season. And it isn’t the first time we’ve traveled to Orlando to watch UCF play or visited Disney Springs. It just so happens, our very first field trip was prior to the start of Season 1 back in November 2011. UCF hosted an Invitational with Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, and Florida Gulf Coast so I invited the players and parents I was working with at the time to drive to Orlando with me.

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Our First AATT Field Trip

It was a memorable experience as rain interrupted play, causing 10am matches to start at 2pm. This would push back everything we had planned for the day including dinner at the T-Rex Restaurant at Downtown Disney. Looking back, I don’t remember who won the Invitational, but I do remember the animated dinosaurs and simulated meteor shower during dinner at the restaurant and spending more money than I had budgeted. (I learned so much that day.)

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Home Sweet Home!

Since then we’ve been to see the Miami Hurricanes play Florida State in Miami, the Florida Atlantic Owls host the Owls of Kennesaw State in Boca Raton, and the UCF Knights host Florida A&M (FAMU) followed by lunch at Splitsville in Downtown Disney. We’ve taken players to Dave and Busters in Hollywood, FL, Boomer’s in Boca Raton,  the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World resort, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex where Florida State now hosts their November Invitational (my personal favorite).

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AATT is “Owl In”!

And we are not stopping. As All American Team Tennis continues to spread across America, children everywhere will be given the opportunity to witness some of the best tennis available: College Tennis. Players from around the world are filling college tennis rosters and these players play not only for themselves but for their team and their school. They understand the importance of being surrounded with a good support system. They realize what cooperation and teamwork can accomplish. They are always available for pictures and autographs. And they play for more than just one week out of the year. Yes, I believe, college tennis is a superior consumable product when compared to the professional game as far as accessibility is concerned because one week doesn’t compare to 6-7 months. So we will continue to schedule field trips to college cities so players who participate in All American Team Tennis can be inspired by what could become their Alma Mater.

You’re invited to join us on our next field trip. It could be the beginning of your child living out their dreams.

GO TEAM!

AA Team Tennis is ‘Owl In!”

When was the last time you took your kids to a tennis match? Was it the

Why is this taking so long?
When are they coming back?

Delray Beach Open in February? Was it the Miami Open in March? Are you traveling to the US Open in August? For most people, tennis doesn’t rate high enough to set aside the time to take in a match. There are just too many other things to do. And given the infrequency of professional tennis tournaments coming to town, we’re just too busy to step away from our everyday lives to see the “Best in the World”.

But if you live in Boca Raton or Orlando or Coral Gables (or any other college town across America) you’re in luck! Because every January thru April the College tennis season kicks things into high gear! The great thing about College tennis (besides playing all of their Home games in one location) is that these players REALLY ARE the best in the world. Most college rosters are 50% international players meaning every team is loaded with the best college-age players making College tennis World Class tennis.

FAU Field TripOn Sunday February 14 All American Team Tennis traveled to Boca Raton to watch the Florida Atlantic University Owls host Army West Point. It would be a very tight match requiring all 7 points to be played (college tennis matches are Best of 7 so once a team wins 4 courts, the other matches stop playing) with Army West Point coming out on top, 4-3. There was a lot of yelling and cheering and shouting throughout with players AND spectators for both teams pumping up the players on the court. It was an experience much like a football or basketball game. The only thing missing was taligating!

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GO OWLS! We’re “Owl In”!

And following the matches the Head Coach for the FAU Owls invited our players onto the court to meet the players where they would sign our jerseys and take pictures with us. Where else are you able to find this kind of accessibility?

Field Trips are a regular occurrence for All American Team Tennis as we take them EVERY season. We take our players to College tennis matches because College tennis players understand the value of playing on a team; the camaraderie, UCF Field Tripteamwork, friendships, and support all combine to make an overall enjoyable college tennis experience. In fact, our second of 3 field trips for Season 13 will be to Orlando to watch the UCF Knights host the Tulane Green Wave! At All American Team Tennis we endeavor to create memorable team tennis experiences… Because Life is a Team Sport.

GO TEAM!

New Teams and 3 Field Trips!!!

Every season of All American Team Tennis presents another opportunity for the children of America to enjoy tennis the way it was meant to be. Let’s face it, with so many activities like soccer, baseball, basketball, and video games all vying for your time, tennis tends to get lost in the shuffle. But not any more.

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Other Awards!

When you visit your local Parks and Recreation department and register your son/daughter for a Season of youth tennis, they enter a world of community and camaraderie, Game Day and Playoffs, fun and friends! For one low price players are assigned to a team where they are encouraged to learn the game in a group. They receive a jersey with THEIR name and number on the back. They grow and develop as players by participating in Game Day every Saturday. And they’re rewarded on a regular basis for their accomplishments with lollipops and other awards. Tennis has never been this much FUN!

But that’s not all!

When was the last time you took your kids to a LIVE sporting event? Maybe shared a hot dog or bought a souvenir hat? How about a tennis event? Well, we’re here to help you with that, too.

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Our players in Delray Beach

Every season our players travel all over South Florida in search of the best tennis around. Season 13 is no different. In fact, this season we are planning THREE field trips to College tennis matches. Spring is the perfect time to take in a tennis match as there are so many nationally-ranked Division I colleges who play their Home games right here in South Florida: the Gators, the Bulls, the Seminoles, Hurricanes, Knights, Owls, Eagles, Ospreys, and Sailfish all call Florida home. And this season we’re traveling to see the Owls, Knights, and Hurricanes play. It’s my favorite part of the season!

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Our players with the FAU Owls

 

So be sure to visit your local Parks department in Palm Springs, Greenacres, and Riviera Beach or call 561-578-9914 for more information and we’ll see in Season 13.

GO TEAM!

High School Tennis Starts In Middle School

High School is a memorable time in all of our lives; the bright future, the friends, the parties, there’s nothing quite like it. The same goes for high school sports. For many players, high school is the biggest stage on which they will ever perform. But what if you are not mean enough for football or tall enough for basketball? I mean, the thought of running cross country makes me break out in hives! But tennis is a different animal: it’s physically demanding and mentally challenging, like every other sport, without the risk of serious injury. Sounds amazing, huh? In fact, High School tennis coaches are eagerly awaiting new arrivals next fall!

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Suncoast HS Girls Team cheer on their teammates

But there’s a problem: many Middle Schoolers have never played tennis before.

Get your High School tennis career started on the right track by joining All American Team Tennis. Following in the footsteps of High School and College tennis, All American Team Tennis places the team front and center, not lessons and tournaments. Our players train together, travel together, and compete together to develop unity, and chemistry among the teammates.

10+ Kings Front

It is this kind of ‘Team’ attitude High School coaches are looking for when players arrive for tryouts. They are looking for players who are considerate of others, who assist others when they need it, and who encourage their teammates. Of course, coaches are looking for talented players but more importantly, they’re looking for TEAM players. Because the Team is the key to victory.

Join All American Team Tennis and see how much fun tennis can be when you play on a team. Visit your local Parks Department for more information.

Gators Mens huddle

AATT Field Trip To Wide World of Sports

FSU Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist speaking to our players

On Saturday November 7, our Youth Tennis League traveled to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World to witness the Collegiate Clay Court Invitational hosted by the Florida State University. It was a loooooong day for everyone which included watching matches in the morning at ESPN and playing matches in the evening at the Kiwi Tennis Club in Melbourne with a visit to Disney Springs in between. But even with the amount of time spent sharing a vehicle, our players will always remember the time we spent watching and playing tennis.

