MATCH POINT NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2011
 
 
David Ferrer Jumps Off to Hot Start in 2011

iTUSA's David Ferrer jumped off to a blazing start in 2011, winning the ATP Heineken Open hosted in Auckland, New Zealand. Beating top German player Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters, Ferrer went on to beat #21 ranked David Nalbandian, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.

Ferrer followed up his tournament win in New Zealand with a great run at the Australian Open. In the quarterfinals, he beat world's number one and fellow countryman Rafael Nadal in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Ferrer's run came to an end in the semifinals against the #5 world-ranked player, Andy Murray, where he lost two tie-breaks in 4 hard-fought sets, 6-4, 6-7, 1-6, 6-7.

Through the first month of the season, Ferrer has won more matches (9) than any other ATP player. Now ranked #6 in the world, Ferrer aims to improve on his career-high ranking of #4. David's brother, Javier Ferrer, will be joining iTUSA founder Rafael Font de Mora and Mariano Peinado in hosting the iTUSA Summer Player Development program (see details below).

 
 
iTUSA Summer Player Development Program

iTUSA is announcing a new Summer Player Development Program, accelerating the iTUSA mission to turn "Players into Champions."

The program will be overseen and directed by iTUSA founder and president Rafael Font de Mora, as well as Javier Ferrer, brother of ATP world's number six player David Ferrer and Director of the David Ferrer Academy in Spain.

Players will benefit in a number of ways:

• Experience of training with Mariano Peinado (David Ferrer’s development coach from ages 5-12).
• Advanced player development in every area of the game, from fitness, to stroke mechanics, to mental toughness.
• Learn the championship Spanish game, particularly on how this is executed on clay courts.
• Learn something of the Spanish language and culture (no, you don't need to speak Spanish to participate).
• Direct supervision and training by Javier Ferrer and Rafael Font de Mora.

The program is open to all intermediate and advanced players. There are a number of options available to participants, from half and full day training, as well as tournament play.

The program will get underway during the summer months at the iTUSA world-class training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona and at the David Ferrer Academy in Spain in July. The costs are $1,000 to $2,000 per week, depending on the service and program.

Reservation deadline is May 1, 2011. Click here for more details and to sign-up.


More iTUSA Player Success

Another group of iTUSA members is enjoying success through the iTUSA program. Barb Meyer has been a USPTA certified teaching pro for 18 years. She is currently the Head Tennis Professional at Oak Ridge Country Club and the Head Coach of Orono High School’s girls tennis team. Barb has also started the Meyer Tennis Academy which focuses on developing top-level players.

After meeting Rafael (Rafa) Font de Mora 4 years ago during a trip to Scottsdale, Barb was amazed at the method of coaching and the rapid advancement of the iTUSA players. Since then she has begun to bring her players from Minnesota down to work with Rafael and the iTUSA coaches. "Our players are transformed by his coaching. Rafa can instantly tell what a player needs to do to improve,” said Meyer. "I get to watch Rafa and his staff work with my players firsthand so when we return home we can continue improving their game."

Now with iTUSA's Level 2 Coaches Program, Meyer can upload videos of her players, use the iTUSA platform and methodology, and present the finished videos with her personalized logo with no reference to iTUSA.

Click here to view one of Barb's completed lessons.


18s Star Myiesha Simmons Training with iTUSA

Based in Dublin, California, 18 year old Myiesha Simmons is already gathering media attention as the "next Venus Williams." She won her first tournament at age 5, and has now won 10 18's single titles. Her tall, athletic frame, her two-handed backhand, and her fierce competitiveness have all contributed to her achievements and the comparisons to a young Venus Williams. After her initial training with Rafael (Rafa) Font de Mora at the iTUSA World-Class Player Development center in Scottsdale, Arizona, Myiesha's parents sent the following commendation to iTUSA: "Hi, Rafa. Since we have adapted to the iTUSA values, Myiesha has proven to be a formidable opponent. Thank you so much! We can't wait until she trains there full time." Myiesha's stated goal is to play on the WTA tour.

iTUSA congratulates Myiesha on her success and welcomes her to the iTUSA family.

