Wawasee Tennis

Wawasee Tennis Program Overview

Guidelines For Parents & Student-Athletes
Version 3.2 (updated 11/10/18)

Written and presented by:
Shane Staley, Head Coach
574-551-3194 (text or call)
E-mail

“I submit that tennis is the most beautiful sport there is and also the most demanding. It requires body control, hand-eye coordination, quickness, flat-out speed, endurance, and that weird mix of caution and abandon we call courage. It also requires smarts. Just one single shot in one exchange in one point of a high-level match is a nightmare of mechanical variables.” —David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest

FOREWORD: IMPORTANCE OF TENNIS

Many of the successes I’ve experienced in my life I can thank because of my involvement in the individual sport of tennis. My involvement in team sports I also credit to a lesser degree, because I was a mere link in the chain of team.  Tennis, on the other hand, I was the complete chain.  It started and ended with me.  It was a far tougher sport to learn, to compete in.  The work I put into this sport ultimately showed me that my reward was valued based on the contribution of time, sweat and by beating the odds, and that anything was possible in life if you first believe and then follow it with commitment and a sound work ethic.  Tennis taught me how to truly compete in everything, against others and also against myself.  Even when I was away from the sport for more than a decade, what I learned from tennis in my youth plus the work ethic and competitive edge needed to succeed in this specialized, individual sport, stayed with me throughout, led to my success off-court.  Which is something as a coach that I want for all of my student-athletes in this program.  Whether they take up the advantage of tennis being a life-long sport, or simply take the many lessons the sport teaches and apply these to their future paths, this is why I’m passionate about being a coach and trainer.  This is what drives me.  This is why I want us to first believe in this program’s importance and possibilities and then each player strive to achieve their own success on behalf of the greater team.

INTRODUCTION

These guidelines were created to form better communication between student-athletes, parents and coaches, and is an in-depth look into the Wawasee tennis program, its mission, player expectations and much more.  Players and at least one parent will be asked to sign and return a copy of these guidelines during the pre-season parent meeting, stating they understand the expectations.  Wawasee Tennis, under Coach Staley, is looking to build a solid, competitive foundation for this program, and it starts with understanding the need for commitment and sacrifice from its players, and how a total team effort will ultimately lead to changing the culture and history of this program and its struggles.  We understand that some players might decide not to participate in the tennis program if they cannot truly commit to these guidelines, but we believe that setting a solid foundation is imperative to achieve a truly successful outcome for everyone involved.

TEAM MISSION

All players are expected to work both in-season and out-of-season (when not in another sport) as well as commit to summer activity in the sport in order to compete and win at your earned position (varsity/JV, singles/doubles) on the team (in-conference and out-of-conference). Winning is important here, but most importantly achieving success through hard work. Each student-athlete who plays tennis for Wawasee must be willing to commit to the team and sport, accepting the challenge to better yourself as a player to compete against your conference peers and other scheduled opponents.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

This program’s point of view on high school sports is that it’s important to build winning players and teams.  We do not believe that high school sports’ sole purpose is to have fun and hang out with friends.  Having fun, socializing and enjoying the experience of being on the team ARE part of the success of any program, but should never eclipse the team mission (which is for players to better themselves and their team).  Winning is fun.  Developing a sound work ethic is a life-lesson that will impact each student-athlete beyond the court.  Each student-athlete first and foremost will have a job to complete: to work towards bettering themselves as tennis players, contributing to their team’s success.  Fun, socialization and enjoyment will follow once we work hard to complete the collective goals towards our team mission.

WORK ETHIC VS. WIN PERCENTAGE

If you’re of the notion that winning isn’t important, this program is probably NOT for you.  While winning isn’t everything, it is the primary goal here.  Putting in the time in practices (in-season and off-season) is everything.  A student-athlete who works hard, puts in the time and competes hard, but falls short on winning matches will receive equal respect to those who put in equal time and effort and win matches.  Effort will be rewarded with respect from coaches, teammates and ultimately shown with positive growth and results.

There are general guidelines posted on the coach’s website regarding player practice guidelines for high school tennis: https://www.staleytennis.com/player-practice-guidelines/.  These will give you a general idea of the work ethic needed to achieve different levels of success in being on a competitive conference team.

