Monday, April 5, 2021

Player Profile: Matt Schneiderman - I am playing tennis because it's fun

We checked in with Matt Schneiderman and here's his story.   Matt's Profile:

Which league are you a member of?

How long have you participated in your league?

4 years, since October 2016

How did you first learn about it?

Google search

How often do you play?

Twice a week, ideally

What do you like most about the league?

Competitive matches with genuinely nice players

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)

A recent 3-set match that kept going and going... We had a 1-hour court reservation and thought we'd have to stop after the first set -- but no one showed after the first hour, so we played on. Split the first two sets (one in a tie-break) and expected to get kicked off the court -- but again, no one showed to take the court, so we played on. The third set went long, too, so we wound up playing a full three hours before we finished. Exhausting but so much fun. 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

Marty Pye. Super nice guy, good matches, and he plays net so effectively — and I suck against good net players. It's a good challenge to play against a style that I struggle with. He's also been OK about my minor temper tantrums. 

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?

I lost 40 matches before my first win. I hadn’t played much before moving to SF and joining the league — playing in NYC seemed too complicated. I didn’t really know how to play, but my opponents didn’t seem to mind crushing me. Still, I kept playing and took some lessons to improve, and after several seasons the matches became closer. I try to keep my beginner’s mind mentality even as I start winning more often, and remind myself that the fun is in learning. 

How did you get started playing tennis?

Played in middle school, and then not again until I moved to SF in 2016 when I joined the league.

Do you play to compete, or for fun?


What level player are you? (NTRP rating)


What do you love about tennis?  

I love learning — how to improve physically and mentally and how to deal with challenges. I've learned the most from the matches that were the most challenging — sets or even games I've lost that I felt that I shouldn't have, which frustrated me to the point where I threw my racquet down in disgust. Feeling frustration and recognizing it for what it is, then reminding myself I am playing tennis because it's fun.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)? (Feel free to share any interesting details about your life.)

I’m a 45-year-old single father to a 4-year-old. Besides tennis I enjoy puzzles, board games, and running — mostly after my kid.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Player Profile: Deepak K. - From ChiTownTennis to TennisPhoenix

From Chicago to Phoenix, the first 100 matches have been quite a journey!  I found TLN when searching for tennis on the Meetup App in 2018.  I had been playing tennis socially for years, but had yet to try a league.  The first TLN match I played was against Steve Domer, at Hamlin Park in Chicago for the Spring 2018 season.  With only 2 courts in a busy neighborhood, time was a constraint and we chose the 10-game pro set match format.  But the match was not short, after many games with multiple deuce scores, we were tied at 9-9 and I was due to serve.  We checked the rules for the format and it noted a 7-point tiebreaker to decide matches tied at 9-9.   We played this tiebreaker out and I won the match 10-9.

Fast forward to my 100th TLN match, a playoff match in Phoenix.  Having the best record in Division B (3.25 division), I was the #1 seed in the playoff tournament and got to play at my home court, the lovely Val Vista Lakes Clubhouse in Gilbert.  Similar to my first TLN match in Chicago, the outcome was decided by a tiebreaker.  However this was after a full 3 sets in a 3-hour match!  Josh Wolfson won 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 in a great match.  I will long remember the one match point I had, when leading 5-4 in the 3rd set.  Between my 1st and 100th match, there were quite a few notable matches and achievements.

The first achievement was winning the Spring 2018 playoffs in the 3.25 division, going back to my first TLN season.  In the semifinal match, I played Shawn Blair, who would later be one of my top rivals.  Having lost the first league match to Shawn, I came out intense in this playoff match and took the first set 6-2.  2nd set went back and forth to a tiebreak, where I grinded out a win.  For the Finals of this playoff tournament, I had to play Jordi De Joseph, who had a great height advantage on me (see photo).  In the July humidity of Chicago, I had to extend points and not get intimidated by his powerful serves and overheads.  I took the match 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 and won the tournament!  It felt highly rewarding to win a trophy with a gift card and a free season.  I continued to play many TLN matches in 2018, particularly with rivals Shawn Blair and Louis De La Pena,  and referred a few friends into TLN leagues.  That enabled me to finish in 1st place for the 2018 Player of the Year in Chicago.

After my wife and I relocated to Phoenix in 2019,  I returned to playing TLN leagues.  Having only lived in the Midwest prior to the relocation, the concept of playing outdoor tennis year round was new to me.  But I definitely took advantage, particularly with playing more tennis in winter months.  As my conditioning improved, I thought about scheduling doubleheaders.  Why not play 2 matches for 1 commute?  The first doubleheader was in December 2020, playing Bret Burchard and Ryan Berns at Desert Breeze Park in Chandler (see 2nd attached photo).  Bret and Ryan also played a match that day, with Ryan taking a break between matches.  The format may have worked in my favor, as I played Bret right after he finished a match and played Ryan after he came back from some rest.  Having won both matches that day, I felt confident to schedule more doubleheaders and achieved playing 20 matches for the season.  That led to earning a free season.  I also earned many Player of the Year Points from all these matches, along with referring a couple friends into TLN.  That enabled me to finish in 1st place for the 2020 Player on the Year in Phoenix.

