Serving Off Court: Three Tips for Preparing Your Body for Summer Tennis

After missing almost the entire spring tennis season, players are eager to take to the local courts and get in some tennis this summer as the sport resumes in the Mid-Atlantic. However, long absences from tennis may mean approaching getting back onto the court differently than you may be used to, both physically and with the equipment you use. 

As part of our #ServeItForward campaign, USTA Mid-Atlantic has teamed up with some local experts and tennis business owners – featured on the #ServeItForward business list –   to bring you tips and info that can help you get back into tennis.  

First up, we talked with LaRue Cook, Owner/Managing Member of LEC Fitness, LLC. LaRue has more than 24 years of sports performance training experience and has served as consultant and trainer to various tennis, golf, fitness, and health organizations and programs such as Army-Navy Club and Aspen Hill Racquet Club. Additionally, he has written/contributed a number of articles for publications and organizations such as the International Tennis Performance Association, Tennis View Magazine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His articles covered topics such as Tennis Fitness and Conditioning, Injury Prevention for Athletes, Post-Rehab Training, and Strength and Conditioning for Female Athletes.

LaRue knows firsthand the powerful effect of post-rehabilitation strength and conditioning.  During his senior year of high school, LaRue was on track to play collegiate baseball when he suffered a rotator cuff injury. He was unable to continue playing and was in significant pain for years until he started post-rehabilitation strengthening exercises. The strengthening exercises specifically targeted the muscles surrounding his injury and allowed him to regain the strength and movement necessary to return to sports.

In the years since LaRue returned to playing sports, he took up tennis. 

“I primarily compete in USTA-sanctioned tournaments,” LaRue says.  Last year he represented the Mid-Atlantic Section at the NTRP National 50+ Championships in Surprise, AZ, and ranked in the Top 10 of the Mid-Atlantic Men’s 4.0 Adult [18+] Singles for more than 10 years.  

With all of LaRue’s experience as a tennis player and professional in sports training, USTA Mid-Atlantic asked him for a few tips for getting back out on the courts in the summer months and after an absence from regularly playing. 

Here are his top three tips: 

Tip #1: Warm up by doing a series of dynamic stretches 

During the summer tennis season, a common misconception is that the warm weather outside is an adequate warm-up for playing sports or exercise. However, your body does not function this way. The best and most effective way to warm up your major muscles and joints is to perform dynamic stretches.

Dynamic stretches are a series of repetitive motions that increase your range of motion and slightly increase your core temperature. These stretches are used for warming up the muscles and loosening the joints to prepare them for a strenuous workout. 

Try this quick, 5-minute warm-up consisting of side shuffles, backpedal jog, power skip plus reach, and walking knee to chest.

Tip #2: Do not underestimate how heat can affect your body 

Heat can be harmful during the summer tennis season and conditions ranging from muscle cramping to heat exhaustion can creep up on players. Therefore, it is especially important to stay hydrated by drinking at regular intervals to replace some of the fluids the body loses through sweating. Equally as important is to cover up with clothing and sunscreen. Light-colored, breathable clothing and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF will protect the skin and help your body stay cool while on the court.

Tip #3: Take it easy the first few times you return to court

During the last several months, many of us have not been as active as we normally would be and because of this, we may have all regressed in our ability to play tennis. Do not return to the court expecting that you will immediately perform at the same level of play you had prior to the pandemic shutdowns. Take it easy and be patient with your body as it gets used to being active again.

LaRue’s final nugget of advice:  “Remember, the most important piece of equipment you ALWAYS take out onto the court with you is your body. Tune it up through exercise and conditioning before trying to go ‘full tilt’ back into the competition!”

USTA Mid-Atlantic hopes that these excellent tips will help your body adjust to getting out to play! 

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Let us know how you or your tennis friends #ServeItForward by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com.

Serving Off Court: Taste of the Mid-Atlantic With Keswick Vineyards

You’ve baked bread, you’ve binge-watched shows, you’ve cleaned out the junk drawer, you’ve organized all your photos, you’ve finally finished that puzzle you started in March, you’ve played all the board games, you’ve attempted to video your best tennis trick shot. Now what? 

