We at MyTennisLessons are excited to announce Madalina F. in Jamaica, NY, as our instructor of the month for November. She is doing a fantastic job teaching her students. We were able to find some time between lessons to ask Madalina a few questions.
Do you recall what your experience was like growing up and taking tennis lessons? If so, what did you learn from that experience that has helped you as a tennis coach?
I remember not many years ago when I was still competing and training that I did not picture myself teaching tennis. I just loved the game too much to see myself on the bench giving instructions. Later on I started teaching friends and from there I got my first coaching job for a summer camp three years ago. My experience as a player helped me improve as a tennis coach. All those seven-hour days on the court practicing and training along with the hundreds of tournaments I played were definitely beneficial in understanding the demands of the game. I was a player before I became a coach and I know this helps me better understand the players I work with.
You played college tennis. What is a favorite memory from that time?
Yes, I played in college and had the opportunity to be part of a strong and well-built team. I have lots of good memories from that time. I miss the team and the atmosphere, the practices and the travels, but a memory that stands out is the day I was given the “Coach’s Award” after my first semester as a student-athlete. The award recognized my impact on the program and came after clinching the final at the East Coast Conference Tournament. That was the first time the team had won the Conference and I am happy I contributed to that.
What advice to you have for young players hoping to reach the college level?
One piece of advice I usually give to any young player asking me about college tennis is: practice, practice, practice. Be consistent and train as if you could become a pro one day! College-level tennis is sometimes as competitive if not more competitive than Challenger or Future tournaments. In order to make it to a prestigious school with competitive sports, a young player shouldn’t lower his or her training standards and he or she needs to keep playing tournaments prior to college. The first thing recruiters look at are recent results.
You’ve been coaching for three years. Can you describe a favorite success story with a student you’ve had?
A success story I can recall is with a student I started working with not too long ago. She was part of the high school tennis team but had never played in the lineup when we first started working together. She told me she would love to improve her game and be able to play for the team, not just support from the bench. By the end of this semester, her improvement got her to the no. 4 spot in the singles lineup and no. 2 in the doubles lineup. Now she is thinking of looking into college tennis. Seeing her more and more enthusiastic about playing makes her story one of my favorites.
What advice do you have for tennis players who want to get into coaching the sport?
I would say to start with collective coaching like summer camps or or big groups because more coaches are needed. Having someone with more experience by your side when first starting as a coach is a tremendous help and it gives you the opportunity to learn quickly. Also, don’t forget about online resources. There are lots of videos, articles, books and lesson plans on online platforms. I strongly suggest being aware of these because they greatly improve your knowledge of teaching. Keeping these tips in mind could give you a lot more insight into how teaching works and what you should focus on as a young coach.
What do you enjoy most about teaching tennis lessons?
I enjoy seeing people happy. When I see my students leave the court with a smile I can smile too because know I did a good job. I enjoy watching those who have never picked up a tennis racquet become great players after you taught them all they know how to do on the tennis court — it’s impressively beautiful.