Serve it UP Tennis Academy – Todd Upchurch
Can you tell us how you got into tennis and the kids program that you run?
I got into tennis at the age of 6 because my father was a tennis enthusiast. His love of the sport rubbed off on. I got into the kids program I’m part of today from applying a combination of skills learned over the years and an effort to continue to learn and refine our programs as we move forward.
Explain a little about your facility, number of coaches and players in your program.
We currently run programs at 3 neighborhood clubs. 20 elementary schools and 2 YMCA facilities. We probably touch 400-500 players a week and we have 6 coaches. Myself plus 5.
What are the core goals of your program?
My core goal of any clinic is to use tennis as the vehicle for fun. If we don’t learn anything or do anything else for the day, we are going to have fun on the tennis court. We are going to engage people and change attitudes before they leave each day. The second level of our goals is to embody the best construction we can based on their individual needs.
What activities does a child get when we sign up to your program?
They get fun. We try to build the athlete first, using tennis as the vehicle. We try to make sure the kids are developing athletically with movement, balance, and control. Secondly, they get live-ball. They are engaged from the minute they walk in until the time they leave their clinic. It’s an active environment developed around athlete development with a tennis structure.
How would a child describe their time in your program?
Typically, the kids would say “We had a blast” and “We got to hit a lot of balls” and “We learned from fun coaches.” We want them to be fulfilled, engaged, and tired from all the activity.
What do you consider to be unique about your program?
We inject a lot more humor into our program than I have seen other people do. How quickly can I use my pro’s charism to put a smile on the kids on the court?
Where were the major challenges and evolution in your program in the last two years?
I would say moving kids at a slower pace from green ball to yellow ball. Everyone is always trying to rush to the next level and we like to work with kids and let them development completely before proceeding to the next level. Also, getting the parents to allow us to set the pace to move their kids forward instead of trying to accelerate them through the levels.
What are the major developments that you are planning or focused on in the next 12 months?
We are going to be expanding play opportunities. We have to get our kids playing against each other more often and getting opportunities for the kids to take the skills they learned and put them to use on the courts.
What do you think will be the next big thing in kids tennis in the next few years?
I think the next big thing is going to be getting kids to move more efficiently on the courts. The way you see the pros moving very specifically with their movement on the courts, is what I think kids are going to start being conditioned to do. Having the kids progress with their strength and conditioning to be specific in their athletic movements.
Todd Upchurch – Serve It UP Tennis Academy, Charlotte, NC
Todd is the Director of Serve It UP Tennis Academy. His management company, founded in 2010, manages clubs and administers after school elementary programs in Charlotte, NC. He is also the founder of 3v3 World Tennis Tour, an alternative tournament format for juniors. He is a very active Social Media user with accounts on multiple platforms and frequently writes articles on tennis, business and positive attitudes. He has been a USPTA Elite Professional since 1996.
Todd is the current President of USPTA Southern Division and was the 1999 NC USPTA Pro Year and 2008 Pride of the South winner for USPTA Southern. He and his wife, Lisa (also a USPTA pro), have 2 children, Noah (10 yrs old) and Reese (8 yrs old) and live in Charlotte, NC.
If you would like to learn more about Todd and his tennis programs, you can visit www.serveitupacademy.com.
Todd will be a speaker at the evolution Junior Directors Conference – July 22nd – 24th – College Park MD