While attending the event at ESPN Coach Ken led the players from court to court gathering autographs from as many players as he could find, which wasn’t very hard because they were EVERYWHERE! You can see some of the autographs on the back of the shirts in the pictures.

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Josie Kuhlman of the University of Florida
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Spencer Liang of the Florida Gators

Josie Kuhlman and Brianna Morgan of Florida, Yukako Noi of Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast, Clemson, Georgia, and others gave each of our players a little bit of their time and a signature to go home with. It was a truly memorable experience for us and, I’m sure, for the players, too. You’re not going to get this kind of attention at a professional tennis tournament!

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But before we were ready to move onto our next destination, FSU Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist graciously accepted our invitation to speak to the group. So we all gathered around him while he spoke to the kids about being a part of the Team, doing your part to help the Team, and traveling with the Team to far away destinations like Hawaii. I just hope our players appreciated what it meant to have Coach Hultquist speak to the group. Because while he was speaking to us, the FSU Men’s team of Jose Garcia and Marco Nunez were embroiled in the heat of battle against the team from Louisville. Garcia and Nunez would go on to capture the title in the Gold division, taking out Pepperdine in the Final.

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On the Women’s side, Josie Kuhlman and Brianna Morgan of the University of Florida would face Gators teammates Spencer Liang and Peggy Porter in the Final to also win the Gold division. They would destroy the Clemson team 8-4 in the semifinal.

Seeing a tennis match in person makes the game feel much more real. And watching college tennis players play their hearts out for the benefit of their team makes it all the more special. It is why All American Team Tennis places kids on teams, and why I believe tennis would be more popular if it were a Team sport at the professional level. Who knows… maybe one day.

GO TEAM!

Calling All Middle Schoolers…

High School is a memorable time in all of our lives; the bright future, the friends, the sports, the parties, there’s nothing quite like it. The same goes for High School Tennis. For many players it is their only opportunity  to experience team sports on that level. Maybe they’re not mean enough for football or tall enough for basketball. Maybe the thought of running cross country makes you break out in hives. Whatever the reason, High School tennis teams are eager to receive the incoming class of Freshman every September.

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Suncoast HS Girls Team cheer on their teammates

But there’s a problem.

Schools all across South Florida are gearing up for the 2016 season , but something is missing in their preparation. Every team experiences it, many have no way to address it, it hinders the sport in such a way it makes it hard to win: is it a lack of talented tennis players. All of Florida has been exposed to tennis in one way or another: elementary school gym class or tennis lessons at the local tennis club. Unfortunately, just as many decide to try something else when they find tennis to be boring. So when these players finally get to High School and have to choose a sport, and see tennis as their only option, tennis coaches are left to teach the fundamentals rather than coaching their team to victory.

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Don’t they look excited to be at tennis practice?

What are we going to do? Ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: Why do players decide not to continue playing tennis after being introduced to the game as a child?

Question 2: How does tennis compare to other youth sports? And…

Question 3: What can be done to keep kids playing tennis or to bring players from other sports over to the tennis court?

Former USTA Florida President, Bob Pfaender, recently penned an essay outlining junior participation in High School tennis vs. tournament tennis. According to USTA President Dave Haggerty, 355,000 juniors play High School tennis… 36,396 played one USTA tournament a year. That’s a 10% success rate!!! Meaning 90% of High School players play High School tennis, exclusively. There lies the key to popularity. If the goal is to play on your High School tennis team, wouldn’t it make sense to play on a team in Middle School, too?

‘Chemistry’ is an often overlooked key to the success of a team. Players must learn to cooperate and to communicate if they have any plans of winning. Unfortunately, tennis tournaments, while developing a player’s individual abilities (and ego), do very little to promote community, camaraderie, cooperation, or teamwork. That is what makes All American Team Tennis special.

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The Team is where friends are made

Following in the footsteps of College tennis, All American Team Tennis places the team front and center, leaving tournaments as an option for the summer break. Our players train together, travel together, and compete together to develop unity, and chemistry, among the teammates. It is the kind of ‘Team’ attitude High School coaches are looking for when players arrive for tryouts. They are looking for players who are considerate of others, who assist others when they need it, who encourage their teammates. Of course, coaches are looking for talented players but more importantly, they’re looking for TEAM players. Because that is the key to victory.

Gators Mens huddle
GO TEAM!

Get your High School career started on the right track. Join All American Team Tennis and see how much fun tennis can be when you play on a team.

All American Team Tennis… Because Life is a Team Sport! GO TEAM!

Field Trip to Kiwi Tennis Club / Disney Springs

Every season our players are invited to join the League on a field trip to a tennis-related event. Past events include a trip to Miami to see the Miami Hurricane Women’s tennis team host the Florida State Seminoles. In July of 2015 we went to Delray Beach to see the Boy’s 16’s and 18’s Clay Court National Closed tournament. These are the guys being recruited from around the country to play on University tennis teams everywhere. Normally, field trips give our players to see top level talent and to get ideas on how we can play better, too. This time we had the chance to play because there are junior tennis players everywhere!

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The Kiwi Tennis Club is located in Indian Harbour Beach, FL and is host to the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic, a $50,000 WTA Satellite event that takes place in May. This was by far the nicest facility we had even played at. And the Home team was very welcoming.

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We played well, Kiwi gave our players a few gifts, and we were on our way. Where to?

IMAG0972 We can never get enough of ‘Frozen’.

To Disney Springs and lunch at the House of Blues. Disney Springs is one of Coach Ken’s favorite places to hang out at the Walt Disney World resort (that and the Wide World of Sports complex). We walked up and down the walkways, stopped in just about every shop, checked out some of the new stuff, and came home with a few things of our own.

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Another successful field trip.

Our field trip for Season 12 is scheduled for Saturday AND Sunday November 7-8. And I’m sure you probably guessed.. it’s in Orlando. We’ll have more on that later so be sure to register for Season 12 and have some fun with us next season!

IMAG0980 A new pin for my hat!

GO TEAM!

Donate To All American Team Tennis

All American Team Tennis  is a grassroots organization dedicated to uniting the tennis industry. Similar to other youth sports, our Youth Tennis League creates a real feeling of community in an otherwise insular sport. And we do this with a very simple concept we like to call: the Tennis Team.

The American sports landscape is populated with numerous Teams from a myriad of sports: football, basketball, soccer, even lacrosse. We love team sports because humans are social animals: we function better in groups. Our Youth Tennis League is the key to revitalizing the dying sport of tennis.

In 2010 we began conducting our brand of tennis at the Palm Springs, FL Parks Department. We are now introducing this to other Parks Departments around South Florida and encouraging them to be a part of the network. The growth of All American Team Tennis presents a very positive opportunity for everyone: more teams, more players, more Referees, and more coaches.

Click here to see a list of opportunities to support All American Team Tennis. Than click the image to be taken to our GoFundMe page.

Help us keep kids playing tennis by donating to our campaign. We’ve got a long way to go, but with your help, we can make it!

GO TEAM!

Part 2 – What Would Make Tennis More Exciting

When you’re having a good time you never want it to end. So why are we shortening tennis matches?

