|MATCH POINT NEWSLETTER JULY 2011|
iTUSA's Bojan Temunovic Wins at the US Open National Playoffs Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament
We at iTUSA would like to congratulate current iTUSA standout Bojan Temunovic for his victory at the US National Playoffs Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament. As a result of Bojan's victory, he has been invited to compete in the US Open National Playoffs Men's Singles Championships. The Singles Championships, which will be taking place on August 18 – 21, are hosted at the Connecticut Tennis Center on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut. The tournament will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale, presented by First Niagara, a WTA event part of the Olympus US Open Series.
Bojan will be one of 16 sectional qualifying winners competing for the wild card entry into the 2011 US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 23 - 26, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.
Bojan has been preparing for his grand slam debut with Rafael Font de Mora in Scottsdale, Arizona. iTUSA will be showcasing some of Bojan's training drills that he is using to prepare for the US Open National Playoffs, starting in August. Remember, to gain access to these exclusive training drills sign up on the iTUSA website (www.itusatennis.com) under the ‘Drill of the Week’ link to follow and receive Bojan's training drills for free. "Bojan has incredible raw talent and has world class athleticism. With some good training and continuity he can make a breakthrough in the ATP Tour" says Rafael Font de Mora. Click here to see an example of Bojan’s athleticism.
Bojan was the #1 junior in Yugoslavia U-14 and 16's. He was part of the National team and played Junior Davis Cup before moving to the USA. Since arriving in the USA he has been the hitting partner for Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Meghann Shaughnessy and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
iTUSA encourages its players, like Bojan, to work their way up from ITF Junior events to futures and satellites, through challenges and qualifying for ATP, WTA, and Grand Slam events. This in our opinion builds the foundation and character of a top level player for a longer and more sustainable period of time, and also teaches our players how to work for and earn everything they have. Wild cards and short-cut routes are not part of the iTUSA culture.
"From the first day I started working with iTUSA and Rafael [Font de Mora], I knew there was something special about this place. The training has been very intense, serious, and extremely focused. Throughout my time with Rafael, I have not only learned a lot about my tennis game, but I have learned a lot about myself as a person. Above all Rafael has taught me how to focus my training efforts which allows me to spend every second getting better. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Rafael and iTUSA and to continuing my success. Winning the Grand Slam has been my dream and would be the biggest accomplishment of my career."
June Lee Makes Her ITF Overseas Debut Reaching The Quarterfinals in Singles and Doubles at the Raquette D'Or ITF Event in Morocco
Congratulations to June Lee, for beating #7 seed Viktoriya Lushkova of the Ukraine in the round of 16, at the Raquette D'Or ITF event in Morocco. June came very close to reaching the Semi-finals, before losing to South Africa's Lynn Kiro 1-6 7-5 5-7.
In Doubles she partnered with France's Marine Partaud to reach the Quarterfinals losing to the #2 seeds in the 3rd set tie-breaker. June continues making great strides to accomplish one of her goals and finish the year in the top 200. (2nd year goal in her iTUSA development plan). iTUSA utilizes Goal Setting and Development Plans as part of their overall advanced program. You can view a sample of iTUSA's Goal Setting and Development Plan by clicking here. Each iTUSA player works with a member of the iTUSA staff to discuss and document realistic and measureable developmental progress plans and goals. Each goal is assigned a date for completion and routine goal reviews take place with a member of the iTUSA staff. iTUSA's Developmental Plans are broken down into yearly, monthly, and weekly programs, which include step-by-step directions on what it will take to achieve each player's set goals.
Contact iTUSA if you would like to see other Development Plan samples and differences between yearly, monthly and weekly plans and goals.
10 Kids from Spain Travel to Arizona for iTUSA's Summer Camp
iTUSA would like to welcome the 10 international Spanish tennis players, Manuel Becerril, Jaime & Paloma Cervera, Miguel Centenera, Andrea & Sara Moya, Rebeca Castineira, Jorge de Francisco, Mikel Calleja and Jaime Delgado to the iTUSA Summer Camp and Scottsdale, Arizona.
