By: Ryan Segelke
Grand Slam Level Coach and
Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy
Located in Colorado, USA
Tennis Lessons Denver
Our vision at High Altitude Tennis Academy is not only to develop champion scholar-athletes, but also to help tennis parents learn how to best support their children. We know that if everyone is on the same page of the same book down to the specific letter of a sentence, that the student has a great chance of being successful and reaching their goals on and off the court.
This brings me to a story. James was a young, budding athlete who had a lot of success early on in his career in the 10’s and 12’s… most of this success was built off of natural talent and was done without a concrete training method or program. As time went on James hit a wall and began to lose much earlier than he was accustom to, and injuries began to creep into his game because of poor technique. This drove his father, Ron, up the wall. Ron was the type of parent we see so often… absolutely 100% caring and loving. The only problem was his identity had over time become part of his son James’ tennis results (wins and losses). Ron felt invigorated during his son’s wins and became more and more outwardly frustrated with his losses, inevitably effecting James’s performance as he grew more and more afraid of disappointing his father if he didn’t play his best. In some ways Ron was living and dying by each of his son’s matches, and it began to have an effect on their relationship.
It is my experience that this is likely how Ron’s father was with him… living his own sports tennis lessons denver dreams through him when he was a child, and now it’s a natural progression, hereditary if you will. I had met James and Ron many times at tournaments and we were always friendly… I was a cheerleader from a far. Seeing this pattern develop over time I wanted to help so I extended an invitation for James to tryout for our program. They accepted my invitation, applied, tried out and were accepted. This was the first time that James had experienced an elite program that had everything he ever needed. As with all students we took care of his daily tennis, fitness and mental skills. If he ever got injured we had a direct hotline number to our partner Children’s Hospital. After some time (and some initial struggle in stepping up his technique and work ethic), he reached his career high ranking!
Then one surprising afternoon Ron called me unannounced. He began describing to me (on the verge of tears) that this was the first time he had been able to enjoy his son’s tennis in a long time. He appreciated how much we looked after James, and how we had it “all handled”. Ron expressed that for the first time in years he could just be Dad and enjoy James’s journey.
Now that is success if you ask me!
Posted at 03:53 pm by HAT33
By: Ryan Segelke
Grand Slam Level Coach and
Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy
There is a player that stands out in the Boulder Tennis HAT community that I’d like to tell you about. For the sake of anonymity, we will call her Caroline. Caroline is someone who we have challenged physically, mentally and character-wise since her very first day with us about three years ago. Caroline, as expected, made some mistakes throughout her journey and her learning process. One particular day, she had reached a point in which she believed that she had it all figured out. With a smile, I walked up to Caroline and mentioned to her that it may be time for her to go to a generic, big-box tennis club or academy and that the focused and intensive training she was getting with us may be too much for her at this time. I, of course, would have been heartbroken if she actually decided to leave. Fortunately, that was the wake-up call she needed, and she has not looked back since. Her game has thrived because of it!
One of the most important lessons we continue to teach Caroline (and all of the HAT student body) is that she may know how to sell ice to an Eskimo, but in order for her to achieve the level of success she desires, she must be willing to put in the effort (or the “hard yards” as the Aussies say)!
This leads us to another question: don’t we as teachers also have to live by the same character standards that we teach our students? Wouldn’t following our own advice make us better people in every aspect of life? At HAT, we think so. And when we decided to officially make the transition to become a not-for-profit tennis academy, we viewed it as our opportunity to lead by example. If we ask our students to put in the effort to achieve what they want in life (and that talk is cheap), we must also be willing to walk the walk.
That is precisely why earlier this month we officially made the announcement to our HAT Family Members that it was time for a change. For our current families, it is not a very big change at all because the elite, progressive programming that they have grown to love will still remain intact. The only change is that in addition to the families who can afford our program, we will be raising money for qualified students from around the world who are in need of financial assistance (based on very objective and specific criteria). This will also allow us to raise money for industry-leading technology. For our team, this was a no-brainer and beneficial for all parties involved.