In July 2014, after months of coordinated discussion, experimentation, and research the Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee decided on changes to college tennis that would “reduce the overall length of play” and “increase the level of excitement of the matches.” 1) All matches will be conducted with no-ad scoring. 2) The round of doubles will be played on 3 courts, with the team winning two out of three receiving one point for the overall team score. 2) The round of singles will be played on 6, best two out of three sets to 6 games, with each court counting for one point. The first team to score 4 total points will take the match. All unfinished matches will stop once a team reaches the specified goal (2 out of 3 and 4 out of 7).

disappointment What are they thinking!?!

It sounds like the NCAA believes tennis is lacking in fans and unable to generate revenue because the matches are too long. Do I have that right? So, if we shorten the matches, people will become more interested in tennis? It is obvious the people in charge know nothing about human psychology or the fundamentals of business. It’s kind of like a movie that people believe is too long. They believe it to be too long because the movie was not INTERESTING to them. Giving fans less tennis will not make tennis more interesting them. 60 Minutes of boredom isn’t any better than 90 minutes of boredom. We have to go deeper and change what tennis looks like to the fan in an effort to make tennis more interesting.

borg and navratilova Remember when tennis was on the cover of sports magazines?

Tennis suffers from a lack of creativity and aggression. It has become a bland, boring game filled with players who all play the same, passive, timid, baseline game. Years ago when tennis was more popular, players like McEnroe, Navratilova, and Borg ruled the game with an aggressive, all-court style of play. They frequently came to the net to put pressure on their opponents, to hit drop shots, short angle volleys, and smash overheads. And even if their opponent won the point, as a viewer you were on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what would happen next. Then along came Evert and Connors and the invention of the steel and graphite racquet. Now players could generate superhuman amounts of power, hitting shots so fast, passing shots became the norm. As a result, players became afraid of coming to the net for fear of losing. They retreated to the baseline and settled for the Waiting Game; waiting for their opponent to make a mistake and playing not to lose rather than playing to win. It is this timid, frightful, scared version of tennis that has caused the decline in interest over the past 30 years (check the ratings). When players played aggressively, took chances, and really scored points the game flourished. When instructors began teaching players from a very early age that “playing it safe” was the key to victory, the game dropped in popularity.

I am a big fan of the all court game. I find baseline tennis boring. I would rather watch players hit a variety of shots including volleys and overheads, instead of the same 20-ball rallies from the baseline with only groundstrokes. Anticipation is what makes sports interesting to the audience. It is the uncertainty of what will happen next that captivates the viewer’s attention. And isn’t that who we’re playing for? Watching a football coach run the same running play over and over again gets very boring very fast. The intrigue is in how a coach assesses a situation and comes up with a solution to the problem. The same goes for basketball, baseball, and every other sport people watch in large numbers.

Illinois vs Ohio State GO BUCKS!!!

In baseball, players steal bases. In basketball they drive the lane. In football, they throw the long bomb. In volleyball, they spike the ball. In wrestling you win with a pin. In soccer, they score goals. Should I go for it on fourth down or punt the ball? Should I try to poster this guy with a dunk or shoot the jumper? Should I throw strikes of walk the batter? But in tennis, we try to keep our mistakes to a minimum?!? Hmmm. It is the aggressive, offensive, charge-forward attitude that fans find interesting. Everyone loves a winner. It’s the reason most Americans find soccer boring: no scoring. A game that ends in a 0-0 tie means that every player on the field was unsuccessful, a failure. Imagine for a moment if tennis was scored based on points WON rather than points lost. How long would it take to play the match if you had to start over every time someone hit the ball out? If the only way to score a point was to actually “score a point” we would have to shorten the match. I think we’ve come full circle.

Bottom line: The NCAA has made changes to the rules to shorten the matches not because the matches are too long but rather the POINTS are too long. Shortening the matches will only result is less time being bored. So rather than giving people less of what they DON’T WANT, give the more of what they do: excitement. Bring back the hard-charging, aggressive, in-your-face, all court game where players take chances and play to win and watch the fans come flooding in. Because as they say in the UFC “Styles make fights.”

What I Look For in a Player Pt. 1

IS THIS EVER GOING TO END?!?

Have you ever to listened to someone tell a story that kept going and going and never came to a point? Have you ever sat down to watch a two hour movie that should have been over in 90 minutes? Why do some tennis tournaments play additional games to determine a winner rather than could play a simple tiebreaker? The point is that, just like a story that goes on forever, many Americans feel tennis matches are just too long. Is this because matches really are too long, or because the product isn’t interesting enough to hold a viewer’s attention? We see this in other sports: when a basketball team leads by 26 points with 2 minutes remaining, timeouts make people mad. In fact, the NCAA recently adopted changes to their match format to produce what they believe to be a more television-friendly product (shorter matches). Today’s sports consumer has too many options available to waste time on a sport that takes too long to complete. Which means more is needed to make the game more exciting, rather than shorter.

This leads me to what I look for in a tennis player / team. I am a busy person. I don’t like wasting time. So I look for players who don’t waste time on the court, either. I look for players who play intelligently. I look for players that make the game more exciting, players that take chances, players that can bring more viewers to the television, and growing the game as a whole. These are the types of players I want to see.

I enjoy watching Aggressive Net Player, players who finish >50% of points inside the service line with either volleys or overheads, because baseline tennis is boring.

PLAYING THE NET IS A SKILL

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That’s too close to the net

Rather than jumping to conclusions and simply stating “I like net rushers,” allow me to explain. There is a certain skill to winning points at the net that many of today’s players either do not possess or refuse to use. That is why many players choose to play from behind the baseline leaving all sorts of opportunities on the table… and not a single footprint inside the service box. Their rallies last too long, making it too hard to explain on a broadcast, or to your players, and ultimately too hard to bring new players to the game. Most commentators aren’t able to get out more than a “Good Shot!” on most rallies leaving the viewer in the dark as to what just happened, unclear about how the game is played, and ultimately disinterested in the sport.

On the other hand, Net players play shorter points, they take chances, and win or lose THEY will determine the outcome of the match.

WAITING FOR THE BIG PLAY

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Cheering fans cheering for their team to score

I look for players who recognize an opportunity and seize it rather than simply waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. I look for players who know how to set up AND finish a point. Players who hit to the middle of the court or allow their opponent to change directions show a lack of understanding (and the killer instinct), that would make the game exciting for the spectator. For most of America this passiveness is boring. Like in the UFC, we want to see the finish. In baseball we look for the home run. In football we look for the big hit. In basketball we look for the slam dunk. In NASCAR we look for the crash. In soccer we look for the goal to be scored (which is why we don’t watch).

Look at it this way: in other sports they draw up plays. The team’s coach carries around a dry erase board, with a picture of the playing field on it, and he tells the players what to do in a given situation. Football does it, basketball does it, they all do it. In fact, I remember playing baseball and the coach explaining to us “it the ball is hit here, you throw it there.” There was a plan, there were x’s and o’s, we knew what to do.

Most tennis players do not.

HOW DID THEY DO THAT?

They can rally. They’re fast. They’re in great shape, but they’re too passive in their game planning. Just listen to their post match interviews and you’ll hear “I made my shots” or ”I wasn’t playing my best.” It almost sounds like they don’t know how they won or lost. They were told by their coach if they are able to perfect their technique, they’d win. Is that what baseball coaches do? Throw a better ball and you’ll win? Where’s the strategy in that?!?

