Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Eric’s Sweet Spot

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Ever since Eric’s parents, Thu and David, left Vietnam 40 years ago they have lived in the United States working very hard to provide for their two sons. Language has been a barrier for them, but instilling hard work into the mindset of sons Eric and Austin has come from their sacrifices.

 

Eric entered his teen years knowing that his family had it tougher than others, but he also had a role model—his brother Austin. “Austin left for California for college, and he’s been on his own since,” explains Eric. During this time, when Eric was just entering his teen years and Austin was in college, Eric’s father was diagnosed with throat cancer. At the age of 13, while Eric was stressed about his father’s health and what he would do for college himself, he used tennis to distress. “I went to play tennis with my friends one day and I hit the sweet spot of the racket, and I loved it!” Eric became consumed with learning as much as he could about tennis, this included YouTube videos, endless Google searches, and anything else that those of us that are “Tennis Nerds” can relate to! “Tennis became my way of dealing with everything,” Eric explains, “It became my passion and also my distraction tool.”

 

Eric’s mother saw her son’s attention to tennis and wanted to help him play more tennis. “My mom worked at the hospital with Susan Towe (AHC member). Susan told my mom information about junior tennis classes, such as prices, and we knew we couldn’t afford that” explained Eric. When Susan figured out that cost was an issue, she made a decision that would alter Eric’s ability to get onto the tennis court, she gave the family information on Fred’s ACES. Eric has now been attending World Class Elite at Aspen Hill Club and is an integral part of the program; Tennis Director Terrance Scott explains,  “Eric is an incredibly hard worker who leads by example. Our program is better because of Eric.”

 

Fred’s ACES is a 501c(3) scholarship fund set up in memory of longtime Aspen Hill Club member Fred Sommer. Fred’s ACES provides scholarship opportunities to kids, of all ages and levels, across Montgomery County that face obstacles when it comes to getting onto the tennis court. The funds have assisted over 50 kids ranging in age from 8-17 years old, fully funding their tennis classes at The Aspen Hill Club. “Fred’s ACES was a dream come true for me, it fundamentally changed my life” explains Eric.

 

Since picking up a racket at the age of 13, Eric has developed into a force on the tennis court. He is entering his third year on the high school team at Gaithersburg High School, where he has been Varsity Captain for three years. Last year Eric played #2 on the varsity team, “ What I love about tennis is the strategy that it takes and the need to analyze your opponent. Figuring things out on the fly is key in tennis.”

 

Eric is in his senior year at Gaithersburg this year and is looking forward to attending University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship/financial aid package next year. When Eric had his interview with UPenn, he was able to select where his admissions interview would take place, this decision was easy for him. “My interview was at Aspen Hill. At Aspen Hill and though Fred’s ACES, I learned that there are good people out there that want to help. I am forever inspired.”

Eric, thank you for adding so much to our tennis program at Aspen Hill Club. You have grown into a leader and your coaches at Aspen Hill are so proud of you and cannot wait to see the great contributions you’ll make in this world.

 

 

Tennis

Aspen Hill Club Hosts Kids From Around The Nation

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February brought an incredibly special event to The Aspen Hill Club—our Club and members served as hosts to the 2019 Winter Invitational. This special junior tennis tournament brought nearly 60 kids representing seven cities across the nation (DC, Boston, Dallas, Harlem, Philly, and Trenton) to learn and compete on and off the court. Each city sent USTA Local Excellence programs to the event.

USTA Excellence centers are designed to use tennis as a vehicle to educate and bring opportunities (on and off the court) to underserved youth. In addition to playing tennis at the Winter Invitational, players were treated to guest speakers including USTA National coaches, a college coach forum, and leadership skills and lessons by Win4Life.

To be a member of a USTA Excellence team, players must do much more than be strong players. Players must have at least a 3.0 GPA, conduct at least four community service events a year, complete a USTA NJTL Essay competition, and compete on local and national tennis events. While competing at the Winter Invitational, all players from across the country united and prepared over 200 lunches for the Montgomery County Coalition for the homeless – Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC) Men’s Emergency Shelter.

Former Aspen Hill member (and standout tennis player) Jeri Ingram had the idea to bring this event to a place that meant so much to her, “My dad  (Joe Ingram) was a member of Aspen Hill and brought me to summer camp when I was 9 years old, that’s where I met Vicki (my first coach) and Jeff Klein. Tennis changed my life and “if there was one person responsible for me enjoying the game of tennis and believing in my ability, it would be Jeff,” Jeri recalls. Bringing kids from across the country to the place where she began her tennis playing was incredibly special for Jeri, “I thought back to how many people helped me at Aspen Hill and at Springbrook High and I know it’s my obligation to reach others.”

Jeri played college tennis at University of Maryland before playing pro tennis and having a world ranking. She returned to college after playing on the pro tour. Her career goal was to become a college athletic director, but after working with kids, she knew she had a different calling, she explains: “As I began working with kids that can’t afford tennis, I wanted to do more. The more kids I reach, the more I want to do.”

