Jul/18

22

Jon Glover, National USTA Player Development Coach, On Junior Tennis

Jon Glover is a national USTA developmental and ID coach with striking dirty-blond dreadlocks and a friendly, low-key manner who I saw watching a lot of the matches including my son’s against Tanner Povey at the USTA Clay Court 12U Nationals in Orlando. Jon grew up in the Philadelphia area and gravitated to tennis when an older gentleman at the park Jon frequented as a kid to play basketball in, introduced him to the sport. Jon went on to earn a tennis scholarship at the University of Florida and after four years of playing there, finished at the time as UF’s fifth-highest wins leader.

Here’s a Q and Q I conducted with Jon at the USTA National Campus this week.

Q. What is your tennis background?

Glover: “I was a Middle States section player and I played Inter-Nationals in the 12’s and 14’s and I played four years at the University of Florida.”

Q. You were saying at my son’s match yesterday, that it’s not about winning and losing at this age, the most important thing to learn is how to play the right way. What do you mean by this?

Glover. “Yes, for me, how the kids are playing, how they’re competing, the strategies they’re trying to employ, is more important than the result of the match. A lot of times, kids will try to go out there and do things that will help them win at this level, the 12’s, but once they get to 14’s, and particularly the 16’s and 18’s, those same tactics that help them win at the 12’s level, won’t be successful.

“Playing styles like lobbing the ball, playing not to lose the point instead of to win the point, not being aggressive on short balls–I see a lot of kids running up to the service line to take a short ball and then after hitting it, running back to the baseline. Mostly, a defensive style of tennis, is not going to be super successful as you get older.

“There’s a place for playing defense when you’re in a bad position and hitting a ball that allows you to recover, but still you want to swing out on that ball and hit a ball that gets up and gets down quickly with a heavy spin. A ball that hangs in the air for a long time, at a high-level of play, the opponent will take that ball out of the air as an overhead, as a swing volley, and it’s not going to be successful at doing what you want it to do.”

Q. How much should kids at this age and level be playing?

Glover. “More kids are probably over-trained than under-trained. They’re playing probably too much. At this age, we want to see kids focussing on athletic development skills. The game’s a really athletic-based, movement game as they get older and those skills have to be worked on young so you really get the full benefit of it.”

“Kids could be on the court as much as five days a week. I don’t think kids at this age should be playing more than four hours in a day. I definitely don’t think they should be playing six days a week, five and six hours a day, like some of them might be. They should probably spend a little bit more time on what we call, HPP drills, High Performance Profile (that are available at the USTA Dartfish page), which focus on the body as a whole, places where you might be weak or prone to be injured, flexibility and mobility and range of motion drills and spending time on athletic development, still playing other sports if possible.

“Once it is time to focus only on tennis, it’s important that the high-level tennis player’s body is built fully and not susceptible to injuries and he/she still has the athletic skills to compete at the highest levels.”

Q. Can you tell at this age with your expert eyes, who’s going to make it and who’s not going to make it?

Glover. “Definitely not, with the boys at this age it’s really hard to tell. You can see some kids who might have a chance, but it’s such a long road at this point and there’s so many things you have to get right, especially at an early age, so what we try to do at the USTA is try to educate the parents and the coaches as best as we can and try to provide ourselves as a research to help out in any way that the parent/coach needs and gives as many kids a chance.”

 

12 comments

  • Hartt · July 22, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Dan, thanks for an interesting piece. I enjoy learning more about what is involved with developing a pro tennis player, and there isn’t much info on that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 22, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Very interesting read Dan, good idea to interview this important figure in junior player development.

  • Dan Markowitz · July 22, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Thanks Hartt and Scoop, I saw him around the grounds each day and I told him he looked like this guy who used to play for Columbia U hoops team. Then he was seated next to me watching Callum play this boy Tannner Povey, whovtrain out of the Orlando USTA site from time to time, and I regretted talking to him so much because I lost track of Cal’s match right when it went from Cal up 6-1 to losing second set 6-1, but I made a note to myself to talk to him again.

    He told me great story of this guy named Justin O’Neill I think he said his name was, who came from little town in Ohio and was never Top 10 in Juniors, but got Florida’s attention by beating Bob Bryan in 18’s Kalamazoo. He went onto playing #1 at Florida S a freshman and becoming the college’s all-time leading player in wins. He got knocked out of NCAA’s tourney in semis and walking off the court that day, he stuffed all his rackets into a garbage can and quit playing.

    At 27 he missed the game, wanted to see how far he could go, and started playing again. He ended up qualying for a few ATP events and breaking into Top 200 before he quit at 30.

  • Duke Carnoustie · July 22, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    I echo that this is a great piece. Shows that moonball tactics are silly for kids. No self-respecting coach would advocate that for developing players, it’s a cowardly way to play.

  • Jg · July 22, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    You can catch the final in you tube and the number one seed Rudy Quan is a machine, he takes the moonball at the baseline and hits an almost half volley, you can tell he has practiced this a zillion times, this kid doesn’t miss and hits with big pace for a small kid, I haven’t seen anything like this, he just stands at the baseline and dictates play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 22, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    I watched some of the final also JG, Quan was the superior player, looks almost lazy and bored between points then never misses and generates surprising power on BH side. Makes it look easy. Hugs the baseline, takes the ball early, that is the key which Tim Mayotte told me this week, and it’s something a lot of top pros can’t do in the ATP and it’s why certain big players aren’t winning majors yet. Quan is the best now but let’s see where he is in three years.

