Training Tips From Top Southern Players


When we see tennis greats excelling in the sport, we often forget the long journey it took for them to get there. A huge part of their success is their mental game, their perseverance, their openness to be coached and their overall dedication to training and improvement.

While all tennis pros have their own individual journeys and stories about how they got to the top, their experiences can benefit aspiring tennis players. Below, we’ll discuss some trainings tips from the top tennis players hailing from the Southern states to see how we can take a page out of their book and improve as players.

Find the right support system and coach

Nashville, TN resident Alison Riske staged a memorable battle with Serena Williams in the Wimbledon quarterfinals earlier this year. Even while competing against one of the best tennis players in the world, Riske didn’t flinch. Although she lost to Williams, her performance stunned the tennis community and proved that she shouldn’t be underestimated.

How she plays, according to Riske, can be attributed to her support team and coach. In an interview with On Tennis, she talks about the influence her long-time coach Yves Boulais has on her performance. While finding the right people to support your performance doesn’t happen overnight, when you do find the right people, Riske reminds us not to let them go. They become a transformational factor in your tennis career, and are pivotal to success.

Expose yourself to high-pressure environments

Homegrown Atlanta player Christopher Eubanks first picked up a racket at two-years-old, and dreamed of playing in a Grand Slam event one day. Nineteen years later, his dream materialized when he turned pro in 2017. How did he make this a reality? Simple, Eubanks constantly exposed himself to big-time environments.

For years before becoming pro, he was the hitting partner of Atlanta’s Donald Young, who hit No. 38 as his highest ranking. He built up his confidence in the sport through watching Young and accompanying him as he played in ATP-level tournaments. Eubanks also developed into a top-notch collegiate and was name ACC Player of the Year twice in his three-year Georgia Tech career. For a developing player, it's important to constantly expose yourself to players of a higher caliber, as well as to regularly participating in demanding competitions. Performance cues and routines are efficient tools in improving match results, according to Dr. Larry Lauer in an article on USTA'a Player Development website.

Prove them wrong

Taylor Townsend. USTA photo

Another Atlanta native, Taylor Townsend, has had her fair share of struggles. Despite being the top-ranked junior player in the world in 2012 and taking the Australian Open,singles and doubles championships, her career has been a slow progression; she is currently sitting at No. 82. Townsend set out to prove that she could become a success despite input that she needed to get in tip-top shape. On an Instagram post after her win she said, “I’m buying the building of every door that closed on me.”

Her progression contains a string of USTA Pro Circuit singles and doubles crowns, along with the 2018 WTA Oracle Challenger Series doubles titles. Her story just goes to show that training for success may be laden with challenges, but strength, perseverance and determination can still lead to success no matter the struggles.

Don’t forget to have fun

Last September, John Isner led Team World to the Laver Cup in Geneva, Switzerland. The team went up against Team Europe, who make up six of the top eleven players in the ATP rankings. Isner’s opponents included the likes of Roger Federer. Isner, of Greensboro, NC, was unfazed by the credentials of his competition. He told the ATP before the match how much fun he expected to have competing in this environment. In the end, Federer ended up defeating Isner, earning the Laver Cup MVP. However, Isner’s positive attitude shone throughout the event, showing tennis players of every level what good sportsmanship looks like—be it during training or competing in an international tournament.

Be willing to vary your game

Charleston, SC’s Jessica Pegula captured her first WTA title in Washington this year. Winning the trophy was a culmination of continuous training and improvement for her. Her coach David Witt commented on how Pegula’s willingness to learn and vary her game is what led her to success. Indeed, mixing your game up and incorporating recommendations from coaches is a necessary aspect of growth and progression for any tennis player training to become better. Players should be open to changing their game up because trying new strategies helps you learn what works for you and what doesn't.