Open Tennis Court Rates
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

The local tennis community boasts some of the top coaches in the world, and with this wealth of talent available, Long Island Tennis Magazine took the opportunity to pick the brains of some of these coaches. These coaches share their thoughts on a wide variety of tennis topics and issues, ranging from junior tennis to the professional game.

Meet the participants:



Gabriel Balestero

is a tennis professional at Generation Next Tennis in Great Neck. He is a former number one singles player at Adelphi University, where he was an all-American student-athlete. A former Top20 player nationally in Brazil, Balestero has experience competing in international and professional tournaments, and has now transitioned into coaching.

 



Ricky Becker

is The Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club for his tenth year. He also coaches high-performance juniors throughout the year and has been the Director of Tennis at three of Long Island’s biggest junior programs. As a player, Becker was the Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis team and ranked in the top-five nationally as a junior. 

 



Alex Bessarabov

is a Tennis Professional for the NTC Tennis Programs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Bessarabov played high school tennis at Lindenhurst High School before playing collegiately at Farmingdale State University, where he was named first-team All-Skyline Conference during his senior year. Earlier this year, he was honored with USTA Eastern's Junior Team Tennis Award.

 



Jared El Gayeh

is the U10 Director and Camp Director at SPORTIME Syosset. He has served in a variety of teaching and management capacities in his 10-plus years at SPORTIME, and has an infectious energy and ability to motivate children on the court. He was a star goaltender on the Marywood University soccer team.

 



Steve Kaplan

is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA.

 



Ed Krass

coached the Harvard Women’s Tennis Team to four consecutive Ivy League titles from 1986-1990. Ed is the founder and director of the Annual College Tennis Exposure Camps, which are taught exclusively by all head college coaches for high school-aged players (15-18). Ed is also the founder of One-On-One Doubles tournaments, which have been played at USTA, ATP, ITA and USPTA national events.

 



Adam Lee

is the Director of Junior Development at Glen Head Racquet and Fitness. He was a three- year captain at Wake Forest where he still holds the program record for singles victories, and achieved an ATP ranking. He has worked with Top 500 ATP Tour players as well as top nationally-ranked juniors, and has USPTA, ITPA, Certified Tennis Performance Specialist and GPTCA coaching certifications.

 



Chris Lewit

is a former number one for Cornell and pro circuit player. He is a high- performance coach, educator, and the author of two best-selling books: The Secrets of Spanish Tennis and The Tennis Technique Bible. He has coached numerous top 10 nationally-ranked players and is known for his expertise in building the foundations of young prodigies. Chris coaches in NYC and year-round at his high performance tennis academy in Manchester, VT, where players can live and train the Spanish Way full-time or short-term.

 



Ben Marks

is Director of Junior Tennis at Carefree Racquet Club, and Director of Tennis at Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club. He previously worked at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, and was the Cold Spring Harbor Varsity Head Coach for three years, earning Nassau County Coach of the Year Honors in 2014. He played number one and number two singles for Norfolk State University, and number one doubles—reaching a career-high regional ranking of ninth in the Atlantic Region. He is a 2015 National Open Doubles Champion. In 2018, he was named USTA Long Island’s Tennis Professional of the Year.

 



David Nisenson

is the director of junior development at Point Set Tennis. With more than 25 years of playing and coaching experience and an unmatched competitiveness, David has quickly become one of the driving forces behind Point Set’s junior development program.

 



Ognen Nikolovski

is the general manager of CourtSense and director of tennis at Bogota Racquet Club. He is a former top junior from Yugoslavia who went on to play college tennis at Rollins College where he became an all-American. He went on to become a world-ranked singles and doubles player on the ATP Tour and was a captain of the Macedonia Davis Cup team. He joined CourtSense in 2008 where his passion and experience has become instrumental in developing the program.

 



Conrad Singh

is the Chief Operating Officer of Tennis & Director of Coaching at Centercourt Club & Sports. He has held Head Coach and Director positions in Australia, England, Japan and China, and has been involved in professional tennis player development for well over two decades. Singh came to Centercourt from Shanghai, China, where he helped to develop a top high-performance player program, which saw more than 200 athletes train under his system.

 



Michael Smookler

is the Club Manager & Tennis Director at West Orange Tennis Club, as well as the USPTA Eastern 1st Vice President. Coaching and directing tennis since 1989, Smookler was the 2019 USPTA Eastern Pro of the Year, and the 2017 USPTA Eastern High School Coach of the Year. He has trained with retired pros Guillermo Villas, Mats Wilander, Rod Laver and more.

