Tennis is on its way back (and other bits of encouraging news)

It’s been more than two months now since I made the decision to put a pause on tennis lessons and I think its safe to say it’s been a real rollercoaster ride for everyone since then. In recent weeks, as outdoor recreation facilities (including tennis courts) have begun to open up again, I’ve started teaching on a one-on-one basis. I’m happy to report now that I see a lot of positive developments and can see a lot more tennis in our near future!

Tennis has a number of natural advantages over other sports and activities that considerably reduce the risk of Covid-19 contraction:

Tennis is a sport that requires no physical contact. Players can avoid ever coming within six feet of each other with relative ease.

Tennis, in the case of Santa Barbara, is played exclusively outside and that typically means a warm, sunny environment. Coronavirus research suggests that outdoor spaces are much safer than indoor environments as far as the passing of the virus. Not only do outdoor sports allow for the dispersion of droplets, but it has also been demonstrated by the DHS that Covid-19 has a lifespan of only 1.5-2 minutes when under direct sunlight.

In addition to the rapid inactivation of the virus, sunlight also provides the human body with Vitamin D, a critical element in a healthy immune system. It’s estimated that approximately half of all people living in the United States have inadequate levels of Vitamin D. Considering the areas that have been hardest hit (parts of the US and Europe that were deep in winter), there is a likely correlation between sunlight and the rate of serious complications from Covid-19.

Research conducted by Northwestern University concluded that healthy Vitamin D levels could reduce mortality rates in Coronavirus cases by 50%. It should also be noted that there is a very strong correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and the age-group most likely to die from the virus: those 65 years of age and up.

Recent data points to much lower mortality rates than previously thought, and those deaths are heavily predicated on age and pre-virus health condition, which means its fairly easy to comprehend the potential risks on an individual basis:

Today, I came upon a research study just published by USC, which determined the rate of infection in LA County based on antibody testing. Their data suggests an infection rate of 4.65% of the overall population of the county (10.6 million).

By my math, that’s about half a million people, of which so far only 1,821 have died due to Coronavirus. While every death is regrettable, that works out to a mortality rate of only 0.36% in LA County. I find this number to be very encouraging, because prior to antibody studies like this one, we were using “positive test result” as the denominator. In this case, there are 38,100 positive cases in LA County, which led to an estimated mortality rate that was 13X the number we now estimate.

In addition to the lower-than-expected mortality rates, data about susceptibility to serious illness also should offer most tennis players some peace of mind. The best data I could find regarding co-morbidities and age-grouping is a weekly report for New York City Coronavirus related deaths.

In the most recent report, it was found that only 0.87% of those who died were known not to have serious underlying conditions such as vital organ disease, diabetes, cancer, immunodeficiency, or obesity. In addition, 71% of those who died were more than 65 years of age. In short, if you are under 65 and healthy like the vast majority of tennis players, the risk of serious illness from Coronavirus is very low.

Speaking of antibody testing, it’s becoming more widely available (including in Santa Barbara) and early research indicates a high likelihood of at least short-term immunity following recovery:

According to the largest antibody study to-date, carried out by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, nearly all Coronavirus patients developed a healthy amount of antibodies to the virus. While not a guarantee of immunity, there is a high correlation and studies of other coronaviruses have consistently shown it to be the case. Dr. Fauci, head of the NIAID, has gone on record saying “it’s a reasonable assumption that this virus is not changing very much. If we get infected now and it comes back next February or March we think this person is going to be protected.”

For those concerned about “reinfection” stories circulating in the media, these are very rare instances that have very logical explanations in the form of statistically expected testing inaccuracies. In the South Korean case, false positives were registered due to sensitivity levels that picked up dead virus cells.

A few words of caution:

While, for the vast majority of players in the Thorpe Tennis Community, the risk of spreading or contracting a serious case of Covid-19 is close to zero, caution is still needed in order to protect those around us who do not fit the low-risk profile. It’s not just the individuals playing tennis, but also those they come into contact with off the tennis court that need to be considered. Also, while I’ve been quoting some of the foremost researchers in the field, there is still plenty we don’t know about this virus, so a gradual and thoughtful progression back to the courts is still advisable.

What’s Next for Thorpe Tennis?

