Wawasee Tennis

Wawasee Girls Tennis Parent Newsletter (March 2018)

I want to welcome all parents to the start of the 2018 Wawasee girls tennis season!  Thanks to all the parents who attended the parent meeting on 3/21/18.  Several things I wanted to pass along to parents who didn’t attend as well as updates to those who did.

Important Deadlines

  1. All players must have their program overview/guidelines signed (by a parent and athlete) and turned in to me tomorrow (Monday, March 26th) before they can practice with the team.
  2. Subway meal deadline was Friday to turn in the forms and money, but I’ve extended it till tomorrow.  We still have 6 girls who have yet to turn in money or to let me know they don’t want Subway for away matches.
  3. Player packs / uniform money is due tomorrow as well.  We still have 5 outstanding invoices for players and I need to get that turned in to the Athletic department this week.

Home Match Carry-ins

Thanks to everyone who volunteered to provide food, snacks or drinks for our home and tournament matches!  Much appreciated!  We still have a few dates below I need to get filled, so parents who didn’t attend the meeting can text me to sign up for one of these dates:

  • April 10, 2018—home vs. Westview (snacks)
  • May 5, 2018—JV tournament LUNCH at Warsaw (main dish)
  • May 5, 2018—JV tournament LUNCH at Warsaw (snacks)
  • May 5, 2018—JV tournament LUNCH at Warsaw (drinks)
  • May 14, 2018—home vs. Whitko (main dish)
  • May 14, 2018—home vs. Whitko (snacks)
  • May 14, 2018—home vs. Whitko (drinks)

You can text me at 574-551-3194 and let me know if you want one or more of those assignments.

Also thanks to Lori Jones who volunteered to take this over.  Once I get this filled, I will send the list to her so she can stay on top of things and send out reminders, etc.

Rules / Guidelines

I wanted to thank parents for accepting and honoring the changes I’ve made in the program this year.  Changes are never easy, but these changes have been implemented to make sure your child is prepared to grow to compete in a very psychologically-demanding individual sport in a very tough conference.  While most understand this, there are still a few families that may or may not understand why these guidelines are put into place. As a coach, I take on the responsibility for preparing my players, or at least giving them every opportunity to develop their physical and mental skills to ultimately succeed here.  But they first need to adapt to the program’s policies and put in the time training in and out of season as well as commit to competing in USTA tournaments in order to really become a solid varsity-level player.

Freshmen 5

To the parents of freshmen joining the team this year, please note that while all of our freshmen are brand new to the sport, I do believe as their coach that if they are willing to work, it is possible that they can make up the necessary ground to compete in the coming years of high school in this sport and conference (this also depends on other factors such as athleticism and mental toughness).  But I want to make sure both athletes and parents know that they really need to commit early on and not wait till their junior or senior years to get serious about this sport.  It is unlike any other sport and is a notoriously slow gratification sport, meaning it takes a lot of time to develop properly.  If they wait till late in high school to truly work, it is often too late to progress to a competitive varsity level.

Free Private Lessons

After spring break, I will be offering free 1-hour private lessons after practice.  I do this every year during the season so that my players can get in one-on-one training which is, hands-down, the best way to develop tennis skills.  In a 1-hour private, they will hit more balls than they’ll hit in an entire week of high school practice, plus they’ll get one-on-one attention to help their technique which can’t always be provided in team practices when you have 17 girls.  This week I will have a sign-up sheet.  If you book a private in a club with me or any certified pro, it’ll cost you $50-$75 per hour, so make sure you take advantage of this as it’s something I do every year to benefit Wawasee players.  Parents are more than welcome to come after practice during these privates and watch from the bleachers.

Summer Training

Last year I logged over 200 hours giving paid private lessons to area kids.  Those involved in our tennis programs (high school team, middle-school program) get 50% off summer private lessons.  I plan to extend this discount this summer as well.  However, this year, I really need to focus my time on court at my academy (https://www.staleytennis.com) to public group drills and giving private lessons only to those who will commit to USTA play.  I am ultimately concerned about girls and boys becoming what USPTA pros call “serial drillers.”  These are kids who just want to get out with the pro to hit and run drills, but never take the initiative to compete in real-life match pressure tournaments or leagues.

My viewpoint on paying tennis clubs and pros is this: unless your child is willing to commit to competition outside high school, taking private lessons is simply a physical exercise you’re paying for, much like aerobics, and does not ultimately do much to increase competitiveness in match play.  The ROI (return-on-investment) is dismal for families who usher in club kids only getting perpetually trained by “pros,” kids who often lose high school matches repeatedly and can’t figure out why.  The mental and strategic development in tennis can only come from ultimately one avenue: that is real match pressure experience (not only drilling or training).  I’ve seen a multitude of girls and boys over the years whose stroke mechanics are “pretty” but who can’t win a match to save their lives.  Welcome to tennis!  😉

My academy will be partnering with the USTA this year to make sure everyone working at my academy will be taking part in USTA events.  I believe that this will provide area families with the best of both worlds: getting trained right through my academy and backing that up with mental development through USTA match play.

If your child shows a strong interest in growing in the sport and competing at a higher level, please make sure you contact me directly and get set up with training this summer—I’d do this soon, as I’ve already had several dozen calls and texts since the beginning of the month from families who want their kids trained throughout the summer.  Again, to personally train a player, I will need verbal confirmation from parents they intend to compete in the offseason through the USTA (at least a few weekend tournaments per year)—for newer players, I may decide to delay competition till they achieve a certain training level, but families still need to be focused on taking part in competitive USTA events down the road. Also, I will no longer train players who use other trainers unless they are certified and are willing to adapt to my offseason plans as their high school coach and lead trainer. If you intend on using other trainers (especially non-certified), please note that each player may likely be re-trained when they get back to playing for my program in-season, which is generally not cost-friendly for families to pay someone to train only to get retrained later on.  This is also disruptive to player development, which is why most experts agree that having multiple trainers is not productive to junior players.

Now if your child is a player who doesn’t show a passion or initiative to compete at a varsity level in tennis, my suggestion would be to simply take advantage of in-season and summer practices so that incoming players don’t pass them up (which still isn’t a guarantee).  In other words, don’t bother to pay for something that your return-on-investment will be low.  They can still take advantage of free summer practices with their high school team and take part in some group-drills/camps if they want which is much cheaper than private lessons or training.

With each kid and family it’s different…knowing when a parent should entice/push/encourage them to do more/get serious in a certain sport and ultimately invest and when to realize that it’s maybe not in the cards.  I went through the same thing with my two boys.  Just remember: tennis is an early initiation sport.  The earlier you invest, the more likely your child can develop into an elite player (with the proper combination of athleticism, mentality, passion for the sport, and drive).

Of course, any questions on this, please feel free to reach out to me. Always happy to talk tennis with families!  🙂

Looking forward to the new season at Wawasee!


Shane Staley
Head Coach, Wawasee Tennis
Certified USPTA Professional