 


 


Jason Wass

is the Director of LuHi Summer Programs, he spent over 20 years as a Director of Tennis for Sportime Clubs. A USPTA and USTA Net Generation Certified Coach, Jason has a passion for youth sports development. Jason believes in developing strong foundational skills in all young athletes. He strives to provide positive athletic and camp opportunities to families to encourage healthy habits and lifestyles. Coach Jason lives in Massapequa with his wife, Julie, son, Daniel and dog, Shelby.

 


How do you find the right balance between training and rest/recovery for junior tennis players?

Ben Marks: I think it's important to listen to our bodies as athletes. A high level athlete can feel what condition they are in and how much they can push themselves. At a young age it is important we help to guide juniors with figuring this out. Are they a little sore because they are working hard and they can 'push through it' or is it time to take a rest day or two and recharge? The top professionals in the world have this down to a science but obviously that comes with a big expense. For me, although I never really felt like I needed much rest when I was playing in college, we always had a day off to try and keep us fresh and after a long tournament or series of matches we would have a full two days off before hitting the courts hard again.

Ricky Becker: The answer is different depending on how serious the player is. Overall, I like the four weeks a year formula. A very serious player who is building their schedules around their tennis should take a rest week after their biggest 1-4 peak events. A player who is less serious and not building their schedules around their tennis will probably get rest organically through family vacations, finals, events, etc. but shouldn't take these breaks before their most important events.


For young players who start out at an early age, how can they avoid burnout from the sport as they get older?

Conrad Singh: The Golden rule is to listen to your child. If they are starting to show promise but are giving you the fatigue signals, it’s time to pull back. Balance is key—the ultimate way to find that balance is to mix in team sports and other interests into the weekly schedule. If heavy weeks are occurring you might need to manipulate the following week. Never forcing a player to the court and letting them ask for more or less is one key that has never let me down. It is then essential that a positive relationship is in place between player, coach and parent.

Chris Lewit: Burnout risk can vary relative to the individual, so there isno perfect prescription to prevent it. It’s a much longer discussion and I have devoted entire podcasts and articles to this subject. In general, however, junior players should strive to have an off-season during the tournament year—just like the pros do. Sometimes this is referred to as preseason in a periodized development plan. This is a time to play less tennis and focus on physical development and injury prevention. Players should also be certain to rest one day per week. Typically top level juniors will train about six days on/one day off schedule. I have had some top national kids push these limits and train more than 10-14 days straight, which I don’t recommend. The more consecutive days straight you train, the higher your risk of overuse injury and burnout. Remember that some kids can burnout playing five days a week/only afternoons and some can play seven days a week/twice daily sessions and survive, and even thrive. Every player is different. The key is for the parent and coach is to monitor the player carefully and be ready to adjust the plan as needed through the junior years. The flip side of burnout, which is often not discussed, is that if you are too cautious and don’t train hard enough, your kid will never become a great champion. You’ve got to take some burnout risks to become great.

Ed Krass: Players can avoid burnout from playing tennis by participating in other sports like baseball, track, soccer, lacrosse, basketball—as all will help with furthering the athletic skills developmental process. I remember playing Little League baseball in St. Petersburg when I was 11 and 12-years-old, along with flag football. I wanted to stay away from tackle Football, as I knew what could happen there! I also enjoyed watching other sports live and on television to keep my competitive mind healthy and full of dreams!

Adam Lee: First thing players and coaches need to understand is to make sure the training is quality and not just quantity. With too many hours on court, players can be drained physically and emotionally causing them to dread their next practice. Shortening practices, increasing the intensity, and incorporating non tennis drills for five-to-10 minutes before or at the end of practice. I personally have my kids play soccer tennis or how many volleys can they hit on a wall in 60 seconds. Sometimes, stepping away from the tennis court till the player misses the sport is useful so they come back with lots of energy and motivation.

Alex Bessarabov: Younger athletes need to be on a long-term development path. For that, playing a multitude of sports can be extremely beneficial. When kids are young they are seeking activities to be interested in and if they are limited to playing one sport that creates the potential for future burnout. Finding other sports that kids can participate in, or any other athletic activities, can help develop a better foundation for tennis. For example: having them take up dancing to practice footwork and staying lighter on their feet, or trying boxing to help them develop good hand-eye coordination and judgment of proper spacing as well as better core strength. In addition to those, soccer can also be very helpful; playing for a team working on leg strength as well as all kinds of footwork patterns are aspects that are highly translatable into tennis. There are many more benefits to playing other sports, everything between cardio development, less fatigue in different muscle groups and most importantly they will have this wide range of activities to enjoy so they don't have to be overwhelmed by just playing tennis.


