Different Tennis Hitting Stances

There are a few different hitting stances when it comes to tennis. When a teaching pro introduces someone to tennis, they always start with turning the student sideways to hit the ball. This is the most basic way to hit a ball, mostly because you will have the most control hitting this way. This is called the “closed stance.” (pictured below; Ben with our tiny tots)

As players progress, hitting in the closed stance 100% of the time becomes more difficult. You will use the closed stance when you are moving forward into the court. Aside from that, if you are in a match and your opponent is hitting the ball very hard, there might not be enough time to turn sideways. So what do you do then? This is where the “semi-open” and “open” stances come into play.

Semi-Open Stance

The semi-open stance is used quite often in tennis. Most people do not have the time to get into a completely closed stance in the middle of a point because of how fast the game has become. In this day and age, tennis is so fast. People are hitting bigger and faster balls than they used to. With this, were have adjusted how we hit the ball. The semi-closed stance is one way. This stance gives you the balance needed to hit the ball, but also helps you adjust to speed of the balls coming.

Open Stance

The open stance should be a last resort. This stance should only be used when you are either on the run, or have a ball hit at you so fast that you cannot turn. It is very hard to be balanced when you hit with the open stance. Along with this, it is hard to fully use your hips to hit the ball.

In this YouTube video, Sherif gives a detailed analysis of the different tennis hitting stances. He talks about each stance, and when each one should be used.

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The Affects of Equality in Sports

Introduction

The fight for equality in sports is founded on the view that it is crucial that the authorities involved should recognize, appreciate, and encourage the diversity of the people that make up the sporting world (Disabled World, 2013). In essence, the argument is that everyone should be valued equally, and should be given equal opportunities. Diversity, on the other hand, refers to the individual difference that is inherent in every human being. Equality in sporting opportunities is championed on the basis that in addition to the numerous benefits that are enjoyed by the individuals who are encouraged to participate, the nation and sporting communities also benefit as their health, growth and development are positively influenced (Disabled World, 2013). When everyone is afforded equal opportunities to discover and exploit their sporting potential, the community and nation are bound to benefit from their success and individual development.

Benefits of Equality in Sports

One of the major benefits of providing equal opportunities for people to participate in sports is that it increases the pool from which a sports organization can draw talent to be employed in various capacities. Sports organizations do not only need athletes, but rather are supported by people playing other roles such as administration, volunteering, and management (Disabled World, 2013). Embracing diversity and equality gives the organization the opportunity to discover talent among different people and to create employment and sources of income for them. In this way, the organization can benefit from the skills, knowledge and creativity of a wide variety of people regardless of their level of athletic abilities.

Secondly, treating people equally is also an important means through which cohesion, unity, and sportsmanship may be encouraged within the sports community (Disabled World, 2013). By teaching people to value the difference and inherent value in each other, a sports community is encouraged to see beyond the physical features that define people, and to appreciate them in deeper and more meaningful ways. Thirdly, equality in sports can also act as an important launch pad for championing equality in other facets of the socio-economic space. For example, when people grow accustomed to seeing women participating in sports that were previously dominated by men, they may experience a shift in their thinking and begin to embrace women acting in traditionally male roles in the economic environment. Therefore, the successes that are enjoyed in sports concerning equality may also spill over to the rest of the sectors that make up an economy.

Furthermore, the equality that is experienced in sports may also lead to positive impact in legislation formation and implementation, more so legislation that touches on the right to equality. Where there may have been difficulty in getting the relevant stakeholders to buy into the idea of the legislation, if the social facts on the ground change so that such legislation is rendered necessary for the times, it would be easier for the stakeholders involved to gather support to pass these legislations. It would also be wise to implement them among the people upon whom the laws are being imposed.

Challenges in Obtaining Equality in Sports

One of the factors that significantly hinder the encouragement of equality in sports are the social factors that affect certain groups disproportionately when compared to other groups (Marivoet, 2014). For example, it is note-worthy that due to biological differences, women cannot, in a strict sense, enjoy sports in the same manner that men can. For instance, married women will most likely have to sacrifice a part of their sporting careers to have children and possibly, raising them. For this reason, it is important to ensure that women are made aware of their reproductive rights and that they are provided with an environment in which they can make decisions regarding their bodies without undue external influences. For this reason, social activism is important, and it plays a leading role in ensuring that disadvantaged groups can enjoy their careers without the negative influences that may hinder such enjoyment and possible growth.

Furthermore, it has become increasingly evident that in some cases, especially where there is a severe disadvantage on the part of the parties concerned, that there is a need for policy provisions which will prevent discrimination and other negative behavioral impediments from reaching the sports community. Whereas equality within sports may lead to a decline in the rate of discrimination suffered by the disadvantaged groups, in some cases, it appears that the influence has to work inversely, i.e. changes in society may assist in improving equality in sports (Marivoet, 2014).

Lastly, the media has also been identified as one of the other factors that are hampering the growth of equality. For instance, by providing less coverage of disadvantaged groups that are participating in sports, the media cements the prejudices that are held by the public regarding the participation of women and the disabled in sports. Some commentators have argued that the media is seen to be partial towards men, with women receiving very little coverage, and even then, mostly in sensational stories which do not underline their performances, skills, or abilities (Mwambwa, 2018). The major complaint in this regard is that women are less likely to be portrayed as autonomous agents, but rather as subjects of the story to whom various unfortunate occurrences are happening (Mwambwa, 2018). Media is a powerful tool in achieving equality because it may serve to motivate for different people to participate in sports. If more young women see their counterparts participating in one form of sporting activity or another, they would be encouraged to do the same as such participation will move from the realm of the impossible and unprecedented to that of possibility and ordinariness.

