Getting to the Top with Top Court

Are you looking to level up your tennis game in 2022? Then one option is with USTA Mid-Atlantic’s official e-learning partner, TopCourt. An innovative digital platform, TopCourt offers lessons with top pros to help you maximize your game. 

We thought it would be fun to give a member of our local tennis community a chance to test the platform and give us his opinion. We asked Bethesda, Md. player Thomas Pablo to try it out and let us know what he thought.*

Thomas played tennis growing up and rediscovered his love of the game five years ago when his oldest son started playing competitive junior tennis. He has won multiple Level 2 National Doubles Tournaments and three years ago, won the Bronze Ball in Men’s 50s Doubles Grass Court Nationals.  Also, Thomas and his son, a Division One College tennis player, regularly compete on the Father/Son National Level. Thomas states “I love the sport and I really want to take my game to the next level.” 

Thomas started using TopCourt and gained access to a variety of pro tennis players teaching classes on the platform. Thomas selected lessons with these pros multiple times: player Alexander Zverev, player Venus Williams, coach Brad Gilbert, player Andrey Rublev, and players Bob and Mike Bryan (Bryan Brothers).

Thomas Pablo Playing TopCourt

Here’s what he says about TopCourt: 

TopCourt lessons are full of pearls. The ones that jumped out at me were all the lessons on strategy as well as the lessons that offer little details that are easy for the average player to overlook. Here are the most notable insights that I learned: 

BRYAN BROTHERS (Lessons on what you need to know for your doubles game including Volley, Doubles Return position, Doubles Volleying position, Doubles Serve position)

In the Bryan Brothers’ series, they mentioned the danger of serving out wide. They said “great players are all good on the wings and can shape the ball down. Serve tight (i.e. Jam them in doubles) and limit their power.” They also mention that the first serve percentage should be 75%.  

ALEXANDER ZVEREV (Lessons on how Zverev approaches the Forehand, the Backhand, and the Return)

The Zverev lessons were quite detailed and a good window into his thought process which clarifies why and how he is executing his game plan. He mentioned what to do as a tall player as well as the importance of hitting with a closed stance. Zverev said a closed stance allows you to “create the most angles and that your shot is hidden from your opponent.”  In addition, he broke down the footwork and the stroke so that you could focus on execution if you wanted to practice.   

BRAD GILBERT (Lessons on latest drills and tips for club players and aspiring pros including the Dunk Volley and the Swinging Volley)

Another real winner was the Brad Gilbert lessons. A former top-five player in the world with limited athletic gifts, his tennis mind is next level. When he taught the swinging volley, he said “take an aggressive approach to BIG targets.” That was a revelation that I wasn’t expecting.  

After watching the lessons, the single biggest positive of the platform is that in every lesson the advice is high quality. What you see on Top Court is different from what you might experience at your local club, because you are gaining inside information from current pro tour players and coaches directly from their own game and training regimen.

Another positive was being able to select the top players who might be more in line with my game style and body type. For example, my son is 6’6” so being able to have him watch Alexander Zverev, who is also 6’6”, was really valuable.  

Thomas Pablo Playing tennis

The biggest con for the platform is taking it from your computer to the court. The time between watching the lesson and heading to the tennis court requires you to take really good notes and read through them when you practice. If you are serious about getting better, then it should not be a problem at all – especially if you can partner with someone that has seen the lessons and can help you replicate them. 

I think the best use of this platform would be for players who can train together and gather insights from the lessons then keep each other on track when practicing on court. In my case, my son and I have been watching the lessons together, talking about what we liked and didn’t like and then we have tried to take it onto the court and practice. Our next step is to use some of the doubles strategies in actual matches.  

Overall, this is a great platform for all ages. Adults are naturally more inclined to think about their game, but juniors are likely more adept at utilizing the technology. The nice part is that this platform is affordable and can reach a wide audience. 

Looking forward to lots of TopCourt in 2022. I still have Gold Ball Dreams!

USTA Mid-Atlantic thanks Thomas Pablo for his thoughtful comments on TopCourt. We hope that you found the article useful and will check out this exciting e-learning platform. For more information, please visit TopCourt

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

 *USTA Mid-Atlantic provided T. Pablo a Top Court subscription in exchange for his review. USTA Mid-Atlantic is supported by our tennis community audience. This post contains an affiliate link and if you go through the link to make a purchase USTA Mid-Atlantic may receive commission. Keep in mind that USTA Mid-Atlantic links to this website because of their quality. This commission helps our vital work to grow tennis and increase access to the sport for all people in the Mid-Atlantic region

Tennis Holiday Shopping

Ways to Save on your Tennis Gifting Needs

When it comes down to the gift giving season, you’re either one or two types of people: you start shopping extremely early to ensure every person gets the gift they want or you crave the pressure (maybe the challenge) of shopping at the last minute to achieve gift-giving glory. No matter what type of shopper you are, every person needs a little assistance sometimes, especially when it comes to shopping for the tennis lovers in your life. Plus being part of the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community means you have access to some great discounts and resources that can come in really handy during the holiday season. Check out this list for some great resources, discounts and ways you can ACE the holidays. 

