Monthly Archives: September 2013

JMTA is now in Session!

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

Goodbye summer, hello fall and the new season of JMTA! Tennis is now in session for the John McEnroe Tennis Academy at SPORTIME Randall’s Island. Over 200 students will return to the program this week, along with our new students, to participate in one of the country’s most recognized tennis academies.

“Our Coaching is Positive, Encouraging and Motivating.  We believe that when kids are motivated and encouraged, good things happen.  Our students are held to a high standard that demands hard work and genuine effort.  Our coaches challenge players in positive and supportive ways.  We know that self-confidence is absolutely essential in building a successful competitive player in an individual sport like tennis.  And building self-confidence comes from hard work on the part of the player, encouragement from his or her coaches and the love and support of his or her family.  When all three are in place, we believe that our students will have a strong sense of accomplishment regardless of the ultimate level of play they attain.”

JMTA Director, Lawrence Kleger

“I’m very excited for the New Year. We have lots of great players, and tournament kids, returning; it’s going to be awesome! We will be very involved with their training along with John [McEnroe] and I expect to have an even better year than last year. This year we introduced a new program, MacPrep, designed to prepare younger kids for JMTA. It is our goal to have them ready to be able to compete in tournaments in a year or two. The future is looking bright for the program.”

-Felix Alvarado, Assistant General Manager of Sportime Randall’s Island  

Watching Tennis Can Improve the Games of Pros and Amateurs

Serena Williams | Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Serena Williams | Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

“The blue skies and brisk breezes of early September mark the end of the United States Open, and its corresponding state of near-total immersion in the shifting fortunes of professional tennis players. For observers who play the sport, this often means an enthusiastic return to the court, after two mostly sedentary weeks on stadium benches and upholstered furniture. This does not mean, however, that they are out of practice: many amateurs report that seeing tennis played at the highest level improves their own games.

Watching tennis and playing it can be mutually helpful activities, dialectically entwined.

“You get a boost, definitely,” said the tennis historian Bud Collins, who has been watching and playing the game for 60 years. “But six days later, it’s gone.”

Jon Levey, a writer and avid player said: “I always play better after watching the pros. Their form shows you that less is more. They move their body weight into the ball much better than I do. Everything seems to work in symmetry. After the Open, I suddenly know how to hit ‘up’ on my serve, like they do. But after a little while, it leaves.”

Maybe the answer is keep watching lots of professional tennis? Andy Murray said he watched about three sets per day.

“I learn a lot from doubles, where things happen slower,” said Lauren DeLong, an amateur player, who was on the grounds in Flushing Meadows. “Today, I saw Leander Paes turn his racquet face at the last minute to disguise a shot. I thought, I can try that.”

Professionals, too, often pick up techniques by watching, Patrick McEnroe said.

“Take the squash shot,” he said, referring to the loose forehand slice pros hit when in trouble. “That started on clay. Players saw it and thought, ‘I’ll try that too.’ Now almost all of them use it now.”

Seeing the fluency with which the pros rally can synchronize an internal sense for the game, according to the commentator and former top-five player Jimmy Arias.

“When I haven’t played or watched for a while, my game loses something,” he said. “When I haven’t played but I’ve watched a lot, like the last two weeks, I still have my timing.”

Certainly, professional players seen up close can mesmerize with their unimpeded strokes, hitchless service motions and sweetly struck volleys. Even the sounds of professional tennis, a rhythmic series of deep thwocks, can be an inspiration. But is the sense of improvement real?

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’s coach who runs his own academy in France, said it was.

“When you see people doing the right thing all the time or most of the time, it comes into your head and then you do it more naturally,” he said. “I know a lot of people who improved just by watching. That’s the best way to learn, because you don’t think, you just copy, without trying.”

Click here to read the full article by Asad Raza on nytimes.com

American Tennis Isn’t Dying But It Does Need Help

Lawrence Kleger

Lawrence Kleger
JMTA Academy Director

…”One bright spot for U.S. men’s tennis is talented junior Noah Rubin, a 17 year old from New York who’s playing in the junior tourney at the U.S. Open. He’s coached by Lawrence Kleger, the Executive Director of Tennis at SPORTIME, where the John McEnroe Tennis Academy is located. Kleger thinks one reason American men are lagging behind their female compatriots is that “tennis is way higher up the pecking order for women than for men. Men have a lot more options to play elite sports. It’s more of a lucrative sport with a higher profile for women than for men.”

Kleger’s right about the better fortunes for women’s tennis stateside. Though Sloane Stephens bowed out of the Open this year to Serena Williams (no shame in that), she’s been marked as a future Slam winner (rightly so, when her forehand is firing), along with big-serving teen Madison Keys. (Both Stephens and Keys train with the USTA, in Carson and Boca Raton, respectively.)

He also noted that the decline of men’s tennis in the States misses the global picture. “Tennis has become so much more popular around the world. Other countries have stepped up what they do. It’s much more popular in Europe and South America than in the states now.” That’s unsurprising when you consider that over the last 10 years, the only men to win Slams hail from Europe (Federer, Nadal, Safin, Djokovic, Murray) and South America (del Potro).

Kleger added, “When you have Americans doing great in sports, we follow those sports. Our dominance is gone for the near-term so tennis isn’t big in the U.S. As exciting as Nadal versus Federer is, the interest is nowhere near if an American player made the final. That’s a concern for the USTA. Their funding comes from the Open and TV ratings go up with Americans in the finals.”

