MyTennisLessons is pleased to announce Rachel P. in Houston, TX, as our tennis coach of the month for February. She is doing a fantastic job teaching her students. We were able to find some time between lessons to ask Rachel a few questions.
1. Your father is former NBA player Ricky Pierce. What advice and coaching did he give you about being an athlete and tennis player?
My dad played in the NBA for 16 years so he had a lot of experience and knows what it takes to be the best you can possibly be. He always told me I had to train hard on and off the court to get the results I wanted. One thing he always told me was to keep fighting and dig deep. He didn’t know every technical aspect of the game since basketball was his expertise, but over the years he has definitely learned more about the game.
2. You were a top-ranked junior in Texas and then went on to play at the college level. What advice do you have for young players aspiring to be elite players?
My advice to young players aspiring to play a high level of tennis is to put in the work. It takes a lot of sacrifices, determination, belief and patience if you want to get to a higher level. Do you go to practice or do you go hang out with your friends instead? Do you skip your extra cardio outside of practice because you are tired or do you push through it? Do you give 100 percent at practice or do you give 50 percent? You have to ask yourself all those questions and try to achieve your goals because hard work does pay off.
3. Can you tell us about your experience playing college tennis and what about it was the most rewarding for you?
Playing Division I college tennis was definitely different from the junior circuit. I played USTA tournaments and a few ITF’s and was in the top 25 in Supers my last year and the atmosphere is so different. At college matches you can be loud and cheer for your teammates from five courts down. There’s just so much fun energy. Anyone who has played in matches outside of college tennis can tell you that you definitely can’t do that! I’m such a competitive person and just being able to play and be a part of a great team and compete was a reward in itself because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue because of a knee injury.
4. You currently coach at a tennis academy. What’s the best part about your job there?
I coach at Rios Tennis Academy working with Lillian Rios, who coached Mashona Washington on the WTA pro tour. Mashona reached 50 in the world in singles and 55 in doubles and beat top players, including Maria Sharapova. Being able to work alongside Lillian is awesome because she knows her stuff and it helps me improve as a coach. It’s great to see the players out there that are working hard to get better.
5. You frequently work with young players. What’s the benefit of kids taking private lessons as opposed to group clinics?
The benefits of players taking private lessons as opposed to group practice is that they get more personalized one-on-one time with the coach. In group practice there can be a large number of players and we coaches can’t always give them everything they need. During a lesson you can really focus on what technical mistakes the players are making and how to improve them. Also, you can work on the little things and keep the player hitting clean balls that will help them advance to the next level.