By Tim Noonan, Founder/Managing Partner, University Tennis Academy
I have now been in Atlanta for 20 years, and if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that Atlantans love to play tennis! This fact is what brought me South, and it is what continues to make Atlanta the greatest tennis city in the world. And as we all know, we have ALTA to thank for that.
ALTA play has been the driving force behind tennis here for 81 years, and there are now enough league options available to keep a player busy year-round. While this is a good thing for the tennis fanatic, it is not necessarily the best recipe for player development.
I encourage the adult players that I work with to plan breaks in their annual schedules. A player is not going to tinker with their game when they have an ALTA playoff match coming up. In order to incorporate changes in one’s game, there needs to be time to work on the new skills.
I often tell my teams, “add a shot, jump a level,” and this is an undeniable fact. The best players in town (AA1) have all the tools they need at their disposal, and it is the variety of shots that makes them the best of the best.
Take advantage of the time in between ALTA seasons. Learn the chip return, the kick serve, or the one-handed backhand volley you see the top players use. None of us are getting any younger, and it is unlikely that you will get faster or stronger as you age. Improvement will only come from the knowledge we gain coupled with new skills that we acquire. A good coach should be able to teach you all the shots you need to keep improving, but you need to give yourself the time necessary to incorporate it into your game.
I hope all of you take advantage of “the time in between!”