Serving Off Court: Gearing Up With TennisTopia

Excitement is building in the Mid-Atlantic as tennis players are getting out more and more to play. Over the last few weeks, USTA Mid-Atlantic teamed up with local business owners on our  #ServeItForward business list for info that can help you get back on the court. So far, we shared fitness tips from LaRue Cook, owner of LEC Fitness, and a healthy recipe to fuel your body from Corey Kuck, owner of Catering By Corey

Now, we turn our attention to tennis gear and caught up with Darrell Haines, the owner and founder of local Mid-Atlantic tennis shop TennisTopia

A Michigan native, Darrell was introduced to tennis by his dad who managed a tennis club and supported Darrell in his love for tennis. Growing up, Darrell played junior competitive tennis tournaments and eventually went on to play for Ferris State University in Michigan. While at Ferris State, Darrell majored in Professional Tennis Management and Marketing. After college, he eventually landed in Montgomery County, Maryland and opened TennisTopia in Rockville, Md., in 2006.

What Darrell loves most about TennisTopia is connecting with people. From competitive players to those just starting out, Darrell enjoys learning about his customers and then helping them select the right tennis gear that is suited to their needs and play – a highly personalized approach. He also loves the diversity of tennis and how tennis can bring people together. 

In our conversation with Darrell, we chatted about tennis gear and the services that TennisTopia offers. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What are a few unique products or services that your shop offers? 

Darrell Haines: We offer while-you-wait racquet restringing services. We have two professional stringers that have both strung on the pro tour. In fact, one of the stringers is one of the few stringers in the world to string three of the four grand slams in the same year.

Stringing really can make a difference for someone depending on their level of play. When you have a bad string job, you can really tell the difference. It is our stringing services that set us apart from other shops.

We also offer one-to-one customer service and our staff is very knowledgeable about our products. The goal of every staff member is to help players choose gear that is best for them, no matter what their level of play is. 

As we return to play, what are your top 5 items everyone should have in their tennis bag?

First and foremost, everyone should definitely have their mask and hand sanitizer, but apart from that, I recommend having an extra racquet so you have a backup. You never know when you might break a string or have something happen to the grip. 

Next, I recommend having an extra pair of shoes for after you play. Fourth, I recommend having wristbands. Wristbands are great to help absorb extra sweat and to keep the sweat from getting on the racquet. Finally, keep extra tennis balls in your bag. 

What are a few tips for taking care of your gear – especially after a prolonged absence from tennis?

After not playing for a few months, I highly recommend that everyone restring and regrip their racquets. Regular restringing helps keep your game consistent. I would recommend restringing your racquet twice a year. Also, it is important to replace grips because good grips help you from gripping the racquet too hard which can lead to tennis elbow. Lower level players often undervalue the power of a newer string job and what a new grip can do for your play and technique. Those two things really do make a big difference on your play.

Any final thoughts about getting back on court?

People are getting back to playing tennis and it’s so nice to see. It really is a lifetime sport.

As a valued partner of the #ServeItForward campaign, TennisTopia is offering 10% off all purchases with promo code: MAS10 and all online orders of $50 or more are eligible for 2-day free shipping. Visit the store in-person in at 827-A Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD or check out their online store!

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to continue to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section.  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

Year-end Ratings: What You Need to Know

As the USTA Adult League season winds down, we gear up for the most highly anticipated time of the year – the moment year-end ratings are published! Think about it like this: you know on TV shows when the teacher posts test scores outside the classroom and everyone rushes to check their grade, this is that for league tennis players – except the teacher is a computer and you can’t fail!

This year, the year-end NTRP Ratings are expected to be published on December 2, and we want to share with you some helpful information to get you ready for when you will know if your NTRP rating stayed the same or is adjusted.

Adult NTRP ratings are used in leagues and tournaments to group players of similar skill levels; for general information on the rating system, click here.

How are dynamic ratings calculated?