Mental health is an important topic that has been brought to the forefront of athletics recently. How often and how do you engage your players on their mental well-being, both on and off the court?

Steve Kaplan: COVID-19 has brought about a mental health crisis in this country among young people as their normal lives have been disrupted with anxiety, isolation and uncertainty. Now more than ever it is vital to coach mental health as part of a coaching plan. I try to set clear expectations and goals for players to give them a sense of purpose and routine. Next I ask them about their experiences off the tennis court to give them the opportunity for expression and social interaction. I try to be especially aware and accommodating of each student’s unique learning style and I further try to structure each lesson and practice to accommodate their emotions. Finally I emphasize and encourage students to find a sense of acceptance and positive community through tennis. The bottom line is that in these difficult times each student must be viewed as a person first and tennis player second.

Adam Lee: The key here is staying on top of the development of the player by prioritizing the player as a person. Paying close attention to the changes in school grades, pre and post puberty, behavior, pressure from parents, pressure from school. Having anxiety and depression is something we should look out for right away.

David Nisenson: My approach with my students regarding mental health is always being positive, encouraging, and always trying to create dialogue. As a long time practitioner of yoga and seeing it’s benefits physically and mentally I talk to my students about some simple meditation techniques and disconnecting from the 24-hour social media world that we live in.


How do we continue to expand the sport of tennis in our area and make it more accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status?

Chris Lewit: This is a tough question that I get asked frequently. Playing tennis in the NYC area is very expensive—too expensive. There are some excellent programs like the NYJTL that are doing a good job helping underprivileged youth get in the game. The Cary Leeds facility is a prime example of a wonderful outreach program/center for inner city kids. We need more places like that. On the high performance side, I would like to see more recruitment of athletically talented inner city kids into the game—from a very young age. We need to get kids very young before they choose other sports. The USTA could spearhead this type of scholarship program. There is just no way the typical family with modest means will choose tennis over other less expensive sports. There has to be a lot of money and scholarships thrown at the problem. I love tennis a lot, but it is an expensive game to love—especially in NYC.

David Nisenson: There needs to be more of a push to introduce tennis in the local elementary schools and to educate the parents of the benefits of playing tennis. With support from the USTA, local tennis clubs and professionals need to continue to promote the sport.

Michael Smookler: We have seen a spike in participation throughout COVID. We need to continue to promote the all around health benefits of Tennis from Fitness, Mental Health to Social Distancing. There are more and more people also playing on town and city courts. The USTA has wonderful grass roots programs which are affordable and in some cases, offer grants to help make Tennis accessible to everyone.

Alex Bessarabov: Growth can only happen with a constant influx of new people, as well as the retention of the majority of triers. The more people who can participate, the further word can travel, just like a ripple effect. One aspect that can have a positive impact on attracting and reducing the entry barriers for new participants is offering free courts at local parks. Often, such places feel like a backyard for locals and it can encourage people to try out tennis with friends and family. Open park courts take away one of the major expenses that prevents people from taking that first step into our tennis world as well as help diminish the stigma of a "country club" only sport. The more we can expand and maintain local free tennis courts throughout the country, the easier this sport can grow. Additionally, if these parks can also have partnerships with local Clubs, so these new players can seek instruction and other additional involvement, the higher the chances they'll continue to play for years to come.


How do you integrate off-court training with on-court training for junior players?

Steve Kaplan: Junior players should be strongly encouraged to undertake off court training to stay safe and to progress. Tennis coaches need to have a basic understanding of off court training fundamentals to help students on the court, as well as to advise them how to find the best resources off the court. In order to integrate off court training with on- court training for junior players it is first necessary to speak the common language of training. There is a difference for example, between fitness and conditioning, strength and power, speed and acceleration and flexibility and mobility. As a coach it's vital to communicate with trainers and that starts with clear and precise language. Next you must access, before you progress. I wouldn't feel comfortable getting medical treatment before I was examined and tested and similarly, players shouldn't be trained before they undergo a basic functional movement screen to evaluate their fundamental movement patterns. Finally, limitations in players movement patterns should be understood and recognized in the development of strokes otherwise the risk of injuries are greatly increased. As these limitations are addressed and corrected off the court, on court progressions should be made to further the players development.

