Coach Ben’s Tips for Success at the Supernationals

With the National Clay Court Championships starting this week and JTCC summer training in full swing, Coach Ben shares his tips on how to turn your hard work into hard-earned success.

Exactly a year ago, JTCC had its most successful summer yet. Our players brought back a lot of hardware from the two toughest tournaments of the year the National Clay Court and Hard Court Championships. Frances Tiafoe won Kalamazoo 18’s, Hailey Baptiste had a breakthrough tournament by making the finals of clay courts 14’s, and Saud Alhogbani and Benjamin Kittay shared 6 gold and silver balls between the two of them in the boys 12’s clay and hard courts.

A lot of players all over the country train and compete hard for months trying to reach their peak performance at this time of the year and JTCC players are no exception. Summer is usually when we find out if the favorites are ready to live up to their expectations and when we see which new players will emerge from the shadows and surprise everyone.

Last summer, I was lucky enough as a coach to witness both of these things happen. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the performances of Frances, Hailey, Benjamin and Saud at their Supernational tournaments.  After watching them last year, here’s my advice on what can help this year’s players get ready for their own successful Supernational runs:

  • If you’re nervous, be humble and fight through it. A lot of players think they should be winning easily, but that’s a misconception. Your goal should be to become more comfortable on court as your matches go on.
  • Your level of play in the first two rounds is not as relevant as you think. Last year, it was easy to notice that some players started out sluggish and defensive while others rushed too much. They all made errors early on but they got crisper throughout their matches. Expect to have some bumps in the road and expect to work through it.
  • Expose your opponent’s weakness under pressure. If you find out early on what bothers your opponent the most, you will know exactly what to do when the match gets close. This sense of purpose will help you stay calm while putting pressure on your opponent.
  • Pre-match routine is personal, post-match routine is not. Every player is different as far as length of warm up, intensity, purpose, etc. What matters in your pre-match routine is that you feel energetic and calm before your match. The post-match routine is about recovery and preparation for the following day. The more detailed you are in your post-match habits, the better your body will feel the next day. Never overlook your routines, regardless of how good or bad you performed earlier.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, talk about it. Coaches come to tournaments for a reason, we’re here to help. If you close up and don’t share how you’re feeling, you might not get the few words of advice that can boost your confidence before your match!

Let me finish with this: Whether you’re about to play your first Supernational or you already have many under your belt, remember that you belong in the tournament you’re playing. You competed for it, you qualified for it, and you practiced for it every day. So don’t feel like a guest in somebody else’s house. Know that when you step out onto the court, you belong here and now.


Hope this helps, good luck to everyone this week.





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