Click here to see a television news report about Myiesha on YouTube.


iTUSA Upgrades Its Computer Systems

iTUSA is going through the process of upgrading its web servers. As the company's reach grows around the world, it has become necessary to build a more robust system to handle the additional load. This upgrade could cause intermittent loss of service during the transition, as we experienced last week. We appreciate your patience during this exciting period of growth. This upgrade will allow iTUSA to continue bringing you the valuable tennis training tools and services you've grown to love in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

 
 
iTUSA Africa Tennis Foundation Update - Dreaming With Arnaud Sewanou

The African Tennis Foundation is providing a bright future for a talented young African tennis player. His name is Arnaud Sewanou from the tiny West African nation of Benin. Arnaud witnessed his first professional athlete up close and personal this month, when he attended a Phoenix Suns basketball game. Though he has never seen a pro athlete up close, it didn't stop him from relating to these great athletes. As Arnaud watched the likes of Steve Nash and Vince Carter run up and down the court in front of thousands of people, he dreams of one day being the one standing on the court rather than sitting in his stadium seat. This is a dream that many young African athletes have, but unfortunately do not have the opportunity to pursue.

Read the background of Arnaud’s story from our October newsletter here.

Through the African Tennis Foundation, Arnaud has been given an opportunity that thousands like him have been dreaming to have. So while he smiles and laughs as the Suns gorilla mascot leaps off a trampoline into the air, he knows there is a long road ahead and tomorrow he will be back on the tennis court working on his skills and craft. The hopes and dreams of many are placed on this young African tennis player's shoulders. He is one young athlete with great potential, attempting to bring to light the talent and potential of the entire continent of Africa.

Click here to view a special video and to learn how you can help the Foundation.
 




 
Forehand Volley Control and Put-Away

Objective: Master the forehand volley.

Description: This is a two person drill, with the pro (or hitting partner) standing at the baseline on one side of the court and the player standing just inside the service line on the opposite side of the net, and located in the middle or the same side of the court as the pro. The objective is for the player to master the mid-court or set-up volley, which is usually hit around or inside the service line and directed into one corner of the opposite court. Once the player hits the set-up volley and "corners" his opponent (pinning him deep to one side of the court), his goal should be to close to the net and put away the volley into the open court.

The drill begins with the pro driving the ball low to the player on the opposite side of the net, simulating a match play ball that the player would have to handle at the service line. In this drill, the player volleys deep back to the pro, practicing the deep, set-up volley. This deep volley requires some good extension to achieve good depth, so it's not a block or chop volley. The shot is hit with underspin, but it's a controlled drive deep into the opponent's court. After two or three volleys, the player moves closer to the net. The pro then drives a passing shot, and the player moves forward and puts away the volley into the open court. The put-away shot is hit closer to the net which allows the player to truly drive the ball down and through the court, while still maintaining a margin of safety.

This drill is excellent for honing the volley stroke path on the set-up drive volley and acquiring the movement and aggressiveness to make the put-away volley. These are the type of drills and expertise developed in iTUSA's advanced player development program.

Click here to see the video of iTUSA player Guillermo Garcia-Lopez practicing this drill.

More Drills in iTUSA's Training Drills Database

In the coming week, the iTUSA Training Drills Database will be expanded with 9 new drills.

Please visit this link to view iTUSA's Training Drills Database with over 1,000 training drills:
http://www.itusatennis.com/training-drills-database

 


Watch Instructional Drill Now
 
The Transition from Junior to Professional Tennis Player, by Dr. Robert Soloway

About Dr. Soloway

Dr. Robert Soloway has a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Emory University with a specialty in motor skill behavior. He is author of Tennis in the New Age and producer of the video, Seeing the Ball. He currently lives in the Atlanta area where he trains tennis players in focus and concentration. Click here to contact Dr. Soloway.

The Transition from Junior to Professional Tennis Player

The transition from Junior player to top Professional player involves several factors, some physical and some mental. Of course, physical size becomes an issue, as does fitness. However, I believe there are several “mental” transitions that need to be made to move from a top Junior to a top Professional. Unfortunately, few players make all of them.