For the time being, I will be continuing to teach only on a one-on-one basis, but I’m certainly hopeful that one day soon we’ll be back to our Sunday Sessions and Summer Tennis Camps. It has been so great to get back out with a few students these last couple of weeks and the time off solidified for me just how much I love my work!

Coach Trevor

Thorpe Tennis Girls Named Co-Player of the Year for Santa Barbara County

The Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable has recently announced Carol Cai and Grace Fuss as the co-winners of the “tennis player of the year” award for the 2019-2020 school year.

I’m very excited for Grace and Carol to be receiving the player of the year award as a doubles team. Together, they were a top-16 team in CIF Southern Section this year and were also excellent Co-Captains of our team at Cate. 

Continue reading

Thorpe Tennis Coronavirus Update

In the week since my last post, much has changed, especially as California leads the country towards “stay at home” policy. I had four predictions about Coronavirus and it’s impact last week, which all still appear to be spot-on, but there are a few new things to address.

The stay at home request from Governor Newsom means I’ll be moving to on-court tennis hiatus for the next four weeks (at least). Some of you have asked what that’s going to be like for me, as someone who is not salaried, gets paid by the hour, and isn’t eligible for unemployment benefits.

As most of you know, my business cycle is typically 30-50 days on/5-15 days off. I have already worked 71 of the first 80 days of the year and had planned to be in Europe for part of this upcoming period. While I might go a little stir crazy and I know that I’ll miss my students greatly, Thorpe Tennis is in a great position to weather this storm.

There are many other local businesses that are not in a similar position, as well as many employees of those businesses that must be very concerned about the immediate future. It’s my belief that while the government can play a part in maintaining some basic safety nets, the very best way to have a better society is to be a good neighbor (and yes, I definitely watched Mr. Rogers as a kid).

To that end, I’m buying up gift cards at all my favorite local businesses and tipping a little extra for that delivery meal. As our government discusses how to implement no/low-cost small business loans, consider that those of us with the resources can provide the same thing directly to the businesses that bring us joy through good times and bad.

If I had to guess, I’d say tennis will probably not resume until about May 1, at which point I think we’ll all be ready to quickly make up for lost time. If we take this moment to consider what a valuable part of life getting to share the game of tennis with each other is, hopefully we can build a tidal wave of enthusiasm to have a great summer season.

In the meantime, I will not be idle. I’ll be working on new drills and lesson ideas as well as studying and perhaps sharing a significant backlog of videos recorded over the years. Expect a post or two here, with some tips and concepts to consider for when you are finally able to pick up the racquets again.

Stay safe and stay sane Thorpe Tennis Community!

-Trevor

Finding Normalcy in Times of Chaos or How to Make a Positive out of Anything :)

As I look back on the last few years living in Santa Barbara, it seems like there’s an almost annual winter calamity that disrupts the peace in this beautiful place. Years of drought, then the fires, then the mudslide, and now we are being tested again.

I won’t get into how I feel about COVID-19, other than to say these four things: 1) I believe it will spread much more widely, 2) I don’t think it’s as mortally dangerous as the media churn is making us feel, 3) I do feel it’s important to take precautions to protect those with serious pre-existing medical conditions and the elderly, 4) I think the global economic impact, particularly in places like Venezuela where oil is food and things are already desperate, will likely kill more people than the virus itself.

What I want to talk about is not Coronavirus specifically, but a broader philosophy that gives me comfort in these times of chaos. It’s my hope that sharing some of my deeply held personal beliefs might help others and that’s something to which I have dedicated myself.

Many of you know I’m into doing things like 200-mile, single-day bike rides and multi-day treks through the Andes and all sorts of other madness. When some poor, unsuspecting soul asks me what I did over the weekend, they often find themselves in pain just thinking about what I tell them.

What you might not all know is the reason I pursue these sorts of activities. While it’s clear that you need physical strength to complete those sorts of tasks and I enjoy that kind of proficiency, what I’m chasing is mostly mental/spiritual.

I believe we as humans are better when we are tested. There is a clarity that comes with confronting uncertainty, a fog that lifts when you face a challenge where the outcome isn’t a given. In all phases of life (school, work, relationships), we progress through grappling with difficulties and persevering against obstacles. A life without challenge is a recipe for mediocrity and that’s part of what makes learning and competing in tennis such a beneficial tool for life.