Shop These Tennis Discounts this Holiday:

  • Need the perfect gift for the special USTA League player, tennis teammate, or captain in your life (or maybe yourself – hey we don’t judge)? Shop the USTA Mid-Atlantic Store through The Spoiled Office for great personalized tennis apparel and tennis stocking stuffers you don’t want to miss!
  • As a proud sponsor of USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 12 Days of Gifting, Vitalyte is also offering 15% OFF on all orders with code USTA15 when you shop their store from December 1, 2021-January 31, 2022
  • Have an obsessed tennis player in your life? Give the gift of a 1-year subscription to TopCourt this year and they can access tennis instruction from the world’s top tennis talent! While you’re there, you can access a 14-day free trial and join your tennis obsessed pal in the fun. 
  • When you are part of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section tennis community you get access to special discounts and perks we’ve set up just for you! Shop with USTA Mid-Atlantic Brand Affinity Partners and support local this year!

But wait… there is more:

  • If you are online shopping and Amazon is your go-to, don’t forget to sign up for AmazonSmile with USTA Mid-Atlantic and make all of your purchases give back to growing the game!
  • Searching for a great way to help naturally replenish the body for a tennis player you know or even yourself after a match or practice? Shop SWEY Sports Drinks with the code USTAMAXSWEY21 to receive 10% OFF on all pre-orders!
  • USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 12 Days of Gifting, presented by Vitalyte, are underway and the giveaways are better than ever! Make sure to follow us on Facebook for the full list of PRIZES and details on how you can enter to win. 
  • If you’re looking for a long-lasting, meaningful gift this holiday season that will warm the heart, you can make a donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic and give back to tennis in honor of someone special in your life – a player, friend, captain, teammate, child or grandchild. Let them know you care about them, their love for the game and the future of tennis in the region.

Although this is just a short list of tennis gifts and shopping options, we hope this helps you find a winner for your holidays! 

USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creates community, character and well-being. We wish everyone a joyous and special holiday season. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

Four Courts, Create Community

Community. It isn’t just a word in the name of Rappahannock Community College (RCC). It literally and figuratively is the center and central focus for this higher education institution in the rural area of Warsaw, Va. 

Founded in 1970, Rappahannock Community College [RCC] is more than just a school, it is a beacon for community vitality always at the ready to spur growth and continually meet the needs of the people, businesses, and industries in the areas they serve. RCC especially values being a catalyst and partner for opportunities to improve and revitalize the local area so that not only their students benefit, the community benefits as well. 

One such benefit to the community is the four tennis courts prominently located on the RCC campus, open and available for all to use. 

Although the community college does not have a designated tennis team, the tennis courts have been a fixture in the area and a place where you could always find an activity, meet up with a neighbor, and just have some fun. They are the only public tennis courts for the rural and economically challenged counties of Richmond, Westmoreland, Essex, and Northumberland with a collective population of just under 50,000.

“It was well-known that all were welcome on the courts and in-turn the courts were respected – people knew to turn the lights on, they turned them off and just fully enjoyed the space,” shared Dr. Shannon Kennedy, President of the Rappahannock Community College since 2019. 

Though having open access to the courts was an amazing opportunity for the community to play tennis and gain the benefits of the sport, the courts were coming to a point where they were worn down and in serious need of repair. In addition, there were two courts that were deemed completely off limits due to safety concerns. It was time to rebuild. 

Revitalizing the tennis courts fit into a larger vision for the economic redevelopment of downtown Warsaw. RCC and their partners recognized that updated tennis courts would offer a multi-generational gathering place and give people the opportunity for healthy living and community engagement. All people – retirees, youth, students and all in between – would have an improved and open place for tennis and daily activity. These tennis courts would also become the new home for the Rappahannock High School Tennis Teams.   

Many stakeholders got involved and championed the project. 

“I believe in working closely with the local school system, other higher education institutions, and industries in order to create and grow programs,” said Kennedy. “The best way possible to do something like this is to keep it as economically feasible for all partners. We want to show a collaborative spirit.

The collaborative spirit proved itself with the stakeholders, including RCC, pooling resources for the project. Everyone agreed that the tennis courts should be refurbished to the highest standards and done in a way that would preserve the maintenance of the courts long-term. 

