Tough love at Stonegate

By June 24, 2011

My family and I’d just spent our final evening at the ballpark. After playing seven seasons, Chase, my son, lost interest in baseball.

My husband and I felt sad saying goodbye to nights in the bleachers with friends, watching kids play their hearts out. (I must admit, though, knowing there’d be no more snack shack duty softened the blow.)

As we headed to the car, a parent approached my husband, stunned by the news Chase wouldn’t be back to complete his final year in Little League.

Chase was a good player, but this particular parent’s shock had more to do with the sport our son was pursuing instead — tennis.

The parent’s point of view went something like this: “That’s not a manly sport; it’s a sport for girls.” His respect for girls notwithstanding, it was obvious the individual had never stepped foot on a court.

While my husband patiently blows off ignorance; I’m a little more hotheaded. I wanted to hit the guy with my purse, or better yet, stab him in the foot with my pointy heel.

As an alternative, I imagined the lout spending just 10 minutes with Lukas Burger, director of Stonegate Tennis Academy. If you know Lukas, you’ll know the fantasy was all I needed for revenge.

This fall will mark two years that Chase has been coached privately and in groups at Stonegate. In that time, the transformation has been nothing short of astonishing. After just two months, Chase entered, and won his first USTA tournament, attributing the win to Lukas’ astute coaching style and relentless work ethic.

Even though I don’t play myself, I’ve developed profound appreciation for the game. First, kids can enter the sport at any age because competition is self-paced. Second, our family isn’t held to a team schedule; we choose when and where to compete. Third, there’s never a pause in the action. And most significantly, all of life’s lessons are played out on the court.

If you were to view a USTA match, you’d notice a couple of things missing: coaches and referees. Players keep score and judge balls, in or out. If an opponent routinely makes questionable calls, then, and only then, can a referee intervene, and it is the responsibility of the player to halt play and summon a professional. This takes good judgment. And guts.

As for the absence of coaches, players are prohibited from receiving coaching of any kind (except in the case of a tie-break, but only for a few moments in advance of play). As Chase’s mother, I can’t even suggest he get a drink of water.

In other words, the entire tournament experience is the responsibility of the player. This demands nothing short of excellent coaching back on home court — something we know we can count on at Stonegate.

Recently, I asked a female athlete (one of Davis High’s top women players) what she likes about Stonegate. She’s been coached by Lukas and his excellent assistant coaches for six years. She enjoys year-round access to her sport. But more than that, she appreciates Lukas’ perfect blend of fun and hard work. In fact, she believes Stonegate prepared her to compete at the highest levels as a Lady Blue Devil. Knowing what a great coach Sally Hosley is, that’s no small feat.

If competitive tennis isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There’s plenty of Lukas to go around. He coaches all players, from beginners to professionals — even an occasional ATP competitor. In fact, since Chase now routinely beats Dad, my husband is taking lessons again, just to keep up.

Check out Stonegate Tennis Academy at http://www.stonegatetennisacademy.com. When you do, you’ll make the right call.

Advantage, Stonegate.

— Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis. Her column appears monthly. 
Reach her at [email protected]

Heidy Kellison

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