NLC

Our conference (The Northern Lakes Conference) sets the bar each year in building this program.  It’s historically been a very competitive tennis conference, generally with 1 or more teams each year being state-ranked.  This is a good thing.  By building players and a team that competes here, Wawasee will maintain a program that effectively develops some of the best junior tennis players in our State.  Each player should be up to the challenge of working to win in this conference. No excuses.

CULTURE & CHANGE

A sport’s culture is made up of more than just coaches and players.  It also is largely impacted by parents (support for players and the team) and school and community resources.  The responsibility of Wawasee’s success in tennis lies with coaches, parents, community and players. Only we can change this, and it needs changed NOW (we are all responsible for helping to build a more competitive program).  Coaches are responsible for giving players opportunities and proper training to succeed.  Student-athletes are responsible for taking as many opportunities as they can.  Parents are responsible for supporting and encouraging their student-athletes to do more for this program.

TEAM UNITY

Coach Staley’s foundation for his tennis teams is simple: RESPECT your teammates and coaches.  ACCEPT your role in the mission.  CUT out any drama.  OFFER solutions, NOT excuses on how you can contribute better to your team.  Any team member who is found to be degrading, harassing, or talking in any ill-manner to a coach or other team member will be swiftly disciplined.  Parents: we request you respect the coaches: they put in a LOT of time in this program and make tough decisions with a broader perspective than most parents who focus only on their student-athlete.  Don’t be a bleacher-coach, criticize coaches in front of players or other parents: this belittles you as well.  If you’re not actively on the court day after day with this team, then please respect those who are.  All coaches will be made available to meet with parents on request (via phone or face-to-face, when available) if any issues arise.  As we stress direct communication from our players, the same goes with parents, so please help us set a good example.

You can read the top-5 suggestions I have for being a good tennis parent online at: https://www.staleytennis.com/a-parents-guide-to-tennis/.

COMMUNICATION

Regarding player issues, grievances or complaints: The chain of communication starts between student-athletes and coaches.  Parents are encouraged to communicate with coaches at anytime, but only after an issue hasn’t been fully resolved between coach and player.  If an issue cannot be resolved by coach and parent, then (and only then) should the AD get involved.

If there is an issue or immediate problem followed by an immediate text or confrontation by a parent…this is not productive or acceptable.  Student-athletes are old enough and should be responsible for properly communicating with their coaches.  They are nearing or at the age where they are responsible enough to hold licenses to drive vehicles, so being able to communicate effectively with a coach is EXPECTED and part of their responsibilities on this team.

EXCUSES

When it comes to practices and expectations for players, there are often many excuses given why players cannot compete or why Wawasee can’t compete as a team.  Quite a few of these excuses amount to priority issues or general non-commitment to the team.  Players are expected to prioritize their involvement in the program.  Tennis will never be the most important thing in our lives (coaches included).  Academics, family issues related to health emergencies, and personal health problems are a few of the acceptable excuses why student-athletes might be underperforming, missing practices or failing to work offseason. Please make sure coaches are aware of any issues as far in advance as possible.

MULTI-SPORT ATHLETES

This program supports athletes involved in other sports at Wawasee and will work with coaches involved in other sports during the offseason to share players.  However, part of our players’ commitment to the tennis team is to spend equal amounts of time involved in offseason/opposing in-season activities with each sport they play.   This will insure each team member is truly dedicated to ALL of their teams.  IN-SEASON: No team activities (matches, practices, bus trips, etc.) will be missed for outside activities in other sports.

Please note: involvement in other sports during the tennis season increases the risk of injury, often takes away focus needed to compete effectively in this specialized individual sport and increases the likelihood of fatigue. If you feel this might be the case, we ask that you please focus and commit in-season to tennis!