During the Summer Camp players will receive top-level tennis instruction daily from 8:00am - 11:00am and be exposed to a wide variety of the Western United States. The Spanish players are staying with host families in the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley area for the nearly 8-week-long camp.
During their stay in Arizona, the players will attend weekly activities, including field trips to water parks, the Science Center, Diamondbacks games, and more great attractions Arizona has to offer. Last weekend the players traveled to see the beautiful Grand Canyon, and in two weeks they will be heading to the “Golden State” - California.
All of us at iTUSA would like to give a big "Thank You" to our host families, which include the families of - Kevin & Carol Broerman, Okoi Okoi & Rhonda Rommel-Okoi, Michael & Lynn Fucci, Greg & Mary-Beth Abbott, Kirk & Susan Parker, Alan & Tracy Spalter, Michelle Paz Soldán & Neil Crawford, Josh & Nicole Magdziarz, Assen & Daniela Dobrikov, Donn Hogan & Robin Hanna Hogan, John & Kathy McElvogue, Paco & Vivian Perez, and the Borie family.
Glen Flint is directing the iTUSA Summer Camp. Flint, who is originally from Perth, Australia, has been on the pro tour for 17 years working with the likes of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and Andy Roddick. Aside from his duties as Director of Tennis, Glen will be contributing monthly to the iTUSA newsletter.
Arnaud Extends His Winning Streak to 12 Matches!
Arnaud has won his 4th consecutive event at the Boys U16 Junior event at Scottsdale Ranch Park. Part of the proper development of a young player is building confidence through playing and winning a lot of matches. Winning is a habit, and so is losing. Playing tournament levels accordingly is important to move through the different levels with success. "I love to compete and win!" said Arnaud.
Click here to view a special video and to learn how you can help the Foundation.
Read the background of Arnaud’s story from our October 2010 newsletter here.
Disguise Short Range Groundstrokes with Drop Hitting, by Jofre Porta
When you look at the reaction, anticipation and agility of Nadal and Moya, it would be easy to believe that athletic ability is a trait you are either born with or without. After you see Jofre's drill and his unique approach you will begin to understand that all these components can and should be taught at a young age.
Feeding or drop hitting balls is an art, and as you can see from the video, Jofre is a master of this skill. This basic drill develops your reaction for both of your groundstrokes by adjusting to balls in all directions, speeds, and heights. We encourage coaches to work with their players on their drop hitting skills to add disguise and unpredictability to each shot. That way each drill will provide the efficiency to achieve maximum results. Increase the difficulty of each feed as the player progresses, so you continue to challenge their skills and comfort level.
For players it is most important to always maintain balance when hitting the ball. Concentrate on your body's posture and balance while doing this drill. This exercise has to be done with a high degree of focus and alertness. Keep your eyes focused on the hands of the person drop hitting.
In the upcoming months we will add more advanced drills from Jofre's methodology that can be used for all levels of play and for people that seek maximum performance.
Jofre Porta has already had a remarkably successful coaching career. He is the man who coached Carlos Moya from the juniors to becoming the French Open Champion in 1998, all the way to helping Moya become the #1 player in the world in 1999. Jofre also played a critical role in coaching Rafael Nadal in his formative years (between the ages 8 to 17). Jofre was in charge of helping Nadal getting established on the right foot as a professional.
Click here to watch the drill.
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Coaching and talent are not enough anymore. Those that still think so are being left behind.
Over the years, the sport of tennis has been evolving very fast to the point that every six months the game takes a leap forward. The stakes are higher than they have ever been before and so are the number of players attempting to find a place amongst the world’s best. Andre Agassi recently said,"I rate it (the game now) a hell of a lot better than it was when I played. These guys are something special…”
Talent, without a doubt, still plays an important part in helping people to reach the top; however, this is far from sufficient to secure a place amongst the world’s best. In my time as a coach to several top players on the WTA Tour as well as several international juniors, I realized that it is the proper management of all the dimensions that a player has in their career that produces the extraordinary results we all seek.