Once you accept that each obstacle is actually an opportunity to progress, you have a distinct advantage that nothing and no one can take from you. You can be positive when others despair and you can be ready to lead when others are fearful.

Those who have spent time on-court with me should be familiar with the concept of reframing; you cannot lose when you set the conditions for success. You cannot be negative when you know that every thoughtful interaction, whether painful or joyous, yields a knowledge that will serve you in the future. My message to you all is to embrace the uncertainty and let it galvanize your inner strength.

Now, here is what I intend to do during this time of chaos: once this rain passes, I will continue to teach. I know many of my young students will be anxious and probably more than a little stir-crazy after the first few days away from school (even the most dedicated teenager cannot play video games or pursue social media perfection forever!). I know that many of my adult students will be looking for an outlet as well. I know that in this time of social distancing, we do still need to interact. I know that in this unusual time, we need some normalcy and tennis is just the thing!

I intend to do my private lessons as usual, as well as Sunday Sessions and the Mini-Camp that is scheduled for the first week of April. Despite there being no cases of Coronavirus in Santa Barbara County at this time, I will be keeping an eye on group sizes and will ask that anyone feeling sick please sit out until COVID-19 can be ruled out. We’re also going to be washing our hands a lot!

So join me in taking proper precautions, but continuing to live this life in a productive and positive way. We’ll get through this, Thorpe Tennis Community! Keep calm, carry on.

Trevor

Thorpe Tennis: 2019 Year-in-Review

This year, the main change at Thorpe Tennis was the development and expansion of mini-camps. The once-yearly Thorpe Tennis Summer Tennis Camp was a much-loved event each June, but was very difficult for me to prepare and run. This spring, I tested a more nimble camp concept, something that would be repeatable on a more regular basis but that included the beloved elements of the more traditional camp I had been organizing.

To my delight, that spring mini-camp was a huge success and we managed to repeat the model six more times throughout the year. By following the ebb-and-flow of the school schedule and other patterns I’ve noticed over the years, I am now able to offer the Thorpe Tennis Mini-Camp Series on nine occasions throughout the year!

I owe a big thank you to Mark Polowczak for his help through the year, both with the mini-camps and also our Sunday Sessions. While he is heading off to college in Texas, he’s already committed to assisting again this summer.

In 2019, I worked on 260 days, including one stretch of 55 consecutive days. I worked with players as young as seven and a few players old enough not to want to be identified by their age! In total, I coached 66 different players during the year, across two high school teams, junior tennis, college tennis, ladies doubles, and competitive age-group mens’ tennis. When I wasn’t working, I was traveling!

My boys’ team at Laguna had a season of growth, after graduating most of the previous year’s starting lineup, but still managed to extend our 50% or better win-loss record to eight consecutive seasons. Having finally made their way into the Tri-Valley League after free-lancing for five years, this group now look primed to make a run at winning that league in 2020.

During the summer, Thorpe Tennis was firing on all cylinders, with mini-camps galore. It was so great to see the progress of players like Caleb Silverberg and George Nicks during that period. In addition, much fun was had, all sorts.

I also had the chance to play some tennis, myself, logging court time in Argentina and Colombia on clay, as well as rekindling my Redlands University partnership with Aron Ouye for the Santa Barbara Open. We made the semifinals of that tournament in doubles, taking out recent grads from the tennis programs at UCSB and Cal Lu in the process.

The fall marked the first time I’ve had a high school team go undefeated. My girls at Cate went 10-0, defeating Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos, and San Marcos high schools along the way. This was the 10th playoff appearance for Cate Girls’ Tennis in my 11 years coaching at the school and we’ve qualified for the CIF D1 Playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Another real highlight of the year was the incredible run of senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai in the CIF Individual Doubles Tournament. They repeated as Tri-Valley League Champions (and Carol completed her high school career with four doubles titles in four seasons!), before breezing through three rounds of CIF Regionals. They put in a devastating performance against their first opponents in CIF Sectionals, defeating a top-20 in Southern California team 6-0, 6-1 before their run came to an end in the the Round-of-16.

Both Cai and Fuss are being actively recruited by a number of college tennis programs and I look forward to seeing how their college careers take shape. That said, they’ll be sorely missed on the Cate Mesa. During their four years at Cate, the team went 45-3 (31-0 in league play), en-route to four Tri-Valley League Championships and a place amongst the top-30 teams in Southern California.