INDIVIDUAL SPORT VS. TEAM SPORT

“That’s what I love about tennis: As an individual sport, you can’t hide behind teammates.” —Caroline Wozniacki

There are many different ways that tennis, an individual sport, differs from that of team sports.  Accomplishments are oftentimes solitary endeavors. Wins are not only team points but independent wins or losses for each student-athlete.  There is a greater spotlight on each individual and their performances in tennis.  Student-athletes must prepare themselves for competition, as it’s not only a team loss we suffer, but individual losses.  There is much more pressure on individual sport athletes.  More accountability for wins/losses.  Most glaringly, if a student-athlete in an individual sport has not prepared to compete, refuses to train properly, this will be reflected on them personally as well as the team. Mental pressure is elevated in individual sports due to these differences.  Growth in individual sports most efficiently comes from training offseason in small groups and individually with certified coaches.

As a former player and now professional coach and trainer, I’ve seen firsthand the transformational effects of being involved in training and competing in this sport.  I believe if you can become a good tennis player, you will have developed the ability to do a multitude of amazing things on and off the court. The mental edge you develop in tennis can ultimately elevate your involvement in other sports, as well as in life.

IN-SEASON VS. OFFSEASON

In-season there is very little time for individual training, only team practices and matches.  We have a very limited time to achieve anything in season besides run challenge matches to establish seeding for our team lineups, attempt to get our doubles teams working together efficiently and get our core singles players mentally and strategically prepared for matches.  Therefore continual competition is the key focus in-season.  Training and development in this sport will always occur in the OFFseason, so please be willing to put in the time outside of the season.  PLAYERS ARE MADE IN THE OFFSEASON!!!  If we are to compete in our conference, players must commit to elevating their skills in the offseason.

ENTITLEMENTS

Although tennis is an individual sport, coaches are hired to coach the team and will not give special treatment to any individual player during the season that may effect his or her position on the team.  This includes players’ grade years (seniors are no more entitled to a higher position than freshmen).  Positions on this team will need to be earned (through challenge matches) and not pre-determined by seniority or any other factor.  All decisions will be based on the betterment of the overall team and program (present or future) and not the individual.

OFFSEASON OPPORTUNITIES

Nothing is mandatory per the school’s athletic department in the summer, but it remains ESSENTIAL to keep pace with other programs we face each year, as they all work offseason! Please be a team player and commit to doing your part.

Running large group practices in the summer is not the most effective way to build a program. Tennis is an individual sport and individual training is the most effective way to develop towards competing in our conference.

Here is a list of coach-approved area offseason training programs for Wawasee tennis players:

USTA: The United States Tennis Association offers youth tennis players the opportunities to take part in district and regional tournaments with other area players of similar age groups.  Coach Staley highly recommends getting involved in registering for nearby tournaments.  These tournaments can be registered for online on the USTA website at: https://www.usta.com/en/home.html.  Getting active in these tournaments really boosts junior tennis players match skills and mentality for competing better in high school. This is also one of the main recruiting resources used by college coaches, other than high school results, when offering tennis scholarships. (Recommended for all varsity players)

Staley Tennis Academy: This is based in North Webster, partnered with the NWCC and owned and operated by Wawasee Head Coach Shane Staley who is a USPTA-certified professional tennis trainer.  The academy offers private lessons, group drills and leagues throughout the summer from June 1-August 15. It is free to be a member, and there are 50% discounts given for private lessons to active members of Wawasee’s tennis team. Please contact Coach Staley for more information or visit the website at: https://www.staleytennis.com (Recommended for all players)

Wildwood Racquet Club: This is a Fort Wayne-based tennis club that offers indoor and outdoor courts to members and also provides private lessons and group drills by a staff of USPTA-certified trainers. To find out more about this member-based club, please visit: http://www.wildwoodfw.com/ (Recommended for all players)

Cost: Tennis is an expensive sport to train in, especially in indoor clubs.  If your player desires training, but it is not in your family’s budget, please communicate with the head coach. He can set you up with an individual practice plan or possibly academy scholarship or discount opportunities.

STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING

Coach Staley offers the team strength and conditioning sessions starting one month before the season begins.  This is tennis-specific, working with medicine balls, resistance bands, jump ropes, ladders and cardio machines.  In order to compete at a higher level, tennis players must be in shape.  These sessions focus on key areas to strengthen tennis players for competition and to avoid injury during the season.  This is highly recommended that each player take the time to attend these sessions.