  • Dan Markowitz · July 23, 2018 at 4:00 am

    Exactly what I say, Scoop. Let’s see where Quan is in three years. Funny story, even though Callum was out of the tournament by Friday, I went over to the USTA campus to watch Quan play this 11-year-old, Maxime Dussault, who had knocked out the top kid in the East Maxim Michaels, 1 and 2.

    Dussault is an interesting case. He’s a blond lefty who hits the ball a ton on every shot. His parents are youngish and the father is about 6-4 and the mother about 5-9 and they have three other kids all younger than Maxime, who played doubles with his 10-year-old brother in the 12’s clay courts.

    The family apparently lives out of an RV and travels between Virginia and Florida. The kids are all home-schooled and Maxime at least, plays a reported six hours a day, sis days a week. The Quan-Dussault match featured some heavy hitting and close rallies and games, but when the dust settled, Rudy (what a great name for an athlete) had won 2 and 3 I think.

    These matches to my surprise were sparsely attended. A few other boys watched and Rudy had one person to his entourage, his father, who sat on the metal bleachers under a canopy taking in his son’s furtive glances. The guy was not dressed fancily or in tennis wear making me think this is yet another Asian family where the kid’s tennis is the focal point of the family’s interest and finances.

    The Dussault family was sitting atop the clubhouuse building with the father and mother watching the match intently while the younger brother watched and the two young sisters flounced around. After every point practically, even when Dussault hit a missile out, you could see the father and mother clap their hands and say, “You’re doing great. Keep it up!” I felt guilty because when I watch my son, if he makes a bad mistake or makes a bad lines call (meaning he plays a ball that to me looked obviously out, but Callum doesn’t call it out), I’m shaking my head a lot and wincing or even crying out, “Callum, that ball was out!” (I try not to do this and it doesn’t happen often).

    But here’s the funny part, when I went up to the court to take a video/photo of Quan and Dussault, Quan’s father quickly came up to me from behind, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “You’re not allowed to take video.” I took him on his word and just took a photo and assured him I’d only take a photo, but I wonder why he was so concerned.

    After the match, after I’d interviewed Glover, I went up to Mr. Dussault and asked him I could do an interview with him about Maxime and the family. He gave me a look that made me feel like I was a soldier in the army addressing a general and then asked me who I worked for and I told him about Tennis-Prose.com and he quickly looked it up on his phone, and said, “I think we’ll pass. But nice to meet you. It’s a long ride and I’m sure I’ll see you down the road” or something to that effect, but I wondered why a piece on his kid and family in a tennis web site would be verboten to him.

    I was impressed though by the height of the Dussault mama and papa and by the fact that right after the match, when one of his young daughters approached him and said, “Daddy, what are we going to do now?” Father Dussault said unequivocally, “We’re going to play tennis.”

    I’m always checking out the heights of these families and Quan’s dad was probably no taller than 5-7. Where does that leave Quan? He’s obviously full Asian unlike Callum who, I’ve been told is my son, and I’m 6-2 or was before my hip operations and my brother is 6-5 1/2 and there’s height in both sides of my family. My wife of course is 5-2 and her family is short, but the pediatrician told us Cal is likely going to be between 6 and 6-2.

    I’m not going to say Cal’s going to beat Quan in the 16’s or 18’s, but I like my chances with Cal being 6 and 180 and Quan being 5-7 and 150 because when I look at a lot of the Indian and Chinese or Korean or Japanese kids playing at a high level and I take a look at the heights and sizes of their parents, it’s nice to be a great ball striker like Quan, but how many of these kids are going to be at Chang’s level or Nishikori’s, who’s obviously not 5-7, he’s more like 5-10?

    I think that’s why you see so few Asian or Indian men doing well on the tour; they’re either too skinny or too small. Again, I repeat the words of Chris Mayotte, who’s told me (I think too rotely, “It’s all talk now because when Cal’s 17, he’s going to be 5-11 and 183 pounds and hit the ball like a monster.”)

    I like Quan thought, even the visor he wears and the way he picks up balls, never tapping them up from the ground with his racquet, but always sliding the ball between his racquet and the side of his shoe and shoveling it up.He is like JG said a machine and like Scoop said, always looking slightly bored or unchallenged, which he is because apparently he hasn’t lost a match in the 12’s in more than a year.

  • Dan Markowitz · July 23, 2018 at 4:06 am

    Sorry, the boy’s name is Maximus, not Maxime.

  • George · July 23, 2018 at 8:09 am

    There is a former pro in my city who was a highly touted junior. He may have been on the cover of Tennis magazine as a 12 year old. He did not have much pro success, however. Look up Tommy Ho as a junior and then as a pro.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 23, 2018 at 9:30 am

    George that happens a lot, top juniors don’t pan out as pros. The most famous example is Al Parker. Dan mentioned the renowned ATP players who won the national 12s but he did not mention the renowned ATP pros who played the national 12s and lost.

  • George · July 23, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Does anyone know what become of Jan Silva: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zRXY5Qb4_M

    I remember watching him on the news as a 5 year old tennis prodigy.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Silva is of HS age now and last report was he was playing tennis in California. Impossible to play without pressure when everyone calls you and expects you to be “the Roger Federer of the future.” Just another example of media destruction. That’s why it’s still amazing that Patrick McEnroe was able to become a very good ATP pro with all the baggage and expectations due to his last name.

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