America loves teams. And teamwork. My Father played team tennis for Wake Forest college in 1928. I played on any team that would give me a uniform. Both sons played high school and college team tennis. My grandson played #1 for Boulder High School as a freshman.
I am passionate about teams, and North Carolina. Later I will examine where this comes from. And how organizations, and “worker bees” and “tennis angels” can make things better.
There are great organizations alrready functioning. The North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA ) sponsors the North Carolina High School Tennis Coaches (NCHSTCA). Later we will provide access to national groups.
A part of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), NCTA houses any number of tennis programs. From youngsters to seniors, to referees, to wheelchair competition. All worthy of support. One relatively new group has been the growth of league play. One could conclude the leagues growth was a savior, nationally and in our state as well. Coupled with Title IX and some altered attitudes , Women provided leadership , volunteering with impressive results.
While high scool tennis is only one of our causes, it is the one I feel most inclined to help. In 2015 we provided 700 boys and girls THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK OF TENNIS . Then we made it freely available to over 4,000 varsity boys and girls.
Due to turnover of all those players, plus more than half of the coaches, we offered the book again , with updated instruction in 2022. Here is your free link to edition three: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IstkubA3qBwoJITAtqa2j1l5TW8hc2Myx_6_ZIwGqOs/edit#heading=h.s32ld9zdi0v0
One way to help!
VISION, PLANNING,AND GOALS for growing NC high school tennis teams, coaches, and players.
- To put together a non-profit group of our talented tennis people who embrace high school tennis in our state. Perhaps, like the league play leaders, they will function in perpetituity any number of ways to help the cause. The game changes. There is rapid turnover. The league players and coaches have the experience now to help coach, assist, advise referee, etc.
- As mentioned , there are already organizations in place and eager to help. We can make all this aid more accessible. Video selection, books, clinics. Some of the coaches are simply appointed, with NO tennis background. My experience is many are good people who do care about the kids. They need help ( see earlier articles) :
WAYS TO HELP—
Much is already being done. The NCTA , The USTA, The NCHSAA, The North Carolina High School’s Coaches Association are going hard to help. Where help is needed comes from several sources:
**** Pay for these jobs is meager compared to what is asked and expected.
****The pay will not attract top notch tennis coaches in most instances. Most of the very good ones are volunteers, or close.
*** The typical “assigned” staffer is often a football coach, one who knows nothing about tennis. Or some similar scenario.
****More and more are “adjunct”, or part time coaches, who don’t have even the academic background that teacher/coaches have.
WHAT CAN HELP?
One way to start is a “THINK TANK” or committee to examine what is possible. We have a tremendous group of fine players throughout the state. We have in place an organization of teaching professionals in NC. Many times the best source is a “tennis angel” who silently plays with youngsters. No one gives more than parents. The club pro benefits from high school families.
There is another largely untapped source in our state. The NC TENNIS HALL OF FAME members. There seems to me to be a group of old pros and young turks in our select group who could also help the coaches in their area. Many of the hall of famers and pros are the same people. Many already give or have given to tennis in many ways. There are so many ways these people could enhance the knowledge, confidence, and performance of particularly the beginning coaches. I can’t list them all. Believe me, you can help.
I would also suggest to these coaches to look for the local angels. My experience is these are great people who only need to be asked. It may be one afternoon a week, It may be a helpful phone call. Showing a drill, filling in for an emergency, play an exhibition, take them to a college match, gift of equipment—old or new, simply attend matches, etc.
I think a good place to start “thinking” would be the coaches, the Pros, the angels ,and the organizations to brain storm the how. The why is obvious. And I think there is ample evidence that this help is available. And I am convinced the link between high school and juniors and parents and these volunteers can thrive.
The first place to start is knowledge plus need. Our hall of famers and our professional tennis teachers are where to start.
Some years back I watched a clinic foe NC high school coaches and concluded “…there is a lot more CARE in that group than knowledge. Granted several of the coaches demonstrated good skill on the court. I have said all along that a high school coach who cares and drives the van properly is all parents can hope for. Now I think it time to help them. They , by virtue of their attendance and willingness to coach our children, have earned our assistance.
COLLEGE, KIDS. QUESTIONS
1. Teaching Pros can be helpful to these high school coaches, players and teams. Very often the pros are much more knowledgeable and specialized in tennis.
High schoolers and younger are a great source for the pro’s business. A nurturing of this relationship is mutually beneficial.
2. High school sports are more and more selective. Basketball and football are sports not all are fitted for. Youngsters will look more and more for alternatives. More and more teams means more coaches are needed. In North Carolina more than half of the players are girls . Hasn’t the LEAGUE EXPERIENCE created a large group that now have the ability to help in any number of these programs?
Some stellar athletes might consider tennis because there is now a good coach.
3. Many won’t.
4. Why? Since the early 70’s more and more tennis scholarships have gone to internationals. We are in the third generation of this reality. The skyrocketing of college costs has paralleled the number of internationals. And the number of grants for Americans have declined in a similar staggering proportion. Families invest tremendous amounts of money into their children’s tennis. It can be rewarded only two ways: 1.The extremely rare route of becoming a professional player and 2. College scholarships. And the scholarships grow more and more important annually.
