As 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
Yesterday 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
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
Another 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.
- 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.
- Coached Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis to an 13-3 regular-season record and won a CIF playoff round for the third consecutive year.
- 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.
- Coached an unheard-of six Cate girls to Tri-Valley League All-League 1st Team and received Coach of the Year Award.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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!
While some would consider this a small award, it’s a big honor for me and I’m going to talk about it! This sport, my teams, and my players are my absolute passion. To be acknowledged by my peers in the Tri-Valley League as Coach of the Year is validation of that passion and what it can do.
I know that tennis is just a small part of most of my players’ young lives. That said, I also believe that a tennis court is the perfect place to develop the competitive drive, ethics, and self-awareness it takes to be successful on the many playing fields of life. Continue reading
In the last 20 years, how many top singles tennis players can you name that serve-and-volley? How many of the stars of the game utilize the slice for anything except as an occasional point-reset from the wings of the court? How many of these top players are playing doubles with any regularity?
The answer, unless you’re delusional, is nearly zero. The likes of Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter were the last of the true serve-and-volleyers. Gone are the days when players such as John McEnroe managed to hold the #1 spot in singles for 170 weeks and 270 weeks in doubles, often concurrently. Continue reading
This has been, undoubtedly, a banner year for Thorpe Tennis and the schools and individuals with whom I get to share this great game. Every day I am thankful for the opportunity to share my passion for tennis with a great group of people in this paradise called Santa Barbara. As I plan for my next big adventure (read about it here), I’m already looking forward to all the exciting things that lie ahead in 2015, but before we turn the page…
A few highlights from the year at Thorpe Tennis:
- Worked with 49 different players from age 8 to 56
- Spent over 1,000 hours on-court teaching lessons and coaching high school matches
- Saw three years of planning, campaigning, and finger-crossing come to fruition with the completion of the Furukawa Tennis Courts at Laguna Blanca
- Launched the Laguna Blanca Summer Tennis Camp to rave reviews
- Coached Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis to an 11-5 record, a second-consecutive CIF playoff appearance, the #7-seed in CIF Division 4, and a second-round showing in CIF playoffs
- Started a Laguna tennis tradition with a weekend trip to the desert for the BNP Paribas Open, where we got to see Nadal, Wawrinka, the Bryans and many other pros play
- Led Cate School Girls’ Tennis to an 8-5 record and another CIF playoff appearance, despite moving up two divisions and facing much stiffer competition. Cate battled through a wildcard round victory and made a strong 6-12 showing against future CIF finalists, Murrieta Valley
- Coached Julia Gan to several singles wins against nationally-ranked juniors and brought Gan and McKenna Madden together for a Tri-Valley League finalist showing in doubles, followed by a second-round appearance in CIF Individuals
- Enjoyed another successful year from Daniel Newton, who qualified for the Central Coast Grand Prix Masters and currently holds a ranking of #107 in California, plus more hardware for Alex Furukawa, despite an apparent blinking problem!
- Helped Ben Furukawa achieve a personal best #112 in California ranking. Fellow Laguna senior Tristan Prinz also notched victories over Jason Xiao (f0rmerly undefeated in Condor League play), Kevin Ha (currently #308 in the country), and scored the biggest victory of his career against Dimitri Colffer (recently ranked as high as #190 in the country) in his last high school match
- Had the pleasure of watching seniors from Laguna and Cate tennis programs go on to college at UCLA, University of Washington, Colorado School of Mines, Ole Miss, UPenn, Yale, and USC
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and here’s to another year of phenomenal tennis in 2015!