I’m as excited as ever to be starting the new year and getting to do it with such a great community of people makes it all the sweeter. Here’s to a new decade full of tennis!

– Coach Thorpe

Cate Doubles Team Continues Remarkable Run in CIF Individuals

Carol Cai, Grace Fuss at CIF Individuals

Cate seniors Grace Fuss and Carol Cai needed just 45 minutes to dispatch their Edison High School opponents in the play-in round of CIF Sectionals down in Seal Beach yesterday afternoon.

The Cate duo was untouchable in their 6-1, 6-0 victory over Zoe Coggins and Kailee You. Coggins is a nationally-ranked senior who has already been signed by D2 Dominican University of San Rafael, California. Her partner is also a nationally-ranked player, making the overwhelming victory all the more impressive.

The victory follows a bye and two straight-set wins for Cai and Fuss in the CIF Regional event, held last week in Carpinteria. The Cate team had been seeded third in that draw and received the Santa Barbara Round Table press luncheon’s “Athlete of the Week” award for their play in the tournament.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Carol has been here before and won in this round (two years ago with her sister Jackie), but to be honest, I’ve never seen either Carol or Grace play so freely on the doubles court. The word is devastating; they were absolutely devastating. You could see the morale of their opponents dropping with every big serve from Grace and every down-the-line forehand winner from Carol. They were also finishing points at net and made very few unforced errors.

What’s important is they didn’t do anything beyond what I’ve known they’re capable of, but it’s more that they put it all together at once and carried that momentum from first point to last. My girls played with confidence and poise today, and if that’s any indication of the future, they are far from done in this CIF Individuals tournament. While the majority of the players remaining in this tournament are either signed or receiving interest from D1 collegiate programs, no team is safe in this draw with the Cate girls still in play.

What’s Next for the Cate Girls?!

The Cate pair will return to Seal Beach Tennis Center on Thursday at 10:30am for the Round-of-16.

Thorpe Tennis: 2016 Year-in-Review

img_8303As I look back on the last three “year-in-review” posts, I am reminded of just how long I’ve been writing what my students affectionately refer to as “the blog.” This is not a new site, and Thorpe Tennis, now seven years old, is not a new thing either. However, I am inspired daily to bring new and better content, methods, and insights to my work.

I feel this way because I have a passion for teaching the game of tennis and particularly for having an impact on young lives. There are few things in this world I enjoy more than seeing the light go on about getting that service contact point up a little higher or cutting off the angles at net; the moment where a player realizes they can compete against that crazy-good opponent; building mastery day-by-day out of desire. These are the little things that make the big difference and not just on the tennis court. These are experiential building blocks for life and I feel very fortunate to be part of that process of growth.

In 2016, there have been challenges, but as a tennis community, Thorpe Tennis has been extremely successful. Here are just some of the many high-points of the year:

  • Spent more than 1,000 hours on-court, coaching 61 players from age 9 to 60.
  • Directed a third, and perhaps, the most successful year of my tennis camp for middle schoolers and incoming freshmen.Laguna Blanca Tennis Camp 2016
  • Coached Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis to a 12-4 record, which saw us ranked as high as #9 in CIF D4.
  • Led Cate Girls’ Tennis to a 10-1 regular season record, during which time we were ranked as high as #1 in CIF D2 before finishing #4. We also made a return to the Quarterfinals of CIF D2, after recording a 69-68 victory over a senior-laden Xavier Prep. With regards to ranking and division performance, these are achievements accomplished by no other team in Cate Athletics history.img_8188
  • Individually, my students at Cate had a big year as well:
    • Grace Fuss finished Runner-Up in Tri-Valley League Singles and won a round of CIF Individuals, before finishing the year ranked #525 in the country for her class.
    • Jackie Cai & Carol Cai won the Tri-Valley League Doubles Title and their first two matches in CIF Individuals. Jackie now sits at #860 in the country, while Carol is ranked #1098; Both are primed for a significant jump in the next year!
    • Summer Christensen & Sarah Polowczak completed a remarkable 26-0 regular season and went on to finish Runner-Up in league (l. to sisters Cai), before also making the third round of CIF Individuals.img_8126
  • Thorpe Tennis can boast a growing number of players active at the collegiate level, with Phillip Hicks and McKenna Madden making the club teams at Yale and Boston College (respectively). McKenna tried out along with 60 other young women for 6 roster spots and made the cut as a freshman!img_8091
  • Julia Gan began her season as a starter for Haverford College, but will transfer to NYU, where she had been heavily recruited last year, for the spring season.
  • Posted 40 blog entries, including many player photos, that were viewed by more than 1,400 visitors to this site.
  • Brought together Thorpe Tennis students for an awesome group lesson during the holidays that spanned six of the seven years I’ve been coaching in Santa Barbara (pictured at top).