But funding ran short.  That’s when the USTA Mid-Atlantic Tennis Court Refurbishment Grant created an additional pathway for RCC and their partners to push forward and finalize the project. 

With a grant for $10,000, they were able to use higher-quality materials, install a better surface and elevate the project to a new level, which ultimately could see big returns for the school and the community. In fact, some of the returns have started already.   

This past spring, the Rappahannock High School Girls Tennis team hosted District Championships on the new courts during which they came out victorious and made a run at the state championships. 

Kennedy shared that the new tennis courts are very active with people playing as early as 6 a.m. All-day long, individuals are soaking in the newness of the refurbished tennis courts, which were officially reopened in July. 

“Every time I pass by the courts, people are there – they are in constant use,” says Kennedy. “Our courts are bringing the community together, creating comradery, and instilling a sense of pride. They came at a good time.”

Moving forward, Richmond County is managing the use of the courts and implementing a variety of tennis programs, camps, and classes. There will even be an educational program for community college students interested in pursuing a career teaching physical education.   

“Tennis brings a lot of families and people together,” said Kennedy. “We’re hoping to have tournaments and bring people from outside the community to our courts. This is good for the college, the economy, and the community. The tennis courts are worth the investment and are looking at years of enjoyment to come.”  

Having four newly refurbished tennis courts open and available for public use has delivered on a promise to infuse vibrancy and spur community revitalization. With your support, the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis court refurbishment grant helped bring the courts and community to life. 

Make a gift to support our ongoing work helping more communities build and rebuild tennis courts, especially in under-resourced communities, so that more people can easily access the sport and all the benefits it provides. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn more about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Tennis Grants Improve the Community

It Doesn’t Take Long to Feel the Benefits

“Fun, friendly, cool.” These are the three words 11-year-old Deoz uses to describe tennis – a sport he recently came to fall in love with. After playing lots of other sports, Deoz discovered tennis on his own. He decided to try tennis after school because – in his words – it was just fun. 

“When I first started [tennis], I liked it right away,” said Deoz. “I had to run a lot and that was fun. And the drills and exercises came quickly to me.” 

It doesn't take long to feel the benefits of tennis

When his mom noticed how much Deoz was interested in the sport she decided to get more information about it so that she could help him keep pursuing his interest. It was a fateful conversation at the hair salon that gave her all the information she needed. Another patron told her about the different opportunities available for youth tennis and about local tennis programs offered by the Park and Recreation Department near where they lived in Prince George’s County, Md. She and Deoz decided to check the programs out. 

“I was just wowed by the programs,” said Deoz’s mom. “I had never seen tennis programs to the level they were being offered – camps, individual coaching, team tennis. It was overwhelming at first but then the coach really helped to make it easy to get Deoz going.” 

Soon after a few introductory lessons, Deoz’s tennis skills were progressing and he was able to start playing with other kids, getting more competitive and comfortable. Not only that, Deoz and his mom were impressed by the community surrounding tennis, noticeable by the variety of ages and people that play, courts always in use, and caring people and coaches that paid as much attention to what was happening off the court in Deoz’s life as what was happening on the court. 

They also started to notice the many character-building skills and benefits developing within. 

“I had to do a lot of running drills and that was fun because it got my speed up to race with my friends,” Deoz shared. “Tennis also helped with my focus – you have to focus and know what you are doing in the game. It helped with school and other activities.” 

But the most important lessons he was learning on the court were life-lessons he fully embraced off the court. 

“The biggest lesson I am learning from tennis is to always be fair. You learn to call the ball in or out and that being fair is most important, even in close matches,” he shared. 

As the character-building benefits from tennis just started to shine for Deoz, the unimaginable happened. A pandemic and job loss for Deoz’s mom. She didn’t want this temporary situation to be a concern and impact his ability to continue to play tennis. Deoz’s tennis coach offered a suggestion – apply for a USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship. 

“It was easy to apply for the scholarship and it was so helpful,” she commented. “I wanted to make sure that I could keep Deoz in tennis and that he had something to do.” 

Thanks to generous gifts from the USTA Mid-Atlantic community, scholarships for youth players at any level of the game – even those new to the sport like Deoz – are available. Scholarships help with the cost to take lessons and help nurture the benefits the sport provides. Deoz used the scholarship to keep up with tennis and continue in the classes he was taking and now is shaping his character and future in the sport as well. 

When asked what he would say to those that donate to USTA Mid-Atlantic and support programs such as the Junior Player Scholarship he said: 

“THANK YOU for giving to kids in need. There are a lot of kids in need of scholarships, just like me, that your donations help. Donating helps kids learn tennis, and also learn leadership skills, strategies in thinking, building confidence, and overall development.”

And when asked what he would tell other kids like him about tennis and trying the sport: 

“Definitely try it out! If you are interested, tell someone that tennis is something you want to do – you never know where it will take you until you try it!” 