Conclusion

In summary, equality in sports has been revealed to be an inestimable goal, which would create numerous opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups. These opportunities, it has been discussed, need not be directly involved with athletics but rather, could also be supportive and administrative. The goal in such a mission is to protect the dignity of individuals by giving them meaningful roles within the sports community, thereby allowing them to feel included and valued. As it has also been made apparent, numerous benefits also accrue to the organization which resolves to embrace diversity and equality as an organizational policy. However, it has also been shown that there are various challenges which operate as impediments to the achievement of this equality and which would have to be dealt with if disadvantaged groups are to be raised from the quagmire of discrimination and derision.

-Sherif

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References

Disabled World. (2013, June 13). Embracing equality in sports coaching. Retrieved from https://www.disabled-world.com/sports/equality-sports-coaching.php

Marivoet, S. (2014). Challenges of sport towards social inclusion and awareness-raising against any discrimination. Physical Culture and Sport Studies and Research, 63, 3-11. Retrieved from https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/pcssr.2014.63.issue-1/pcssr-2014-0017/pcssr-2014-0017.pdf

Mwambwa, L. (2018). Media can promote women in sports. Gender Links for Equality and Justice. Retrieved from http://genderlinks.org.za/programme-web-menu/media-can-promote-women-in-sport-2009-06-29/

Becoming the Complete Tennis Player

How do we become a complete tennis players?

I have noticed from all of the places I have worked at that parents mostly think only about how many hours my kid is going to hit tennis balls? How many hours they will spend on the tennis court? This is not the way to get better, it is not the way to be able to compete in high school tennis, college tennis, or professional events. 

Tennis is a hard game, not an easy one like everybody would think about just from watching television. It is a lot of effort, hard work, and heart. If you don’t put 100% in everything you do, you are not going to achieve hardly anything. You have to push yourself as hard as you can and make sure that you are very tired after the end of each session. 

There are so many different ways to be a better tennis players. I will share today 6 tips that will helpful for you guys to read and follow and it will benefit everyone. We are going to be talking about: Diet, Legs, Cross-Training, Arms, Stretches and Confidence. We have to follow directions and make sure that we are on the right track.

Dieting

We have to train like professionals and eat like them as well. People think that diet is not important, and they can eat whatever they want and at anytime they want. Food is the fuel for your body. It is the same thing with the car, if there is not fuel they car is not going to drive. If we don’t eat the right food and at the right time, it is going to affect our performance on the tennis court.

Diet and nutrition play a key role in any pro-player’s healthy living regime. Although you might not be able to have a dietician on hand or a personal chef, you can still eat like a tennis player. One of the key food groups to focus on is carbs. During a match, a tennis player can lose typically between 500 to 1500 calories, so refuelling using carbohydrates is essential. Eat pasta, rice, or cereals post-match. Take a leaf out of Rafael Nadal’s book and eat some grilled fish, such as salmon, alongside a portion of pasta and fresh vegetables. On those days when you’re not playing a game, start your day with a smoothie. Venus  Williams eats vegetable-based smoothies, using kale, carrots, cucumber and protein powder to create a nutritious morning juice. For lunch, Venus likes to eat big salads with plenty of raw vegetables, beans, and lentils. To eat like Venus, knock up a lentil, pea and bean salad for lunch, adding honey, feta and some olive oil to liven up the dish. If you continue to eat this mix of protein, fruit and vegetables, fiber  and carbohydrates you should be able to get the body of a tennis player. Some people don’t like fish; you can switch fish for grilled chicken. You can always make your plate as healthy as possible. You have salad with very basic things in it like cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce and olive oil. There is always a way to eat get and stay healthy to be able to perform in the best way possible and stay on court for the longest period of time.

Legs

One of the most important things as well for any athlete, and specifically a tennis player, are strong legs. Speed, agility, and sheer strength is required from a tennis player’s legs, and you’ll need to work hard to achieve the toned legs that will help you to improve your tennis game. Having strong legs will give you all the confidence in your ground strokes and your ability as a tennis player. You are not going to worry about getting tired, and you will just remain focus on playing the right game. One of the best ways to tone your legs is to skip. Rumor has it, Roger Federer kicks off his training sessions by skipping, and so should you. Try to skip for one minute before resting. Repeat this between three and five times, depending on your fitness levels. Another great way to work your legs is to do some interval training. Serena Williams completes interval training as a part of her training and if it works for her it will work for you. If you are running on a treadmill, begin by walking quickly for two minutes, then walk a little quicker on a steeper gradient for one minute before sprinting with no gradient for one minute. Repeat this process between three and five times. If you are working outside, use lamp posts, or a stopwatch, to complete your session. You should also try to include some lunges with resistance, and some lateral raises into your exercise routine to get legs like a tennis player. Each player is different but we can always push as hard as we can to get the best out of it. 

Clearly if you want to look like a pro-player you have to play tennis. Although the stars play daily for a couple of hours at a time, chances are you have other commitments, which means you can’t dedicate so much time to the court. However, just because you can’t dedicate as much time to tennis as the pros, doesn’t mean that when you train you should only play tennis. You still need to work out your body doing other forms of exercise. This is known as cross training. 

