In 2017, the USTA (United State Tennis Association) invited the USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association), a tennis teaching organization in Houston, to join them in being part of the new National Tennis Center at Lake Nona, Orlando, FL.
In developing their vision for the USTA National Campus, the USTA understood how important it was to the sport’s future for them to be successful in engaging kids. For tennis to attract and retain today’s youth and millennials, they needed to increase and improve their provider network to deliver the sport in modern and relevant ways. As a result, the USTA National Campus is being operated with the aim of developing the next generation of tennis providers, a group that includes coaches, tournament directors, officials, front desk and retail managers, and stringers. To help make this happen, the campus is serving as an epicenter for experimential learning by offering internships and apprenticeships. They also share educational content of all types with tennis providers.
The USTA National Campus is an inclusive facility and is making sure they are making tennis accessible to all. The campus is open to the public seven days a week, and courts can be reserved online up to 48 hours in advance. The courts and tennis programs are low cost, with some being made available for free.
The facility has courts of almost every description–three kinds of hard courts and two kinds of clay courts. The Adidas Performance Center features six indoor courts while the Nemours Family Zone has 36-foot and 60-foot courts for youths and adults to learn to play the game.
Whether people who visit the facility are competing in a tournament, looking to develop their backhand, seeking to improve their coaching, or simply sharing the joy of hitting tennis balls with family or friends, all who come are finding it to be a mecca for tennis and a melting pot for the sport. Tennis programs are also being offered for disabled veterans and wounded service members in collaboration with the Orlando Veteran Affairs Medical Center as well as for wheelchair tennis.
Tennis is the most amazing sport. If you love team sports, tennis is for you; if you love individual sports, tennis is for you. You can play socially or competitively. The USTA has specialists who know how to teach, how to get anyone to play. Everyone can learn to throw and catch a ball. That’s how we begin when teaching tennis, learn how to run, how to turn, how to change direction quickly, how to reach, how to look and see. Tennis can strengthen your body, keep you in good health and help your posture.
Although I’m a retired USPTA member, Tom and I hit when we can. Nothing replaces that glorious feeling of being on the tennis court and hitting that ball. Some folks work out in the gym to tone the body. Some become runners to tone agility and speed.
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Tennis on my mind. The Australian Open begins the tennis season in January in a summer place, while we have snow and ice surrounds here in the Northeast. I’ve been involved with tennis since 1973, so I’ve seen it have those swings, pardon the pun, from hot to cold, and I’m not talking about temperature. Tennis courts so busy, you couldn’t find one to play on, to so many courts and no one interested to play. This has come full circle. Tennis is in again. Play tennis . . . a great exercise and mind challenging game. In 1918, NYC’s Racquet and Tennis club, designed by McKim, Mead and White, very much the palace style of architecture,
Racquet and Tennis club 370 Park Avenue, NYC-
Renaissance Revival. A popular style in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Italian Renaissance Revival
Low-pitched hipped or flat roof.
Impressive size and scale.
Round arch entrance and windows.
Classical details: columns, pilasters.
Roof line parapet or balustrade.
Arcaded and rusticated ground level.
Surprised me, I have never visited this beautiful club in NYC. After all, I’m a certified USPTA tennis teaching pro, and have played tennis in most states, and in London, and Bangladesh. And I taught History of Architecture at the university level. I wonder how many pros have been there?
On the fourth and fifth floors what is really special about the Racquet Club is on display. On the south end are two court tennis courts, something like indoor tennis courts but with some odd angles and sloping walls. Court tennis involves rebounds off all four walls, changing boundaries, second chances and other arcane rules more like chess than regular tennis.A link from Google Maps for your perusal. The roof is glass: http://bit.ly/2j9Zy0p,
The interior contained three dining rooms, a billiard room, library, lounge, gymnasium, four squash courts, two court tennis (real tennis) courts, and two racquets courts. Today, there are four International squash courts, one North American doubles squash court, one racquets court, and the two court (real) tennis courts.
The club sold its air rights on Park Avenue to a developer a number of decades ago, resulting in the unusual sight, for New York, of a glass-clad skyscraper rising in the middle of the block, immediately behind the club.
If it interests you to know details, Wikipedia has a handle on them.
