Note from MHSTeCA's President - Winter 2017

Passing Shots

Dear Coaches,

First of all I want to thank Ron Landfair on a job well done as President of our coaches association. As I take over as our association's 21st President I aim to look for ways to grow and improve our sport. We have many great coaches in our state and together we will continue to come up with new ideas to make tennis the awesome lifetime sport it is.

Our numbers in boys tennis have been declining and we need to come up with ideas to grow our sport. If a school drops tennis, it is very hard to get it back up running again. It starts with our elementary and middle schools where we need to talk to the gym teachers to make sure they have a session for tennis. With foam balls and the mini nets that are available it is much easier and safer playing tennis in the gym than the old days with real tennis balls. There are numerous resources available online with drills and ideas on how to run a class with the foam balls. When I was teaching at Eastside Tennis and Fitness Club, Gary Bodenmiller contacted the elementary schools and we went in and ran their tennis session. We were able to grow our program doing this. If anyone has any ideas on growing our numbers please get them to me so I can pass it on to our Board of Directors.

On February 2-4 we had our Michigan Tennis Coaches Workshop at the Troy Marriott and it was a great success. Peter and Amanda Militzer are to be commended for putting this great event on after taking over for Bob Wood and Gary Bodenmiller. This is a big task and the event was enjoyed by all. It's always great to learn another technique or pick up a new drill, but getting to see old friends and meeting new ones is always a favorite of mine. I want to congratulate Jim Hanson (Novi), Joe Marazita (Niles Brandywine), Dave Gaspar (Chesaning), and Rick Fedoruk (Berrien Springs) on their Hall of Fame induction. The banquet Friday night was inspiring and it is always great hearing their stories on what made them a success. Without these great men tennis would never be the same in their communities.

The girls season is right around the corner with March 13th the first day of practice. As head coaches make sure you have done a rules meeting, are CPR certified, and have taken the concussion protocol. When you are doing your challenge matches please keep a record of all scores and have them with you in case coaches question your lineup. I know the weather in the spring can drastically reduce our practice time, but I am going to offer some advice on challenge matches. I greatly frown upon one set or short sets to determine a position, especially if it is close. If you only do one set to determine a position and it is close, you are doing an injustice to the players, especially if they have worked hard in the off season. I normally play almost all my matches after the break. This gives me ample time for my challenge matches and to make sure my lineup is in the correct order. My requirement for securing a position is you must win two, two out of three set matches for the spot unless the original challenge match was not close. I believe this gives my players a fair shot at the position and justifies my lineup. If you are having a tough time figuring out the bottom of your doubles lineup, take four girls and have them play one set with each player. Total up the games and usually the strongest doubles player will prevail. You can do this with numerous players as well with the top two scores moving up and the bottom two go down until you find a pattern where the same individuals usually have the best scores. Then you can match up teams and do your challenges to establish 1-4 doubles. There are other ways to establish a lineup, but I wanted to share what has worked for me.

Dan Hutcheson has replaced Gina Mazzolini as our tennis representative at the MHSAA. I will be working closely with him in the next two years to insure the success of tennis in Michigan. He is currently looking into purchasing an on-line score recording system for all teams in our state. If purchased, all teams will be required to record all matches on this site. Failure to do so will more than likely have the school penalized, which is yet to be determined. We will have the ability to check scores from across the state and this will greatly help all when it comes to seeding. I will keep you posted on this.

If you are a new coach and would like advice on running your program, contact Jim Niebling from Portland and he will find someone in your area to mentor you.

I am going to put out a pre-season ranking for all four divisions at the end of March. Please contact me with information in regards to this so the rankings can be as as accurate as possible.

Good luck in your season and I look forward to being your President for the next two years.

Mark Sobieralski
President, MHSTeCA