Happy New Year to everyone out there reading “the blog” and I look forward to working together towards an even better 2017!

Traditions and Titles: The Beginning of Another Cate Girls’ Tennis Season

image2Yesterday afternoon, Cate Girls’ Tennis opened the 2016 season with a 13-5 win over Rio Mesa High School. It was the first win of the season and also the first step to defending our position as CIF Division 2’s top-ranked team!

It has always been a challenge to be in top form in the first match back from outings week, and this year was no different. What allowed us to take the victory is a tradition, a culture that we have established: Cate Tennis loves to compete. Our singles players are all willing and ready to grind out three hard-fought sets and our doubles teams rarely miss an opportunity to be aggressive at net. I could clearly see the difference between our practices this week and the way we performed in the match. Continue reading

Ranked Laguna Tennis Team Misses Playoffs Selection on Technicality

It is with sadness that I have to report this news. Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis will not be in CIF Playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, despite showing superior performance over other teams that will be included.

As a freelance team, CIF requires 50% win-percentage to apply for an “at-large” bid and 80% win-percentage for automatic qualification into the playoffs. At 12-4, we came up one win short of 80%. Having had a great season, I still felt we had a good chance at being selected, but it was not to be. Continue reading

Thorpe Tennis: 2015 Year in Review

Barbara Hallquist DeGroot Celebrity Coach Laguna Blanca Summer Tennis CampAnother great year is in the books and I am thrilled by the progress my students have made in 2015. I’m already excitedly looking forward to raising the bar again in 2016, but before we get ahead of ourselves…

A few highlights from the year at Thorpe Tennis:

  • Worked with 63 different players from age 8 to 52.Jake Gidney
  • Spent over 1,000 hours on-court teaching lessons and coaching high school matches.
  • Directed a second successful year of the Laguna Blanca Summer Tennis Camp, oriented towards middle schoolers and incoming freshmen interested in playing at the high school level.Laguna Blanca Summer Tennis Camp 2015 Group PhotoAndrew Tolles Makes the Ball Stand StillDSC05813DSC05765
  • Coached Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis to an 13-3 regular-season record and won a CIF playoff round for the third consecutive year.DSC05087Atty Roddick and Martin BarnickDSC_0003
  • Led Cate School Girls’ Tennis to what was likely the most successful season in team history, going 13-1 during the regular season and making the CIF D2 Quarterfinals.Cate Girls Tennis is Number One Tri Valley League Champions 2015
  • Coached an unheard-of six Cate girls to Tri-Valley League All-League 1st Team and received Coach of the Year Award.All-League Doubles 1st-Team Cate Girls 2015 Tri-Valley Summer Christensen McKenna Madden Eva Herman Janice NgTri-Valley League Singles Champion and Runner-Up Julia Gan Jackie Cai with Coach Trevor Thorpe
  • Completed a two-year project with Edward Cho at Cate, helping him achieve his goal of going from JV to Varsity singles starter
  • Began utilizing photos and slow-motion video within lessons to give players another angle for understanding their game.ConradPerry
  • Helped Julia Gan finally break the top-400 in the country, while also winning the Tri-Valley League Singles Championship and getting widely recruited to play college tennis. We even made her an awesome recruiting video!IMG_2577
  • Had the pleasure of watching senior students matriculate to fine schools such as: Cal Poly SLO, St. Andrews, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • Expanded community interaction with my students, their families, and other supporters with 28 blog posts that were visited by 1,800 people and viewed 5,000 times. This year also featured many photos of players in action that are free to download and share!Cate Parents Weekend 2015

Thanks to all of you for being part of my tennis family. It is my passion and pleasure to be part of yours. Here’s to another great year of tennis in Santa Barbara!

Trevor Thorpe