I was watching an FSU match on ESPN3, recently, where Mark Bey was one of the broadcasters and there was a moment that really stuck out in my mind. One of the players throws in a drop shot and follows it in. Mark saw this and pointed it out to the audience. He said something along the lines of ‘I like how he started coming in after hitting the drop shot. That way he’s in a better position to win the point when the ball comes back.” It may not sound like much, but that kind of insight can help people understand what just happened. When I watch football on TV I see replays, close-ups, yellow lines on the screen, and all of it is narrated by the commentators. The commentators are teaching the viewer how the game is played by explaining what is happening on the field. They will even go so far as to predict or suggest what should happen next. Tennis commentators are unable to do that.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?

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That’s a real head scratcher

When I watch pro tennis I see players who don’t understand the basic geometry of a tennis court. It’s pretty simple when you consider we play on a big rectangle, with no one to defend us, and the biggest obstacle is a stationary net dividing the court in half. Exactly what is the objective of this game? Is it to get the ball by the other person? NO! It is to create a SITUATION to get the ball by the other person, or to make your opponent miss. So hitting a “better ball” is of little value. The real challenge is Manipulation.

A good tennis rally should last no longer than 10 shots. If you know what you’re doing you should be able to win/lose a point in under 10 shots because once you get to the net, you only have 2 shots left. The goal should be to create an opening for yourself, and finish your opponent. As another, high profile tennis coach would put it “control, hurt, and finish.”

THE RULES ARE VERY SIMPLE

xs and os
A simple diagram can explain everything about tennis

From the baseline, the safe play is crosscourt; Change direction when you get a short ball, after you pushed your opponent off the court, or when you can hit it by them cleanly.

On the approach: The first question is when do you come in? And when you do come in, hit the approach down-the-line to make it easier for yourself on the next shot, the volley.

And of course, volleys always go to the open court. The only exception is when the open court is so obvious, your opponent sees it, too, and takes off running. In that case you hit it behind them. This is all basic stuff (or should be) but I believe the top players believe they can overpower their opponent rather than trying to outsmart them. I mean, a Swing Volley?!? What’s wrong with a firm flat volley to a part of the court as far away from your opponent as possible? Or maybe a drop shot? And if they return it, hit it to the other side! You’re welcome. That will be $80.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Coaches and commentators spend much of their time talking about technique because it’s easier to recognize a technical mistake than a tactical one. We don’t draw up plays because the rallies are too long to diagram. So we wait until a player makes a mistake and talk about why they missed the shot, technically, rather than identifying the situation they were in and how they got there, an opening they missed, or how to get out of it.

But if more players were able to recognize an opportunity, and were not afraid to seize it, I believe the on-court action would be much more exciting and much more interesting to the spectator so there would be no need to shorten match… because they could do it themselves.

NCAA Individual Tournament Results

NCAA Individual Championship

In my opinion, tennis tournaments are probably the hardest to report on because there are too many players playing too many matches, too many consecutive days with not enough time in between to prepare for the next. I can only imagine what it is like to be a player, but as a spectator, it’s my job to sort through the clutter of activity to gather what’s important to the reader. Because other sports operate on a periodic schedule of games, rather than week-long tournaments, commentators are able to build anticipation for the next game on the schedule making it more exciting when following your favorite team.

I understand the thinking that ’More is better’, but what about “Too much of a good thing”? College tennis is the best method of conducting the sport and should be implemented on the professional level. Why? When you follow a team over the course of a season you begin to identify with them. It becomes appointment viewing. Every game matters and every game is important. Plus the players have enough time to rest during the season, they take fewer days off. This keeps the fans interested.

For example, have you ever heard someone, in reference to the weeks leading up to a Major tournament refer to those tournaments as “tune-up” events? That would imply that the tournament is of little value other than to prepare the favorites for the next big one. By diminishing the importance of Indianapolis or Atlanta or New Haven you diminish every player in the tournament making the event less appealing. Why would I go to this event if it doesn’t mean anything? It’s like watching your favorite football team: why would I pay to watch a game that doesn’t matter? When college tennis teams work their way through a schedule of matches, against teams from across the country, all for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championship at the end, every game is important. The season is not a “warm up” to the tournament, but rather a qualification FOR the tournament. A loss at the wrong time could drop a team in the standings and out of the Championship. A win at the right time could mean an easier draw when they’re accepted. Institute a season of scheduled matches and add significance to professional tennis.

Below you will find the results of the individual NCAA Singles / Doubles Championship for 2015 for players on Florida teams. It’s a lot to take in all at once, but it’s important to at least hear the names of players you are going to want to watch next season. Enjoy!

We can talk about why we’re playing this tournament another time.

For more on your favorite Florida college tennis teams follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis. GO TEAM!

WOMEN

florida-gators-logo

Gators Doubles

#6 Doubles team Sophomore Courtney Keegan and Freshman Brooke Austin

Defeated Shayne Austin/Briar Preston of Arizona, 6-2, 6-2

Defeated Lauren Herring/Ellen Perez of Georgia, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Defeated Taylor Davidson/Carol Zhao of Stanford, 6-0, 1-6, 6-4

Lost to Klara Fabrikova/Zsofi Susanyi of California, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

May 22, 2015 – The Gators’ top doubles team of Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan advanced to the Round of 16 with a win over Arizona’s #27-ranked Shayne Austin and Briar Preston, 6-2, 6-2. Brooke Austin: “I thought we played really well… really aggressively.” Kourtney Keegan: “I don’t think it’s always easy… getting into a rhythm…. Getting a lead early helps you relax a lot…. You just feel more comfortable out there, and I think that helps a lot because you get more momentum that way.”

Gators Singles

#3 Freshman Brooke Austin – Lost in Round 1 to #47 Jennifer Brady of UCLA, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

#56 Sophomore Kourtney Keegan – Lost in Round 1 to #20 Carolina Price of UNC, 6-1, 6-3.

#28 Junior Brianna Morgan – Lost in Round 1 to #57 Madison Westby of USC, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4

#58 Sophomore Belinda Woolcock – Defeated Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine, 6-2, 6-3

Lost in Round 2 to Sabrina Santamaria of USC, 6-3, 6-3

#13 Freshman Josie Kuhlman – Defeated Kyle Phillips of UCLA, 6-4, 6-1

Defeated Viktoriya of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 6-4

Defeated Maegan Manasse of Cal, 6-4, 6-1

Defeated Sinead Lohan of Miami, 6-3, 6-4

Lost in Semifinals to Carol Zhao of Stanford, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0

Miami_Hurricanes mascot

Hurricanes Doubles

#17 Doubles team Senior Lina Lileikite and Junior Stephanie Wagner

Lost to #11 Lauren Herring/Ellen Perez of Georgia, 6-2, 6-2

Hurricanes Singles

#37 Freshman Sinead Lohan – Defeated Lauren Herring of Georgia, 6-1, 6-4

Defeated Caroline Price of UNC, 7-6 (3), 7-5

Defeated Natalie Beazant of Rice, 7-5, 6-1

Lost to Josie Kuhlman of Florida in Quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-4

#11 Junior Stephanie Wagner – Defeated Blair Shankle of Baylor, 6-3, 6-2

Defeated Beatrice Gumulya of Clemson, 6-2, 6-4

Defeated Saska Gavrilovska of Texas A&M, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4

Defeated #1 Robin Anderson of UCLA, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Lost to Jamie Loeb of UNC in Semifinals, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

 stetson flag

Stetson Singles

#91 Freshman Alizee Michaud – Lost to Jasmine Lee of Mississippi State, 6-0, 6-4

 

May 20, 2015 – #91-ranked Freshman Alizee Michaud endured an 0-6, 4-6 loss to Mississippi State’s Jasmine Lee in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship. This would be the first singles match Alizee has lost all season. Jasmine Lee was a first-team All-SEC selection and the #23-ranked player in America. A very tall order considering Michaud was playing for the first time since April 18, when Stetson lost to FGCU in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote: “I believe her slow start had to do with her going about a month without playing any meaningful tennis… the second set was more of the quality level of play that we are accustomed to seeing from Alizee.” Alizee Michaud finished the regular season as the 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Player and Freshman of the Year.