Cross-Training

Cross-training is essential for any athlete, not only because it helps build and work other muscle groups (which in turn helps you to become a better tennis player), but it also helps to reduce the stress on the body and hopefully will reduce your risk of picking up a common tennis injury.  Cross-Training is one of the best ways to develop muscular endurance for tennis. The goal for cross training is to provide your body with a variety of exercises that will develop and strengthen the muscles commonly used while playing tennis.Try to work some alternative training sessions into your routine, such as cycling, strength training or rock climbing. This will make you a better player and you’ll also have a flawless tennis body as a result.

Arms

If you want to have a serve that clocks up triple digits (the fastest ever serve on record is, according to the Guinness World Records, 163.7mph and was hit by Sam Groth in 2012) then you need to pay some serious attention to these arm exercises. As well as playing tennis, you need to do some decent strength training exercises too. Try to include a combination of exercises, such as straight-arm rowing, dips, chest presses, push-ups and medicine ball drills.

In order to keep progressing and building muscle and tone in your arms you have to make sure you keep your training sessions varied. Experiment with a range of different exercises. Having a strong arm will always allow you to have a bigger ground strokes, as well as a big serve. Having a big serve will help you to win points quickly, and you are not going to get close to the exhausting time because you do not have to run and chase the ball as much. Serve is 50% is your game. 

Stretching is a big part, and plays an important role in our daily life, not only on the tennis court. I have seen so many kids finish practice and decide to take their bag and leave. This is the easiest way to get injured, we have to stretch. We have to take our time in stretching, and spend at least 20 to 30 seconds in each stretch we are going to do to avoid getting an injury or a tight muscle. We can always stretch at home after shower, right before bed. Make it one of your daily routines. We have to take care of, and make sure that we stretch every muscle in our body.

Confidence

Lastly, one very important topic that I love talking about, and did a lot of research on, is confidence. If you watch tennis players, both off and on, court they don’t slink about or slouch. They stand tall. They are confident. Their shoulders are back, their hips are in line with their ears and boy don’t they look 10 times better for it. Remember that getting the body of a tennis player is not just about working out a lot and eating decent food, it’s also about your posture and your confidence too.

To improve your posture, work your core by doing exercises like the plank. You can also strengthen your core by doing a Pilates class, doing back extensions and performing exercises that work your obliques and your abdomen. This core work will also improve your balance and tone up your stomach, so there are lots of benefits to be gained by doing these exercises.

As well as exercising you also need to be conscious of your posture throughout the day and make sure you reposition your body and ensure your spine sits in an S shape when your posture begins to slip.

Players can build up their confidence by working as hard as they can, and putting everything out in practice because what happens in practice will happen in the tennis match. Working on the things that we need to work on over and over is the key to becoming an outstanding tennis player. These are all things that are going to build your confidence. Always believe in yourself, think about all the positive things, and how many hours you have trained. By doing this, you are ready to go and beat everyone.

Being a tennis player, or an athlete in general, is tough. You have to sacrifice a lot of things in life and put tennis, or any sport that you play or compete in, as your first priority. Do what will help you to get better, and when you feel like getting lazy or tired, tell yourself I want to be good and I want to reach all my goals, and this is not going to happen by sitting at home.

I hope you guys are staying home, and safe. Hope everyone is doing well, and doing some exercises. Let me know please if you have any questions.

-Sherif

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Leadership Mentality

Being a leader is something that I have always wanted, and I am working always as hard as I can to be the best leader to all the kids and all the tennis players that I teach. The leader has to be a leader on and off the tennis court, and be a very good example for everybody around. You can be a leader with good attitude that everybody around loves you and respect you.

Staying focused, working hard to perfect your talent, inspiring people, being a good sport, having tremendous drive, and taking chances are key attributes. I am so thankful that my experiences with sports early on in life taught me these basic lessons that contributed to my success at work (and in life in general). Hard work, persistence, and experience are essential to becoming a great leader, and I do not believe that opportunities just fall onto your lap. You have to want them. It really helps to be passionate about the things you are working hard to achieve, like the love of the sport, the desire to win. 

On-Court Attitude

On the tennis court, part of working hard and getting the most out of it, was finding opportunities to lead – whether that meant displaying model sportsmanship, being a team captain or leveraging my experience as a coach to help others improve. Taking on any leadership role will shape you down the road and has a cumulative effect that will equip you to lead throughout your life. I have always known the importance of teamwork since I played college tennis and played on so many different leagues either in Egypt or in Germany. Working as a team and helping each other on and off court is something that I love about being a tennis player and now working at Wembely and being in that position and working with other coaches is always something that going to benefit me as a coach and the other coaches as well.

Another important part of being a team is embracing the help of a coach or mentor. I am so appreciative of the opportunities I have had to both be a coach, and learn from a coach, that I have continued this practice throughout my life. Taking chances is another “must do” in life and leadership. I depend a lot on my gut, my instincts, and my emotions. I kind of have a feeling of what is right, and what is wrong and then I balance that with facts. Every leader has to rely on their ability to make the right call at the right time. 

All Kids Are Different

I believe that everyone is different and being leader means being responsible. Kids are different, and coaches have to make sure and learn about kids as fast as they can, and make sure they give the right information in the best way possible. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to shout or yell at the people you are working with, or the kids you are teaching. It is all about respect, and knowing what you have to do or say on the right time and that is what is going to make you different than anyone else. Some kids needs special treatment, and/or telling them things in a different way without hurting their feelings. We have to be responsible for our actions and everything we do to make kids better.