My fondness for playing tennis has led to an improvement in NTRP.  Currently I'm playing in Division A (3.75 division) in Phoenix for TLN in singles.  I also play in a 3.5 to 4.5 doubles league set up by my home court, the Val Vista Lakes Clubhouse.  Thanks to my wife, Vani, for being flexible with my tennis schedule and her support.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Rafael Nieto - He's played 102 matches in Miami in 2020!!!

My name is Rafael Nieto, I’m an entrepreneur, drummer, and finally film director/producer. I grew up between Bogotá Colombia and Miami, Florida. I’ve been super into sports all my life and played baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey and tennis during middle school/high school. I recently moved to Miami to open my video production company but a pandemic hit, so I was lucky to find a job as a production coordinator at a voice dubbing company which has allowed me to ride the pandemic while my business takes off.

Admin Note: Rafael has played a 102 matches in 2020.  102!!!!!!!

I started playing tennis at Coral Oaks Tennis Academy when I was around 5 years old. I lived in Pinecrest with my family and both my brother and I would play Tennis three times a week and soccer two times a week. I think my grandpa was really into tennis and that’s why my mom made us play. I actually stopped playing when I went back to Colombia for a couple years and only played off and on for a while. I’ve been playing off and on for the past 4 years with my last break being a one year break before I came to Miami.

I moved to Miami Fl in December of 2019 from Bogotá, Colombia. I wasn’t playing that much tennis back home but I got dumped and needed a change of pace haha. I figured since I didn’t know anyone in Miami (besides my family), I would start playing tennis again as it’s a great sport to do so. I looked for Tennis Leagues in Miami while waiting to board the plane and signed up right before takeoff. This league looked the most promising and the player pool was pretty great.

I got to Miami and the first weekend after I landed, I had my first tennis match. I’ve played over 100 matches in these past 10 months, sometimes playing 2 or 3 matches in one day. It’s definitely a battle! I try to play 3 to 5 times a week. The Miami Tennis League is great because I’ve been able to find a lot of players at different skill levels. When I first started I was a 3.25 rating and had a pretty good run at the different levels rising all the way to the top and playing against 4.0 and higher players. I obviously got destroyed worse than Brazil against Germany but I loved the challenge.

I don’t think there’s a specific match that falls under “most memorable “but every singly match has something that makes me go “woah“. It may be some crazy shots by my opponents or me running all over the court to get some shots and looking at the face of the other player just looking at me in disbelief haha. There is one match that still stings a little and it’s the finals to the 2020 National Tournament. We played three sets and all three sets went to tiebreak. It was one of those matches where who ever made the least mistakes won, and my opponent made a great match, eventually beating me and taking first place.

I’ve met a lot of great players but the biggest rivals I have are the ones that I can’t beat. So far Benoit Benaibbouche, Spencer Cannold, Jarred Axxon, and Tarik Guetarni are some of the players that I have my eye on. I always feel like I can play a great match against them but for some reason some days I play amazing and some days I get completely destroyed lol. But I’ll win eventually…at least one.

The greatest thing about Tennis is that it’s a sport where you exercise both your body and your mind. The best players are beasts in both of these aspects. At our level, usually one or the other fails. You can run all over the court for two hours, but if your mind game isn’t strong, then you’re going to miss a lot of shots. Especially, if you’re like me and you like playing tennis competitively and not for fun.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Mark Copithorne - Tennis East Bay

We caught up with Mark Copithorne out of our franchise and here's his story:

I grew up in New Hampshire near public courts and played often with family and friends. In high school I joined the tennis team. On the practice court I was among the best players. But in a match, my right hand would lose its cunning. Under pressure, I went to my strength, my thinking mind. 

I’ve played off and on since then. When I turned 50 a couple years ago I resolved to try to play tennis and compete more consistently. I am really pleased to have found Tennis League Network and the East Bay League. I’ve played in every season since I started and I feel satisfaction in reaching the milestone 100 matches. I would like to be playing twice a week but I succeed about once a week. It is a challenge to consistently throw out the lines to schedule matches throughout the season, so I appreciate invitations.  I have had many good rivalries with opponents I have learned a lot from.

All dimensions of my tennis play have improved somewhat. What has improved most is my ability to compete.  That means consistently trusting my body whether my thoughts or feelings are up or down. I do bring emotion to tennis, cheering my winners and my opponents’, squawking at my mistakes. Even though I still lose more than I win I know now I play my best tennis in competition. 

I think of myself as an unlikely person to be an athlete. So it makes me smile to think that, while I can’t say I am in the best shape of my life, I can say I am in the prime of my athletic career. I am grateful to Tennis League Network for adding that to my life at a level that really works for me.

I am married with a college age son and a daughter in middle school. My other avocation is Zen Buddhism and I’ve practiced in a community for decades. Letting go of thoughts and feelings while seated in zazen and while running on the tennis court mirror each other.