The coronavirus pandemic continues and while we are making a return to some daily activities outside of the home including playing tennis (safely), it is still important for people to find ways to maintain social distance and follow prevention measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

And for many of us, that means continuing to stay at home, which also means finding new ways to stay entertained while continuing to stay at home.  

USTA Mid-Atlantic has a fresh way you can add some fun to your at-home activities AND give back to support the growth of tennis when you do! 

Our “Taste of Mid-Atlantic” virtual wine tasting event

This event is part of USTA Mid-Atlantic’s #ServeItForward campaign. #ServeItForward celebrates the power of tennis in the recovery process and provides opportunities for individuals to lend support to the sport and charitable tennis programs that help improve lives in our region through tennis. 

We are partnering with Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville, Va., for the event on Saturday, June 27.  They will donate 15% of sales for the virtual wine tasting event to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section to support our charitable tennis programs (more details follow about how to RSVP and order the wine tasting package).

We recently caught up with the Winemaker and Tasting Room Manager at Keswick Vineyards, Stephen Barnard to learn more about Keswick and prepare for the upcoming event. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: How did you get involved with wine and this winery? What do you do for them?

Stephen: My journey into wine began while studying at Elsenburg College in South Africa.  I needed a part-time job so I started working in the tasting room at Groot Constantia Winery, the oldest winery in South Africa. 

In 2002, I received an opportunity through The Ohio State University to intern with Keswick Vineyards. At the time, Virginia was not known for wine because wine production was fairly new in the state. It was a very interesting opportunity.   

Keswick Vineyards first planted in 2000 and had its first vintage in 2002. I had the opportunity to work with the first harvest and first wines Kewswick ever produced. I learned quickly that there is a lot more to making wine than what I learned at university. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What do you think people should know about the winery? What makes it special?

Stephan: Keswick Vineyards is owned and operated by Al and Cindy Schomberg and family. Everyone in the family is involved in the business and has a role – from daily operations to marketing to even growing and producing the wine. 

We are all very passionate about wine. We recognize that first and foremost that we are in the hospitality business and work hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the wine and the atmosphere. Hopefully, you can taste our love for making wine in every bottle. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: If someone is new to wine, what would you tell them when trying wine?

Stephan: We help deconstruct the wine during tastings so that it is approachable because at the end of the day it’s just fermented grape juice! So don’t be afraid of wine. Trust your palette and trust your nose.  Drink what you enjoy. Finally, what makes it an experience is sharing a wine you enjoy with someone you enjoy. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What if someone has tasted lots of wine, what would you tell them?

Stephan: What you want you to taste in the glass is how the grape was grown. Wine should communicate a sense of place. You want to make a wine that smells and tastes of where the grape is grown. The soil, elevation, and everything that goes with the grape needs to be expressed in the glass of wine, that is what makes it unique. Wine should be both emotional and intellectual. 

At Keswick, we seek to challenge the stereotype of a varietal to highlight what makes the grape distinctive and unique. You may know what you like or think about a particular varietal but we want to challenge that by helping you discover something new. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What are your top tips for a good tasting experience?

Stephan: Enjoy the wine – should be fun, engaging, and informative. Also, a good wine needs a good glass; stemware is important!

USTA Mid-Atlantic: How do you approach making wine? 

Stephan: At the end of the day we are farmers and at the mercy of the weather. We are winegrowers, not winemakers; that is at the core of what great wine is. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What is your favorite part about working in the wine industry?

Stephan: People and interactions are the best part of working with wine. I get the most satisfaction from people experiencing and enjoying the wine. That is what makes wine intriguing. I love meeting people that don’t know anything about wine and helping them find what they enjoy. It’s also exciting to challenge a seasoned wine drinker by helping them change their mind about a wine they thought they maybe didn’t like as much before. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What is the biggest misnomer or myth to debunk about Virginia wine?