You will normally find that those that are able to produce that “extra” are the ones that go from ordinary to extraordinary. This extra is normally found outside the court. Yes, the on court work is extremely important, but as we all know any serious contender will get that done and yet some make it, and most don’t.
Over the years we have come to discover that the emotional stability of the player is the most important part of their career and repertoire. The level of competition in today’s game has meant that great demands are placed on this part of the player yet very often little attention is given to this area. The reason for this is that most people are unaware of this dimension.So, they spend very little attention and time on it, if any at all, hence the ordinary results.
Like most coaches I spent time devoting my attention to tennis-related matters, though unlike many I also spent a considerable amount of time helping the player learn to develop the parts of the player that most coaches don’t consider, such as their personal, relational and emotional self. This approach yielded remarkable results. All the players I had the opportunity to work with were not necessarily the most talented or gifted, yet they achieved results that are normally reserved for those that are, on a consistent basis.
As a top-level professional tennis coach I understand the need for laser-like focus and priorities. I also understand that the court-specific demands of the position make it difficult to address all the other issues in an athlete’s life. This is why a coach needs an ally to influence the areas of an athlete’s life that affect court performance, but don’t occur on the court or in the gym.
The role I am speaking of is a coaching advocate, or life performance coach. This unique position works in the spaces the typical tennis coach is not hired to specifically address: global life issues such as time management, self-discovery, priorities, values, and relationships that affect an athlete all the time, not just when their tennis coach is available. A life performance coach supports the athlete in addressing these issues with the player, and possibly even with the coach, the family and others involved in the athlete’s career.
Like Al Pacino said in his famous locker room speech in the movie Any Given Sunday, “The inches we need are all around us”. This new kind of coaching will help you to discover and maximize every available inch around the player. Examples of this are the parents being coached on what is the best way to assist their son or daughter by understanding what their role should be and how it should be expressed in practical ways. This assists the coach in his or her effectiveness, as well as not taking away momentum from the player’s journey.
Another example of this would be the player receiving an honest and challenging partner to walk through the issues of growing in maturity that helps them develop as an individual.This helps them balance life’s demands, people’s expectations, and maximize their development in those outside-the-court areas that bring either distraction or energy into their career. Also, the coach on the court would have someone alongside to assist in making sure that the complete development took place.
The role of this new type of coach is not to take over the current coach’s job or leadership, but instead to assist and empower the coach, the trainer, and the whole team. The player benefits when the team shares common goals and understanding as to the best type of working environment to help the player achieve their goals.
I have helped three top players turn their careers around by helping them change these dimensions in their lives. When they came to me, without exception, they were struggling and under-achieving. Their results were way below their talent and abilities. I empowered them to change, and as they did, their results and achievements changed with them. They went further than they had ever been before.
My journey has helped me become aware of the “inches”; how to help players and their teams get them and make the most of them. I learnt this through trial and error and the results that I produced consistently with those I worked with.
During my shift from an “on court” coach, to an “in life” coach, even I have experienced surprise at the speed of results. This unique coaching partnership brings more change to a player’s confidence and performance than either coach imagines possible. Shifts in perspective and attitude often bring immediate results on the court.
This may be a new trend in professional sport, but not for long. Others are seeing the results and clambering to get on board. If you are a player and thinking you might just “watch this space” and wait on getting yourself a life performance coach, you might just be watching others pass you up the rankings.
The world of tennis is flooded with talent, but too often the majority of it falls by the wayside and fails to reach its potential.
Follow the “Golden Rule” of Tennis, by Allen Fox, Ph.D.