How does being an effective leader involve taking more risks?

I believe that taking risks means facing fears or challenges, and having the courage to move forward. A successful leader is the one who finds new or better ways of achieving things. He/she is the one who finds different solutions for problems or issues. An effective leader should understand that taking risk is so essential when it comes to achieving results; they should step out of their comfort zone and understand the nuances of the challenge they are facing in order to achieve success. Nothing would be accomplished if we refrain from taking risks.

Conclusion

Although, being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to be talking all the time, and not giving the chance to anyone to talk. You always have to give enough space to parents or kids to talk and discuss things with you. Ask questions and they answer. Let them ask questions and you have to answer all the questions they have for you in a very honest and polite way. Leaders should voice their opinions, however, the followers should feel accepted and appreciated. I believe that leaders should listen in order to challenge themselves and learn from others. I have seen some stubborn head coaches who doesn’t want to listen to anyone and think that they are the best. It is good to have self confident but no matter how good you are, you still have to listen to others.

-Sherif

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Growing Up With Pressure

Growing up, having your own dad as a tennis coach can be pretty rough. I know many people understand where I’m coming from. My dad used to be a professional tennis player and played in many grand slams, so you could say he knew what he was talking about. While he was coaching top players in the nation, he always managed to have time for me. Having tennis run through your blood has its positives and negatives, but I know that growing up as a junior 

I felt immense pressure. So this is what I’d like to talk about in this blog post. Pressure. 

Whether parents know it or not, junior players always feel the pressure due to the sports nature of individuality. My own father never really put much pressure on me to play, but I knew there were standards I had to meet. Without him saying it, I knew he wanted me to win every single match. Many adolescents deal with this pressure differently. For me, I chose to take it out on the ground with my racquet.

As a kid, I overcame this slowly (somewhat) as I matured. I remember when I was 13 my dad didn’t enter me in any tournaments for 6 months. He could see I was getting burnt out mentally already at an early age. So, I took the 6 months off. Still training every day. The second half of that year was probably one of my best as a junior. I felt relieved of all pressure, all I needed was a break. 

So, I encourage everyone to take this break as a real “break” mentally. Especially from competition. Once it’s all over and we are back on court, it’ll feel that bit more special. Never take it for granted, and enjoy the game!

-Dre 🙂

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Tennis at Wembley Through the Eyes of Dre

There’s an incredibly joyful social presence that comes along with being a member of The Wembley Club. I love to see all our members getting involved whether it be tennis, fitness, or through the use of our ever growing list of amenities. We like to see everyone getting involved no matter what your level of play is. Whether it be as an individual or as a family there’s so many ways in which you can have fun!

Growing up, I was constantly around tennis courts every day as my dad was a Tennis Professional. Before coming to Wembley, I had never been a part of a club socially where it almost feels like family. The functions, parties, random pool sessions in the summer make it all worthwhile, especially after enduring a tough training session. 

Our philosophy for tennis is based around the fact that we want everyone to have an incredible learning experience, and make it fun for everyone that steps onto our courts. It’s important to us that we mold our programs to be catered to everyone. My ideology comes from a long running background in tennis, and I believe that everyone needs the chance to maximize their own style of play and find their individual flair. One of my main goals as a coach would have to be that everyone has a fun and positive experience with tennis once they leave the court. As a team, all of the Wembley employees are extremely easy going and in most cases you will see us building friendships that we will have for years to come.

Wembley knows how to have fun both on and off the court which is what I think sets us apart from other clubs, and for that, I’d like to thank all the members for making our staff love our jobs! 

We like to work with our members to create the best possible experience so I would like to encourage you to share with me any ideas you have that would make your experience the best there is!

-Dre Mick

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Get to Know Sherif Abohabaga!

Growing up in Egypt as a tennis player is not easy. Governments, in some African countries, do not support athletes or sports in general. However, I am lucky and thankful for having a family that has been here for me, and gave me all the support I needed to be where I am right now.

Introduction

My name is Sherif Abohabaga; I am from Cairo, Egypt. I was born on July 6th, 1994. As most of you guys know, Cairo is the capital of Egypt. I grew up in a family that loves sports. It is funny because most of my family members did not play sports, but they loved watching it. My dad is a big tennis fan who loved to watch Borg, Steffi Graf, Sampras, and many other professional tennis players. My mother did not play any sports, and was not interested in most of the sports that my dad used to watch. Soccer is the most popular sport back home; it is so special for my family. My dad used to tell me that when my Egyptian soccer team plays, it means that the whole family has to be together to watch and cheer for the team. I think that is why my mother only liked soccer.

The Early Years

At the age of 4, my dad introduced me to tennis. He took me to Al-Ahly sporting club which is the tennis club I played for my entire life, aside from one year. My parents told me that when I went to the tennis court for the first time, I was the only kid who did not want to leave my parents, and was crying the whole time. My dad bought me my first tennis racket; it was a Head racquet, and this was the only time I have ever played with any racquet other than Wilson. In Egypt, the weekends are Fridays and Saturdays. From Sunday to Wednesday, it was more about instruction, and Thursday was the points play day. Even when most of the people there did not know how to play, coaches were trying to let us play fun games. I hated Thursdays. I did not want to lose so I ended up crying, and staying with my mother. Most coaches used to tell my parents that I am not a competitive player, and I will never be good at this game. My parents did not believe it, and they kept pushing me and helping me as hard as they could. I kept playing tennis, and I started taking private lessons at the age of 5. I took lessons twice a week, with clinics 3 times a week. I started to like the game more, and my parents used to take me to watch tournaments. My dad used to say, “one day you will be holding that trophy, and you will take it home with you.”

