If you are entering high school and contemplating a decision on whether to play high school tennis (particularly if you are a tournament player and are unsure of the advantages of playing high school tennis versus other paths to develop your game), here are ten plus one reasons to participate in a high school tennis program.
- High school tennis is fun. Being actively engaged working together collectively with other players who share the same goals and aspirations is fun. The competition, travel to other schools and playing sites, the interaction before, during and after matches and practices with other players on your team all combine to make high school a rewarding and fun experience.
- There is the opportunity to establish meaningful relationships and friendships. Sharing the same experiences such as the physical demands and the daily regime of practices and matches, pressures of competition, time management and the balancing of course work loads and other school commitments with team requirements and expectations create a common bond and a unique connection with other players on your team.
- You get coaching support not only during practices but also during match play competition. Coaching can help overcome adverse momentum swings and mental obstacles characterized by the nature of the sport. Tennis is a tough sport requiring focus, mental toughness, and resiliency. There are times when all players get distracted, lose focus, and experience a loss of confidence. A coach who is not conflicted or bound to you by financial ties who interacts with you daily and knows your strengths as well as your weaknesses, vulnerabilities and insecurities can be an invaluable resource in getting you through rough patches on the court. Help could be as simple as a particular trigger word or general words of encouragement or it could be more specific and concrete such as strategic and/or technical advice on how to establish or reestablish rhythm, timing, composure and/or momentum.
- You benefit from the support of your teammates to improve your playing skills and match play performance. Your teammates can provide inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to bring your game to a higher level.
- You will develop complimentary/cooperative hitting skills (perhaps one of the most undervalued skills in tennis) in hitting with other players on your team. It begins with the ability to stay in a rally (get the ball in play) to extend rallies and execute specific shot patterns and progresses as you become more proficient to the ability to adjust your pace, spin, depth, and other controllable variables, mirror the pace, trajectory, spin, etc. of your hitting partner and vary your playing style in different role playing and hitting assignments as required for the benefit of players on your team. Acquiring these complimentary/cooperative hitting skills will not only will help your teammates but will also help you in your skill development and ability to both establish and disrupt rhythm. Plus, in acquiring these skills you will hopefully learn how to become the most valued and sought after player in tennis, a “player” with complete skills who finds joy and benefit in hitting with anyone regardless of level and playing style and genuinely sees the value of supporting others in their efforts to improve their skills.
- You get to support your school and the athletic program at your school. Achievements take on a greater significance when playing for more than just yourself. Participation alone demonstrates a commitment to your school and commitment to the values established by your school.
- You gain recognition, respect and acknowledgement for your commitment and effort with your peers. Your standing in the high school community is enhanced by your selection to the team.
- Play other sports? Tennis provides cross training benefits for all sports. Tennis develops hand eye coordination, complex movement and footwork agility, dynamic balance, linear/multi-directional speed, strength, endurance, flexibility, core and shoulder stability and explosive and reactive power.
- Your game will develop and improve with the commitment of tennis five to six days per week for the duration of the season. You will have the opportunity with the commitment of deliberate, disciplined, and purposeful practice and match play competition to develop lifetime playing skills and the foundational skills necessary to play tennis at the college level and/or play competitive tennis in adult and adult age-group leagues, tournaments and events.
- There is an opportunity to take on a leadership role as you advance in grade and gain seniority on the team. Through your actions and leadership by example, you can bolster player confidence and development, elevate team spirit and enthusiasm, build team cohesion, ensure player inclusion, promote a culture of continuous improvement, excellence, and purpose, and most importantly, make things fun. You can take on specific roles such as assisting the coach and/or coaching staff in welcoming and mentoring new players, communications, marketing, public relations, planning, and logistics. Through the process, you can learn team dynamics and how to collaborate, contribute and interact as an integral member of a team, an invaluable skill that can serve you well in life and any future occupation or profession.
Your prospect for college admission (whether pursuing tennis at the college level or not) is enhanced by your commitment and participation in high school tennis. Your high school tennis achievements and the achievements of your team also improve the possibility for recruitment by college coaches for play at the collegiate level. Play on a high school team demonstrates a high level of dedication to the sport of tennis. It also demonstrates your ability and willingness to interact in collaboration with your teammates and coach to achieve the collective and individual goals of the team. For the higher-level player, participation on a high school team shows a willingness to share the spotlight and sacrifice personal ego and self-interest for the advancement and betterment of the team.