MEN

north florida flag

North Florida Singles

#96 Sophomore Jack Findel-Hawkins – Lost to Roberto Quiroz of USC, 6-4, 6-3

Jack was playing in his first match in over two months after being sidelined with an injury which makes his #96 ranking even more impressive. He won the Bedford Cup in the fall and the first Osprey to earn entry into the NCAA Singles Championship.

USF logo brick wall

South Florida Doubles

#28 Doubles team Senior Oliver Pramming and Freshman Justin Roberts

Defeated Denis Nguyen/Brian Yeung of Harvard, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Lost to Harry Jadun/John Patrick Mullane of Michigan State, 7-6 (0), 6-4

Congratulations to Oliver Pramming on a successful season with the Bulls, helping the team achieve a #18 ranking and capture its first AAC title. Looks like Justin Roberts will have to find a new doubles partner next season. But one-half of the #28 Doubles in the nation shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to play with.

South Florida Singles

#21 Junior Roberto Cid – Lost to Austin Smith of Georgia, 6-2, 7-6 (1)

Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Doubles

#16 Doubles team Juniors Benjamin Lock/Marco Nunez

Lost to Arjun Kadhe/Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

Florida State Singles

#44 Junior Benjamin Lock – Defeated Uros Petronijevic of San Diego, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4)

Lost to Ryan Shane of Virginia in Round of 32, 6-2, 6-1

Chocolate Milk After Your Match?!?

I recently read an article that stated “Chocolate Milk May Boost Post-Workout Recovery” (fitnessmagazine.com). As a tennis coach, was interested since I’ve always been a fan of chocolate milk. I often make my own with a little 2% milk and some chocolate syrup. I like the crisp, refreshing taste of really cold milk enhanced with the creamy sweetness of chocolate. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate, am I right!?!

So when I saw the title I had to continue reading. The article gave a number of reasons why the nutrients in milk are beneficial to athletes in terms of recovery, rehydration, and building muscle. Many of them make sense, but I wondered how much of it made sense when compared to the theory that milk, after a certain age, does more harm than good in adults. Let’s take a look.

Milk Is Bad! BOOOO!

The arguments in opposition to consuming milk say things like “No other species but humans… [is] able to drink milk after you’re a baby.” But this may not be due to a specific condition experienced by every human, but rather an inability to digest the sugar found in milk, lactose, by some people. Another article in regards to bone health in adults wrote “Six studies containing almost 200,000 women could find no association between drinking milk and lower rates of fractures” which makes me wonder how they conducted this study: did they swing a baseball bat at people to see if they would break? Yet another study believes the ability to digest and absorb the nutrients found in milk are actually a genetic mutation that “showed up… about 7,500 years ago… first in Northern Europe, where people got less vitamin D from the sun and therefore did better if they could also get the crucial hormone from milk.” Which makes it sound like humans have always had the ability to process milk, and the vitamin D found in it, but certain regions needed it more than others. I mean, if we were not meant to drink milk, why do cows give it up so easily? Don’t they know we’re not supposed to be drinking it? Listen, if you are not able to process milk, for whatever reason, don’t drink it. But for those of who can, and like the taste, here are the reasons you should.

Milk

Rehydration

Physical exercise is very demanding on the body. Whether it’s tennis or running or riding a bike the body sacrifices certain things to help you play your best. Nutrients, such as electrolytes, which allow the body to function by passing electrical impulses (among other things) throughout the body, are lost when you sweat. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium are lost in this process, and need to be replaced after a workout. Failure to replace electrolytes could lead to your muscles and organs functioning improperly or shutting down completely. Milk has a good supply of sodium, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium and is more slowly digested by the body which means its nutrients are absorbed much slower (Brian D. Roy in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”.) That means your body holds onto it for a long time.

Recovery

As athletes, we must pay close attention to our intake of protein, carbohydrates, and fat and milk is a good source of all 3. As you can see in the image, one cup of 2% milk provides 9g or protein, 13g of carbohydrates, and 5g of fat, numbers far more balanced than what you’ll find in a bottle of the leading sports drink. Chocolate syrup will add sugar (carbohydrates) but not much else, so the amount of fat in chocolate milk is based upon the % milk being used.

Gatorade_CoolBlue

Building Muscle

Physical exercise also breaks down muscle tissue leading to small micro-tears that need to be repaired. Dr. John Ivy, lead researcher and chair of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education (PHEW! that’s a mouthful) found you can build more muscle and lose fat during training if you drink chocolate milk after a workout. This is due, in part of the amount of protein and carbohydrates. An excess of sugar (carbohydrates) in the diet, if not metabolized for energy, will be stored in the body as fat, mostly around the mid-section. Protein, on the other hand, promotes muscle growth (and repair) which is necessary for metabolism and being able to play the following day.

Improved Performance

Research has been conducted at to an athlete’s ability to perform better with chocolate milk compared to a sports drink, but most of this is circumstantial. The reports show soccer players being able to play longer in the afternoon, than in the morning, when they had chocolate milk for lunch. While this can be very hard to prove (maybe they’re just not morning people), it would make sense that the additional time it takes for the body to digest milk would allow it to remain in the system longer, providing sustained energy and additional nutrient absorption. But this is anecdotal.

10+ Singles Winners

Bottom Line

I like chocolate milk because of how it tastes. Knowing the nutritional benefits only makes me like it even more. But for those who are lactose intolerant (cramping, gas, etc.) it may not be right for you. Maybe nature has a milk-substitute just for you. I hear soy milk is pretty good.

For more information, feel free to comment in the section below. And follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.

Hurricanes Women’s Tennis Fall in Sweet 16

The Miami Hurricanes Women’s tennis team had a very tall order in front of them in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship. After handling the North Florida Ospreys in the first round, 4-1, and fighting off the Ole Miss Rebels, 4-3, they would next face the #2-ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hurricanes and Tar Heels had faced each other two times during the regular season with the Tar Heels coming out on top both times. But the Hurricanes were into the Round of 16 for the 10th consecutive season, and surging at just the right time.

The forecast for the day called for showers which is good and bad; good, because it would keep the temperature down. Bad, because the Tar heels are accustomed to playing indoors, and the Hurricanes would need all of the favorable “bounces” they could get.

The doubles matches were close at the start. Sinead Lohan and Stephanie Wagner led the charge on court 1 but a single break would tip the scales in favor of UNC, 5-4, and that’s all she wrote. UNC takes court one 8-4. On court two, Monique Albuquerque and Silvia Fuentes would struggle, never really gaining control over their UNC opponents, and dropping the deciding set 8-3. UNC takes the doubles point 2-0, Lileikite and Zhang did not finish.