The Beginning of Competitive Play

At the age of 7, my coach told my dad that there will be a tournament for ages 6, 7 and 8 and that I should play. My dad said it would be fun, and I should try. On the tournament day, as soon as I went to the tennis club and saw how busy it was, I started crying and I wanted to leave. As soon as they called my name and my opponent’s that we have to go to the court, I started to cry like crazy, and I did not want to leave my mom’s side. After a 20 minute long conversation, I decided to go to the court, and I beat the guy 6-0. We started the tournament from the round of 16. I ended up winning the tournament and I lost only one game. I believe it was an amazing feeling, and my parents used to tell me how happy I was.

Extracurricular Activities

At the age of 7, my parents decided to add 3 more sports to my life; soccer, swimming and karate. I liked soccer a lot and I played for two years, but sadly the coaches said I did not have the talent, but I could play for fun. Swimming was only about learning how to swim so when I go on a vacation or to the pool with family or friends, I can join them. Karate was about self-defense. I stopped playing soccer at the age of 10. I did swimming until the age of 9 then stopped and decided to do swimming for another year when I was 11. I did karate for 11 years and I had the brown belt. I remember at some point when I was playing 4 sports at the same time, I used to go to school at 7:40 am until 2:40. My parents would pick me up and I would have to change my clothes and eat in 20 minutes because my tennis practice started at 3 pm and went for 2 hours. Then at 5:30, I had karate for 2 hours and then ended my day with swimming from 8 to 9:30. I would go home to finish my homework, sleep and repeat. I did not like karate that much, it was a very stressful sport for me and the coaches were not fun, but my dad always said we have to be good at whatever we are going to play. I did not see it as pressure as most people think as much as I see it a responsibility. I did not understand his point until I grew up because when I was young I did not like competition. I remember my mom used to let me watch Chinese and Japanese DVDs to learn how to do karate, and the first exam we had at the club to switch from the white belt to the yellow, I failed. However, she did not want to tell me, so she talked to the coach and she let me have the yellow as everybody else. When everyone was about to get the brown belt, which is the one before the black, she told me that I failed the first-ever test. Back to tennis, it is the sport that changed my life; I got the chance to travel to many countries and have a lot of friends.

At the age of 11, my parents took me to the first tennis camp that my club had. It was tennis and fitness. We also had a chance to stay at the club all day, but I always preferred to stay at home with my family. I was playing a lot of tournaments between the ages 10 and 12 because my parents knew that as soon as you reach 11 and you are doing well, or you are ranked from the top 5 players in the nation, you can join the Egyptian national team.

At the age of 11, I was one of the youngest players to be ranked number 1 under 12 years old. Players who were one year older than me were shocked by my performance. The time came and coaches were about to decide who were the players who would join the Egyptian national team to play the North African championship. Parents complained about me traveling with two other guys who were a year older than me. They said that I still had another year to play, and they deserve the chance to play. The head coach stepped up and said I am the youngest but I deserve a chance because I was ranked number 1 in the country. We traveled to Algeria to play my first North African championship tournament, and I made it to the final in singles and doubles. The year after when I traveled to play with the players who were my age. We went to Morocco, and I won the tournament singles and doubles.

At the age of 12, I started to have my private tennis coach; we used to practice 5 times a week. Moreover, that year the head coach at the tennis club where I practice decided to let me play with the team in the Egyptian tennis league which consists of 2 singles and 1 doubles. I played number 1 singles and I played doubles too. In the summer of 2005, the Asian tennis federation sent an email to the Egyptian federation and said that there would be a big event for top-ranked 3 players in each country. They said there will be a lot of players from different countries worldwide. 1 month later, the Egyptian federation asked for my passport and two other players who played in a different club; they were the number 2 and 3 ranked players. This was my first-ever time that I traveled to play in a tournament that was outside of Egypt. I traveled with my father. The tournament was on the same courts where Qatar open is. The big stadium and the atmosphere was amazing. The coaches had a meeting with the tournament directors. The draw was out and we got to know against whom we would play and what time. The tournament was singles and teams. Busses would come every 30 minutes to pick the players up from the hotel and take them to courts. The number 1 seed was a Tunisian player, and the number 2 seed was an Indian. I played against the number 2 seed in the semi-finals and that was the hardest match of the tournament. I ended up winning 13-11 in a 10 point tiebreaker. Then in the final, I beat the Tunisian guy. While playing with the Egyptian national team, we ended up beating the Syrian team in the semi-finals then in the final we were playing against the host team, and I remember the stadium was full of people, but we ended up winning, and we won the trophy. The year ended, and I was ranked number 1 in Egypt.

I started to prepare myself to play under 14; I added a fitness coach and worked more on my physical fitness. My parents were my biggest and number 1 supporters; my dad used to come to every single match and practice. I ended my first year under 14 as number 3, but I did not qualify for the biggest event which is the African championship. The year after, I started as the number 1 player because the people who were older started to play under 16. I won a couple of Egyptian tournaments, and I qualified for the African championship, and the Arab championship under 14. In 2008, I participated in he African championship; it was in Botswana. I got 3rd place in singles and qualified for one Juniors World Cup, which is one of the biggest events I ever played in my life. The World Cup consists of 16 teams and they divide them into 4 groups, and each group has 4 teams. In our group, we played against Great Britain, Brazil, and India. And after the group stages, we played against Venezuela and South Africa. We finished as the number 13th in the world. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life; I got to play against some players and became friends with others.  I made friends whom I see on TV nowadays like Laura Robson and some others. 