Forget Federer & Nadal and Borg versus McEnroe. According to Marshall Jon Fisher who wrote Terrible Splendor, convincingly demonstrates that the greatest tennis match of all time was Gottried Von Cramm versus Don Budge in the 1937 Davis Cup semifinals. At our visit to the Newport Casino this past weekend, we took a tour of the newly renovated Newport Tennis Hall of Fame. Our tour guide Liz, an avid tennis player and former nun, knew her tennis history well. She spoke about Fisher’s book and told us that Von Cramm got a call from the Fuhrer (Hitler) before the match. He wished him luck, and said, “Win for the Fatherland.” Budge won that one, a year later Von Cramm disappeared. Knowing what we know, his disappearance makes you wonder, doesn’t it? This was a fascinating tale, and so is tennis history.
Played off that wall, Real Tennis circa 12th century
Tennis began with the use of your palm in France in the 12th century in the monastic cloisters. By the 16th century rackets appeared and was being called real tennis. Francis I of France (1515-45) was an enthusiastic player and promoter of real tennis, as it was called then. It was played indoors where the ball could be hit off the wall, like squash and racquet ball is played today. History has it that King Henry VIII was playing tennis when his wife Ann Bolin was taken away and beheaded. When he tired of them, he disposed of his wives in this uncouthly manner. Guess polygamy was not a preferred sport.
Between 1859 and 1865, in Birmingham, England, Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game Pelota and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, both men moved to Leamington Spa and in 1874, with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, founded the world’s first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club. It made its way outdoors in 1874 and was played on grass.
This looks like serious tennis.
In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, designed and patented a similar game. His idea was to outline the territory, and have a net dividing the two different sides. He wrote an eight-page rule book. The court had an hour-glass shape with a 4’-8” net, higher than today’s 36” center height and 42″ at the net posts. The way it is today is pretty close to Major Wingfield’s ideas. Scoring is not though. He wanted a 1, 2, 3, 4 simple scoring, but we have 15, 30, 40, game. It’s more involved than that, but you’ll find out quick enough when you learn to play and get on that court.
hourglass tennis court, originally designed by Major Wingfield
Major Wingfield, Father of Tennis
Who was the Father of Tennis? A question on my written test in 1977 for the USPTA.* This image on the right is Major Wingfield, the Father of Tennis.
Remember white balls and wooden racquets?
Tennis Birthplace of first lawn tennis Edgbaston club
In order to become a professional teaching member of the USPTA, you must pass a written and on-court exam. I took the test, passed, and still have my certification to teach tennis. I did teach for many years, played too. Intense, but fun, met great people, great players, even did a watercolor painting for the USPTA’s 75th anniversary. Went to conferences, Forest Hills, sat in the best seats. But you know, you do not have to pass tests to play. If you don’t play, you are missing a great game, a sport that gives you fabulous competition, keeps those synapses growing, and good exercise while you swiftly run to hit the ball. There are ways to hold the racquet, stroke the ball, body positions are critical, hearing and seeing the ball, and how the racquet is strung all matter. The game of tennis is just like playing chess, but the physical part adds another challenge.
If you enlarge the image above, you’ll see numbers that identify the players.
Left to right – top to bottom:
Top: 1. Jimmy Connors, 2. Chris Evert, 3. Jack Kramer, 4. Billie Jean King, 5. Roscoe Tanner (serving), 6. Pam Shriver
Bottom: 7&8. Two anonymous players in backcourt, 9. John McEnroe, 10. Peter Fleming, 11. Arthur Ashe, 12. Fred Perry, 13. Rod Laver, 14. Althea Gibson, 15. Stan Smith
I don’t want to forget to mention a great woman and athlete, Althea Gibson, who coached me for three years, at the Northvale Tennis Club in New Jersey. Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was an American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. “She is one of the greatest players who ever lived,” said Robert Ryland, a tennis contemporary and former coach of Venus and Serena Williams. “Martina couldn’t touch her. I think she’d beat the Williams sisters.” In the early 1960s she also became the first black player to compete on the women’s professional golf tour.
Althea Gibson 1980’s
Venus & Serena Williams
Yellow balls, so you can see the balls when playing on grass. White got lost.
Watching an intense match from the stands is dramatic, who do you want to win, and why. It’s a tough sport. Takes a good number of years to teach your muscles how to hit that ball and keep it in the court and away from your opponent. There are different types of tennis surfaces, grass, clay, carpet (no longer used), hard court and wood. I have played on all the surfaces. They all play differently, the ball bounce is different depending on the player and conditions.
Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI
Borg & McEnroe, friendly foes today!
*United States Professional Tennis Association
Do you play tennis? What’s your favorite sport to play or watch?
Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, and then there’s Putney. You probably know what state these towns are in. The town we visited was Putney. Putney is anything but a sleepy town in Vermont. But, this town has no supermarket. I couldn’t believe it. What, where will we buy our food? How can I prepare our meals if there is no food, where’s the supermarket, or grocery store or something? No worries. Tucked away around a corner was their Co-op that calls itself a grocery store.
