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

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.

Summer Guide to Tennis

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Tennis

In the Mid-Atlantic

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, you can tell summer is right around the corner. The weather is heating up and that means the tennis courts are getting busier than ever. We know you’re lacing up your sneakers and popping open a fresh can of tennis balls to get to the action this summer, but first, we want to ensure you are prepared for the conditions. Tennis is tough enough without the sun beating down on you during your match, so we’ve got some tips and tricks on how to properly prepare to beat the heat and make the most of your tennis experience with the ultimate summer guide to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic.

Hydration is Number One:

Staying hydrated is going to be a major factor in your performance and health this summer. If you’re going to be playing out in the heat, make sure to start drinking water at least 24 hours before your match for peak hydration and to stay cool during your match. We recommend you to bring at least a quart (32 ounces), if not more, to your match to make sure you don’t lose your edge. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis - player returning a forhand

Don’t forget to replenish those electrolytes after those grueling games… Drinking during the changeover is also crucial to prevent getting sick or cramping. We recommend bringing Gatorade, Pedialyte, or something similar during a match because these drinks offer the perfect balance of sugar, sodium, and electrolytes. Another helpful summer guide to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic is to be prepared with snacks! Make sure you have enough fuel to keep your body healthy during those long matches under the hot, hot sun. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis Insider Tip:

  • Pack your tennis bag the night before, this way you can rest easy knowing that you are prepared with water, Gatorade, and yummy, healthy snacks for your important match the next day. Plus when you prepare the night before there’s no additional stress or rushing around before your match!

Clothing and Apparel to Wear in the Heat 

What you wear can be just as important as what you put in your body. When playing in the heat, you need to make sure you stay dry and cool with light-weight, moisture-wicking fabrics. Additionally, consider wearing wristbands to keep your hands and racquet dry from sweat, allowing your grip to stay firm. Finally, wear during your match is a hat or visor to keep the sun out of your eyes and keep your head and face cool. Keeping the sun out of your face helps you keep your head in the match. 

If you’re interested in what local tennis shops in the Mid-Atlantic specialize in for types of tennis equipment and apparel, make sure to check out our blog on preparing for the season in fresh new gear. Take it from the experts who specialize in making sure you get out and play with the right equipment. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis Insider Tip:

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen when you are getting ready for your match! Make sure to apply sunscreen generously and often before and after your matches to keep from burning. 

Tennis Events to Get Excited about When You’re Not Playing

Summer 2021 tennis events are back and we are so excited to celebrate tennis with you. As you are planning your summer vacation or weekend getaways, make sure you take note of the high-level events that are taking place in the Mid-Atlantic. There are some great professional and recreational events taking place right in your backyard. 

Citi Open (July 31- August 8) – Secure your tickets today! The tournament is operating at 50% capacity this year, so make sure to act quick. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic League Championships 

  • Goucher College (July 30- August 2)
  • Columbia Association (July 23-26) , (August 20-23)
  • More dates are being added, so make sure to bookmark this link and check back in. 

Don’t forget youth tennis this summer

  • There are plenty of opportunities for Juniors to be a part of team events here in the Mid-Atlantic. We encourage your junior player to sign up for a Team Up event. With this event, junior players have fun while playing competitively on a team. Plus, juniors can nab a free USTA membership now. So grab that deal to kick off their summer of tennis right! 

How to Get Involved:

There are so many ways for you to get out and play this summer in the Mid-Atlantic region. If you are looking to uplevel your tennis game and satisfy that competitive edge, we highly recommend you participating in USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues. Here you will be able to play on a team for a chance at a National championship. Now if that doesn’t sound like the best summer ever, we don’t know what does.

Plus, make sure to stay connected with USTA Mid-Atlantic on social media and follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the tennis conversation and engage with other players in the area.

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USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.

By Patrick Twomey: an intern with USTA Mid-Atlantic. Patrick is an upcoming sophomore at the University of Tennessee

Tennis is a Game Changer

Tennis and Nutrition, Together like Racquet in Hand

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with USTA Mid-Atlantic By Maintaining Proper Nutrition on the Tennis Court

Nutrition tips to keep performing on the tennis court.

No matter your level of play, tennis is a great way to get physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you hit the court and play, you’ll burn calories, strengthen muscles, improve your coordination, and much more. Your time on the tennis court can contribute to your wellness goals; just as it contributes to your goals to improve your tennis game and skills. Critical to reaching your health and physical activity goals is having proper nutrition to fuel your body. Paying attention to your nutrition can support all of the gains you are making on the tennis court. Plus, it can be a differentiator when it comes to your performance. 

March is National Nutrition Month®, spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During March, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. 

Corey Kuck helps teach you how to maintain proper tennis nutrition.

Making informed food choices is an important part of cultivating nutrition habits that will support your tennis game. There are a wealth of resources for tennis players interested in stepping up their nutrition game and making sound choices. Whether that is nutritious foods to fuel your tennis workouts to the best choices for the recovery. 