After playing that big event, the African federation decided to make a tournament in Morocco between the best 8 players in Africa but this tournament was based on votes. African coaches choose who the best players are, and luckily I was one of those. I won the tournament in doubles and got 4th place in singles. I qualified to travel to Asia and play against the top 12 player in Asia. I ended the year winning a national tournament with dropping only a set.

When I was 15, my coach started to introduce me to the ITF tournament. I had a Wilson sponsor; I used to get 5 rackets, two tennis bags, and a Wilson suitcase. I also got a 30% sponsor from Adidas.

It was hard to balance between school, practice, and travel, but hard work always pays off. I started to schedule the tournament that I will be playing through the year, the days of practices and the days off to balance things up. I had to give my coach my school schedule. My parents started scheduling my time to compete, rest and take care of my school work. The first year under 16 wasn’t very successful. I did not reach my expectations. I ended the year being number 3 under 16 and I was ranked #540 in the world. The year after was a turning point; I started with three international doubles event wins, and made it to the final once in 3 weeks. I qualified for the Arab championship held in Egypt. I won the doubles tournament and made it to the final in singles. I also won the Arab championship with the Egyptian national team. I played around 11 national tournaments and I won 10 out of 11.

In the last two years of playing junior tennis, I got to travel to different countries and got to play against some tough and famous players, like Borna Coric who is ranked as the top 40 in the world. I had a couple of wins against players in the top 300 in the world. I was the number 1 player in Egypt in two consecutive years under 18 and I qualified to play the Arab championship twice two years in a row. I made it to the finals twice, and won it once with the Egyptian national team. I ended my junior career ranked #268 worldwide.

After High School

I graduated high school in 2012; I went to an American school in Grade 10, 11 and 12. I was not planning at that point on moving to a different country, but it was more flexible to travel and play tennis since I was studying in an American school. In my last two years under 18, I was competing in some men events. When I was ranked number 1 under 18 in my last year, I was the number 2 ranked player in Egypt in men. After finishing high school, I wanted to be a pilot. I tried to do it for half a year but it was too expensive.

The German League

February, 2013, I got a phone call from my head coach asking me if I want to play tennis in Germany on May 1st. I talked with my parents and we agreed and my coach also said that it will be a great experience. I started to get ready to travel and get my visa and put all the hard work in as I always do. The time had arrived and I was going to Germany to play for Tc Neuwied in Germany. As soon as I arrived, the director of the club was waiting for me and took me to the tennis club and showed me my room. They had a visitor room at the club for all foreign players who came to play for the club. The next day I got to meet the head coach and some of the players at the club. I was very welcomed and all the people were so excited to see me playing.

In the German league, they play team matches every Sunday and I was there to play 6 matches for the club. I played number 1 singles and doubles for my German team. I won all my matches and we moved to the other league. I got the opportunity to play in the German league for three years in a row and got to compete against top-ranked players. I have a win against the number 39 ranked player in Germany and a top 300 player in the world.

Post-Secondary Schooling

In 2014, I went to college in Egypt and I started to study business. Playing professional tennis was one of my dreams but it is very expensive to go professional if you do not have a sponsor. Also, school is my family’s first priority. I started summer 2014 talking to my friends about coming to the United States because this is the only place in the world where you can study and compete at the same time, and get a scholarship.

One of my best friends in Egypt who played tennis in the United States started to help me follow my dream and come to the United States. It was not an easy process, but life is not easy and we all have to sacrifice things. I contacted a couple of different coaches in Division II because I was not eligible to play Division I due to NCAA rules of transferring twice, and I would  have to have a redshirt.

The Journey to Southwest Baptist University

I got in contact with Coach John Bryant- the head coach at Southwest Baptist University- and we went through a lot of things, such as transferring procedures, tennis and some other different topics regarding the tennis team and scholarships. On January 19th, 2015, I came to the United States. I started as a freshman in tennis, but a sophomore in school. I was lucky that Southwest Baptist University transferred all my classes and I had enough credits to start as a sophomore.

Studying in the United States was completely different from studying in Egypt. Back home the lectures go around 2 and a half hours, and you can decide which days you want to go to your college and which days you want to take off. At SBU things were different. In your first year, your advisor chooses your classes. In your sophomore, junior, and senior year you can discuss your schedule with your advisor, but no matter what you have to go to school 5 days a week especially if you are taking 12 to 18 credits each semester. At SBU, lectures last for 50 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but Tuesday and Thursday the lectures last for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I liked the American way more, because you do not get bored; you are focused and able to understand what the teacher wants to say, plus you can always ask for office hours.

Life as a Student Athlete

Being a student-athlete is one of the hardest yet the best things I have ever done and experienced in my life. I used to wake up at 6 am to do conditioning and then go shower, eat breakfast then go to class at 8 am. After that I used to go to tennis practice that starts and 4 pm until 6 pm, then go shower, have dinner and then finish all the assignments or study for an exam. It is not as easy as people think. We used to sit in the van for hours and hours to go play a match in a different state. It is fun, but also stressful when you think about all the things that need to get done for school.