Conrad Singh: Looking at the overall schedule from a bird’s eye view is important. Players need all key areas to be developed including time for mental skills as well as the obvious ones. Finding a consistent time weekly early in the week is often best as it allows time for those skills to also be practiced. I have developed the TPU schedule which means: Teach (Mondays, Tuesdays), Practice (Wednesdays & Thursdays and, finally, Use (Fridays and Weekend). So its Mondays to Thursdays where that court work fit in nicely.

Michael Smookler: This is always the challenge. Players putting the time on the court is usually not an issue. It's motivating the juniors to understand what it takes off court to get them to the next level. Coaches need to promote this more and come up with off court training curriculums to provide for their students. There is great Netlix documentary called Untold: Breaking Point featuring Mardy Fish. It addresses all the challenges he faced on and off court and what it took for him to raise his level. When he lost some momentum, what he did to get it back. This is a must watch for every player and coach. It is relatable in so many ways.


Gamesmanship and cheating are always controversial topics at the junior level. How do we begin to try and eliminate those sorts of things from the game?

Adam Lee: Let's be honest, cheating happens in every tournament due to the added pressure from parents as well as the stress of falling in the ranking systems. Players are doing anything they can to win. Cheating will never go away so that's something we have to understand. Playsight with video review is something every club should have, and we don't have enough officials to be focused on each match. Cracking down on player suspensions is something we can be stricter about.

Gabriel Balestero: Tennis is a personal development tool. On the court we teach values that can be applied into every aspect of life. With an atmosphere of love and respect for the game there is no reason for a kid to cheat during a match. Therefore, the key is creating the right atmosphere during practice.

Ricky Becker: I think this is the most underrated deterrent to our wonderful game. As a coach, this is the one area that I have found it tough to have a bigger voice than the parent when it comes to influencing the child between being a tough competitor who wants to win and being a jerk. I definitely know examples of good athletes at a young age going towards other sports because the other sports aren't the Wild West and success is more about performance. I wish the USTA would take money from U.S. Open revenue away from some of the other things it has done or is doing and put it towards having more competent officials at junior events to help grow the game.


How do you think the tours should handle the exploitation of the “bathroom break” rule?

Ben Marks: I personally think there needs to be a time limit in place. We are seeing players complaining they needed time to change their whole outfits and use the bathroom etc but I don't believe this is really a part of the game that we should be catering to. If a player really needs to do it, it should be a quick process and they should have to hustle. Until there is a clear structure to it then players will continue to abuse it and try to use it to gain an advantage by stopping or slowing their opponent's momentum.

Gabriel Balestero: The Tour can make the rules clearer by giving a time frame for the athlete to get back on the court, for example four minutes.

Jason Wass: Rules will always be tested and "stretched". More rules will be added to counteract. I think anytime a rule begins to be taken advantage of, it should be evaluated and corrected. Ultimately rules should be put in place to protect players and preserve the integrity of the game, unfortunately that won't always happen.


With Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all tied at 20 Slams each, who do you consider to be the greatest male player of all-time?

Ed Krass: I would say that Roger Federer is still the most impressive of the three due to his athletic, all-court and serve-and-volley Singles game. Roger may just put a Tom Brady like stamp on his career if he actually comes back from his injury and wins one last Slam! I do think that Nadal and Djokovic are both super special, legendary players in their own right. Both are beyond athletic and mentally tough with amazing shot making skills! The greatest of all time is still a work in progress!

Gabriel Balestero: The most complete in my opinion is Djokovic. He can play in any surface and developed his mental strength in a way that makes him an incredible athlete.

Michael Smookler: There is an argument for all of them. However if I am choosing from this group, Roger has done it longer throughout his career. What I liked about him the most when he was dominating the sport was his ability to change his game plan to exploit his opponent's weaknesses. For example, if that meant he had to serve and volley more, he would. His ability to change his game at the highest level was what always impressed me the most.


What is the current state of tennis on Long Island? How do we continue growing and improving?

Ricky Becker: While COVID-19 sucks, being a socially distant sport, I do think a lot of people have played more tennis or have picked it up as a sport and it seems to be thriving from where I sit. On the street where I live alone, I know of nine people who have started playing tennis more frequently or picked up tennis. I also see more adults playing at the clubs I go to and manage, more junior players taking lessons and very high numbers of players going out for their school teams. The one area where numbers seem to be down is kids participating in tournaments, which is definitely a shame Hopefully, as the pandemic starts to pass and families get used to the new formats and website that the USTA put in place, the "intermediate" level of tournament participation will increase.

