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!!!!!!!   https://www.tennis-miami.com/119294/profile

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 TennisEastBay.com 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.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Player Profile: Alan Artin - Building Friendships through tennis

We caught up with Alan Artin based out of TennisOC.com. He's played an amazing 27 matches in 4 short months of joining.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)?

I am an aspiring marriage and family therapist, with a passion for music and tennis. I grew up in Switzerland and came to the states when I was 6 years old. I’ve always strived for mastery and achieving my full potential, whether it’s playing a musical instrument such as piano or mastering a sport such as tennis. My biggest difficulty in life has been consistency which I am now starting to get good at in my late 20s, and my ability to believe in myself, which I am also working on.



Which league are you a member of?

I am a part of the OC Tennis League.

How long have you participated in your league?

I have been participating in the league since June of 2020.

How did you first learn about it?

I googled tennis clubs near me and found of tennis league to be the most fitting and affordable league based on the search results.

How often do you play?

I like to play 4-5 times a week.

What do you like most about the league?

I like being able to play different players of different skill levels, backgrounds, and styles of tennis. I also like how there are prize pools.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)

My most memorable match was the match that I lost to who is also incidentally one of my close friends who I referred to the league. I knew going in I was an underdog but I tried to keep my mind calm and not be results oriented. Turns out when you win every match prior, you start to feel increased pressure to sustain your win streak as long as you can. I lost and it took a difficult mental toll on me. I had talked to friends as to how I can overcome this horrible feeling of my only loss. Turns out losing was one of the best things That could’ve happened to me. I learned about how important it is to not become fixated on score but rather become more committed to the process of playing better and improving during each game. From that point forward I moved throughout my succeeding matches with a much clearer goal and relaxed mindset that was less results oriented and more process oriented, and it is some of the most satisfying tennis I’ve been playing since. 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

There are 3 rivals I like playing in the league. Their names are Tyler, Daniel, and Vincent. I’ll explain each one briefly.

Tyler- Tyler is a better player than me which forces me to play better.

Daniel- Daniel has the most potential to surpass me as each time i play him he hits slightly harder and more consistent 

Vincent- Vincent puts the most mental pressure on me based on his game style

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

Yes I found some close friendships from playing tennis to the point where we could come out for one another’s matches to offer moral support on the sidelines. We often run match highlights by one another via text and discuss our plans for upcoming matches on what we want to focus on during match play. 


How did you get started playing tennis?

I started playing in high school. From there I played club tennis in college and took lessons for some time. I did make a leap to other racquet sports at one time (table tennis, racquetball) but I find nothing compares to tennis quite like tennis. 

Do you play to compete, or for fun?

When I’m playing someone at or above my skill level I play to compete. When I play someone below my skill level I play to improve.

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)

I would say I’m a 4-4.5. I am striving to become a 5.0 player

What do you love about tennis?  

The aspect of self-reliance. Tennis is an incredibly mental game in my opinion and understanding how your thoughts and emotions translate into your game play can be the most important aspect to developing a long term successful game strategy. 

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

Roger Federer- his grace, etiquette, and ability to play at a top level well past his prime.

Nadal- his ability to grind down his opponent through Pure physical exertion.

Djokovic- his mental game.

Dustin Brown- his unorthodox game style and his magic drop volley touch shots.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Player Profile: Alberto Sutton - 10 seasons, 100 matches and counting

We caught up with Alberto Sutton from Tennis-Seattle.com.  He's played a nice even 100 matches in his career so far and this is what he had to say:


What do you love about tennis?  

Is it ok to say "everything"? I like watching, studying, playing, dissecting stats. The details, of choosing a racket, shoes. The GOAT debate and the tour results. I like the rhythms, the strategies, the rituals. I just hope to have enough time to keep learning, and closing this "gap" between all internalized knowledge and the externalized playing/performance :-)


Which league are you a member of?

Seattle Tennis League

 

How long have you participated in your league?

I started in the Spring of 2018, currently playing my 10th season.

 

How did you first learn about it?

In short, Google. With more context: I had just picked up tennis again after a long hiatus. At first, was just taking lessons, and looking to hit. And then came the impulse to play more regularly and competitively. I signed up for a couple of partner matching and flex-league websites. Tennis-Seattle was the one where I found more active players, giving me the chance to play as frequently as I wanted.

 

How often do you play?

I try to "protect" a sacred once a week cadence, yet aim to get two, sometimes three matches per week. And that is even during the rainy, dark days during our fall and winter in Seattle. For those seasons, I got into a rhythm of pre-booking indoor courts and actively inviting the players that seem to play more regularly, in any give season.

 

What do you like most about the league?

There is so much to like. First, from an angle of "tangibles", I like how easy it is to invite players, track the standings, and browse your own match history. Then, from a "community" angle, I like the "high-liquidity" matching, and how easy going, cordial, fair the great, great majority of the players are. From a more "personal" angle, I feel the league plays an important role in my staying fit, competitive, sensible. Ah, I simply love the protocol/tradition of bringing 2 cans of balls and winner takes the sealed "trophy". Such a trivial detail, but I just like it.

 

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)

The ones I remember more vividly: a) the very first one, taking a beating from a player, nominally at same rating, but clearly much better - not so much for the beating, but because of the "newness" of competing, and learning the league etiquette. I played that guy many other times and we are still in touch. b) The match when I won my first deciding TB. c) a match when, “just because”, we decided to make it a best 3 of 5 sets - it was long! Ah, it was the same player from that "first won TB".

 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

I've played a several players for more than three, four matches. It's even weird to call them "rivals". The very reason we played often is because we had cordial, fun, tight matches, and like to play over and over again. I guess they are the "regulars" – more applicable term.

 

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

Because of the league, I became an expert in court scouting. I can probably name the number of courts in each location, where are the courts with lights, which ones have unplayable cracks. I also subscribed to the majority of local parks and recreation facilities that rent indoor courts in Seattle area.

 

How did you get started playing tennis?

My dad is a big fan, and player. I grew up watching Borg x McEnroe matches, and my dad on clay courts in Brazil. I would hit against the wall with a wood racket, while he played. He was an avid “racket switcher”, so I always inherited great new rackets! Later I picked up again in College, and even organized some tennis tournaments. Lessons back then taught a very different style of tennis, flatter, lower shots. Had to re-learn the "modern" style when I got back to it, a couple of years ago.

 

Do you play to compete, or for fun?

The first verb, or motivation, that comes to mind is actually "to improve". I like studying, watching, playing. Competing helps to reinforce and measure progress. And when all that falls in place, yes, that is fun.

 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)

3.0

 

What do you love about tennis?  

Is it ok to say "everything"? I like watching, studying, playing, dissecting stats. The details, of choosing a racket, shoes. The GOAT debate and the tour results. I like the rhythms, the strategies, the rituals. I just hope to have enough time to keep learning, and closing this "gap" between all internalized knowledge and the externalized playing/performance :-)

 

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

I tend to like the "one-hand-back-handers". Guga was an all-time favorite. Federer is my pick among the Big 3. And I just like following Thiem and Tsitsipas. My kids are 5 and 7. They are already playing and we all cheer for Thiem. I like his style of play, and his balance of exposing emotions. Never really liked the extreme firecrackers, or the too subdued.In the WTA, I became a big fan of Naomi Osaka, having been present at the stadium when she won Indian Wells and the first US Open.