During my freshman year, I played number 1 in doubles and 2 in singles. I came in January and it was the spring season. I got to experience my first snow season ever. It was cold the majority of the time, and the snow made it even harder for me. I remember the first time I walked on the slippery snow, I fell a couple of times, and I didn’t know how to walk on it, but it was a fun experience. The season starts in February, but since the weather is not the best and we did not get to play a lot of tennis because SBU does not have indoors, so most of the time we were just playing at the racketball and doing fitness.

I still remember my first match at SBU; we went to play against Wichita Baptist and it was an away game. I was so stressed, but luckily I had Omar- one of my very close friends- who helped me to come to Southwest Baptist University.  At that time, he was the assistant coach at SBU; he helped me get through the semester with the rest of my teammates and coach Bryant. I finished my spring season with 17 wins and 1 loss. I received the freshman player of year award.

The fall season is a short season for the tennis team; it is more individual. You play a lot of matches, but it goes by fast. In the spring season, if the season goes well, the team will go altogether to nationals, but in the fall it is an individual season. The team travels to play tournaments that coaches plan against different schools to get ready for the biggest event of the year which is the Regional tournament. Each region has around 8 to 12 teams, and each team has between 6 to 12 players, but each school can allow only the top 4 to 6 players to play at that tournament. In the fall, you can play 12 matches at the regionals which include 4 matches each day for three days between singles and doubles. I fell short at regionals in my freshman year and lost in the semifinal, but I had a good run as a freshman and it was not a bad year.

Spring 2016 was a better season for the team and myself. I played on the number 1 singles and doubles spots. We made it to the final conference, but we did not qualify for nationals. I had 19 wins and 2 loses and I received the player of the year award; I was ranked number 1 in singles and 2 in doubles in my region. Fall 2016 was one of the best seasons I have played. I had a big win against the number 2 ranked player of Oklahoma State in a tournament in Texas. After that, I won regionals in singles and made it to the final in doubles; I played 12 matches in three days. The week after I went to play nationals in Arizona and I got 5th place.

Spring 2017 was also a great season for the team. We won the conference, regionals, and made it to the final four at nationals. I just remember at nationals in the quarterfinals we were playing against Ferris State, and we ended up winning the deciding match 7-6 in the third set; this year the national tournament was in Orlando, Florida. I finished as the number 5 ranked player in the nation. I received the player of the year award for the second time in a row. I finished this year with 18 wins and 2 losses. Fall 2017, I played singles at regionals and made it to the finals dropping only 6 games. I got a hamstring injury at 4-1 in the first set, and it was hard to push through. It was my last regional match, and I lost 4-6, 6-7.

I graduated in fall 2017 with my undergrad in business management, but I started my masters in athletic administration in that fall, too. I got one more spring to play which was my senior year. My Master’s degree was a lot of paperwork and presentations, but I enjoyed it a lot and I had an amazing senior year. I ended up undefeated, ranked number 3 in the nation, won regular season for the second consecutive year, won conference as well as regionals and made it to nationals in Arizona.

The Lasers

Followed by this amazing season, I got a big chance to be a part of World Team Tennis and be the first substitute for the Springfield Lasers. The team had a lot of great players like Daniel Nestor -former number 1 player in the world- Jack Sock, and Miomir Kecmanovic. I was a member of the team in 2018 and 2019 and the team won the king trophy in both years for the first time. I was the hitting partner for all players and got to travel with the team to the final of 2019, and it was one of the biggest experiences in my life. I had a great opportunity to meet and see great players like Venus Williams, Mike and Bob Bryan, and many others.

College tennis is something that I miss a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout my time at SBU, but I have learned a lot of things from everyone I met. I enjoyed every moment being on and off the tennis court. I miss the late-night studies before exams, and the time when we are 9 in one van, but we still make it fun. It is something that I miss a lot and I wish I could go back with the time and get to play again for SBU and with my teammates.

One thing I have learned and I hope all players, parents or anyone who is reading this learn, is to do the hard work. Put everything you can, exert all the effort and do not let any day pass without giving 100% in everything you do in life. Life is good, let’s enjoy it and have fun. Go to the tennis court and have fun, but also try your best because losing hurts. Life is a lesson, and we all learn from it. If you lose, do not ever give up. Just go back on track and give all you can and make sure if you do not leave the court tired, like really tired then you did not give your 100%.

Thank you to the great support system I have

I have to thank my parents because without them, I would not have achieved anything, or be where I am now in life. They sacrificed a lot for me and the word thank you is really not enough for them. It is hard also to be away from home and be in a completely different country, but it is worth it. I have learned how to be able to be in charge and take care of myself. I also have to thank my sister who is my best friend, and the one person who always supports me in everything I do. I cannot forget about my teammates who were with me on and off the court. We had such an amazing time in the United States. I am also thankful for the Egyptian coaches who taught me how to hold a tennis racket and also the coaches whom I have practiced with and helped me achieve all my goals. Thanks to coach Bryant who was not only our coach, but our dad at SBU. He helped us become better people before being better players. He spent a lot of time with me on and off court; he used to give me speeches before we go to the court.

I am very thankful for everything that has happened and is happening to me right now. I am blessed to have a lot of people who want just the best for me, just like my parents, my sister and my amazing and wonderful girlfriend who has been helping me in everything in life.

Wembley

Last but not least, I am very happy to be a Wembley member and I am so glad that I am a part of this amazing family. It is such a wonderful atmosphere and the lovely people there always make me feel like I am home.