Let me conclude with this thought: do we really want our kids to live in an isolated world? Do we want them to live in a world lacking in cultural diversity or one that lacks the life experiences required to become the problem-solvers of tomorrow? At HAT, we are determined to widen the gap between the “typical” tennis academy that is purely out for profit and ourselves. We are an academy that is out to make a more meaningful difference for each ambitious student and supportive parent, whether it is in the budget or not. The biggest change in tennis over the past decade is that it has become a global sport. And HAT is dedicated to putting in the ACTION necessary to become a global academy. We want to be the vehicle that is able to make a lasting difference in each attendee’s life. That is the challenge we are facing in order to grow and change the competitive sport we all love so much – tennis!
Posted at 03:49 pm by HAT33
By: Ryan Segelke
Grand Slam Level Coach, CEO and
CO-Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy
WARNING: The following article is inspired and intentionally geared towards one specific Colorado Tennis High Altitude Tennis Academy student (but ALL of the following is applicable to anyone reading who is looking to achieve more — young or old, tennis player or non-tennis player, scholar or executive). Reader discretion is advised.
“You are a LOSER.” Donald Trump has uttered these four words to numerous people during his current run for the White House. I would bet that Donald Trump would also call Donald Young a “LOSER.”
Donald Young has had a career filled with adversity. He has battled with the USTA over issues that I won’t go in to in this article (you can Google it if interested). He’s had coaching issues, hype, not living up to that hype, and tremendous criticism from peers and fans. Donald Young has been on the ATP Tour for 11 years. During his 11-year career, he has amassed 126 losses against only 76 wins, with a fat goose egg (0) for career ATP titles. To put it simply: for every 10 times he walks onto a tennis court, he walks off the loser more than 6 times (a 64% losing percentage to be exact)!
Donald Trump did not actually call Donald Young a loser, but nearly every junior tennis player (and some tennis parents) likely would. I have a different perspective that I would invite you to consider: this is 100% NORMAL! Yet, it is my experience that the vast majority of players that apply and are accepted to HAT’s specialized colorado tennis program have an expectation that they are going to win all the time and rarely lose. This just isn’t true, and it is a very slippery slope for those who don’t learn to embrace daily growth over a results-oriented mentality.
It is difficult to win with this mindset. The feeling is that the results are never good enough, and it leads to frustration and eventually quitting for some. Life for anyone attempting to weave their way through it is filled with losses and failures that far outnumber their wins. Those who thrive have learned that losses are not failures but lessons. They are obstacles to conquer and mountains to climb, which, when accompanied by determination, discipline, and deliberate practice, can lead to great rewards. But this is only if you can endure the pain of the challenges put before you.
This means that nearly everyone who commits to the difficult journey will want to quit multiple times during the toughest days. Parents who fall into this trap get labeled as “shop and boppers” who forego loyalty for anyone willing to sell them on the “dream”. Donald Young could have quit, and no one would have blamed him given the tremendous pressure he put on himself and the pressure placed upon him by others – but he didn’t.
I would bet that, at more than one point in his life, he read a quote that also hangs from the High Altitude Tennis Courts: “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it will last forever.” Donald Young was willing to endure and step up to the challenges in front of him. He has built the character of a champion, and he is now reaping the rewards. He has made $330,000 so far this year and $2.4 million in his career. He just upset Thomas Berdych (currently ranked #6 in the world) in straight sets to advance to the round of 16 at the Rogers Cup in Canada. And he has something that will transfer to any career he chooses once his tennis career is over: the pride that he has earned, the respect of all of his peers on tour, his fans, and, most importantly, the confidence that he can do it.
“The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” What will you do? Will you stay in a fixed, results-oriented reality? Or, will you follow Donald Young’s powerful example and choose to engage in the journey of focused, small, incremental improvements? It’s 100% your choice, and you will have to live with your decision. There is no one else to blame, no excuses to make — the choice is all yours. Let me know how it goes!! If this article hit home for you, share it with me. I want to hear it!
Posted at 03:45 pm by HAT33