Stephan:  Virginia doesn’t produce a lot of wine so it isn’t as widely distributed, but that doesn’t mean that Virginia doesn’t make world class wine!  There are some great varietals that Virginia does very well and better than other places. Also, Virginia wine is very competitively priced especially since there isn’t as much produced in the state as compared to California. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you play tennis? Or have you played tennis?

Stephan: I have played some tennis recreationally. Both my father and grandfather played back in South Africa. I have long supported South African players. I love watching it, there is just so much skill involved!

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What do you admire about the work of USTA Mid-Atlantic?

Stephan: Tennis teaches you a lot about dedication, discipline, and hard work. I love how grassroots the youth tennis programming is and how USTA MAS really is following through to develop and promote the growth of the sport. It’s easy for kids to get involved with sports like football, baseball, or basketball, but USTA MAS does a great job getting more younger players involved in tennis. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you think tennis has the power to change the world?

Stephan: Yes, because sports don’t discriminate.  Tennis can bring so many backgrounds and people together. It fosters a sense of community in challenging times and in happy times. It is healing for those that play sports and those that watch them without a doubt. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you have any final thoughts ?

Stephan: We are very excited about this opportunity and bringing people together through wine and tennis and being together as a community! 

EVENT DETAILS 

To learn more about Keswick Vineyards, please visit: https://www.keswickvineyards.com/

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Serving Off the Court: A Perspective on Healing Through Tennis

By, Deirdre Hughes

As a black woman living in a diverse metropolitan community, I don’t face a daily barrage of overt racism. Instead, I encounter the slow, steady drip of microaggressions and bias that wear on my mind and soul. Regular occurrences like the glares of disdain from my neighbors as I walk in my own neighborhood; Starbucks Barista moving the tip jar when I step up to the counter or the co-worker telling me that racism “isn’t a thing.” My experience, it’s like death by a thousand pin-pricks. 

Our current times have generated high stress and anxiety across the nation, in the local Mid-Atlantic region and around the globe. In the African American community, high blood pressure and diabetes are prevalent; African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, according to the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Studies suggest that these chronic diseases are also linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. Further, research that links experiences of racism with poor mental health is emerging. 

Fortunately, one of my best strategies for combating stressful experiences is tennis.

My tennis story begins on the public tennis courts in Buffalo, N.Y.  My uncle, who is also a tennis player, gave me my first racquet as a Christmas gift when I was in middle school. That following summer, I started learning tennis in a free tennis summer camp sponsored by the Buffalo Department of Parks and Recreation.

My passion for the sport started during those summers. Over the years I played tennis every once in a while. Then in 2011, I started taking lessons again when my job’s wellness benefit covered tennis lessons. Over time, as I saw improvement in my play, I began playing more and more. 

Currently, I am a 3.0 player but I prefer to play at 3.5. I am a singles player but I will play doubles from time to time. I have played on various teams around the Washington, D.C. metro region in addition to playing in USTA Sanctioned tournaments. My biggest tennis accomplishments to date include an undefeated season in 6.0 Mixed Doubles and winning the January 2019 Ladies 3.0 Singles Simkins Indoor NTRP tournament in Greensboro, N.C.  

For me, tennis is an escape and outlet from the daily stresses of my life. Nothing else matters when I step onto a tennis court. From my first strike of the ball, I can feel all my anxiety melt away and my problems temporarily disappear. After I finish playing, I am relaxed and positive, and ready to once again tackle my everyday life.

Tennis also helps my mental acuity. I love the challenge of thinking through a match, problem-solving, self-evaluating, and correcting mistakes. These skills don’t just reside on the tennis court but are skills that I use in my professional life as a marketing manager at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Further, tennis aids in developing mental toughness and resilience. Two very important traits needed to navigate our world.

It’s important not to underestimate the power of tennis. Tennis is unlike any other sport;  a lifelong sport that offers physical and mental benefits. Just read Dr. Jack Groppel’s 34 Reasons to Play Tennis and listen to the webinars he held with us at USTA Mid-Atlantic recently and you’ll gain an understanding of the physical and psychological reasons to play the sport.

