My goodness, where did this week go?? Here it is the weekend again, but I still haven’t written about something really cool I did last Sunday: take a private tennis lesson. I was contacted by MyTennisLessons.com to see if I was interested in taking a lesson and writing about their site. Was I ever!
Growing up, my family lived only 1/4 mile from the tennis courts at the University of Albany (SUNY), and I have a lot of memories of walking up there at dusk on summer nights with my parents to play for a bit. My mom is a pretty good tennis player, and my dad is a really excellent tennis player (he played on several leagues until some cardiovascular issues forced him to cut back on activity)… but therein lies the problem. Every time we would go up to SUNY, I’d hit the ball only once or twice before my dad would stop returning it and insist on giving me a lesson and teaching me what I was doing wrong. But I didn’t care what I was doing wrong; I just wanted to play! I was curious to see how a one-on-one lesson would go, and if I’d be more accepting of my coach’s tips than I was of my dad’s 🙂
MyTennisLessons is pretty awesome if you’re new to an area, like I am – you register for the site and then get to browse instructor bios to pick who you’d like for your lesson. (Here’s the Denver page if you’re local and want a shortcut!) The bios are pretty thorough – you can learn how many years someone has been playing, how long they’ve been teaching, and about their teaching style. I thought that last part was particularly helpful, since you could find an instructor who matches your learning style or who focuses on your weaknesses. In my case, there were plenty of the latter! The profile also includes their pricing (each instructor is allowed to price their lessons differently), availability for teaching, and a scaled rating of student feedback – which you get asked to complete via email after a lesson.
Eric was really great about communication and flexibility. He offered several different convenient locations where we could meet up (each instructor’s bio page has a map of the locations they go, which is helpful), and when I got sick the week of our lesson, he was fantastic about letting me cancel just a few hours before. (I had been hoping I’d wake up feeling up to activity, but… not so much.) MyTennisLessons.com is also awesome about sending you reminders of your upcoming lessons and also keeping a dashboard of times you have lessons scheduled, so it’s easy to keep track.
The court where we chose to meet was less than a five minute drive from my apartment, which was super convenient. I arrived wearing what I thought was appropriate tennis gear (I hoped?) and carrying a tennis racket, but not really sure what to expect. Was I supposed to have brought my own tennis balls? I was such a newbie! But my instructor, Erik, had a huge basket of tennis balls to use, which made drills really easy since we could go a long time in between having to retrieve them. It also helped that we had the entire (beautiful) court all to ourselves until the very end of the lesson!
While we walked over from the parking lot to the courts, Erik asked about my tennis background, so by the time we got to the courts, we were all set to go. We started with a warmup where Erik would just lob the balls to me and I’d do my best to hit them back. After we’d done that for a bit, he was then able to provide some feedback for me – ironically, the same stuff my dad always told me! I don’t extend my arm fully to get the full power of the swing. But unlike my dad, Erik had a lot of specific drills to help me work on it. We did “progressions”: he’d toss me balls starting at the baseline, then we moved on to hitting from the service line, and finally a short volley. Each time, we did a bunch of balls at that particular line, then put it all together until we did a drill where I was running to a different line for each shot – but I knew ahead of time where the ball was going to be going. I felt like I was getting a great workout in, since I was working one-on-one and Erik could just keep the balls coming, and I also felt like I was learning a lot and really honing my skills.
The lesson flew by, and I was really excited both by how much fun I had and also by what a great workout I got in. Erik said in his profile that his lessons are high impact/cardio-style, and I definitely felt that! I could see myself improving really rapidly with private lessons like this, and Erik was so personable that I would definitely want to use him as an instructor if I did continue.
I was also really impressed with MyTennisLessons, which does a great job at managing the whole setup. I think it would have been really hard to find a solid tennis teacher on my own, and I would have been relying on Yelp reviews or something instead of the very detailed bios that MyTennisLessons puts on their site. I also like that all the management is in one place – you can pay with a credit card, have a bank of lessons available, schedule lessons online, and even track your lessons all in one spot. It was just amazingly convenient to be able to schedule and manage everything online, rather than having to call around for coordination! (Ugh, I hate when I have to do errands by phone vs email… it’s just so convenient to be able to email back and forth and respond at your leisure rather than having to catch someone at the right time on the phone.) After the lesson, I really appreciated getting emailed to double check that my experience is a good one, and while it was fantastic, I got the impression that if it hadn’t been they would have done anything to make it right. Definitely an A+ for customer service!
The only downside for me was the price. It’s actually really reasonable for a one-on-one lesson, but I am just not used to paying for one-on-one lessons of anything! Erik charges $50/hour, which is honestly inexpensive when I consider how good he is and how much I got out of our time together. Erik has been playing for 33 years, including several years as a pro on the tennis circuit (he had even played on the same tour with Justin Gimelstob, who I ran the NYC Marathon with in 2009). I was also just really impressed by how good he was at being patient, teaching me new things, and just generally being a really likable guy who made me accept all his feedback and use it to improve 🙂 However, I don’t know if it’s in my budget to regularly take private tennis lessons… maybe if I went in with a friend and could split the cost in half?
If tennis is a priority for you (or if you’d like to make it one!), I would definitely recommend MyTennisLessons.com to help you find an instructor in your area and help manage all the logistics.
Disclaimer: I was offered a free lesson from MyTennisLessons.com in exchange for an honest review, but received no other compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.