Tag Archives: tennis

Tennis, Family and Caregiving


This post will be boring to anyone but my mother but I feel like writing it so I don’t forget.

I turned 47 on Thursday. Hannah qualified for states for the 2nd year so I got to drive her to Hershey, PA for the tournament on that day. We were all together for the weekend, which was the best birthday gift ever.

Hannah’s a natural goal-setter and despite not training during the off-season (the kid got a little burned out on junior tournaments and clinics) she’s had a great high school tennis career. Let me brag here because she won’t do it herself. She is a 3x section champion and a 4x district qualifier. She qualified for states twice and was the district runner-up this year. I think her regular season record is 33-3 for her career.

Her goal this season was to win one more match at each tournament than the previous season. She did that in the district tournament by playing in the final and she exceeded that goal at the state tournament by finishing 4th!

Hannah Phillips Tennis States


My cousin was generous enough to stay with my aunt for two nights so my mom could come, too. Another gift. It meant a lot to Hannah that she was there.

I have incredible support from my closest family. I could never have offered to take care of my aunt in my home without it. It takes some extra planning and preparation to leave her for a couple of days-even in the best hands-but it all worked out.

Congratulations to Hannah. We’re all so proud of you!


Don’t Listen To Your Parents!

Niyi Sobo Imnotyou.com

Olaniyi Sobomehin from Imnotyou.com


You might be surprised that a middle-aged mother of 4 teenagers completely agrees with this advice by Niyi Sobo, former running back for the New Orleans Saints, who trains elite young athletes to dominate their sport.

Before you get all up in arms….of course, he doesn’t mean kids should disobey their parents or disregard their rules and values.

He’s suggesting that most people surrounding a young athlete trying to reach the highest level of his sport haven’t been there. Or worse, people-even coaches- inadvertently discourage and limit an athlete’s potential by being “honest” (“you’re not big, fast, strong, skilled, smart enough“).

Let’s face it, most coaches are barely qualified to coach a sport. Many programs rely on parent volunteers or choose a coach based on availability only. Others in travel programs know how to run a business but may not have the expertise to help a kid develop all the components required to compete at the highest level (conditioning, mental, emotional, logistical, strength, etc.)

When I told Mark (my husband and Luke’s tennis coach) that I agree with this, even as it relates to Luke’s goals for tennis, naturally he was offended because he misunderstood the statement.

Mark definitely has the expertise to train Luke technically and strategically to continue to improve his tennis game no matter how far he goes.

Even Mark had to admit that neither of us has navigated the path of national tennis tournaments to where it might lead Luke. Mark excelled in D-3 tennis but that’s not the same as D-1. Plus, the landscape has changed so much in the past 30 years, our experience in college recruiting, admissions, even visiting is hardly relevant. Moreover, while Mark emphasizes the importance of conditioning, nutrition, visualization, discipline and internal motivation to all of his students, none of those is his area of expertise.

So, what should we do? Mark will still coach Luke but we also have to keep an eye out for (or stalk) people who HAVE been there and hope that they’re willing to mentor Luke.

In addition to some one-on-one coaching, we’ll be checking out a course that Niyi Sobo’s creating to expose young athletes all over the world to his principals and method of goal-setting, discipline and visualization to get results. (I’m not training for anything, but I’m interested in learning this stuff, myself)

Other than that, I’ll just keep buying cereal, enjoy watching Luke play and make him mow the lawn every now and again.


Junior Tennis-Growing Up


I had the opportunity to travel with Luke to a big tournament a few weeks ago. It was the USTA section championship for his age group. He won the singles and doubles titles, either of which would have been great. Coming home with both titles was beyond his expectations but not beyond what he knew he was capable of.

Interestingly, this tournament means more in terms of ranking and his future in tennis than placing third in the state high school tournament. But he definitely got more notoriety in the neighborhood and in the press for the high school tournament. Funny.

I love to watch Luke play anytime but it was especially enjoyable because he was so consistent and confident in this tournament. He was focused on each match and what he had to do. I noticed that nearly every opponent was frustrated that Luke was just making great shots. They would just say to themselves out loud “what am I supposed to do against that?!” Which was kind of fun.