A player’s dynamic ratings, calculated after each match, are not solely contingent on record. They are calculated by an algorithm that considers your rating, your opponent’s rating, the expected outcome of the match, and the actual outcome of the match.

What is the difference between a dynamic rating and a year-end rating?

  • Dynamic ratings are not disclosed to players, whereas year-end ratings are published annually at NTRP levels.
  • Dynamic ratings are expressed to the one-hundredth of a point, whereas year-end ratings are expressed only to the one-half point.
  • Dynamic ratings are calculated regularly and based on an average of the current match plus the previous three dynamic ratings, whereas year-end ratings are based on a combination of a player’s cumulative dynamic rating during the season and a comparison to an appropriate benchmark player.

Why did [insert USTA employee] decide to change my rating?

All NTRP ratings are generated by a very smart computer using a very advanced algorithm. Whether your NTRP level increases, decreases or stays the same, no humans are involved in creating that year-end rating.

My NTRP has changed. How do I find a team at my new level?

We can help! USTA Mid-Atlantic offers Tennis Connect, a service that can match up players and captains.  Just fill out the form here. We’ll help you find the right match for a team in your area!

How do I appeal my rating?

As a Computer (C) rated player, the way to appeal your rating is online through TennisLink. When you do, TennisLink checks to see if you are within the appeal range.  This is a scale based on your dynamic ratings and the number of matches you’ve played in the most recent Championship year.  You will receive an immediate response (Granted or Denied).  If your appeal is granted, TennisLink will automatically adjust your rating level.

Here is how to appeal:

  • Log in to Tennislink and click the USTA League tab (across the top and to the left)
  • To the right of “Welcome!”, look for your NTRP Level
  • Under that, click “Appeal Rating Level”
  • Select Appeal rating level “Up or Down”
  • You will receive an immediate response at the top of the page

Things to know:

  • There is no appeal committee, thus no written letter of explanation. It’s all based on match data and numbers.
  • Appealing will NOT reveal your rating in the 100th of a point.
  • When an appeal has been granted, that player is eligible for dynamic disqualification

I see my ratings on other websites.  Are they the same as USTA?

The USTA posts the official NTRP ratings on TennisLink, located at tennislink.usta.com. This is the only public website where official NTRP ratings authorized by the USTA are posted and can be obtained.

The USTA is aware of other sites that suggest they provide NTRP ratings or player statistics and skill analysis. Any alleged NTRP related information available on these other sites is not endorsed by the USTA, is not accurate, and cannot be relied upon.

I’ve been away from tennis for a while, how do I get a rating?

If you have never had an NTRP Rating or it’s been a few years since you’ve played USTA Leagues, your first step will be to Self-Rate online through TennisLink.  

  • Log in to Tennislink
  • On “Welcome!” page under the USTA League tab
  • Look for “Find NTRP Rating Info”
  • Under that, click on the blue “Self-Rate” button 
  • A pop-up window will appear with the questionnaire
  • Based on your answers you will be assigned a minimum self-rating
  • You have the option to accept that rating, choose a higher rating, or request to appeal for a lower rating

I just really want to talk to someone about my NTRP. Who do I call?

Adult league tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic Section can call or email Adult Programs Coordinator Cassie Nocera. She is your go-to on all things year-end ratings and NTRP. She is totally cool with you reaching out!

Hmmm, alright you’ve answered my questions. Got any fun facts to share?

Funny you should ask, we really do have fun facts about NTRP and year-end ratings!

  • You need three valid matches to generate a year-end rating
  • Your Computer rating does not change during the year. It stays the same until the next year-end.
  • Nearly 81.8 percent of Mid-Atlantic players will NOT have their rating change at year-end.
  • Last year, when year-end ratings were published, TennisLink received 5.4 million page visits over a four day period.
  • The highest rating on the NTRP scale is 7.0. Note: This does not mean two 3.5 players could go toe-to-toe with Rafael Nadal, but it sure would be entertaining to watch.

