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.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Player Profile: Alan Artin - Building Friendships through tennis

We caught up with Alan Artin based out of 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  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)



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.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Player Profile: Arthur Wood - NYC - back to playing 4-5 matches a week

We caught up with Artie Wood yet again out of the franchise.  It's refreshing to have Art back to playing at levels he use to play at several years ago.

What league are you a member of?

Hi my name is Arthur Wood.  

I play in B-Q B division.   

How long have you participated in the league?

I have been a player in Tennis NY since 2012

How did you learn about the league?

I first learned about Tennis NY from the internet.

How often do you play?

This season I have been playing 4 times a week and 1-2 doubles matches.

What do you like most about the league?  Do you have any interesting comments about your experience in the league?

I like that you can play as much as you want. I used to play a lot and then the last few years, not as much.   Now I've played 36 singles matches and 5 doubles matches. Tennis NY is perfect for me because it keeps me busy.  I especially have enjoyed referring people to the league and helping them get acquainted with the league. I met Brian Jones at Lincoln Terrace. I gave him a card.   About a week later I invited him out to play.  2 other players Virginia Ofer and V. He is very much enjoying the league and I've heard him refer people to the league as well.  I also have been honored to be player of the year a few times.   It means that I'm passionate about Tennis and I have perseverance. It feels nice when players first meet me, they say wow you've played so many matches.  I've played 880 matches to date. I recently won my 300th match.   

Tell us about your most memorable matches.  Who are your favorite rivals?

I've had many memorable matches.   This year I've had fun playing new people.  The interesting thing I usually do well the first match, but the second match players sometimes figure out what you're trying to do.    I have a lot of slice, drop shot, lob and decent net game.  I've had really good matches with Virginia Ofer and Vinacek Behl. I would say my most memorable matches this year was when I played Jeff Rosenbloom.   The first time I played him he was rusty and I managed to hold him off 10-7.   I felt that it would be that way the next time. We played a few weeks later and he blew my doors off.   Another player I beat the first time, Kevin Doong   I pulled out a 10-8 win.   The next few matches he's blown me out.  I liked his game so much I chose Kevin to be my doubles partner.  Another player Cristian Jerez, I also beat the first time 10-9.   I haven't been able to beat him anymore.    I need to come up with some new tricks to even up the playing field.  

How did you get started in playing tennis?

I played ping pong first.   Then around age 17 I started playing tennis.   I got my family into the sport.   Unfortunately I didn't get much instruction so I taught myself.   I am a very unorthodox player so I can confuse players for awhile.   I need to be able to adjust when they've caught up.

Do you like to compete or play for fun?

I do play to compete.   It feels good when you're in the right frame of mind.   If you aren't mindful while playing it's difficult to compete to your fullest.   Lately, I've been playing fun doubles and singles at night. When you don't take tennis so seriously it has its good points also. 

What level player are you?

I used to be a 3.25.   Now I'm at 3.0.   I want to be a 3.25 player again.   I've been working with coaches to work on my follow thru.   It's hard because I have trouble utilizing it in a game situation.  To have better results, I have to hit with more depth

Who is your favorite pro tennis player?

My favorite player now is need to hit with more depth. Juan Del Potro. He's had major wrist injuries and he's managed to compete well. I can identify because I've had similar issues in the past.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I used to be a teacher and site director.    Now there aren't as many outlets to keep me occupied and fulfilled. Tennis keeps me alive and doing things. I've met some friends from the league.