As the boys are getting older, they actually give credit to great play rather than beating themselves up for not winning every point. That’s what I mean by the title of this post (“Junior Tennis-Growing Up”)

Luke played the final against one of his best friends who lives on the other side of the state. For all my complaints about the elitist nature and inaccessibility of junior tennis at this level, one thing I love about it is the good friends he’s making. Social media and texting keep them connected between tournaments.

His opponent has been mowing down the competition and winning most matches easily in the past few months (including placing second in the state high school tournament) so Luke was looking forward to a shot at him. He knew he had to play well with limited mistakes and he was able to do that.

Luke squeeked out the first set in a tie-breaker (9-7), was down 1-2 in the second when they had to stop for rain. Then came out guns-ablazing after the delay to win 6-3.

People ask if I get nervous and I really don’t. I’m so happy for him that he won the tournament but truly it was such a good match that either one of them could have walked away with the trophy and I would have been proud of both of them. As in, “thanks for the entertainment.”

I discovered that I would rather watch Luke play a harder opponent than one that he can beat easier who puts on a show (drama, questionable line calls, beats himself up after every mistake). Even if Luke’s winning handily, I never enjoy watching those kids play.

The other thing I don’t enjoy is watching kids tank and it happens in tennis more than almost every other sport except golf (Norman/Faldo anybody?). Even when it’s in Luke’s favor, ugh. Don’t like seeing it.

So, congratulations to Luke and Michael. I really mean it.

Full disclosure, Luke played in the B18 L3 the following weekend and did about as well as he expected. Actually, he would have liked to have won a competitive match against another friend (and arch nemesis since they were little) but I think he was pooped from the previous weekend.

Junior Tennis~Congratulations Luke!

Our Adventures With Junior Tennis Continues….

I’ve posted before about Luke playing competitive tennis. Although he had a successful high school tennis season in the spring, most kids at this level are playing for national ranking.

He’s been on the radar (meaning he reached a national ranking) about 2 years ago, give or take.

Competing at this level is a grind. It takes endurance and discipline in so many areas. I don’t care what anyone says, tennis is the most demanding all-around sport physically and mentally.

Luke hit a rough patch this summer by not competing as well as he wanted to but he definitely has goals.

He’s had big wins in the past but hasn’t enjoyed that for a while. He mostly suffered some unexpected and disappointing losses. I spent plenty of time trying to convince him that every athlete has those and he should expect them throughout his tennis-playing days. In my view, they signal growth.

Last weekend he finally won a sectional tournament at his home club. It was nice for all of us because he has lost some heart-breakers at home, too.

Hannah asked me to record the last game of the first set which he won 7-5. He won the second set in a tie-breaker. Surprising since I call Luke the “King of Splits” meaning he plays a lot of 3rd sets.

I’m posting a video both because I’m proud and I think tennis is such a beautiful sport to watch at this level. True poetry in motion! This blog is also a good repository. If it’s here, it might not get lost.

Luke’s in the foreground with the darker hair.


Congratulations to Luke!

Luke Phillips WPIAL

Luke (right) with his coach after winning his match

I’ve written about Luke’s tennis before. After 2 months off for an undiagnosed stress fracture that had been dogging him for more than 18 months, Luke was released just in time for his high school tennis season.

Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania has an equal access law which allows homeschooled students to participate in interscholastic athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Luke will be representing the school district when he competes in the PIAA State Championship tennis tournament for boys at the end of May.

He’s disappointed that he didn’t win the district title but qualified for the state tournament by beating a senior (also homeschooled) to place 3rd.

In case you’re interested, here are 2 articles written about him. One in the Post Gazette and another in the Tribune Review. (He has a cute quote at the end of the Post Gazette article). So far, he’s pretty good at interviews. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since he’s been listening to radio broadcasts of the Pirates and Panther basketball almost as long as he’s been playing tennis.

Thanks for indulging my shameless brag and good luck, Luke!