It’s no secret I love to travel, yep, I am a 50/50 partner in a travel business here in WA and when the opportunity arises I like to experience new places, cultures and see parts of the world. An opportunity came up in mid 2015 that I felt I had to grab with both hands. A USA College Tennis Tour to California in April 2016.
To have a successful coaching career, I realised early on from taking close notes of those I deemed successful (and those who I didn’t) that you must invest in yourself, your health, your appearance, and your experience in the industry, and what better way to do this than to join one of Australia’s most successful High Performance Tennis Coaches, a former US Div 1 College player (who played against Djokovic as a junior) and a fellow Coach, for a 16 day tour in the USA.
So we headed from Perth to Sydney and then 14hrs to LA. Landed, picked up a big Chevy people mover and headed towards Disneyland (where our accommodation was) in Anaheim. (Awesome house too, with a great pool and games room)
We chilled for the day and stayed awake till the night after little to no sleep and headed to various Colleges for the next 14 days.
We went to
- San Diego State University
- Fresno State
- University of Santa Barbara
- CSU – Long Beach
- Occidental State University of California
It was great to see the variation of college and facilities. One thing for certain the schools couldn’t do enough to accommodate us, with tours, lunches and meet and greet with the teams and coaching staff.
The one common factor that Athletes and coaches would have taken from the trip, and if they didn’t know already – EDUCATION has to be the no 1 priority. Unless you are an absolute world beater on court (and if you are I would imagine you’d be hitting the tour and skipping college,) international players need to be an asset to the school, by being quite intelligent and bringing some excellent grades in all your subjects. Schools are judged and based on the Academic side (averages) so to get a full ride in College, (Unless you are a NFL prospect) athletes must have the grades behind them to help get $$ for tuition.
We had 14 athletes on this tour. Some college ready, some can set goals to achieve this and one or two may struggle to survive without their families doing almost everything for them. I am all for athletes getting the experience of travelling with family and with touring groups. Athletes very quickly realise the importance of doing what they are told and working together as a team. We always have a one in all in, so anyone slipping up means a group punishment. We also have good honesty quizzes and discussions where athletes can assess behaviours and touring habits and make improvements for the trips, itineraries and themselves during self assessments for next time.
As well as College Tours we also organised tourist and fun times at
- Various Shopping Centres and Outlets
- Laguna Beach
- Santa Monica Pier (bucket list)
- Venice Beach
- Universal Studios
- Rodeo Drive
- Hollywood Stars Walk
- Malibu Beach
On the first weekend away we played in the Venice Beach Paddle Tennis Tournament. I had seen Paddle Tennis on Facebook, YouTube etc but stepped on the court for the first time and happy to say myself and Joe made the semis before we had to end the day early to get to out Santa Monica Pier commitment. Paddle Tennis was great fun, fast pace, and I’ve just ordered some racquets and we will have a paddle court ready to go for the start of the 2016-17 season at our Coogee St Court!
We also got 5 or 6 training sessions in. Throughout the US there are courts everywhere owned by the City’s/Towns/Councils that are free to use to the public and are on a first come first served basis. They are fully floodlit and open for 14 hours a day. We used these as often as we could and the kids loved the early morning hits and were happy to keep on top of their games. Sometimes there was only one court available but we still had the athletes working hard. See the video below.
At the end of the trip we had an awesome day at Universal Studios. It’s a place I have always wanted to go, ever since I had seen pictures and videos in the media. I was very keen to experience a Studio Tour and the Fast and Furious simulation ride. I felt like a 10 year old child at Christmas. Fun on tour always makes the 4am wake ups worth while!
I have to say thanks to those who follow our social media, we hit over 18,000 people while away on our tour and it was great to see so many positive comments and positive feedback. ALso thanks to the kids, Colten, Joel, Matt, Dan, Trev, Blake, Jasper, Lachie, Chris, Kyla, Kimmy, Jovana, Olivia and Nadia for making the trip fun for me. I have travelled with quite a few of you before and you are all awesome kids. To the newbies, it was great to get to know you and I hope you gained a lot from this touring experience.
So what is there to learn from travelling….? Everything. Time management, communication, planning, team work, decision making, leadership, mentoring, teaching, public speaking, interviewing as well as day to day general coaching duties.
It’s great to learn from other coaches and people in the industry and from this tour I took on board
“The success of every athlete is up to the athlete and how much time and effort they put in”
“Athletes need a good/strong support team to help them through”
“There is a College option for everyone – it is a matter of finding the college that best fits the individual”
And in closing, how great is it to see another continent, tick some places off my bucket list, have a great time on tour with fellow coaches players and students and keep enjoying this great sport and all it has to offer. I really am involved in the best profession in the world.