David Nisenson: I think the popularity of tennis on Long Island differs from community to community. Tennis will grow provided local clubs continue to offer quality coaching, innovative programs and an opportunity for all children regardless of economic backgrounds to be exposed to the sport.

Jason Wass: Tennis participation has been growing here on Long Island and everywhere. I think the important part for Tennis Professionals to remember is that we need to continue to provide great tennis experiences for players. As an industry, we need more trained coaches to help develop new players and keep them engaged in the game through leagues, clinics and casual play. We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security that tennis will continue to be popular moving forward. Providing opportunities for players to socialize in addition to getting a fun workout is important to keep players in the game. We should also keep an eye on our tennis infrastructure on Long Island, many tennis courts were built during the tennis boom in the 1970's and 1980's and not all have been kept in great condition, it is important for new players to have a safe and enjoyable tennis experience if we want them to keep coming back.


What is missing from the development of American tennis on the professional stage?

Alex Bessarabov: Ever since tennis became more globalized and people from all over the world are able to participate it opened up the vast differences in cultures and how players develop from a young age. We are able to open up and learn on what works around the world and what doesn't. It feels like American tennis has a focus on hitting harder or going for bigger shots and we are missing a key element of how to construct points based on other factors, such as spin, variety, and depth. This is often a consequence of the limited number of clay courts in the US, when compared to most European countries. Learning how to "grind" while figuring out how to develop points in a multitude of ways, is often a differentiator between American players and most other prominent tennis countries. The tendency to play as aggressive baseliners is common in most players, regardless of their origin, but we seem to be missing more all court styles. "All court" teaches you to develop how to play behind the baseline as well as inside the court, and also shows you timing on when to put away a ball instead of going for more risk. We need to develop more styles and play on different surfaces, while expanding the player's ability to win points in more than one or two ways.

Chris Lewit: American tennis on the female side is amazing, and we have one of the best development pipelines and a high percentage of the best female players in the world are American compared to other countries. I wrote an article about this trend a few years back. American women are kicking butt. On the men’s side, however, it’s a sad story. We have a low percentage of men in the top 100 compared to other countries and we haven’t had a men’s grand slam winner since Andy Roddick in 2003. That’s an 18 year drought—incredibly sad! The main reason is probably that our most talented American boys are choosing other sports. In addition, and it’s controversial to say this, but for some reason, our best male prospects have not been as fierce or as willing to suffer as their female counterparts. We have not had the male equivalents of Venus and Serena for example. We have good coaching and a good development system in the US. Our federation is wealthy and offers lots of opportunities for young boys. I believe the tide will turn and some of the lack of success among men is simply cyclical. We need a fierce, breakout player to chase grand slams. Being satisfied with the Round of 16 or quarters at a slam simply isn’t enough—but unfortunately for many of our top guys today—it seems to be plenty.

Ed Krass: It seems like American players need to relearn how to make their inside backhand a weapon, like Agassi did. I see 95 percent of American players wasting a lot of time running around their backhand to hit a Forehand. This disallows players to be able to truly take time away from their opponents; Forget about approaching the net when running around the backhand all day! I visualize a future of American players taking that inside backhand and forehand and displacing the opponent and closing the points out with a volley. This all-court play needs to be implemented in practice matches, and events like One-On-One Doubles, which is now UTR-sanctioned, help players develop these skills, which can be translated onto the tennis court. In order for American tennis to keep on improving, developing an all-around game is crucial.

Ben Marks: I think first it's important to point out the success on the women's side of the game. Seven players are currently in the top 30 in the world and we have seen Kenin crowned as a Slam champion and made another final, Brady making two finals and obviously Serena Williams although hasn't won a slam for a couple of years still made two finals in 2019. I think it is just a matter of time before we see Coco break through with a slam win. The men on the other hand is a little more disappointing with the last American male to win a Slam being Andy Roddick in 2003. We are seeing a wave of young players coming through and who still have plenty of time before they 'peak'. I think one player breaking through on the men's side will be the catalyst the American men need to take it to the next level. Keep your eyes on Korda.

