Developing Doubles Strategy with Coach Lennon

Tennis at Sawgrass is amazing. The competitive matches, friendly round robins, and team clinics all offer opportunities to improve skills and build relationships with other tennis players.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

I have LOVED learning doubles over the past year and a half! Last season, I played consistently with the same partner, Lindsay Long. By playing together each week, we learned what each others tendencies were, our best shots, court positioning in different situations, and how to encourage each other when we were winning (or losing!).

Now that we’re on the C team, opponents have gotten tougher. They are more consistent and more versed in strategy. So Lindsay and I decided to kick off the season with a lesson together focused on doubles strategy! The timing was great because we DID play together in our match the week we had the lesson.

We probably won’t be playing together every week, but these ended up being skills that we could take with us as we play with other partners.

Doubles Tennis Lesson

Lennon was our coach for the lesson, and he was really helpful! We expressed that we wanted to know how to change our game if the opponents were either better than us or using certain shots over and over to win points. The drills we worked on were designed to help us position ourselves better throughout the match in order to give us the best shot at winning.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

After the warm up, here are a few things that we worked on specifically:

  1. We started out one up one back working on playing points quickly. He feeds in the ball, we hit the ball to a strategic spot on the court (or try to!). He feeds in the next ball right away to simulate the ball coming right back at us. After eight points, we switched positions. The balls could go to the baseline or net. We went back and forth for several rounds.
  2. Once we got the hang of it, he gave us a new goal. We were to return each ball to only one side of the court, all balls to the deuce side for example. He still fed in eight balls to either baseline or net, but they all had to go to the deuce side across the net. The point of the drill was to target the weaker player on the other side. Most of the time in matches, there is a stronger player, and it’s important to know when to avoid that player!
  3. Then he varied the drill, and we played all the points out with Lennon. We were still aiming for one side of the court. Because he was playing them out with us, they came at us faster. He stressed to us that we needed to recover to a spot on the court after striking the ball. Whether it’s coming to the net, stepping behind the baseline (or just inside the baseline), recover and be ready to split step to get the next ball. If you notice a pattern of play and winners they are hitting over and over again, take those shots away from them by recovering to a different spot on the court if necessary. During our match two days later, we encouraged each other when we saw one another “recovering to a spot” on the court!
  4. Lastly, we worked on serve returns. We see all kinds of serves, loopy, rainbow, fast, slice, you name it. Being confident returning all kinds of serves is important! I want our opponents to know they are not getting free points on serve! We even got to hit serves to Lennon, and practice recovering after the serve!

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

Over all, it was a great lesson! We talked about communicating, hitting solid ground stokes (knuckles over the ball!), recovering to get ready for the next shot, and stroke placement to target the weaker player on the other side. I would highly recommend taking a lesson with a partner that you play with often. It will boost your confidence as you play together!

Lennon encouraged us to talk to each other and work on displaying a united front…high five, cheer, whisper between points, and let mistakes and bad calls roll off your back. In the end, we’re not training for Wimbledon! It’s country club tennis, and it’s meant to be FUN!

Tennis: Kids Clinics at Sawgrass

tennis clinics at Sawgrass

“Ready? Swing!”

“Wyatt, stop playing in the clay.”

“Everybody pick up at least 10 balls!”

“Lilly, do you need to go potty?”

“Molly, nice forehand!”

This is just a small sampling of my Monday and Wednesday afternoon soundtrack. Will (8) and Wyatt (6) have been taking tennis clinics at Sawgrass since March! Will loves it more than Wyatt who just tolerates it. But he loves being outside, so it works out. He’s more concerned with making his shoes as “green” as possible from kicking the clay!

tennis clinics at Sawgrass tennis clinics at Sawgrass

I have developed a love for tennis (an addiction, really), and I picture tennis as a way for our family to be active together. Will confessed recently that he wants to be a professional tennis player! My heart just swelled. I think his real motive is to beat mom and dad one day, which won’t be a challenge the older we get! But whatever the motivation, I hope he thrives in the sport. I hope he learns sportsmanship, how to work hard, how to succeed, and how to fail. Tennis is a sport where you’re not successful 100% of the time, it’s a game of percentages. We have to learn how to trust our forehand when we’ve totally messed up the shot right before it.

I really appreciate how the coaches are teaching them not only the game of tennis, but are being role models for our kids.

Tennis clinics

Tennis clinics are offered in the afternoons throughout the school year at Sawgrass. Kids from about three to ten work on strokes and skills while playing games. The older kids work on higher level skills and consistency. The coaches do a great job at making the lessons fun! The last week of afternoon clinics coincide with the last week of school, the week of May 20th. For the summer, the club focuses on day camps for kids. (More on tennis camps later!)

tennis clinics at Sawgrass tennis clinics at Sawgrass tennis clinics at Sawgrass

Clinics for younger children are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30, and the older kids play (ages 9-12ish) from 4:30-5:30. The coaches offer private lessons for those that really want to accelerate the learning process or who can’t make the clinic times.

tennis clinics at Sawgrass tennis clinics at Sawgrass

The coaches are patient and kind and really want to see the kids be successful in the sport. On Wednesdays, there is a group of tiny humans, ages 3-5. These are the most comical to watch! One day, one little boy was not having it and was literally throwing a fit on the court. Coach Matt calmly scooped him up and walked him over to another court. They sat there for a few minutes, and the little boy calmed down. Matt continued to sit with him and they talked quietly. A few minutes later, he brought the little boy back to the court and he engaged in the lesson again. It was so sweet to watch! I don’t know what Matt told him or what was said by the little boy, but apparently Matt knew just what to say. I was with the little boys mom, and she was very impressed that coach Matt took control and didn’t just send the little boy to her to calm him down.