About Dr. Allen Fox
Dr. Allen Fox earned a Ph.D. in psychology at UCLA and is a former NCAA champion, Wimbledon quarterfinalist, a three-time member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and coached the Pepperdine tennis team to two NCAA finals. He currently consults with tennis players on mental issues, appears in his popular 1-Minute Clinics on the Tennis Channel, and lectures world-wide on sports psychology. He is also an editor and writer for Tennis Magazine.
Dr. Fox is the author of four books: “IF I’M THE BETTER PLAYER, WHY CAN’T I WIN?”, “THINK TO WIN,” “THE WINNER’S MIND, a Competitor’s Guide to Sports and Business Success,” and “TENNIS: WINNING THE MENTAL MATCH.”
His books can be purchased on his website at www.allenfoxtennis.net.
FOLLOW THE “GOLDEN RULE” OF TENNIS
BOOK EXCERPT FROM “TENNIS: WINNING THE MENTAL MATCH”
By Allen Fox, Ph.D. © 2010, all rights reserved
The “Golden Rule” of tennis is the one simple rule that, if followed, will keep you out of more trouble than anything else. It is: Never do anything on court that doesn’t help you win. Granted, it sounds absurdly obvious, but few people consistently follow it. Adhering to this rule requires one to test any action before taking it with the simple question, “Will this help me win?” If the answer is not yes, don’t do it.
The great players rarely lose track, at least at some level, that the object of the game is to win the match. The average player, by contrast, often seems mindless of this elementary fact. Yet even professionals get caught up in the emotions of the match on occasion and forget.
A truly bizarre example of what can happen was provided by my friend, Jeff Tarango, a brilliant, funny, Stanford-educated tennis professional at Wimbledon in 1996. Tarango, then 26 years old, had never before won a match at Wimbledon. But this year he was in the third round and had an excellent chance of reaching the round of 16 because he was playing Alexander Mronz of Germany, whose name in the tennis world was hardly a household word.
During the match Tarango hit what he thought was an ace, but it was called a fault. While fruitlessly trying to convince the umpire to overrule the linesman, Tarango was heckled by the crowd. Angrily he told them to “Shut up.” The umpire gave him a code violation for “audible obscenity.” Although it only amounted to a warning, this so infuriated Tarango that he demanded the referee supervisor come to the court. The supervisor came and ruled that the warning would stand. Now enraged, Tarango called the umpire “the most corrupt official in the game” and was promptly assessed a point penalty for verbal abuse, costing him the game. At this Tarango blew his top, shouting, “That’s it. No way. That’s it.” He picked up his bags, stalked off the court, and entered the history books as the first player in the Open era to default himself at Wimbledon. To make matters worse (yes, it’s always possible), Tarango held a press conference at which he justified calling the umpire “corrupt” by accusing him, on the basis of hearsay, of having, in the past, “given” matches to players who were his friends.
Let’s tote up the damages. First, Tarango threw away an excellent chance to advance in the tournament since he was, after all, favored in the match. Second, he was defaulted in his mixed doubles, which did not endear him to his partner. Third, it cost him, in fines and lost additional prize money, an amount estimated to be in the neighborhood of $50,000, a considerable sum to a player who was not one of the stars of the game. Finally, his public image was not enhanced by making himself look like an overgrown brat who would have been well served by a few good spankings as a child. All in all it was not one of Tarango’s better afternoons, the object of the game (to win the match) having apparently slipped his mind.
With all these damages accruing as a result of his actions, one might reasonably wonder how a man of Tarango’s substantial intellect could have so completely lost track of his obvious goals? The answer is that his actions were driven by fears of failure (he was losing), exacerbated by the accumulated stress and emotion of the situation. Quitting was his unconscious way of escaping from an excessively stressful situation that he feared would end badly.