Click here to read the full article by Miguel Morales on forbes.com

JMTA Spotlight: Jessica Golovin

Jessica

Yesterday, we caught up with JMTA’s Jessica Golovin who has been practicing and making preparations for her next major tournament. Golovin, 16, has been studying under the JMTA program for 3 ½ years and is one of the programs most powerful players. Here’s what she had to say:

We know that you have a big tournament coming up. Can you tell us about it? Yes, it’s an ITF in Canada. I’m actually leaving today and I start Saturday in Canada, playing qualifyings.

What have you and JMTA Coach Bruce Haddad been doing to prepare for this tournament? We have been working a lot on my consistency, my serve and my different strokes. Also I’ve been working on when and where to hit the right shot.

What area do you feel you need the most improvement in? I think I need to really work on my consistency. Every shot needs a lot more work to get me to the top level.

What are you most confident about in regards to your play? My aggressiveness. I’m an aggressive, powerful player.

Where can you see yourself in the next two years? Well, I just turned 16 so in two years I will be 18. I hope to be playing in many pro tournaments and have my ranking up. Going to college is definitely an option, however the ultimate goal is to eventually turn pro.

We wish Jessica the best of luck in Canada! Stay tuned for more updates on our Blog.

Experience of a lifetime for Jamie Loeb

JMTA's Jamie Loeb

JMTA’s Jamie Loeb

“Being the hometown girl had its advantages for Jamie Loeb, who competed in this year’s US Open Junior Championships as her last junior tennis tournament before heading to the University of North Carolina to be a Tar Heel.

“The support I have here is incredible and the atmosphere is amazing,” Loeb said. “A lot of people came out to my qualifying matches and I really appreciated it. I can’t even describe the feeling when I walked onto the court hearing the crowd chant my name. They pumped me up so much and it was a great experience.”

Loeb got the opportunity to play in the women’s qualifying draw as a wild card. In her first-round qualifying match, she beat Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay in straight sets before falling to Ksenia Pervak of Russia in three sets.

Loeb also competed in the girls’ singles and doubles, falling in her doubles match on Tuesday to close out her tournament. Still, she deemed the experience invaluable, if a little odd to still be playing in the juniors after starting her freshman year. Loeb is in this unique situation because school has already begun for the UNC freshman. She was only in Chapel Hill, N.C., for a few days before having to return to New York to get ready for the tournament.

“I missed about a week of school due to the women’s tournament and will be missing another week because of juniors,” Loeb said.

Lucky for her though, professors have been understanding and supportive of her situation. “I have stayed in contact with them, and when I am not practicing or playing a match, I go home and do my work so I don’t fall behind,” Loeb said.”

Click here to read the full article by Lauren McHale on usopen.org

Taking First Career Steps on a Path Set by McEnroe

Photo Credit: Barton Silverman/The New York Times | JMTAer Noah Rubin

Photo Credit: Barton Silverman/The New York Times | JMTAer Noah Rubin

“It would certainly be a stretch to call Noah Rubin a work-in-progress from the John McEnroe mold. He is not left-handed and does not play serve-and-volley tennis in an era of baseline slugging. He doesn’t throw on-court tantrums, or at least did not lose it like McEnroe even once during his first-round junior boys’ match Tuesday at the United States Open.

Then again, there was nothing much to vent about as Rubin, 17, cruised past his German opponent, Hannes Wagner, 6-3, 6-0, for his first singles victory at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. It may have been the second-most significant victory of Rubin’s embryonic career after his victory over McEnroe, the seven-time Grand Slam tournament winner.

“We played four sets and I might have gotten two or three games off him,” Rubin said of McEnroe, who is something of a mentor. “And then I got him, 7-6, and that’s it. I think he’s not playing me anymore.”

He delivered the punch line with a nice touch of sheepishness and timing. So maybe he does have something in common with McEnroe, the sardonic voice of American tennis, in addition to having to compensate for his lack of size and power with an impressive blend of quickness and shot making.

Rubin is from Long Island, currently Rockville Centre, and a product of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. When McEnroe launched his partnership with the Sportime Randall’s Island Tennis Center in 2010, he said he wanted to challenge the industry orthodoxy that called for full immersion in the sport from preadolescence on.

McEnroe said he grew up playing other sports and had a relatively normal school and social life “to keep myself sane.” His on-court behavior may have contradicted that claim, but he contended that 21st century young players could still succeed in the sport without becoming a ward of a sun-splashed tennis academy.”

Click here to read the full article by Harvey Araton on nytimes.com

Rubin Wins First Round Juniors Match at US Open

Photo credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke | Noah Rubin of Long Island returns the ball to Kyle Edmund of Britain in the first round of junior boys' singles at the 2012 U.S. Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 3, 2012)

Photo credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke | Noah Rubin of Long Island returns the ball to Kyle Edmund of Britain in the first round of junior boys’ singles at the 2012 U.S. Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 3, 2012)

“Tuesday’s first-round U.S. Open juniors match for Rockville Centre’s Noah Rubin looked easy: 6-3, 6-0 over fellow 17-year-old Hannes Wagner of Germany. “What was going on in my head was not as easy as on the court,” Rubin assured.

But Rubin’s coach, Lawrence Kleger, was comfortable enough with the performance. “Returned exceptionally well,” Kleger said. “Off the ground, he was really, really solid. Serve was really good at times; he didn’t get broken.

“I liked his presence.”

Rubin broke Wagner’s serve in the first game of the match and never looked back, not allowing a single break-point opportunity in dispatching Wagner in 55 minutes.

“He’s very athletic,” Kleger said of Rubin, a 5-91/2 high school senior. “We’re just waiting for him to grow.”

Click here to read the full article by John Jeansonne on newsday.com