Losing the doubles point certainly makes winning the match much harder, but the Hurricanes have 5 ranked singles players which means they still have a chance to take 4 of the singles and ultimately the match. Unfortunately, once the doubles matches had been played it started to rain, forcing the matches inside, which favors the Tar Heels. And due to the limited number of indoor courts the matches would be played 3 at a time. First up: Stephanie Wagner, Sinead Lohan, and Silvia Fuentes. Fuentes would be the first domino to fall losing the first set 0-6. Lohan would be next, dropping the first set, 3-6. Wagner would keep it close, winning the first set, 7-5. But it would not be Fuentes’ day as she would give court 3 to UNC, 0-6, 2-6. Lina Lileikite would take the court for the #4 singles match. On court two, Lohan battled to the very end. It looked very promising when she tied the score at 5-5 in the second set, but there was nothing left in the tank and Lohan would lose the match 3-6, 5-7. Wendy Zhang would take the court for the #5 singles match. On court one, Wagner would drop the second set, 2-6, sending #1 singles into a third set. You could feel the air leaving the room for the scrappy Miami team. On court 3, Lina does her best to keep the team afloat, taking the first set, 7-5, but on court two, Zhang drops the first set, 2-6. The one bright spot on the day would come from senior Lina Lileikite as she would take out the #102 player in America in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2, giving the Hurricanes their first point, they trail 3-1. Because shortly after Lina shook hands with her opponent, the Wagner match would finish with UNC on top, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. UNC moves on to the Elite 8 with a 4-1 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. The loss had to be the hardest on senior Monique Albuquerque as she would not get to play in the last match of her career as a Hurricane.

Coach Paige and Wagner

Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tewes: “I think UNC played a great match. We were expecting them to be on their game. I think Haley [Carter of UNC] started out so hot at no. 2 that it kind of set the momentum a little bit against us at the beginning….” She continued “We just didn’t play the doubles that I wanted us to play, but there were some bright spots.”

One of those bright spots would be the play of senior Lina Lileikite who would finish her singles career with a straight set win over a ranked opponent for Miami’s only point. On the season, Miami reached its 10th consecutive Sweet 16, finished in the top 4 of the ACC for the 11th year in a row, and is sending 3 players to the NCAA Individual Championship (Wait a Minute! Didn’t we just finish the NCAA Championship?!? Different Championship.) Wagner and Lohan will be competing in singles while Wagner and Lileikite will compete in doubles. This takes place May 20-25 at Baylor University.

It was a great season; one that Coach Paige can certainly build upon. Better luck next year. GO ‘CANES!

For more on the Miami Hurricanes follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.

Third Time’s The Charm

The University of Miami Hurricanes Women’s tennis team will meet the North Carolina Tarheels for the third time this season, but this time it’s in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship. On the two previous occasions, UNC would come out on top; 4-0 on Feb. 7 and 5-2 on April 4. Pretty solid victories for the #2 team in the nation, but that was then and this is now. The Hurricanes are coming off of 2 solid wins in Regional play and playing some of their best tennis this season, accumulating ACC honors like a bookshelf collects dust, effortlessly.

wagner hurricanes player to watch

And leading the charge for the ‘Canes is the ITA Southeast Region Player to Watch, Stephanie Wagner. Wagner would finish the season as the 11-th ranked singles player in the country and be selected to the All-ACC First Team. She has a 13-3 singles record at the No. 1 position, and when paired with Senior Lina Lileikite, the two of them would rank as the no. 17 doubles team in the nation. Stephanie would be the last one standing in the Hurricanes match against Ole Miss in the second round of the Tournament. After taking the first set 6-1, she would go down 3-5 in the second. It looked like a third set would be necessary, but Wagner moved into second gear, rattling off 4 straight games, and taking the straight set victory 6-1, 7-5. The win would send her team into the Sweet 16 for the 10th consecutive year.

Lohan Hurricanes Leaping BH 2 Sinead Lohan – EXPLOSIVE!

In the no. 2 singles spot is the freshman out of Ireland, Sinead Lohan. Sinead would also earn All-ACC honors, placing 10th in the voting to make the second team. Lohan is the first player in Hurricanes history to be selected ACC Freshman of the Year; a sizeable accomplishment on a team with such history. Sinead currently sits as the #37-ranked singles player in the country in singles and with her partner, Wendy Zhang, possess a 9-4 record in doubles. In the first round of the Championship, against North Florida, Lohan downed her opponent 6-1, 6-1 and was the first player off the court. Against Ole Miss she routed her opponent 6-1, 6-3 and would, again, be the first one off the court. Her explosive play was too much for them to handle.

But wait, there’s more! the Hurricanes have a total of 5 nationally-ranked players compared to the Tarheels’ 4: #11 Wagner, #37 Lohan, #83 Clementina Riobueno, #108 Wendy Zhang, #115 Lina Lileikite. And in a best-of-seven match like those played in College tennis, the #2 team can fall at any time… like today at 10am against the Miami Hurricanes.

For more on your favorite Florida college tennis teams follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis. GO TEAM!

3 Florida Teams in the Sweet 16

Florida Representin’ In The NCAA Championship

4 teams from the state of Florida entered Round Two of the NCAA Championship on Saturday with 3 teams moving on to the Sweet 16. On the Women’s side we have the University of Florida Gators and the Miami University Hurricanes. On the Men’s side we have the Florida State University Seminoles and the University of South Florida Bulls. Four teams ranked throughout the year, two of them hosting regional matches, one of them winning their Conference Championship.

Let’s start with the bad news. I started by saying 3 out of 4 teams made it to the Sweet 16, so who missed the cut.? It saddens me to say that the Florida State Seminoles were knocked out in less-than-glorious fashion by the Georgia Bulldogs, 0-4.

FSU loss 0-4 georgia

Here’s the promo the Seminoles put out following their loss to the Bulldogs. Not sure if I would have made such a big deal out of such an embarrassing loss. But, anyway. The Seminoles now move into the off-season where Juniors Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez were selected to compete in the 2015 NCAA Div I Men’s Tennis Championship. Lock will compete in singles while Lock and Nunez will compete in doubles. Good luck!

Now for the good news!

Gators Liang Porter Thornqvist

The University of Florida Gators women’s team played host to Georgia Tech on Saturday, but could learn a thing or two about hospitality, dismissing the Yellow Jackets 4-0 to move into the Sweet 16. For the #5-ranked team in the nation, this match was never in doubt. The Gators won the doubles 2-0 thanks to the gritty play of Josie Kuhlman/Belinda Woolcock and Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan. Both matches lasted less than an hour with the final scores of 8-2 and 8-5, respectively. Spencer Liang and Peggy Porter were close to finishing their opponents when the outcome was determined.

In the singles, the Gators took the first set on 5 out of 6 courts. Securing the finish for UF would be Belinda Woolcock, Brianna Morgan, and Josie Kuhlman. Brooke Austin, and Kourtney Keegan were in the lead when the outcome was determined. According to Head Coach Roland Thornqvist: “Our doubles play was just exceptional all weekend. …I was very pleased to see that we were the aggressive team. If we weren’t, things could’ve been a little hairy… because their [Georgia Tech] No. 3 team has been on fire.” In singles, “Belinda [Woolcock] was just outstanding, as she was off the court right away (1:09) that certainly helped our momentum. We are playing, in my mind, the best tennis we have played all year and that’s certainly coming at a great time.”