The popular Captain getting his garden ready to plant.
The Putney Co-op is a full service, community owned grocery store and deli. It’s been around for more than seventy years. You can buy all kinds of fresh food, grown locally, delicious baked good and hefty sandwiches. A little pricy, but everything is fresh. Then, of course, just in case you can’t get to the next town Brattleboro, with their supermarket, seven miles or so away, there are staples of all types. The General Store and Pharmacy has all kinds of necessaries and first aid items like peroxide and bandaids and tweezers to get out splinters. Here there’s a store called “Basketville,” and known, obviously, for it’s woven baskets. It also sells necessaries, and handmade rocking chairs. And candy. And rugs. And toothpaste. This is what the brochure says about Basketville. A landmark store . . . a browser’s paradise, vast and barnlike, full of handcrafted items for the home. You never know what you’ll find down the next aisle. Whatever you find, it’s probably a bargain. They pride themselves on outlet prices, workshop direct deals, and frequent specials. The international basket collection includes exotic new imports from Africa and Cambodia. The store is100% solar powered. We were amazed at the selections. Fun. The drugstore, within another store, the general store, and the co-op all think they are cafe’s. There are sit-down areas to eat, drink and socialize. It’s all very strange.
There’s even a waterfall in town. It’s mini, like everything else, but it is a waterfall. Makes noise like a waterfall, feels like a waterfall, smells like a waterfall. It’s even wonderful to stand nearby and feel the cool spray as it pours into the canal.
Private tennis court in the middle of nowhere.
For those of you who know, tennis has been part of my life, and Tom’s. Upon exploration, we found a private tennis court. There is enough land to grow several tennis courts, but this one was right near that red roof barn in the first image above, in the middle of nowhere. No, we didn’t invite ourselves. Perhaps, if we had our tennis racquets . . .
This trip to Putney, Vermont, was for a painting workshop for me. Since flowers are not always my first choice to paint, I opted for this workshop because the emphasis was flowers. You can figure that one out, can’t you?
Putney barn studio
Gail’s Pansy set-up
So here’s the interior of the Putney barn studio and flowers to select for our set-ups .
You are probably wondering where we hunkered down at the end of each intense workshop day. Our accommodations were right below this studio.
It was a busy week. There were seven of us, and our workshop leader standing in the middle of the studio, Stephanie Birdsall, an amazing artist and instructor. Google her if you want to know more about her work. We loved our workshop, and found new friends.
Gail’s Pansy oil painting 9×12 using set-up above
Putney barn exterior
In this barn, we had a lovely apartment on the first level just under the studio. It’s the first set of lower windows, We had a bedroom, full bathroom, sitting room, and full kitchen. Brand, spanking new, we were the first guests. It was comfortable, clean, lovely, and had full views of the vast landscape.
Here’s more images. Wonderful, not so sleepy town, Putney, Vermont. Do you have a favorite town in Vermont?
The Rod Laver Tennis Stadium has nothing to do with the Sydney Opera House, except while watching the players at this important tennis event this week in Melbourne, I thought about how dedicated Australia is to sports, architecture and the arts. I was reminded of a spectacular edifice in the architectural world 550 miles away in Sydney.
In 1957, Utzon unexpectedly won the competition to design the Sydney Opera House. His submission was one of 233 designs from 32 countries, many of them from the most famous architects of the day. Although he had won six other architectural competitions previously, the Opera House was his first non-domestic project. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, described it as “genius” and declared he could not endorse any other choice. When it was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, Utzon became only the second person to have received such recognition for one of his works during his lifetime.
The Sydney Opera House Photo by Biarte Sorensen
Looking like wind-filled sails,12 white cement shells up to nearly 200 feet (160 meters) high stand on a deck of natural stone at the tip of a tongue of land extending into Sydney harbor, irrational and without any direct function but to arouse emotion. Yet they have become the symbol not just for Sidney but for the whole fifth continent. They stand in two rows on top of the “experience zone,” the concert hall, opera theatre, stage theatre, two foyers and main restaurant. The horizontally layered building underneath contains several stones of servicing departments for all the “experiences.” Utzon’s 1956 design for the Opera House won him the international competition and the contract to build it. Utzon’s designs puts him in the company of the organic tradition of architects, Wright, Scharoun, Asplund and Aalto.