Create Your Tennis Comeback Story

Don’t let time away from tennis deter you from coming back to the game.  USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has so many ways for you to enjoy tennis and gain the healthy benefits of the sport – from competitive opportunities through USTA League to casual tennis fun, and tournaments too. 

We don’t have to remind you of the many benefits you get from playing tennis: 

✅ Physical fitness 

✅ Fun with friends 

✅ Expanding your network

✅ Stress relief 

✅ Leadership opportunities

✅ Competition and new challenges

✅ A sport you can play no matter your age

Over the next couple of months, we are challenging you to create your tennis comeback story! We have gathered inspiring comeback stories from people just like you that took time off from tennis for various reasons but are back and flourishing in the game. We’ll be sharing these stories with you and hope they motivate you to get back out there and play tennis with USTA Mid-Atlantic. You’ll want to make sure you visit our news page to see these stories

In the meantime, we’ve gathered up some tips and helpful information that will help you get reacquainted with your game as well as what’s going on and available in the Mid-Atlantic Section for adults so that you can start playing. 

Tip 1: Get back into the swing of things without any pressure. USTA Mid-Atlantic has launched NEW social tennis events that allow you to get back into tennis in a fun, low-pressure way. Check out all the opportunities available and check often. We update this page regularly with new social events! 

Tip 2: Brush up on your techniques and strategies. If you’re memory of the game is as fuzzy as a tennis ball, don’t worry! USTA has a ton of great articles that can help refresh your on-court strategies and improve your game. There are even articles on the basics such as keeping score. 

Tip 3: Take a refresher lesson or classes with a local tennis pro. You can look for introductory classes at your local community courts or recreation center (or if you belong to a club or facility). Look for classes that use lower compression balls which will help you quickly gain success and reawaken the muscle memory. 

Tip 4: Come back with a friend and get REWARDED! Tennis is all about fun with friends so bring them along with you. Having friends on court is always a reward because you get to spend time together, but we are making it even better. If you are registering for a USTA League and you refer a new or lapsed 18 to 39 year old player to a League team, you’ll get rewarded. More information is available here

Tip 5: Fire up your competitive spirit and join a USTA League. USTA League is the country’s largest adult competitive tennis league for players of all skill levels. You can check out the various local leagues that are registering now and contact the listed Local League Ambassador for information on how to get involved. You can also contact USTA Mid-Atlantic at leagues@mas.usta.com  and we will be able to help you get started in local leagues. 

Now that you have some tips, it is time to start planning your tennis comeback! If you already have a tennis comeback story, share it with us and inspire others from the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community! Contact Megan Driscoll with your story

We can’t wait to see you on the courts soon and hear your comeback story. Make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get all the latest about tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Physical Fitness Month: On Court Steps Challenge and Giveaway

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and what better way to celebrate than playing tennis! Spending time on the tennis court playing matches, practicing your serve and volleying the ball with friends and family can help you stay active this month and all year long. Also, research shows that tennis is better for your physical, mental and overall health, so now you have all the proof you need to pick that racquet up, get some tennis balls and get active!

USTA Mid-Atlantic has lots of ways you can add more tennis to your life. From adult tournaments and leagues to fun social tennis opportunities, there is always an opportunity to get on the court and play. To celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month we are sharing stories of how tennis helps people of all ages get and stay healthy and fit.

In honor of this special month, USTA Mid-Atlantic invites you to participate in a fun challenge and GIVEAWAY. We want to see how you are staying active in May through tennis. Get out there with your FitBit or Smartwatch on and then share photos on social media that show how many steps you took during your match or even while you are just hitting around and having fun! Use the hashtag #OnCourtSteps and tag USTA Mid-Atlantic!

This will be a fun and exciting way to see how players are constantly moving during the game. You can even make it a challenge with your teammates; make it a competition to see who took more steps during the match. Tennis is not only a game of focus, but a game of motion, and we encourage you to capture this motion by sharing the number of steps you took while playing the game.