We’ve gathered up some resources you can review to learn more about making informed choices in your nutrition. 

Fueling Your Body for Tennis with Mid-Atlantic-based chef, Corey KuckThis article has some good tips from Chef Kuck, a recreational tennis player, and includes an awesome recipe for Herb Pesto crusted Pork Tenderloin with Mediterranean Couscous.

If you haven’t yet explored the “Improve” section of usta.com there are many great articles that can help you, well, improve in tennis! The site has several articles dedicated to nutrition specifically for tennis players of all experience levels. No matter your level, proper nutrition is key. 

Here are just a few of the articles that you may find helpful: 

  • Snack Smarter: Tips for Before and After Exercise – This article is jam-packed with great, easy, healthy options for snacks that can power your tennis workout, practice, or match. 
  • Nutrition at Home– Check this article for some thoughtful reminders and hints for making your nutrition count throughout the day. Especially if you are home more or working from home.
  • Nutrition for Recovery – After a long tennis match or tournament, what you put into your body matters. Check this article for foods and tips to help with recovery. 
  • Hydration Matters – It cannot be said enough how important hydration is for your body especially during warmer days or even down-right blazing hot and humid days playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region. This article can help you learn more about proper hydration for your body. 

These are just a few articles and resources that can help you maintain nutrition on the tennis court. As part of your celebration of National Nutrition Month®, take a few moments to review some of these articles and tips on nutrition. Plus, share them with your teammates and tennis friends as you prepare to play more tennis during spring and summer. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has lots of ways you can get into tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and eastern and southern West Virginia. Visit us and learn about the ways you can play today!  And make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Team Playing Tennis

Improve Your Overall Health with Tennis

Top Reasons to Play

Have you thought about your heart health lately? In February, the NHLBI encourages you to celebrate American Heart Month to get motivated to adopt heart-healthy behaviors. One of the ways you can take care of your heart and improve your health is by playing tennis with your friends and family.

In other words, join the 3 million new players who picked up a racquet for the first time in 2020 because tennis is the safest sport to play in order to maintain social distance and safety while having fun.1

Reasons to play:

Team Playing Tennis

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Research shows that we’re more successful at meeting personal health goals when we join forces with others. When we take care of our hearts as part of our self-care, we set an example for those around us to do the same.”

There are a multitude of reasons why playing tennis is a great activity to improve your health at any age. Whether it is your first time picking up a racquet, or if you are a seasoned player the heart health benefits are endless. 

Play tennis to improve your health by:

Family playing tennis
  • Get fit, lose weight and burn more calories: An hour of singles play can burn 580-870 calories. Put on your favorite fitness tracker, hit the tennis court and watch those calories sizzle away!2
  • Live longer: Playing just three hours/week will reduce your risk of heart disease 56%3
  • Strengthen your heart muscle and your bones: Compared to other sports, tennis players have the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease4
  • Develop hand-eye coordination: Playing tennis involves several skills that all contribute to good hand-eye coordination. You can improve your agility, balance, coordination, reaction time, and more. 

Together we can celebrate American Heart Month with stronger and healthier hearts today by getting out to play. 

But wait there’s more. The advantages of playing tennis do not stop there. 

Additionally, the lifetime sport of tennis helps your mental and overall well-being by:

  • Reducing stress: Tennis helps you with physical, mental, social, and emotional challenges which increases your capacity to manage stress
  • Increasing brain power: From alertness to tactical thinking, tennis enhances the neural connections in your brain. Kids who play tennis regularly get better grades.5
  • Helping you learn to problem-solve: Tennis is a sport that is based on evaluating angles, geometry, and physics to get the best result, which translates into better problem-solving off the court6
  • Enjoying time with family and friends: Great for the whole family no matter what your age. With minimal equipment needed, it’s easy to meet up with  a friend to play or find one through the game
  • Developing teamwork and sportsmanship skills: From doubles play to team and league play, tennis develops your ability to communicate and work together
  • Improving social skills: Tennis outperforms all other sports in developing positive personality characteristics7

Ready to get out on the courts?

Man Playing Tennis

Most importantly, playing tennis is not just about the competition, it is about living your life to the fullest potential. Additionally, tennis can become part of your life at any age. So get started and gain a positive impact on your life immediately. During American Heart Month, inspire and motivate yourself and those you love to make heart-healthier choices as a regular part of your routine – go play tennis! 

We can’t wait to see you out on the courts! 

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12020 Physical Activity Council Participation (PAC) Report

2Oja, et al, Brit J Sports Med, 2016

3According to a 2016 Harvard University study

440-year study conducted by Johns Hopkins University

5 2013 USTA Study

6In a study in the late 1990s, several experts proposed that tennis, since it requires alertness and tactical thinking, may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and promote a lifetime of continuing brain development. This was supported in John Ratey’s book “Spark.” Ratey was quoted in USA Today as saying, “A heart-thumping game of tennis can keep the brain in top shape.”

7According to a study by Dr. Jim Gavin at Concordia University