It is my home right now. 

-Sherif Abohabaga

Interested in taking lessons? Contact The Wembley Club at (440)543-8171 or dave@wembleyclub.com!

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Want to know how to get more involved in our tennis programs? Click here!

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At Home Tennis Drills!

Well… it has happened. We are required to stay at home. Here are some easy drills to do at home, that keep your kids, and you occupied!

“Ups and Downs”

If your kids come to clinics, they know the famous Ups and Downs. These are great for strengthening your arms, and working on hand-eye coordination. For your Ups, you will need your backhand grip. For kids that are still learning, have them let the ball bounce on the ground once, then hit it up. Make sure to reverse the racquet every time. For your downs, have your forehand grip, and bounce the ball against the ground. Feel like that is too easy? Try doing both against your frame!

Juggling

Learning how to juggle is a great way to work on hand-eye coordination, as well as working on your toss for your serve. Here is a simple video teaching you how to juggle! Once you’ve got that down, Try walking down your driveway, hallway, basement, etc. (anywhere you aren’t risking breaking anything!)

Jumping Rope

There are so many reasons to jump rope. Jumping rope is a great cardio exercise, along with being great for footwork. Whether you’re doing something simple like alternating feet, or jumping together, or you’re doing something more difficult, jumping rope is a great exercise!

For more exercises, join Dre’s 15 minute virtual tennis classes!

Interested in taking lessons? Contact The Wembley Club at (440)543-8171 or dave@wembleyclub.com!

Want to learn more about our pros? Click here!

Want to know how to get more involved in our tennis programs? Click here!

Explanation of Different Metrics in Tennis

There are a number of criteria that tennis parents use who are trying to understand the college tennis recruiting process.  For the most part, men’s and women’s college coaches will research a player’s UTR, tennisrecruiting.net, and USTA rankings.  Each college coach has their own unique evaluation process and priorities.  There are other important factors, like meeting a minimum academic standard, good personality fit with the team, work ethic, etc.  The first thing a coach will look at is the high school player ratings and metrics for their tennis results. This post will focus on that part of the coach analysis.

Tennisrecruiting.net

Tennisrecruiting.net was the premiere metric prior to UTR, and is still an integral part of the coach’s analysis.  It ranks players either blue chip (top 25 nationally) or with stars (1-5, with 5 stars being the best).  Tennisrecruiting.net uses the grade level and gender to rank high school players in a way easy to understand by college coaches, who can refer to a recruit as a three star or four star, similar to the way high school football and basketball players are described.

Untied States Tennis Association

USTA (United States Tennis Association) rankings are also a prominent part of the process for many coaches. It places the players in a ranking order, according to the points they acquire from winning matches in USTA tournaments.  It is the opinion of this blogger that USTA rankings can frequently be skewed in favor of the kids who play the most events.  USTA rankings are the only metric of the three where a player gets a boost if the opponent withdraws from a match, even prior to walking on the court.

Universal Tennis Rating

UTR stands for Universal Tennis Rating (UTR).  It was developed in 2008 and has grown in popularity quickly due to its ability to rank players across age, gender, and even nationality.  With the advent of UTR, college coaches can use a metric to compare players across the world.  While there is no such thing as a perfect metric, UTR is the most accurate and detailed index of players’ tennis skill and past results.  Players are rated between 1-16.  For high school players interested to determine if they are qualified to play for certain colleges, comparing their UTR to the players on the team is a great place to start.  For example, a player with a UTR of 9 is an excellent high school player but would not be competitive at a top tier division 1 college (such as Florida or Virginia) where the players generally range from 13-15.  If you have never familiarized yourself with UTR, visit their web site.

UTR is the only one that considers the score of the match in determining the player ranking.  This is good because if a player loses a close match to another top player, UTR will give the player credit for being close.  Both tennisrecruiting.net and USTA rankings do not give any credit for a loss, no matter how close it is.  One of the unique aspects of UTR is that a player’s ranking can go up even when the opponent wins the match.  For example, if a UTR 6 plays a UTR 8 and loses 7-6 7-5, the UTR of the UTR 6 player will rise.

Conclusion

One big mistake I see is parents and kids who focus too much on the metrics at a young age.  While it is certainly important during the junior and senior years of high school to have ratings/rankings that are attractive to college coaches, it is not nearly as important in the earlier years.  Yes, tournaments are selecting players now based upon their USTA rankings and UTR (not tennisrecruiting.net, though), but the most important two things for parents and their tennis playing kids are to focus on improvement and enjoyment.  There are some kids who avoid valuable experience due to a fear of losing to a lower ranked player.  That impedes progress and damages development.  There are other kids who “burn out” from excessive stress about match results.  The kids who improve the most are the ones with a balanced outlook on the process of developing tennis skill over a long period of time.  Match results are a barometer but should not be considered paramount in importance.  Many times, the difference between winning and losing is minuscule, so defining a win as a success and a loss as a failure is short sighted.

Finally, a word of advice from a fellow with three collegiate players: enjoy the process!  The time spent with practice and traveling for competition is amazing bonding time, and will provide memories to last a lifetime.  Keep it fun, stay positive, and be proud of the way you handle adversity along the way.  Bouncing back from a less ideal result is one of the best life lessons anyone can learn, so remember all of the good that comes out of the long process toward improvement.

Interested in playing in some tournaments to boost your rating? Check out our blog page to see what is happening monthly at the club!