Can you give a gift to support young players and those children interested in tennis, just like Deoz? Your gift can help children discover something new and gain the character-building benefits only tennis can provide.

Give a gift before the end of the year or join the Serve Squad and make an automatic monthly donation. We need 50 people to join the Serve Squad before the end of 2021. If you step up to the challenge and join, you’ll also be entered into a random drawing for a one-year subscription to TopCourt! 

Give a gift or join the Serve Squad today!  

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn more about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Dream Season for 2.5 Team of Beginners

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success

Lifting the gate latch, Kristy walked onto the tennis court in Richmond, Va., for her very first USTA Mid-Atlantic League match. Never in her 40 years would she have expected to have arrived here. Her heart pounded with every step she took as she walked over to greet her doubles partner and opponents. She was so nervous and unsure what to expect. She had put the work in but did not know if it would pay off on her newly forged path as a 2.5 beginner league player. 

Kristy gave tennis a try because her young son decided he wanted to play and began learning the sport. 

“My 5-year-old son decided he wanted to try tennis and ended up loving it,” Kristy said.  “Seeing him enjoy the sport made me think it would be something fun for us to do together as he gets older.” 

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success on the court for this 2.5 team

She too began introductory lessons and made pretty good progress in her beginner’s group.  Soon after, Kristy was asked to join a 2.5 USTA League team in 2020. All of the women on the team were in the same boat, starting and learning the sport in their late 30s just like Kristy, and never playing in USTA League before. 

“I don’t know of any other sport that you can pick up later in life and pretty much play until you are well into your senior years. I truly feel like anyone can pick up a racquet and learn to play,” shared Kristy. 

The team was composed of people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, scientists, business owners, stay-at-home moms, all coming together and being put to the test during that fateful first USTA Mid-Atlantic League tennis match. 

Kristy won it decisively 6-1, 6-2 and remembers thinking to herself, “maybe I’ve got the hang of this now!” Her teammates thought similar thoughts having taken all three lines that day. 

But the dream season would have to wait – the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans and the season was cut short. 

“During the COVID shutdown, the outdoor courts at my club remained open and it seemed to be the one thing from ‘normal life’ I was able to keep doing,” expressed Kristy.

Tennis was becoming so much more of an important aspect of life for her than she could have imagined when she started her league tennis journey just a year prior. The well-being benefits of the sport emerged front and center, including social and emotional benefits. 

“As much as I love tennis, the social element has been one of my favorite benefits,” says Seredni. “Playing tennis, I have met so many exceptional ladies who I am now lucky to call friends. Tennis has been the thing when you are having a rough day or week, you can always look forward to… I honestly can’t imagine my life now without tennis.”

Even though the 2020 season was short, Kristy and her team had 2021 in sight. 

Kristy commented, “we really started off as a group of strangers who very quickly became a tight-knit group of competitors. We were all so driven and excited and couldn’t wait to see what we could do. Our chemistry on the courts was off the charts and when we were off the courts we were celebrating births of babies, pregnancies, job promotions, really just supporting each other in life which I think was a huge part of why we were so successful.” 

Tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section brought them together and delivered on well-being benefits and connections on a deeper, social and emotional level.  

Well-being was key to tennis success for this 2.5 USTA Mid-Atlantic league team.

“Something just clicked,” Kristy recounted. “We all seemingly hit our stride at the same time going the entire 2021 League season never dropping a line.” 

This remarkable outcome for the FIRST full season of tennis for the team paved the way for a trip to USTA Mid-Atlantic Sectionals and all the way to the Championship match!  

Kristy’s team was crowned 2.5 Finalists in Mid-Atlantic for the Adult 18 & Over (.5) in 2021. A dream accomplishment many seasoned teams aspire to achieve. 

Thanks to USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creating a deeper well-being in Kirsty and in her teammates’ lives, they succeeded more than they could have imagined. 

“This past year, really throwing myself into USTA tennis, has been so incredibly rewarding.  From success on the court to meeting new people and making new friends, I have really enjoyed every minute on the courts…Whether you are looking to play for fun or looking for a competitive league, I promise you there is a league for you. And for people thinking about donating, do it!  Watching juniors learn the sport and love playing it is so much fun!  There are so many things for these kids to learn on a tennis court that will translate to life skills.” 

No matter when you start or your level of experience with the game, you can gain the well-being benefits tennis provides. And with YOUR help we can make sure more people, especially those without access to tennis, experience the incredible benefits of the sport through a variety of tennis programs and services from the USTA Mid-Atlantic. 

Make a tax-deductible gift today to support tennis programs in the Mid-Atlantic region that create community, character, and well-being for all. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn more about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.