Saturday, February 12, 2011

TLN Profile: David May- Intimidated in the Past, But the Courts Are Turned Today

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine that a 4.25 amateur player would be intimidated. But roll back 25 years or so and it’s more conceivable when you know that the kids on David May’s high school junior varsity team—at one time the best team in California-- were not only playing in juniors tournaments, but playing people like Pete Sampras, as well.

In fact, he was so intimidated – and who among us wouldn’t be?--that he dropped out of tennis for the second time. (He had started playing at age 12, but stopped until he was in high school and played on that intimidating team.) Apparently, the sting of intimidation lasted so long that David didn’t play in college or in his 20s.

He didn’t pick it up again until he was in his 30s. And pick it up he did! He worked on his game with David Maxwell, who had been trained at the elite Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, FL, whose alumni include the who’s who of professional tennis: Sampras, Agassi, Seles, Courier, Hingis, etc  “He taught me how to play the modern game with more topspin and extreme grips. After I worked with him for a year, I got back in to competition form.”
His next step was to join the Tennis Los Angeles; he was referred by John Geary. Now, at age 41, David is one of his league’s biggest fans. Here’s David’s testimonial in his own words:

“The reason it’s such a good system for me is that I live in big city and I’m not a member of a club. It’s a good way to get connected with people of your skill level. People in Los Angeles will pay people to hit with them.

This league, especially, is such a good network of several different player levels. In the past year or so, Steve has gotten best players he can get, and has created an Elite division of 4.5 players.” With his 4.25 rating, and a solid overall league record of 45-52, May—a 7-season league veteran--certainly qualifies as an elite player. (despite his tennis shoes!)

“I am also playing in USTA tournaments (he has a USTA rating of 4.5) and this is good preparation for that. In fact, David has reached several finals, semis and quarters, and has run into Paul Ferguson, Reagan McClymonds, and Jonas Stasevicius (other Elite 4.5 players in the league) in those tournaments. “We often inform each other and look forward to seeing each other and rooting for each other in those tourney’s.

”In the league, the scores are recorded, which creates a record, giving you the pressure of competition, and pushing yourself to do your best and win matches. It’s also a good way to play according to your own timeframe, provided other players can play when you can play. I play during the day, so I can find other players. The guys who work normal hours play in the evening. In L.A. plenty there are plenty of public courts around, so you don’t have to reserve time and can play according to your personal schedule.”

May’s personal schedule by the way, is filled with tennis- the sport he gave up twice. He now plays 4-5 times a week. One of his more memorable matches was against Bob Hamm. “He is slightly older than me, and a great runner, although he doesn’t hit you with a lot of pace. I ran into him in USTA and I thought I should beat him in the final. I had a mental breakdown. Then he showed up in my league division and I was looking forward to revenge. It took three sets and was the longest match I ever played. He was a steady guy and I had to be patient. After three hours I beat him. 7-6, 2-6, 7-6. He actually won more games than I did. I had to dig deep for that one.”

On the other hand, Tom Emmitt of also Tennis Los Angeles, and also profiled on this blog, has a winning record against David. “Tom is a tough one and is always a challenge. He has a traditional game. He controls the court and is very good strategically.”

So, 25 years later, welcome back to Tennis, David May. It’s a benefit to Tennis Los Angeles that you did. Between May and Tom Emmitt, by now we have a good idea about the strength of competition in the LA league. It seems that at least two players them have a good shot at being called an intimidator on the tennis court.

David, by the way, insists that "if you are a member of a club and have outgrown the competition there, or you want some new competition, or if you aren't a member of a club at all and are looking to connect to a diversity of competition -- the best way to do that is to join this league"
David was also a key contributor on our Tennis Channel expose. Check out his work here:

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