The Florida Gators now travel to Waco, Tx to face Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. The Cowgirls are 22-5 on the season and 7-2 in the Big 12, a very tough conference. Florida, however, is advancing to the Round of 16 for the 32nd time in team history. They are 28-3 in the Sweet 16, 24-4 in the Elite 8, 13-11 in the Final Four, and 6-7 in the Championship match, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. GO GATORS!

Miami sweet success

The University of Miami Hurricanes had a more difficult time in their Regional match against Ole Miss on Saturday. It started with the Hurricanes dropping the doubles point 2-0. The pairings of Sinead Lohan/Stephanie Wagner and Monique Albuquerque/Silvia Fuentes would both fall 8-4 to Ole Miss before Lina Lileikite/Wendy Zhang could finish their match. Lileikite/Zhang were leading 7-5. Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews “The job at that moment is calm them down, get then focused, get them on target, get them believing in themselves, and put it behind them.” Which is what they did.

In singles, Miami would need ‘all hands on deck’ to pull out the win. Freshman Sinead Lohan would be the first to finish downing her opponent 6-1, 6-3. The score is tied at 1-1. Miami would take a 2-1 lead thanks to a win by Senior Monique Albuquerque, 6-4, 6-1. Ole Miss would get a win over Lina Lileikete evening the score at 2-2. The next match to finish would be a Miami win thanks to Freshman Wendy Zhang, 6-2, 6-3. Miami now leads 3-2. But Ole Miss would tie it up again with a win over freshman Silvia Fuentes. Which means it all comes down to court #1, and the Junior from Amberg, Germany, Stephanie Wagner. Wagner had taken the first set handily, 6-1, but her opponent decided to show up for the second, keeping things close the entire time, holding serve and even taking a 5-3 lead. Stephanie would need a break of her own to keep things from getting out of hand. And she would do just that, winning 4 games in a row, and finishing her opponent 7-5 in the second, giving the Miami Hurricanes the 4-3 victory and a berth in the Sweet 16. The Hurricanes are now 3-1 when dropping the doubles point this season.

Up next for the ‘Canes are the #2-seeded and #2-ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tarheels. This could be a tall order as the ‘Heels are 28-1 this season, 14-0 in the ACC, and beat the Hurricanes 5-2 on April 4. Keep your fingers crossed!

USF bulls team NCAA

Rounding out the Top 3 are the University of South Florida Bulls who would down Virginia Tech, 4-0, to make it to the Sweet 16. As simple as it sounds, the win would not come easy. Roberto Cid and Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz would win their doubles match, 8-3, but the pairing of Sasha Gozun/Vadym Kalyuzhnyy would need a tie break to take the set 8-3. Oliver Pramming and Justin Roberts would not finish, but were behind 6-7 when the doubles point was decided. “Virginia Tech has very good doubles, especially No. 1 and No. 2. I thought our guys did a great job of playing smart and competing really well throughout” Head Coach Matt Hill would say afterwards.

In singles, Justin Roberts would step up to take the first point with a crushing 6-0, 6-2 defeat of his VT opponent. The freshman from the Bahamas has continued to perform following his contribution to the Bulls’ second straight AAC Championship. Vadym Kalyuzhnyy would be the next to finish his opponent with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) tiebreak win. The sophomore from Ukraine had been a major contributor to the Bulls’ success all season long. And rounding out the top 4 for the Bulls is Sasha Gozun, the sophomore from Moldova, who would need three sets to finish his opponent, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The win marks the first time in program history the USF Bulls have made it to the NCAA Round of 16, and are booking their trip to Waco, Tx for the Championships.

Up next for the Bulls are the #2-seeded and #2-ranked team in the nation, the Baylor Bears, who will be hosting the NCAA Championship on their home courts. Talk about “home field” advantage. The bears are 23-5 on the season, 4-1 in the Big 12, and would lose to Oklahoma in their Conference Championship. On the other hand, the USF Bulls won their second Conference Championship in dominating fashion, and are now on a 7-game win streak. Can #19 defeat #2, we’ll find out May 14 at 8pm.

For more on your favorite Florida College tennis teams, follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.

Florida Teams Representing in NCAA’s

Friday May 8th marked the kickoff of the 2015 NCAA Tennis Championship. 7 Teams represented the state of Florida. On the Men’s side: University of South Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida Gulf Coast University. On the Women’s side: University of Florida, Miami University, and University of North Florida.

 

Many of the Florida teams would have a favorable draw coming into the tournament given how they finished the regular season. But there were a few notable exceptions.

 

FGCU men conference champs

Florida Gulf Coast Men – Finishing the season without a ranking, but winning their conference championship, would mean the Eagles would have to face UCLA in the first round. Not good. UCLA is the #15 team in the nation and would go 5-2 in the Pac-12, a very tough conference. Needless to say, FGCU would lose 4-0 to the Bruins to end their season. Better luck next year.

 

UNF women conference champs

North Florida Women – The UNF Ospreys went 17-4 this season, 6-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and would win their Conference championship. And for all of that they would receive #15 Miami Hurricanes in the opening round. The Hurricanes would go 12-2 in the ACC, another very tough conference. The ‘Canes were knocked out of their Conference championship so they were primed for revenge. They took it out on the Ospreys 4-0 in a match that wasn’t very close.

 

Other Florida teams received they draw they wanted, but one team did not get the result they were looking for.

 

UF men doubles blue shirt

University of Florida Men – The #21 Gators had the momentum coming in having won 3 of their last 4 including a win in their Conference championship. But the #42 Pepperdine Waves have had the Gators’ number going 5-3 in previous meetings and 2-0 in the NCAA tournament. Today would be no different as the Waves would drown the Gators 4-3 to move on to Round Two of the tournament.

Coach Paige and Wagner

Now, for the winners. Representing the southern part of Florida and moving on to the second round of the tournament would be the Miami Hurricanes women who soundly defeated the North Florida Ospreys 4-0. The doubles teams of Lohan/Wagner and Albuquerque/Fuentes would secure the doubles point while Lohan, Wagner, and Fuentes would put the finishing touches on the victory. Next up for the ‘Canes are the Runnin’ Rebels of Mississippi.

UF doubles Liang Porter

University of Florida Women – The Gators would receive one of the more favorable draws in the tournament, hosting the first two rounds at home, and facing Bethune-Cookman in the first round. They would make quick work of the Wildcats winning by a score of 4-0 and moving on to face Georgia Tech in Round Two. Georgia Tech would finish the season ranked 27, making it all the way to the finals of the ACC Championship. This could be tough.

USF NCAA first round

Florida State Men – The Seminoles would have to travel to Athens, Ga. to begin the tournament. Finishing the regular season at #33 would mean starting in the middle of the pack, no easy task. Up first would be the Troy Trojans, winners of the Sun Belt Conference Championship. The ‘Noles were up to the task, soundly defeating the Trojans 4-0 and moving on to face the host team, the #7 Georgia Bulldogs. Could this be the end of the line for the Seminoles? We’ll find out May 9 at 3pm.

 

USF men doubles green shorts

Rounding out the top 7 Florida college tennis teams are the Bulls of South Florida men’s team. The Bulls are repeat AAC champions and would travel to Blacksburg, Va. to face the Mountain West champions, the Boise State Broncos. These two teams faced each other in the regular season with The Bulls coming out on top. Today would be no different as they would rattle off a 4-0 win to move into Round Two, and to face host team, Virginia Tech.

