Friday, June 12, 2020

Player Profile: Ian Smith - Enjoys the Flexibility and Social Aspects of League Play

New Cincinnati Tennis League Player Quickly Moves to Veteran Status 
(25 league games) – Enjoys the Flexibility and Social Aspects of League Play
Ian Smith is new to the Cincinnati Tennis League as of Fall 2019, but has already moved 
up to 25 league games and “Veteran” status.  We caught up with him to learn more about 
his interest and experience with the league and tennis in general.

How did you get started playing tennis?
I only recently started playing about two years ago.  We belong to a gym with a tennis 
program in Cincinnati, OH and my wife started playing 3.0 – 3.5 women’s doubles and 
I started practicing a little with her.  I participated in a few tennis mixers (random people of 
random skill drinking beer/eating food and playing tennis with music for 2 – 3 hours) and 
really enjoyed the social aspect of it.  Our men’s 3.5 doubles team was short on players, 
so they asked me to join as a sub and I jumped into a match that weekend with no idea how 
to play doubles.  Surprisingly the rest of the season went okay and I’m now in my 3rd season 
of 3.5 men’s doubles and rotate between all courts (i.e. Court 1 best players, Court 3 lower 
skilled players) depending on our strategy for the week.

Which league are you a member of?
Cincinnati Tennis League: Cincy Tennis Community.  Also GCITA, a Cincinnati interclub 
(gym) competitive program where I play men’s 3.5 doubles in the fall and winter.

How long have you participated in your league?
Fall 2019 – so only 2 seasons so far.

How did you first learn about it?
My wife and I were looking to get some more tennis in and I really like singles.  
We did some searching online and came across the Cincinnati Tennis League.  
The price was great and it was fun to get some extra matches in between our GCITA 
doubles matches and between seasons.

How often do you play?
Depends on the season, but I typically play 1 – 2 matches per week.  Last Fall when I first 
joined I was playing (probably) too much between GCITA men’s doubles, the 
Cincinnati Tennis League, and “for fun” with my wife.  At times I was upwards of 
4 – 5 times a week, but I started to get a little tennis elbow, so backed down to 1 – 2 
times a week after a break around the holidays in late 2019.

What do you like most about the league?
The flexibility – it’s easy to connect with people and get a match on the books almost anytime 
I’d like.  I also like the ability to play a range of people that I’ve never met before around the city.  
Most players are collegial and it’s just a fun (yet competitive) round of tennis.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
  • I came back and beat Frank Schiavone in my first season last Fall.  He was clearly a 
    better technical tennis player and had played in high school and made some club tennis 
    in college but was just returning to tennis and shaking off some rust.  Sometimes it’s just 
    about hanging in there and getting a few shots to go your way.  I was down 4-6, 5-4 
    (I think) and may have been ad-in (him) to end the match, but he made a couple errors and 
    let me back in.  I came back to win 4-6, 7-5, TB 7-3.  We played again in the Division C 
    championship (2.5 – 3.25) and he kicked my butt 6-3, 6-2, but I still savor the first win against 
    a much better player.  He has since moved up to Division A (3.75 – 4.0) and I’m currently
     in Division B (3.5).
  • This season I played Kevin Moeller in Division C before we both moved up to Division B.  
    He likewise has played much longer than I have.  I was playing pretty well and it was fairly 
    equally matched.  I lost 4-6 in the first set, but came back and won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.  It was a 
    long one…maybe 2 – 2.5 hours, a lot of multiple deuce games.  Overall just a nice guy, a 
    competitive / long game, and luckily it went my way – but I think he’d beat me 
    6 or 7 out of 10 times we play.
  • I played my wife, Kristy Smith, in Division C playoffs last season.  I was the 1 seed 
    and she was the 8 seed.  She said this was going to be her first win against me and was 
    super excited about the match.  Even though she had never beaten me in a set before, 
    she gave me a great run.  We were back & forth in the first set and I (barely) pulled 
    out a tie-breaker 7-6 and then went on to win 7-6, 6-2.  She was definitely mad at me 
    for the rest of the day!  Ha!  But I always enjoy playing with her and she continues to 
    grow as a player and is now playing Women’s 3.5 – 4.0 doubles and singles.  She continues 
    to play in Cincinnati Tennis League in Division C too.
Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?
  • Kevin Moeller this season.  We’re pretty well matched and I loved our marathon 
    match as noted above.
  • Madeline Palmer last season.  I believe she won the Women’s Division
    over the summer but they didn’t have enough women players so they 
    combined them with men in Division C last Fall.  She’s a long time and much better 
    technical player than me and we had a pretty competitive match our first meeting last year 
    when I won 7-6, 6-3.  She knew it was close and wanted another shot later in the season, 
    but it wasn’t her day, and I won 6-2, 6-3.  She would easily beat me if we were trading shots 
    from the baseline – I had to rush the net and force her to move around.
  • Lorena Lasso this season.  We both were playing in Division C.  I won 6-2, 6-1, but the 
    score is no indication of the match.  We had a game that went to 14 deuces, and almost 
    all of our games were to deuce and I just was fortunate to win the points when it counted.  
    She had incredible placement with her forehand.
Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
It’s great to see so many different tennis courts around the city I didn’t even know existed.  I 
really enjoy the camaraderie and conversations with most players – I think many view it as much 
social connection as playing tennis, just like me.  Even when I get beaten badly by a clearly higher 
level player, it’s always a learning experience and I feel I continue to make incremental growth 
each season.

Do you play to compete, or for fun?
Both.  Predominately for fun, but I’m pretty competitive and get frustrated with myself when 
I miss easy points or can’t consistently get my first serve in.

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
Men’s Competitive1 3.5.  I’d say I’m solidly in the 3.5 range but I’ve gone between 3.25 – 3.75 
depending on wins/losses against players depending on the season.

What do you love about tennis?  
I love the exercise.  I lost a lot of weight a couple years ago (about 35 – 40 lbs) and was trying to
find enjoyable cardio (without just running, which is boring) and this is a great way to burn some 
calories.  I also enjoy learning more about the game and seeing improvement over time.  As 
mentioned in the rest of this, I also very much enjoy the social aspect and talking to other players 
outside of my normal sphere of connectivity.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why? Back in the 1990s I loved Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, 
and Pete Sampras.  They just seemed cool at the time and tennis looked like a fun sport that I didn’t 
know much about.  It was as I was just getting more in to sports as a teenager.  I really like Roger 
Federer now – he just seems like a quiet/classy guy that enjoys the sports and wins without much ado.  
On the women’s side, I liked the Williams’ sisters (Venus, Serena) when they were in their prime, 
as they are comparable in age (to me), I love their power and the overall impact they’ve had on the 

Tell us a little bit more 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 work as a healthcare administrator in Cincinnati, OH at UC Physicians.  I’ve lived in 
Cincinnati / Northern KY my whole life (Go Bearcats!).  I’ve recently started scuba diving and was 
PADI open water certified last year and am working on my PADI Advanced and Rescue diving c
ertifications this year.  I’m married with 3 kids (ages 11 – 20) and enjoy spending time with them.  
I’m pretty engaged with our local church (7 Hills Church in Florence, KY), working out when I 
can (3 – 6 times a week), enjoy reading various books (I’m usually rotating between a business, 
religious, and some type of fictional “for fun” book), and have recently picked up Pickleball with 
some friends.  We also have a condo in Gatlinburg, TN and love visiting when we can.


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