Summer tennis camps

Summer at Sawgrass is filled with things to do! The tennis club offers tennis day camps to members and guests starting the week of June 3rd through August 8 (except the week of July 4th). Camps will be Monday-Thursday, and daily drop-ins are available as well!

Here’s how tennis camp at Sawgrass works:

Half Day
10:00-10:15 – Warm up/Roll call
10:15-11:15 – Stroke of the day
11:15-11:30 – Snack break
11:30-12:15 – Tennis games
12:15-12:30 – Cool down/Child pick up

Full Day, everything above plus:
12:30-2:00 – Lunch and pool break
2:00- 2:50 – Practice matches/Tennis games
2:50-3:00 – Cool down/Child pick up

Campers must be at least seven to participate in the full day camp, and at least six years old to participate in the half day camp. If you want more information, give Sarah a call (904-273-3740) to ask questions or to sign up. Or, you can sign up on Foretees.

tennis clinics at Sawgrass tennis clinics at Sawgrass

Shout out to Matt, Kyle, Josh, and Lennon for all their hard work teaching our kiddos the sport of tennis!

Enjoy a Group Tennis Lesson at Sawgrass!

Tennis is my jam. Since moving here and joining Sawgrass, I have become addicted to the sport! It’s challenging both physically and mentally. It requires a “getting better” attitude because there’s always an element of your game that needs improvement, especially for me as a new player! As a mom of young children, it feels good to go out on the court and release the stress of the day.

tennis lesson

Recently, my mother-in-law, Shelley, came to visit us. She has seen my love for the game grow and has played on and off for years. She’s familiar with singles but doubles makes her nervous. I don’t blame her….it’s tough to learn! You want to be in the right position at the right time, and there’s a drive to make the shot and win the point for your partner!

Her excitement to learn gave me an idea: to set up a group lesson with a pro so she can begin to learn doubles. She was ecstatic! And let me tell you…my mother-in-law, Shelley, is full of life! We enjoy spending time together whatever we’re doing. She has a zest for life that keeps her young. She is constantly learning new things, traveling, and soaking up time with her grandchildren playing games. So naturally, she was on board with a group tennis lesson.

The lesson

I booked the lesson with the Tennis Director, Ken Veney, for an hour and a half. I invited two D-team ladies to join us, Lindsay Long and Jennifer Werba. It was important to me that we play with other women who are still beginners to make her feel comfortable. We started with typical warm-up drills practicing baseline strokes, approach shots, and volleys.

Then, we moved into talking about basic doubles positioning and each person’s purpose on the court. If you’ve never heard them before, terms like “garbage collector,” “hot seat,” “big or small” can sound silly, but to play effective doubles, you have to know where to be. Shelley “loved how Ken made the group lesson so much fun by tailoring it to each of our four levels and giving equal advice to us all. His lessons are the BEST! I learned so many aspects of the game because he makes everything understandable.” He does. Ken is a seasoned professional who loves the game and loves instructing others in order to improve their game.

From there, we did fast-paced drills that focused on being in the right position on the court and working with your partner to win the point. It was a great lesson overall, and I really enjoyed the time with my mother-in-law! Plus, she got to meet the ladies I play tennis with every week!

I asked Jen if she would want to do this again, and she said, “I absolutely would want to schedule a similar lesson when family is in town or even with some friends locally.” She adds, “I really liked the doubles drill because it helped reinforce the doubles strategies you want to use in a match.”

Tennis events at Sawgrass

I’ve been so impressed with the social focus Ken and his team have brought to Sawgrass. They tediously plan events, clinics, flexi leagues, and tournaments so members can interact and get to know each other.

One of my favorite events is called “Triples,” and it happens once per month on a Friday night. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, and casual. Be warned…it’s a lot of cardio (but we all need that, right?)! You’ll get your steps in that day for sure. It’s basically three vs. three with a pro on every court feeding in the ball each point. It takes away the serve, which makes it less intense! I won’t go any further explaining it, but sign up on Foretees! The next date is Friday, December 14th. I promise you’ll have fun, and it’s a great way to meet other members who play tennis. For me, it’s a great way to interact with different levels of tennis players…I’m always open to learning, so it’s neat to see how they play versus how I play the game.

Want to play during the week? There are mens and womens clinics during the day and in the evening. And if you have kids, there are kids clinics in the afternoons. Matt and Klara run these clinics, and they are amazing! They’re both so patient with the kids, and they really make it fun with games that teach tennis technique.

Tennis is a game that can be enjoyed at any age and at any level. The staff at the racquet club would love to see YOU on the court! Why not try something new this coming year? According to Ken, “It’s all about fun…this is a way to spend time with your family and do something active while learning new aspects of the game.”

So, when family comes to visit, schedule a tennis lesson with Ken (kveney@sawgrasscountryclub.com) or one of the other pros! Get outside, do something active, and learn new skills!