If you don’t believe this, picture the following thought experiment: God appears over Tarango’s shoulder and whispers in his ear that he is guaranteed to win the match. Now, what would Tarango have done? He might still have fought with the umpire, but I would bet a lot of money that he would not have left the court and defaulted. (For honesty's sake, I must confess that during my playing career I did some things in tournaments that were almost as counterproductive as Tarango’s actions. Under sufficient pressure, all of us are quite capable of making some very emotional and foolish decisions.)
The great champions are different. John McEnroe had a similar fiery temperament, but his situational judgment was better. He could usually remain somewhat rational even in the throes of emotionality. Because at some deep level he sensed he was going to win, he could comprehend where the line demarcating disaster was and control himself just well enough to avoid crossing it. He got into emotional twits where he made unreasonable demands, berated umpires, and threw matches into confusion, but he usually benefited from this. He intimidated linesmen into giving him the benefit on close calls, put his opponents off their games, and stimulated himself with adrenaline and often (but not always) played better.
One year he did manage to get himself defaulted in the Australian Open, but he said later that he had been unaware of a recent rule change where the authorities had cut down by one the number of abuses a player was allowed before default. The progression had formerly been “warning,” “point penalty,” “game penalty,” “DEFAULT,” but this had been changed to “warning,” “point penalty,” “DEFAULT.” McEnroe simply miscalculated and thought he could afford one more penalty. In contrast to Tarango, McEnroe may sometimes have looked like an irrational wild man, but all the while he was carefully counting his penalties so that he could stop himself before he went too far. McEnroe didn’t often forget his own best interests.
McEnroe was cunning in other ways about expressing his frustration and anger. He knew cursing umpires would lead to code violations. So instead he would say things like, "You are so low that words can't describe how low I think you are!" Of course this is every bit as insulting and hurtful as cursing, but it made the code violation difficult to pin on him.
We are not as rational as we should be. Too often our emotions drive our actions while our reasoning abilities are relegated to the back of the bus. This is especially common in tennis because it is an inherently emotional and stressful game. Errant emotions during match-play tempt us to forget our objectives (winning the match) and immerse ourselves in anger, personal antagonism, defeatism, excuse-making, or other counter-productive but stress-reducing mental states. Keeping in mind our Golden Rule test of “Will this help me win?” can ward off such debilitating and destructive mental states.
The goal orientation of the “Golden Rule” also holds for practice sessions and social matches. In practice your goal is simply to improve your game and fitness. If you are not hitting the ball up to par, keep in mind that performance doesn’t matter in practice. You are simply trying to improve your skills and stay in shape. Becoming frustrated because you aren’t playing as well as you think you should is totally counterproductive, wasting some if not all of your time on court. And in social matches keep in mind that friendships and good feelings are major reasons you are on court, so don’t let your competitive fires get out of hand.
Consider the example of Fred (we’ll call him) who sometimes manages to overlook the “Golden Rule” in both situations at once. He plays and drills with his wife, who happens to be an excellent athlete. Fred, though extremely intelligent, successful in business, and highly motivated, is not a gifted athlete, and this is an area of substantial insecurity and frustration for him. When his wife overpowers him on court, Fred is overwhelmed by raging frustration and competitiveness and sometimes responds with outbursts of hostility and aggression. The aggression is verbal rather than physical, and when they get home afterward Fred apologizes profusely and feels mortified and guilty. But the damage has been done. His wife is kind and forgiving, but Fred’s harsh treatment on the court cannot help but damage the relationship, and sooner or later, directly or indirectly, he will pay for it.
This is the ultimate negative consequence of forgetting the “Golden Rule.” Fred wounds the most important person in his life simply because she is getting the better of him in a meaningless tennis game! This is the height of imbalance, but uncontrolled emotions are not interested in balance. They are interested in satisfaction.
Adhering to the “Golden Rule” is often problematic, on the court or off. This is because our emotional systems fire up more quickly than our logic systems, and we will generally react before we can think about the consequences of our actions. Hopefully, this warning will help you take the time to consider consequences and avoid the worst of an emotional reaction.
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