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Local Leagues & Tournaments

Q. I took a tennis class for a college physical education requirement. I’ve learned the basic skills but now I don’t know where to go afterwards- finding games, improving my play. What are my options?

A. 1. You could join a local tennis club and enroll in programs, lessons, and/or leagues.

2. You can go to your local park and find other players at your level. How to do this? You could post a note or you could do the time-honored “hang around” until you find someone to play with/against.

3. You could join a local USTA level-of-play league. Call your USTA Sectional office for guidance on this.

4. You could enter a level-of-play tournament, which are pretty common during the summer months.

Q. I recently signed up for a Men's Tennis League and I am playing at a 4.5 level. Lobs, court coverage, and consistency are my three best weapons and allow me to win almost 80% of my points by forcing my opponents into mistakes. This is an effective strategy most of the time, but I would like to be able to hit more winners in the process to give my game more balance. Any advice?

Q. If you are winning 80% of the points that you play, then you need to move up a level. That is an extraordinary percentage. In fact, players have won plenty of matches when they’ve won fewer than 50% of the points played.

Go to www.uspta.com or www.ptrtennis.org for guidance on how to find a qualified, certified teaching professional in your area, and ask him/her to help you “develop a weapon.”

Q. I am 21 and have been playing tennis since I was 5 or 6. I played juniors through the 18s, and in college at a D-II school. I feel like I have what it takes to move to the next level I just lack the knowledge about what specific tournaments to play to break into the pros. I can't stop playing, because tennis will always be apart of me, and I truly believe with that last bit of proper training, I could make it. Any suggestions on tournaments or what I should do?

A. Enter some USTA Pro Circuit events. These are the “first rung” of tennis’ minor leagues. Competing at this level will give you a clear idea of how far your talent might take you.

Go to this link (http://www.usta.com/pro_game/pro_circuits/default.sps) for information about upcoming events, entry procedures, etc.

Q. I would like to know if you know any organization that give Tennis Lessons for free or affordable lessons in Los Angeles area?

A. Go to www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com and type in your zip code. All of the clubs and facilities in your area will appear on the menu. Presumably, these clubs/facilities will offer some free introductory lessons and/or low-cost, affordable programs.

Good luck and get out there and play.

Q. I have a problem. I live in a very small town where there isn’t much tennis action, but it is a sport that I am very interested in getting involved in. I would appreciate it if you could give me any information that I would need in order to learn more about it or a way that I could some how train by any means possible.

A. Take heart in the fact that some of the greatest players of all-time have emerged from small towns. Rod Laver grew up in Rockhampton, Queensland, a small country town in Australia and Steffi Graf was born in Neckarau, Germany, which is not exactly considered a tennis hotbed either. In fact, 2004 Wimbledon champions Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer came from parts of the world not known for producing great tennis players. Sharapova was born in frigid Siberia, Russia before moving to the United States and Federer grew up in Switzerland, a country with very little championship tennis heritage. It’s not where you start…

Anyway, here are a few ideas that may help you:

1. Go to the public courts and play with and against everyone and everybody. By practicing and competing against a multitude of different styles, you will learn what tactics are most effective for you.

2. Find a backboard (like a garage wall or the side of a building) and just keep hitting against it. This exercise will improve your timing, consistency, strength, and fuel your enjoyment.

So, please realize that you do not need to live in a traditional tennis hotbed to enjoy and really improve in our sport. Best of luck!

Q. Although I have played tennis for a number of years, I have never entered a tournament. I’ve looked at the USTA site for a listing of tournaments, but am not really sure where to start. Any tips on selecting a tournament for a first timer, tips on what to expect, etc. will be appreciated.

A. Congratulations on your willingness to “take the plunge.” You might begin by entering an age-appropriate tournament. For example, if you are 15, then you can play in a 16 & under event; if you’re 78, then you can enter a 75 & over tourney. As your results warrant, you can climb the ladder from local to regional to sectional to national to international tournaments. Or you can simply “stay local” and enjoy playing familiar opponents.

I expect that you will be very nervous for your first few matches. Believe it or not, that is part of the fun. In fact, there are some prominent professionals (including certain US Open champions) who still get very nervous before every match. Try to smile and, as they say, “enjoy the moment.”

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