5. One significant reason people are opting for sports other than tennis is that this third generation of parents and players have seen the scholarships shipped overseas.
6. This also manifests itself in the dearth of top pro players in America today. The obvious graph-like decline in quality of players in America coupled with the elimination of Americans selected for college scholarships should be grounds for new ideas.
7. Here is one. Is it not time to seriously study how to restore these opportunities and scholarships to our own?
8. Wouldn’t this benefit the hopeful high school or junior player in terms of motivation.
9. Much has been written about internationals in American college.
10. One last suggestion to high school coaches and tennis pros: Coach–talented players are protective of their games and practices. Work with the players and pros to allow meaningful practices, and still maintain team sacrifices. Meet and set up a plan; the kid misses high school practice for pro lessons or a match with a high level opponent and yet gives back to the team by helping less talented teammates. Both interact in the long run. PROS- encourage why team play may teach more than individual success. I wondered if a “prima donna “wouldn’t play for his/her high school , would they sacrifice as needed to be a good college teammate?
From Elie Wiesel:
“First I am a teacher.”
“If I am a witness (and your teacher ), you are a witness too.”
“Memory is the one thing that can save humanity.”
Student’s question : How do I help? Dr. Wiesel–“Start now! What do you see? What do you know?”
The link at the bottom is to third edition of THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS. It is available to all, freely.
Several have asked why?
Upon retirement I asked my wife what’ s next ? ” I want to move to the beach!” Emerald Isle, NC for 17 years so far.
DIE BROKE by Stephen Pollan has four recommendations for retirees. Number 2 says DON’T RETIRE!: Meaning you should
have other meaningful plans.
In the off season at the beach you need that plan. Over time my plan evolved into “hobby writing”.
Motivation for this tennis book came several sources:
(Son, Dan Parham ) ” Dad–you know a lot about coaching tennis. You can put that stuff in the cloud, for everybody.
(Dr. Mildred Hartsock, late English Department Chair at alma mata , Atlantic Christian College .) ” You have some writing ability. You should major in English.”
( Jim Verdieck, late, great Redlands Tennis Coach). On my asking what happens to his tremendous knowledge? “When I die, it dies”. I told him I would try to prevent that.
(Jim Leighton, late, great Wake Forest Univesity Tennis Coach. ). Coach Leighton was the source of most of my knowledge of tennis. I took notes after our many sessions. He read a first draft of those attempts. “Tom, you have captured much of what we have covered. You can make a good book out of this, and if you do it will do more for tennis than all those National Championsships you have won.”
(Harvey Penick—THE LITTLE RED BOOK of GOLF author). “If you read this book you are my pupil. If you play golf you are my friend. “
( Jim Toney, late Economics Professor at Elon University and tennis angel )… A fine player and promoter of tennis, Mr. Toney and I zeroed in on High School tennis court construction. Later in his life he developed Parkinson’s. During our last conversation I told how much I appreciated the work he had done for tennis. He leaned forward, peering at me with those steely eyes, and said ” Don’t you quit.”)
(click link for the book )
Thinking ablout the last blog (FINAL EDITION ).
“FINAL EDITION ” REFLECTIONS
A Carolina (UNC CHAPEL HILL) football coach, commenting on my book THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS, suggested “…this is not just a tennis coaching aid, but for all coaches. ” High praise. I then realized I had mostly taken the methods of others, and the praise was theirs. What I also feel is these people showed us something even bigger than specialized coaching ; the whole process of teaching anything.
My Son, Dan, introduced the CLOUD’S possibilites.
Technology made my efforts possible. I hadn’t typed in fifty plus years. Never had cut a computer on. Wasn’t aware of self-publishing.
Looking back I am grateful there were so many good people and places to learn from. Looking forward I see many who could do similar sharing. So many have unique talent, backgrounds, and experience that could help others.
Information shared, data, truth.
Recently I was described as “ passionate” about tennis. A real compliment. Immediately I thought of John Ormsby who wrote a quite thorough history of Six Man Football in North Carolina. I asked John where the drive to do this project came from? He replied, “…I wanted to know more about one subject than anyone alive!”
Life without passion and drive is unappealing to me. Certainly our children deserve no less.
One of my Sons made me aware of technology’s “cloud”. “Dad, anyone can easily make special knowledge available to all now.”
Being a coach often makes you almost surrogate fathers. Certainly you care about your players. My passion is care for American junior tennis players and their access to a fair share of our college and university tennis scholarships. I believe there is a direct link between awarding so many of our scholarships to internationals that we have run our own kids out of tennis, and other American sports as well.
Is this patriotic or xenophobic? Is it illegal to reserve state tax money for our state’s youngsters. Where is the fair “fine line” we can expect?
Passion number two: The model for successful American juniors has been the FAMILY not the ACADEMY model. No ones cares like the parents. Proper parental guidance, local teaching pros, community tennis “angels’, junior tournaments, high school team play, and on to college tennis. Examine our golden era of pros (Evert, Connors, McEnroes, Sampras, etc).