From Student to Instructor: Lessons Learned from RAC Tennis
Tennis is often referred to as a lifetime sport and our program here at the Rochester Athletic Club reflects that from our beginning Mini RACquets classes for 3 year olds to our 50+ Drill & Play courses. As the newest and youngest tennis professional here I can’t yet speak with experience how courses like the 50+ Drill & Play are going to affect me as a player or a person, but I can share my experiences of making the transition from high school tennis player, to college player, and then out into the real world as an instructor.
As a high school tennis player participating in the ACE program here at the club there were the obvious perks of socialization with other players, access to indoor courts, and the opportunity to play a sport you love. At the time I often did not realize that what I was learning at that moment would help me both later on and off the court. While there are countless life skills and lessons I take with me there is one that stands out in particular: attention to detail. Something that I once took for granted is now an integral part of how I go about my career, relationships, physical health, and my tennis game.
Persistence was another very valuable lesson. Growing up in an extremely tough conference with highly competitive players, I prided myself on always running down every ball. This level of effort and drive was cultivated through the ACE program. From being a freshman coming off of a serious knee injury, to eventually attaining the high end of the starting line, that asset served me well. No one expected the girl with two knee braces to run down a drop shot lob combination. This experience helped me develop a philosophy of never giving up and I Iearned how to persevere to overcome obstacles and hardships in both career and personal ventures.
The base of attention to detail and never giving up set the foundation for my college tennis career. In many ways these lessons eased my transition into a higher level of play. I believe they also ultimately pushed me further in matches in which I may have had an underdog complex - whether I was competing against a returning upperclassmen or a ranked opponent.
Now as a college graduate returning to the ACE program I can see things from a different perspective. I can see both opportunities I should have capitalized on, such as unlimited access to a full gym and weight room, and the ones where I excelled, such as using ACE court time every chance I got. I can also now, from experience, actively endorse which attitudes, efforts, and programs will be the most beneficial in college for the athletes I teach.
At the Rochester Athletic Club all junior development courses have evaluation segments within their programming, both written and verbal. These are tools used to assess each player on their individual skills and abilities both on and off the court. By breaking down every aspect of tennis from something as crucial as a serve to start a game, down to whether or not they shake hands at the end of match, the player is able to grow not only physically but also mentally.
The methods of these evaluation tools are constantly changing to give each player the best chance of understanding and improving their game. What is communicated is then consistently drilled, repeated, and encouraged throughout private lessons, match play, and group classes. At times it may seem like this evaluation process is overbearing and nagging, especially to a young athlete, but from experience I believe it is what creates success.
Over time, I have grown to appreciate even more the instructors we have here. In the college world there are coaches, professors, and bosses all there to help you succeed, but not quite at the same level of supervision. Coach Tacl isn’t there to remind you to execute quick yet efficient feet in recovering and getting to the next ball after every sloppy point. Coach Tetzloff isn’t there to crack a joke when you just can’t seem to get that forehand over the net and cross court. Coach Crossley isn’t there to encourage positive body language after every point no matter the score. Now while we may not have these hallmark coaches in our ears throughout our college experience, the goal is to retain and apply the messages they have taught us.
Returning to the tennis program here at the Rochester Athletic Club as an instructor has brought my tennis career to full circle. I now see that there are always opportunities to apply the professional’s shared knowledge to a later circumstance. To me, it comes down to the details and whether or not the individual player decides to focus on them. The tools and opportunities are there for each and every player that comes through our program to maximize their potential both as a player and as a well rounded person.
Katie was born in Eustis, Florida. She grew up in Florida and California, eventually landing in Minnesota where she attended Rochester John Marshall High School and then Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She was a dual sport athlete in both high school and college playing softball and tennis. Now after graduating she continues to coach both sports. Katie enjoys traveling, sports, family, and friends.
Contact Katie Krull