While playing tennis cannot solve systemic issues such as racism, it can, however, aid in relieving stress and improving overall health. Tennis can foster connections, communication, and community. Healthy minds and bodies create healthy communities. 

Tennis can help all people  – socially, emotionally, and physically. 

And it is with this very belief USTA Mid-Atlantic works hard to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region for ALL people and communities. Tennis can help as part of a recovery process and the #ServeItForward campaign is in progress to support this effort.

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Resources:

https://www.anxiety.org/black-americans-how-to-cope-with-anxiety-and-racism

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20191204/african-americans-face-unique-mental-health-risks

https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/fitness-and-exercise/tennis#:~:text=Joan%20Finn%20did%20a%20study,other%20athletes%20or%20non%2Dathletes.

https://www.active.com/tennis/articles/five-benefits-of-tennis

https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=18

Serving Off Court: Taste of the Mid-Atlantic with Doukenie Winery

In the Mid-Atlantic, communities are beginning to cautiously reopen and with that comes the hopes for recovery, rebuilding, and a “new normal.” USTA Mid-Atlantic, a 501 (c)3 non-profit, believes tennis will be crucial  to this process and to reconnect communities and people even while social distancing.  In that spirit, we’ve recently launched the #ServeItForward campaign to generate support for tennis in the Mid-Atlantic as part of the recovery process and support our mission and vision for tennis in every community.  

There are many ways to #ServeItForward with USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. One exciting opportunity is virtual wine tasting events we are calling “Taste of the Mid-Atlantic.” 

Taste of the Mid-Atlantic
Taste of the Mid-Atlantic

During these events, you get exclusive access to learn about and taste wines as if you were a special guest at the winery, but you get to do it from home. AND you are helping to #ServeItForward because a portion of the proceeds will be donated to USTA Mid-Atlantic to support our charitable tennis programs.

We’ve partnered with Doukenie Winery in Loudoun County, Va., for the first tasting event.  

General Manager of Doukenie Winery, Sally Travis, is a member of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors and a USTA League player. We caught up with her to talk about the upcoming wine tasting event, tennis, and being involved with USTA Mid-Atlantic.

What drew you to tennis?

I dabbled a bit in High School and returned to tennis eight years ago when my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. I needed a recreational outlet as a distraction from what was happening in our lives. 

I joined Ida Lee tennis center and took lessons. Then I started playing competitively and was recruited to play on a mixed doubles team in Montgomery County, Md. We went to the USTA League Nationals in Arizona! 

Tennis was a lifesaver for me. Tennis creates lasting friendships and a sense of community. 

How did you get involved with the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section?

A few years ago, Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro (Chief Executive Officer at USTA Mid-Atlantic) reached out to me to get involved and serve on the Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors. I served on that committee and then became the Chair. 

Later, I inquired about getting even more involved and serving on the board. 

I enjoy being on the board. I believe in the mission and getting more youth and families involved in the sport. The promotion of children and after school tennis programs are so important.

What do you admire about the work we do at the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section? 

I admire the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section’s after school and youth tennis programs. They are such a great benefit to the community. I also admire the USTA League tennis program in the Section because it is a great way for adults to get involved, find exercise, and establish a community. It is a great outlet for anyone at any level. 

What are your thoughts on how the community can move forward from the pandemic?

It’s a difficult time for everyone. Anything we can do together and collaborate to support both business and USTA Mid-Atlantic is great. 

Let’s switch gears and talk about the Taste of the Mid-Atlantic event. What do you think people should know about Doukenie Winery? What makes it special?

Doukenie is a family-owned farm winery that welcomes families to enjoy our grounds while drinking our wine and we opened in 1995 by George and Nicki Bazaco.

George’s grandmother was named Doukenie and she told him to grow grapes, so that’s what he did! Doukenie Winery has 360 acres and 30 acres under vine.  There are 16 wines on the menu and they are always releasing something different and trying new things. 

If someone is new to wine, what would you tell them when trying wine?

I highly recommend that you try a full tasting at a winery, whenever given the opportunity. 