Opera House interior view
The new Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, was not enthusiastic about the project. Elizabeth Farrelly, Australian architecture critic, has written that at an election night dinner party, Hughes’s daughter, Sue Burgoyne, boasted that her father would soon sack Utzon. Hughes had no interest in art, architecture or aesthetics. A fraud, as well as a philistine, he had been exposed before Parliament and dumped as Country Party leader for falsely claiming a university degree. The Opera House gave Hughes a second chance. For him, as for Utzon, it was all about control, about the triumph of homegrown mediocrity over foreign genius.
Utzon soon found himself in conflict with the new Minister. Attempting to rein in the escalating cost of the project, Hughes began questioning Utzon’s capability, his designs, schedules and cost estimates, refusing to pay running costs. In 1966, after a final request from Utzon that plywood manufacturer Ralph Symonds should be one of the suppliers for the roof structure was refused, he resigned from the job, closed his Sydney office and vowed never to return to Australia. When Utzon left, the shells were almost complete, and costs amounted to only $22.9 million. Following major changes to the original plans for the interiors, costs finally rose to $103 million.However, the Opera House was finally completed, and was opened in 1973 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The architect was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name even mentioned during any of the speeches. He was, however, to be recognized later when he was asked to design updates to the interior of the opera house. The Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated in October 2004. In a statement at the time Utzon wrote: “The fact that I’m mentioned in such a marvellous way, gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don’t think you can give me more joy as the architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have gotten.” Furthermore, Frank Gehry, one of the Pritzker Prize judges, commented: “Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinarily malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”
What do you love most, architecture, the arts, tennis or something else? If you had to pick, which would it be? If something else, what is it?
Henry VIII Chateau. Tennis was played on the inside courts.
The word “Tennis” came into use in English in the mid-13th century from Old French, via the Anglo-Norman Term Tenez. By poet John Gower in his poem titled In Praise of Peace dedicated to King Henry IV and composed in 1400. “Of the tenetz to winne or lese a chase, Mai no lif wite er that the bal be ronne”. (Whether a chase is won or lost at tennis, Nobody can know until the ball is run).
Tennis in Newport, RI
Tennis is mentioned in literature as far back as the Middle Ages. In The Second Shepherd’s Play (c. 1500) shepherds gave three gifts, including a tennis ball, to the newborn Christ. it’s been said that the early tennis balls were made from wool. The Medieval form of tennis is termed as Real Tennis. Real tennis evolved over three centuries from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France.
King Henry VIII
Royal interest in England began with Henry V (1413–22).
Henry VIII (1509–47) made the biggest impact as a young monarch; playing the game with gusto at Hampton Court on a court he built in 1530. It is believed that his second wife Anne Boleyn was watching a game when she was arrested and that Henry was playing when news of her execution arrived. During the reign of James I (1603–25), London had 14 courts.
From the royal courts of England and France to centre court at Wimbledon, from Henry VIII to Federer the great, the game of tennis is steeped in history and tradition. The precise origins of tennis are disputed, with some historians dating it back to Ancient Egypt. According to the official website for “Royal Tennis,” the game was played in the fifth century Tuscany in Italy when villagers struck balls in the street with their bare hands. A more definable version was played by European monks, mostly in Italy and later France, in the 12th century, based around a closed courtyard. Francis I of France, who reigned from 1515-47, was reputedly an enthusiastic player and was responsible for the building of many courts and also promoted the sport among a wider cross section of people.
Federer the great
Yale bowl has tennis in New Haven this week. We had tickets and great seats through my good friend, Lorraine. We got there early, had a bite to eat, Ben and Jerry’s low fat Banana Peanut Butter frozen yogurt… OMG. Walked around picking up trinkets and freebies, when just as the matches were scheduled to begin at 7 pm, it began to rain.
The ticket holders held their breath. Will it stop raining?
Would they get to see tennis? We all stood huddled under the eaves. Finally… the rain stopped some. Wait again… finally… it stopped. A parade of high schoolers came out with squeegees and began drying the courts. Followed by fifteen leaf-blowers, controlled by fifteen high schoolers, finishing the job, when it began to rain again. This time they used towels as well as blowers to dry the courts. It was fascinating to watch this process. So the first match between Caroline Wazniacki of Denmark and Shuai Peng of China began around 9 pm. Shortly after, they announced the second match of the night was cancelled, and moved to the next day. Ms. Wasniacki was favored to win, but readily lost the first set 6-2. Wasniacki was ahead 3-0 in the second set when Peng called the trainer to her chair. We watched in horror while they took her blood pressure. We are big tennis buffs and had never seen this before. Something was very wrong. No… she got up and went back to play, She was serving, ran up, returned the ball, but bent over, possibly dizzy. She tried serving once more, and won her serve. Next thing we knew, she shook her head, called her opponent over, shook hands and retired from play. Peng announced she could not continue. So we spent about five hours in New Haven and watched less than an hour of tennis. Unexpected entertainment, fun of sorts, or was it sort of fun?