Conrad Singh: This is a tough subjective question considering how many Americans are in the top 100; most countries would dream for that number! However, for me it’s the desperation and willingness to go through struggles that often creates the top competitors. Life is pretty good in the United States, hence players may be less likely to travel to the difficult places to compete, or to stay on the road for longer periods. Time on the road especially early in a career can mean the difference in the speed at which they transition. Many skills are learnt when life is less easy!


How has COVID affected things in terms of your coaching, business, or how you advise your players?

Steve Kaplan: COVID has put greater awareness on the many valuable qualities of junior tennis, such as its safety, physical and mental health enhancements and opportunities for social interaction and educational advancement. During the pandemic, it seems that college admissions have become more competitive and standardized tests less emphasized. This combination brings other criteria for admission such as athletics and school and community involvement to the forefront and, as a coach, I advise all players to recognize and seek out both greater performance and service opportunities. As a club owner, I can't help but notice two trends during the pandemic. First, some players are preferring to play outdoors for longer and next tennis teachers are increasingly leaving their affiliations with clubs to teach as freelance instructors.

Jared El Gayeh: COVID has changed our landscape in everything we do as well as how we interact with others. Personally while I am on the tennis court, I am more aware of personal space, and finding ways to connect to our players in a socially distanced environment. From a business stand point, we had to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safest atmosphere for our members to enjoy their tennis experience. As a company, we invested heavily in our air filtration systems, sanitizing stations as well as tweaked our schedules to ensure safe pickup and drop off.

Ognen Nikolovski: Overall COVID has had a positive effect on tennis, as the reality is that due to tennis being one of the sports that “social distancing” can easily be applied, tennis has been very popular and the tennis courts in the US have not been busier in a long time. I think all the stats from the retailers show that as well, as the demand for tennis balls has increased, and in the business aspect tennis has recovered pretty fast after the initial two-month shut down in March of 2020. As far as coaching, I believe that the not much has changed prior to COVID, other than the extra precaution that each coach has been taking by applying the social distancing guidelines. The impact on the players has also been minimal, as for those that decided to keep on playing during COVID, we can possibly see that their engagement has been even bigger, especially with the adults who seem to appreciate being on the court even more than before COVID.


What impact will the success of young players like Raducanu and Fernandez have on other young junior players?

Jared El Gayeh: It is always amazing to have a youth resurgence in tennis. Young kids always need people to look up too and emulate. These two incredible young athletes brought amazing energy to the tennis world and showed so many, that with confidence and hard work anything is achievable!

Ognen Nikolovski: It is always very positive to have young players like Raducanu and Fernandez have success on the world stage, as that only helps inspire more players from the younger generation to strive and do the same. Juniors feel connection to these young stars more than to the older generation, and I can foresee more young girls and boys get on the courts and try to do the same. I also think that this is great for women’s tennis in general as tennis remains to be the #1 sport for women in many aspects.


How has UTR changed the landscape of junior tennis?

Jared El Gayeh: I tend to always tell my players not to get caught up in rankings or ratings as we are developing their games. Too many times, kids walk onto the court with a result already planted into their minds before a point was even played! UTR is a very useful tool to gauge someone’s level, especially if you are playing out of state or even internationally. But like I always tell my players, matches aren't won or lost on paper, you have to go out and execute.

Ognen Nikolovski: In general, UTR has been great for tennis in many aspects, especially in helping players establish their own level and match them with players of similar level. There is no question that the technology behind UTR is great and the fact that it keeps evolving will most likely make it become a mainstay in the industry, and maybe with time become the main world rating in all categories of play. I also think that it has had great impact on junior tennis, however at the same time it has further exposed some challenges for the coaches that work with younger juniors, as a large percentage of juniors and their parents are more focused on what is the UTR of the player rather than on the overall development of the player that would actually give them a better opportunity to have the chance to reach a higher UTR in the future. However this is a different conversation, and at this time I just hope that UTR is committed to keep investing in tennis and also in improving its algorithms, so they can really help players engage more with the game and with that grow the sport.

Jason Wass: Ultimately, UTR levels the playing field by creating a rating system that measures everyone in the same way. For juniors, college coaches can now get a much more information about players than ever before, and the trickle down begins from there. Although I do not think it has fully happened as of yet, the idea is for UTR to create more level-based competition, which should keep players more engaged in competition and allow for a larger pool of developing competitive players which is a great thing for the game. Ideally, the UTR, USTA and other tennis organizations would work together to create a system that everyone agrees on and helps to develop young players and the sport for betterment of tennis.