Here at Doukenie we have seven wines on the tasting menu. Virginia has so many different varietals (wines made from a single grape variety) and there are so many different things wineries are able to do now with wines. Whether it is keeping reds in barrels longer or aging different whites that are in either stainless steel or oak barrels, there are so many ways to make the wine unique.

Top tips for a good tasting experience?

Everything is worth trying once.  It’s all about what you feel about the wine, rather than what someone tells you. Ask questions to your wine tasting educator. Take a sip and see if you like it. When at a tasting, feel free to tell a wine educator what you like and don’t like, and they are sure to help you find something you will enjoy. 

There is no right or wrong; it’s all about what you like and if you enjoy it. Wine is an experience and meant to be enjoyed.  

What is your favorite part about Virginia wine?     

In Virginia, we can grow so many varietals, and so we can make hybrids and many different blends. Because of where we are located, we are able to have a long growing season, and we have such an opportunity to grow so many types of grapes. 

Doukenie Winery has 14 varietals on the property. Despite some of the frost this spring, 2020 looks to be another great year for Virginia wine!

What is the biggest myth you would like to debunk about Virginia wine?

If you haven’t tried it lately, try it because it is better than you remember! 

What are the details about the upcoming event?

Join us Saturday, May 30th! If you haven’t RSVP’ed for the event, do so here! Curbside pickup is available for the wines featured in the event. 

Taste of Doukenie Winery Virtual Tasting Event, Saturday, May 30th, 2020 at 5PM

Bill Travis, Doukenie Tasting Room Manager, will host the event. 

$127 for a 3 bottle package that includes:

2019 Rose

2015 Doukénie Dionysus

2017 Doukénie Chardonnay

To purchase your package and arrange for curbside pickup, please  call 540-668-6464 ext 201 or email orders@doukeniewinery.com

15% of sales will be donated to the USTA Mid-Atlantic to support our charitable community.

After completion of the purchase, virtual meeting event details and tasting tips will be sent via email to all event participants. 

To learn more about Doukenie Winery, please visit: https://www.doukeniewinery.com/

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Serving Off the Court: Kendall McCaughey

Serving Off the Court: Kendall McCaughey

As we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times, our focus is often on meeting the needs of our family members, friends, and neighbors. However, animals living in shelters need love and attention as well during this pandemic. And while news reports suggest a surge in pet adoptions and fostering of animals, experts are quick to note that shelters still have and always will have animals in need.  USTA Mid-Atlantic member Kendall McCaughey decided that she could step in and provide that TLC to our non-human friends.  

We caught up with Kendall to find out more about how she is serving off the court in this unique way

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Where do you live? 

Leesburg, Va.

Tell me about your family.

I am married with two kids. Bryn is 17 and is committed to playing lacrosse at the University of Denver in the Fall. Michael is 20 and a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

How did you get started playing tennis

I played tennis as a youth and played competitively in high school.

I got back into tennis as an adult 13 years ago and I’ve played quite a bit on lots of teams.

Do you play on any tennis teams or in tournaments?

I did play on lots of teams. The biggest highlight was placing 3rd at the USTA National Tournament for 8.0 mixed doubles.

Where do you play tennis? 

I play mostly in my neighborhood.

Tell me about how you are serving off the court.

 I walk dogs about once a week at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in Aldie, Va.

How did you get started? 

I went online and signed up at FOHA.org. Then I went through training which takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

Why did you decide to volunteer

These animals are confined to small shelter spaces. FOHA needs volunteers to give them the opportunity to improve their quality of life through exercise and positive human interactions like snuggling!

What’s your favorite part of helping? 

I feel fortunate to provide time to these animals who desperately need love and attention.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get involved with helping during this time? 

This is a great time to get involved! There is a need for people to help walk and interact with animals in the shelter. It is a positive, socially distanced activity that gives tremendously needed attention to these sweet animals who are surrendered or abused through no fault of their own!

As the recovery process begins, tennis has the power to rebuild the community and we continue to be inspired by so many of you – the tennis players, parents, and fans out there, giving back and helping out during the pandemic in many different ways. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community.  

Let us know how you or your tennis friends #ServeItForward by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com