William the Conqueror, I wonder if he played tennis? He sure had enough castles to play in. Next week we’ll have a visit there. For now, here’s a fun video to watch if you have a few minutes. Tennis, watch Real Tennis for your enjoyment.
Do you play? What do you ‘love’ about tennis, besides a score of LOVE/40, yours?
Mark, a USPTA colleague, sat behind us at Yale…, it was fun to meet a fellow member United States Professional Tennis Association. The USPTA is the largest and most prestigious professional tennis teaching organization in the country. Teaching and playing tennis was a significant part of my life. They had asked me to execute a painting for their 75th Anniversary. It was wonderful to create the watercolor for them.
What? I lost again. I have the best coach, I serve hundreds of balls, hit with my partner, practice my strategy. How come I lost again?
I am talking about tennis. But it could be any sport. Or anything? What keeps any of us from walking away with the trophy? Could it be a head trip? What are you thinking when you hit that ball? The difference between a good player and a great player has to be mental. It makes sense. You beat all the club players, but when you play in those tournaments, it all goes downhill.
And the higher you reach, the more you need mental stamina. You might have a tough exterior, but what about your interior? Your inner workings need toughness. Even if you are a Roger Federer, or a Rafael Nadal., or a Tiger Woods. How do they stay at the top? Physically … mentally. You need confidence, persistence, tenacity and most of all, focus.
I met Jane, a terrific tennis player, in interior design school so many years ago that I’m not saying. We traveled NYC together, studied together, built projects together. And in the summer, we hit the ball. I had just started playing and loved it. Jane asked if I’d like to learn. She had just passed a rigorous exam by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). I gawked at her, my jaw
dropped, and asked, “You teach tennis?”
Long story short, I practiced, practiced and practiced. Then I took that same USPTA exam and passed. Became pretty proficient, but I never could beat Jane. Even though she said, “What’s the matter with you? You’re now a better player than me.” She was my teacher, my coach, my playing partner, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t beat her. I never did. Head trip. And … I taught tennis for years before I was consumed by my career in interior design.
There are mental training specialists, not psychologists or psychiatrists. In my tennis organization there are those for just this purpose. Mental training is a critical part of success.
The Red Door Spa embodies the spirit of good health. The time spent is worth gold. The atmosphere is not perfumed, but yet it has the virtual scents of rest, spiritual awareness, and clean sparkling water.
The first stop on our trip south was Marriott’s richly decorated Fairway Villas in Galloway, NJ, just outside Atlantic City. The Red Door Spa is on the grounds, just a driveway walk away. The spa complex has a great workout gym and pool as part of the Marriott resort with five tennis and two golf courses nearby.
We stopped at the villas for a few days in early December. I decided to spend one of those days relaxing at the spa. So, taking a few hours away from my writing, I headed to the Red Door for hours of self-indulgence along with an Arden group talk and makeup demo, a magical way to discover new products. Of course, you need not ponder, I volunteered my face for the demo. Nothing new this time. Same ol’ face.
Red Door Fifth Avenue New York City
The Red Door originated in New York City, have salons and spas at all Marriott locations. Gorgeous space – current, clean, spacious, and bright with natural light. Before my services started, I was led to the “Relaxation Room”, which is a very cool room with comfy chairs, magazines, tea/water, etc. A very nice start to the treatment! The pedicure and manicure chairs were comfortable, and they offered aromatic neck warmers to wear. The nail technician was friendly, but I especially liked Lisa, who treated me. She was friendly, caring, and attentive. She even remembered me, even though it’s been at least six months since I was last there. If it appeals to you they have healing therapies, delicious coffees, teas and biscotti, and the most delicious water I have ever tasted.
Galloway has become a favorite place for us as it is only a three hour drive. Shea’s, an amazing breakfast place nearby is a must. We cannot go to Galloway and not go there for breakfast. Stuffed French toast, filled with cream cheese. Sorry, no description can serve it well. Breakfast at Shea’s is an experience.
Shea’s Stuffed French Toast w/candied walnuts and real whip cream (OMG)
If you want to visit Shea’s Cafe & Bakery for their sumptuous breakfasts here’s the place:
Address: 195 S New York Rd, Galloway, NJ 08205
More of our trip south to come …
Have you ever done a spa? What’s your favorite at a spa? Better still, which is more fun, a spa or a sumptuous breakfast?