Student N in April 18 has an RPI of 410 and was making very good progress monthly. She will clearly get to RPI 70 before graduation next year.
Before the USTA Level 4 in May she gets into a conflict with her parents that was important. However, instead of postponing the discussion until after the Level 4, they wake her up on the Friday night before the tournament at 1am to yell at her. By match time on Saturday N was exhausted.
However, N was resilient and won her first round quickly. Her parents arrive in time for the second round and while they were watching her father said that her opponent was “taking it to her’. However, N won 6-1, 6-0. I have no idea what the father was seeing, but it was not reality. More seriously it reflected a very negative attitude toward N’s performance.
Sunday, N has been pressured by her father, during private conversations, to rush the net for which had no training yet. N played her own game and was up a break quickly, as was her usual style. Then she began rushing the net, engaging in self incrimination and slapping herself, which she had never done before. This is a common way a child will communicate to their parent that they are being an obedient child. She degrades quickly and loses a match, in which from the start, she was completely in control. Next match is against C (C becomes an important baseline for N later in the story). Once again she takes the early lead but reverts back to pleasing her father. She loses the first set but by determination she wins the second. By tie-breaker time she is spent from the parental stress and lack of sleep and loses the set. However, she demonstrated that she was at least even with C when she was under duress from all of her parents demands and recriminations.
After the tennis tournament, the father decides to interfere with her training, yet again, and takes her out of tennis for 8 weeks while C continues on with her training. N is put to running track (800 meters to be exact, which was nearly useless for tennis). C understandably advances while N is sitting on the sidelines at track meets.
N loses two and a half months of the most important summer of her senior year. Note that the summer before a tennis player’s senior year is equivalent to a football players fall semester of their senior year.
N restarts near August 1 and is badly out of tennis shape. But she is resilient and gets back to good shape in 3 weeks.
Enter an outside coach who knows nothing about technology or N’s history. He convinces the parents to change N’s racquet. Then convinces them to let him be her coach in spite of the fact that she was making rapid, unprecedented progress in her present program. She moves to the new coach and then loses two more months and her RPI on 10/24 drops to 509. Now she has lost 4.5 months on bad parental decisions and has also lost ground in the race for good college scholarships.
Had her parents never interfered, she would likely have been a 4-star by April given her rate of improvement before the parents began to meddle with her programs. Now, she will be lucky to reach a three-star in time for college commitment offers to be extended.
During this same time, C stayed the course and made it to three-star with an RPI of 253.
N was a promising player who would have surely made it to a ranked D1 college (only 75 are ranked in D1). As a three-star, her prospects are grim to none for a ranked D1 college. Parental interference took N from being a top prospect to being an also-ran in 4.5 months.
This is a textbook example of how parents can undermine their children’s progress in tennis with the best of intentions; because of their abject lack of knowledge about tennis.
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