The Athletic Department is also making it an expectation for athletes to be involved in strength and conditioning…the Administration is on board with trying to get all athletes enrolled in the Strength Training class for up to 8 Trimesters while in high school…we want to get Freshmen started in this program also.  Ideally a student-athlete could take the class 1-2 times their Freshman year and then all 3 Trimesters in both their Sophomore and Junior years.  If that is not possible, the weight room is open on select week days before and after school.

Please note that if possible, we prefer for varsity athletes to take strength and conditioning classes in trimesters when they are not in-season due to the fact that excessive upper-body (arm) lifting can actually prohibit tennis players from performing (particularly pronation of the arm during serves). If you are taking a strength and conditioning class during your season, please inquire about the possibility of modifying your workouts to more sports-specific exercises, especially during match days. The head coach can discuss this with teachers if needed.

AFTERWORD

“Tennis’s beauty’s infinite roots are self-competitive. You compete with your own limits to transcend the self in imagination and execution. Disappear inside the game: break through limits: transcend: improve: win.” —David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest

Playing sports should never be an entitlement, but a privilege.  Playing for this team, by being an integral part in turning a once-broken program around, will be its own reward, and also an achievement that will not only be documented in your school’s history, but also remembered by the teammates and coaches you stood side-by-side each day you’re out on the courts.  Please remember this.

AGREEMENT

 

Student-Athlete

I, ________________________________________, have read and understand the Wawasee Tennis Program Overview and coach’s expectations and commit to the team and its mission. Furthermore, I have read and agree to the Wawasee Tennis Code of Respect.

___________________________________________________________

Student-Athlete Signature

Parent

I, ________________________________________, have read and understand the Wawasee Tennis Program Overview and coach’s expectations and pledge my support for my child to commit to the team and its mission.

___________________________________________________________

Parent Signature

 


CHANGELOG

  • Version 3.2 (11/10/18)—Updated Team Mission for expectations on players to work offseason when available and engage in summer activities. Updated Offseason Opportunities section, eliminating set team practice outlines and including cost note for individual / small group training. Updated Strength and Conditioning section to include guidance for when varsity athletes should schedule classes (or modify exercises) during trimesters in-season.
  • Version 3.1 (7/29/18)—Minor changes to agreement section.  Also added link to the online “Code of Respect” rules for players to read and agree to.
  • Version 3.0 (2/5/17)—Edited text to tighten and refine each section (no rule changes). Removed listing of other sports activities under agreement, as this is already covered under ‘Multi-Sport Athlete’ section.
  • Version 2.1 (12/7/17)—Added link to general guidelines for work ethic needed to achieve different levels of accomplishments in high school tennis within our conference (Work Ethic vs. Win Percentage Section). Added link to A Parent’s Guide To Tennis (Team Unity Section).
  • Version 2.0 (12/5/17)—Loosened guidelines for multi-sport athletes (Multi-Sport Athletes Section) to be involved in other sports during season as long as equal commitment guidelines is met.  Updated agreement to list all sports/activities they will be taking part in during tennis season.
  • Version 1.2 (12/3/17)—Revised Mission to include “(if needed)” in the offseason to better communicate policy of the Athletic Department that offseason workouts cannot be mandatory for student athletes, but are expected by coaches in order to complete the team’s objective to compete in-conference, and if a student-athlete is not currently competing at his or her position (or if they expect to qualify at at higher position in varsity or JV next season), offseason work might be needed to keep with the team mission.
  • Version 1.1 (12/3/17)—Revised Multi-Sport Athlete section to clarify that players should not attend competitive events in other high school sports (currently offered at their school) during tennis season. If an athlete is involved in a sport that the high school doesn’t offer (ie. hockey, lacrosse, etc.) and if the season eclipses tennis, written permission may be granted for an athlete to attend, as long as it doesn’t interfere with attendance in tennis matches and practices. This has been added to insure student-athletes, who have every opportunity to take part in seasonal sports offered at their school, also have the opportunity to participate in other sports which seasons aren’t governed by the IHSAA or available at their school.
  • Version 1.0 (12/1/17)—Initial version released