  1. Watching a slow moving ball is a different skill from watching a fast moving ball. If you have ever watched 8 year olds exchange groundstrokes, you know that it is not much of a challenge for them to watch the ball. The ball is looping towards them and it doesn’t matter what they do with their heads, necks, or eyes, they will probably not lose track of it. As they progress, opponents will begin to hit the ball flatter and faster and they will have to develop techniques for watching a faster-moving ball. Some of them will make this transition effortlessly because they developed good habits early on, possibly by chance. However, some of the Juniors will have developed bad ball watching habits, which no one will have noticed. As their opponents get bigger and hit harder, their game will suffer. If your older Junior cannot deal with being hit pace or depth, this may be their problem. If they can return this type of shot, but don’t reply with a smart shot, their problem may be this issue, or #2 below.

     
  2. The game of tennis requires that you hit the ball to a desired location. Somewhere between the time your opponent hits the ball and the time you hit it back, you must try to make the decision: exactly what shot am I hitting back? Juniors who make that decision, late in the flight of the ball, can get away with it when they are young and the game is slow and simple. As soon as the game gets faster and more complicated, this slow decision-making will become a problem. One reason why is this: If you are trying to hit a 70+ MPH groundstroke, the perceptual challenge, that is watching the ball, becomes very difficult at the end of the flight. You do not want to be figuring out what shot to hit back at the same time. Players who decide early can get into better position, prepare better, and see the ball better as they impact it. A young junior must be encouraged to decide on his choice of return shot early in the flight of the ball toward him/her.

     
  3. A young junior player has a greater percentage of their eventual speed than of their eventual power. Frequently a boy’s 10-year-old match will go on for hours because no one has the power to hit a winner from the baseline and few 10-year-olds come to the net (they just get lobbed). At the younger ages most players can run down almost every shot and get into very good position. This means that the player can almost always set up and impact the ball at their favorite impact point, maybe knee high or thigh high or hip high. In addition, they can set up at their favorite point after the bounce (usually on the way back down from the highest point of the bounce). However, as pace and power increases, a player will be forced to hit more balls at various heights and at various points in the flight of the ball. The pace of the ball will simply not allow them to get to that perfect spot all the time. For example; a deep ball to a 10-year-old means to retreat and loop it back. By 16, a deep ball will mean learning to hit a ball on the rise at the baseline, maybe ankle high. Many young players can win by repeating the same stroke, impacted at the same height, at the same point in its bounce, over and over. The percentage of these shots will fall from almost 90% at 10 years of age, to probably 50% by 18. The juniors who make this transition will keep winning.

     
  4. Older juniors must learn to develop a “proactive” mindset to do as much as possible with each shot, as opposed to reactive thinking. Many juniors don’t know how to create situations; they just wait for them to develop. For example, if your opponent comes to the net, most juniors would target the next shot because the situation demands it. That is REACTIVE. But, if you get a ball in the center of the court and you just hit it back without a particular idea of what you should do to create a problem for your opponent, you have not been PROACTIVE. The proactive player is thinking, “What is the most I can safely do with this shot?” These players see angles and spins and depth as weapons. If you are watching a junior match and both players are continuously banging backhand crosscourt strokes at each other, a very common occurrence, it is a safe bet that they are reactive, waiting for an opening instead of trying to create one. When you see a player who uses variety in pace, spin, arc, depth, like Federer, they are being proactive.


Most juniors won’t get through this set of transitions. Many will grow frustrated as they become gradually worse with age. If they have bad ball-watching habits, or decision-making patterns, no one will know until it shows up and causes problems. Unfortunately, for some, no one will ever notice.

Younger players who have been winning as juniors by repetition and the ability to run down every ball and hit the same swing back repeatedly will begin to fail as they are asked to hit more off-balanced and rushed strokes with less than ideal swings.

A reactive mindset is common in young people. They aren’t allowed to make decisions about much in their lives, like when to go to bed or what to have for dinner. So when they get to the tennis court, they tend to wait for things to just happen. Adults MAKE things happen. That is being proactive.

If you are the coach or parent of a rising junior, make sure your player is developing psychologically as well as physically. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know what’s happened to him/her,” check to see if they have made the necessary transitions in order to move up to higher levels. Some of these transitions will not come naturally to many players, but if discovered, can be taught. Only then will the player be able to move up to the next level, and save everyone from great frustration.

 

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