To enter the GIVEAWAY, simply share a photo of your @FitBit or Smartwatch on Instagram or Facebook and tag @ustamas and in the caption or comments tell us how many #OnCourtSteps you got during your tennis match or outing. You will then be entered in the GIVEAWAY and have a chance to receive a USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis bag filled with recovery rollers, sunscreen, tennis balls, and other goodies. This offer is valued at $60 total.

The giveaway will run from Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 through Friday, May 31st, 2019 and a winner will be drawn at random and notified on June 3, 2019. The winner will be messaged directly through Facebook or Instagram in order to claim their prize.

We know that you are enjoying Physical Fitness month as much as we are by celebrating the benefits of tennis every week. Now it is time to share those moments with us on social media so we can celebrate together. Don’t miss this opportunity to enter this GIVEAWAY and have a chance to receive this awesome tennis goodie bag.

The specific rules of this giveaway are outlined below:

The contest will be announced on official USTA Mid-Atlantic social media platforms on May 15th and run through May 31, 2019.  Users can enter one of two ways:

1. On your public Instagram, post a photo and tag @ustamas and tell us how many steps you got during your tennis match or outing using #OnCourtSteps in the caption or comments.

2. On your public Facebook, post a photo and tag @ustamas and tell us how many steps you got during your tennis match or outing using #OnCourtSteps in the caption or comments.

  • Individuals can enter up to one time per week per platform. An individual may have eligible entries on multiple platforms within the same week. Each week is defined as beginning at 12:00am EST on Monday and ending at 11:59pm EST on Sunday. Week 1 of the contest will start May 15th. Week 2 of the contest will end at 11:59pm EST on May 19.
  • Among eligible entrants, one winner will be selected to receive a USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis bag and miscellaneous tennis gear with an equal value of $60. The winner will be selected by USTA Mid-Atlantic at random from eligible entrants.  
  • Winners will be notified via Facebook, or Instagram message and must respond with their address within 24 hours or a replacement winner will be chosen. By accepting the contest prize, winners agree to allow their photo and name to be shared on USTA Mid-Atlantic social media outlets.
  • OFFER VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. By submitting an entry, you agree to be bound by these rules and represent that you satisfy all eligibility requirements.
  • ELIGIBILITY: The Physical Fitness #OnCourtSteps  (the “Contest”) is open to residents of the United States over the age of 18. Employees and other representatives of USTA Mid-Atlantic Section (“USTA MAS”) or its affiliates, distributors, agencies, and members of each of their immediate families are not eligible to enter or win. Offer is void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • TIMING: Winners will be selected from submissions received within two weeks. The contest will begin on May 15, 2019, and the contest will conclude on May 31, 2019. To be eligible for submissions, entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2019. USTA MAS reserves the right to select no winners.
  • SELECTION OF WINNERS: Winners will be chosen at the discretion of the USTA MAS employees, by selection and random drawing. USTA MAS reserves the right, at its discretion, to disqualify any entry that does not comply with the rules or to disqualify any individual (and their entry) who tampers with the entry process.
  • WINNER VERIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by Facebook or Instagram message. If the winner is unreachable, ineligible or fails to claim the prize within forty-eight (48) hours after being contacted, such winner will forfeit the prize and the prize may be awarded to another winner, at the discretion of USTA MAS.
  • GENERAL CONDITIONS: Entrants grant to USTA MAS the right to use and publish their proper name online, in print or in any other media in connection with the Contest. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for USTA MAS to use winners’ names and likeness’ for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. By entering, participants release and hold harmless USTA MAS, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability for injuries, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the Contest or any prize won. Promotion is subject to the USTA Privacy Policy found at https://www.usta.com/en/home/about-usta/who-we- are/national/usta-privacy- policy.html?intloc=footer  A list of winners can be made available upon request.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook or Instagram