 

Day One of the NCAA Championship is in the books and our teams are getting some rest for Round Two. Good Job, Florida!

 

For more on Game Day match results be sure to follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.

 

Seminoles in Georgia for NCAA

Juniors Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez

The Florida State Seminoles Men’s tennis team enter NCAA Tournament play on Friday, May 8, at 11am against the Troy Trojans at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The Seminoles received their 13th consecutive bid to the tournament thanks to finishing with a 19-10 record that would put them at #33 in the Nation. The Seminoles are a fairly young team, having only one senior on the roster, but thanks to the steady singles play of juniors Benjamin Lock and Michael Rinaldi, both nationally-ranked players at #44 and #109, respectively, Florida State would navigate the regular season for a shot in the playoffs.

Troy will be a test for Florida State, having finished their season at #53 (25-6) but the Seminoles have seen pretty stiff competition in the ACC this season with wins over Louisville and NC State. The Trojans, however, are in the Championship for only the second time in school history thanks to a 17-win improvement over last season. Troy put 5 players on the All-Sun Belt teams, including a couple of first team selections, Head Coach Scott Kidd would receive Coach of the Year.

FSU Hultquist red pants Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist

These two teams faced each other in January with the ‘Noles coming out on top, 4-0. But the Trojans would finish the season on a 5-game win streak, including becoming Sun Belt Conference Champions. “Troy is a great team and Scott (Kidd) has done a great job there building that program,” said Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist. “They played a bunch of SEC teams tight and we know we’ll have to be ready for them.” Of course, every coach must show some respect to their opponent, but we all know the outcome of this one. Or do we?

FSU Terrell ACC Freshman Terrell Whitehurst

The Seminoles are 3-3 in postseason play in Athens dating back to 1996. They are 13-17 all time in the NCAA Tournament and are looking for their first, first-round win since 2012. Last season, in the opening round, they would fall to South Florida. So a berth in the tournament is no guarantee of a victory… especially when you consider the Seminoles finished the regular season on a 3-game losing streak to enter the conference championship. The Seminoles would fall to #6 Duke, #4 Virginia, and #14 Virginia Tech; most recently losing to Virginia, again, in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship.

 

Do the Seminoles have what it takes to rebound from these recent losses? Will the added time to recover be a boost or a burden to Florida State? Can the Trojans continue their end-of-season momentum into the NCAA Championship? Can the #13-ranked doubles team of Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez earn three points for their team? Will senior Cristian Gonzalez Mendez end his career on a high note? Will freshman Terrell Whitehurst continue to contribute to the team in singles? We’ll find out, Friday morning, 11am, streaming on the Georgia Bulldogs network.

Like Climbing Mt. Everest, Alone

A long time ago, when All American Team Tennis was just getting started, we would award our players with trophies; nothing too grand, just the oval, pewter plates with crossed checkered flags on them. Since then we’ve graduated to championship rings because they’re WAAAAY cooler.

 

 

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But I remember stopping by the trophy shop to pick up the name plates and while I was waiting, a man with a little girl came into the shop. You could tell they were tennis players by the way they were dressed, and by the trophy she would receive. The man spoke to the clerk, asking for the trophy they had ordered. The clerk went into the back and came out with a pillar trophy, no more than a foot tall, and handed it to the little girl. Then the man (who may have been her coach) and the clerk looked at the girl and said “YAY! Good Job!”

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Seeing as I was there for the same reason, except I was getting awards for a Team to be recognized at an Awards Ceremony, I immediately drew comparisons. I would never say anything to them in the shop, but I held onto the image in the back of my mind because it’s one of the reasons I run my tennis program as a tennis League. Community.

All too often I hear tennis players complain about how much the people around them get on their nerves: How they prefer singles because there’s no one to make them lose. I often hear from adults who say the conflict of teammates in other sports drove them to tennis. Which begs the question: are you running FROM something or running TO something. Are you playing tennis because you wish to be left alone? Are you playing singles because of your inability to get along with other people? Listen, no matter where you go in life, there will be other people there. And like it or, you need them as much as they need you. Like it or not, we all need each other.

I watch as much college tennis as I can because I prefer the synergy of people working together, like in football or basketball. And the way college tennis matches are conducted can be very exciting. They start with 3 courts of doubles and the team who wins 2 out of 3 wins one point for the team (we’ll talk about that debacle in another post). Then they move onto the round of singles where many of the doubles players, but not all of them, will get a court to themselves. Six matches, all being played at the same time, until one team wins a total of 4 points, including the doubles point. Meaning, if you won the doubles point, all you need are three singles, but if you lost the doubles, you need four singles. It’s a ‘Best-of-seven’ much like the NBA Playoffs, or Major League Baseball. It is this combination of individual achievement paired with team accomplishment that I find intriguing. And over the course of 7 games, either team could win. But even more important than winning and losing is the feeling of Community that develops between players because they all depend on each other. When they need something they have someone to turn to, and they are also there when someone needs them. And the celebration when they win is better than anything I’ve seen on the pro circuit (why are they lying on the ground?)

A video posted by @fsuwtennis on

That is why I found the scene at the trophy store so sad. This little girl had achieved something no one else had done and she had no one to share it with. In her respective division she had climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest and the person at the top, waiting to congratulate her, was the gift shop owner selling mini Everest snow globes and souvenir pins.

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Yes, the girl received a trophy as a reminder of what she had done, but who’s going to see it? Will she take it to school and show her friends or will they come to her house? What if her friends don’t play tennis? What if her friends DO play tennis and she beat them in the tournament? Will she show her parents, teacher, family? How does it feel to accomplish something and have no one to share it with?

Tennis is full of players who believe they are superior to every other player, including players in other sports. But how can this be when the tennis “experts” tell us the reason we don’t have an American at #1 in the world is because “America’s best athletes are playing other sports”? LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Clayton Kershaw could have been tennis players… if the sport were more appealing. So this holier-than-thou attitude of tennis players is simply misplaced. It also makes it hard to become friends with other people. And what is life if you live it alone?

I enjoy playing tennis because I like hitting things. That’s it. In fact, I believe WE ALL enjoy hitting things. But it has to be about more than just hitting things if we are going to get back on TV (ESPN3 doesn’t count as TV). So why don’t more people play/watch tennis? Ask the little girl in the trophy shop.

UNF Ospreys Sign Deautriell

The University of North Florida Men’s tennis team signs their latest 5-star recruit for the 2015-2016 season, Jonathan Deautriell. A native of Pembroke Pines, FL, Deautriell comes to the Ospreys from the Bill Clark Tennis Academy in Hollywood, FL. “I chose UNF because it was the perfect mix of academics, athletics, and social life,” said Deautriell.

In the juniors, Deautriell would be ranked as high as 60, nationally, and 7, in the state of Florida. He recorded his highest national ranking in 2012, climbing as high as 49; consistently high marks for the senior from Flanagan High School.

Deautriell has been enjoying his senior year of high school, but is really looking forward to playing for the North Florida Ospreys. “The dream is an NCAA title, but my main goal is to give everything I can to the team and school.”

UNF has been nationally ranked throughout the entire Spring, have gone 5-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and would reach the Conference finals before falling to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in a close 4-3 finish. Could Jonathan Deautriell be the difference in the Osprey’s 2016? We’ll find out soon enough.

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