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.