Jeri founded Metropolitan Tennis & Education Group six years ago to help kids have opportunities that they ordinarily wouldn’t, “It’s an awesome opportunity to teach kids and prepare them for college” says Jeri. MTEF currently has 30 kids on their team, and “We have a GPA of 3.7,” boasts Jeri.

The 2019 Winter Invitational was a huge success. The kids played phenomenal tennis and were treated to learning from college tennis coaches. The kids had a blast and loved the facilities offered by The Club.  “We appreciate AHC hosting the event, because of community involvement events like this can happen. It’s a heavy lift and we need great support like we received from Aspen Hill” explained Jeri.

 

Aspen Hill was lucky to watch such great tennis and meet so many fabulous new faces!

Tennis

Key to Success: Lob To The Backhand Side – March 2019

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When stepping on the court to play a new player, the first thing you should identify is whether your opponent is left handed or right handed. This will help you identify where your lobs should be hit. By establishing this in the warm-up, there will be no indecision when it’s time for you to execute your lobs, because you have already identified where you need them to go before the beginning of the match. You are not always going to be able to hit the perfect topspin lob that lands deep, just inside the baseline. During a point, if you can hit your lob to your opponent’s backhand side and it falls a little short, usually that shot will not come back as your opponent will miss hit it. If your opponent is able to get the ball back, it will likely come back weak and you will have an opportunity to put the point away.

Most players can not hurt you from their backhand side. If you are just out there hitting lobs to your opponent’s forehand side, then your opponent will likely finish the point and you will not give yourself an opportunity to be successful. Play smart and hit your lobs to your opponent’s backhand side.

As always, Keep On Playing.

 

Tennis

WILSON UNVEILS THE CLASH!

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By: Tim Hahn, Owner, Aspen Hill Pro Shop

Wilson believes its new Clash has the potential to redefine the tennis racquet. The uniqueness of the frame lies in its blending of extreme flexibility with high-end stability. The success of the marriage stems from two new technologies. FreeFlex is a proprietary carbon mapping construction that allows the frame to bend in new dimensions—both horizontally and vertically—when compared to a traditional frame. This is designed to increase ball pocketing and dwell time for enhanced feel and control. But to preserve integrity through the swing on such a flexible racquet, StableSmart frame geometry allows the Clash to bend where its designed to, while still providing enough backbone to handle incoming pace and return it with interest. There are two frames in the initial launch: Clash 100 and Clash 100 Tour. Both have a 100 square-inch head, 16×19 string pattern and a constant 24.5 mm beam. The difference lies in the weight, an unstrung 100 checks in at 10.4oz while the 100 Tour is 10.9 oz. This racquet is best used by players who may have arm, elbow, or shoulder issues due to the flexible frame to provide comfort when hitting the ball. Stop by the Pro Shop, Tim and his staff will gladly assist you with your tennis needs and questions.

 

Tennis

Battle of the Ages Wrap Up

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On Friday, January 11, 2019 we had our annual Battle of the Ages Event. Once again the adults finished victorious winning a very close tournament, 6 to 5. The adults displayed their wisdom and knowledge of the game schooling the youngsters once again. I am very proud of how the juniors played because last year they were destroyed by the adults and really was taught a valuable lesson. They learned that just hitting the ball as hard as they can was not going to get them far in this game. From that loss last year the juniors came back stronger this year by playing smart, using the entire court, playing with a variety of pace and they even got up to the net. Thank you to both the adults and juniors for making this great fun event a huge success!

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Overhead Placement Over Power – February 2019

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One of the biggest mistakes tennis players make when trying to win a point with overhead is by focusing more on power over placement. In my opinion, placement is far more important than trying to hit the ball hard. A lot of times an overhead is hit as hard as you can right back to your opponent. This may work against some players but against other players who have excellent hands and are very skilled at defensive shots, that ball is going to come back every time.

How many times has this happened to you? You hit an overhead to your opponent, they block it back, you hit it harder, they block it back again and then you miss the third overhead deep or into the net. We all know what happens when you or your opponent brings one more ball back. It usually ends with an error.

The key to success is taking a little bit of pace off of the overhead and focus more on placing the ball where your opponent is not. I always tell my students that I’d rather hit a 30mph winner than a 100mph ball that’s coming back. Use your short angles of the court, place the ball where your opponent is not or simply hit the overhead down the middle when playing doubles.  Your overheads will really become great when you can execute your shots with both power and placement. Until then, just keep it simple and focus more on your placement.

Keep on Playing!

 

Club News & Events

5th Annual ACES Tennis Scholarship Fundraiser and Social

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Established in June 2014, The Fred Sommer ACES Tennis Scholarship is a needs-based memorial scholarship designed to provide students ages 8-17 with the opportunity to learn and love the game of tennis. Fred Sommer was a longstanding member of the Aspen Hill Club who passed away after a courageous three year battle with brain cancer. The ACES program, with additional support from the Aspen Hill Club, enables children to participate in Aspen Hill’s Junior Tennis Program. Since its inception in 2014, ACES has awarded over 50 scholarships to Maryland area students.

The Fred Sommer ACES Tennis Scholarship, Inc., is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with the goal to provide year-round need-based scholarships so that children may benefit from the social, emotional and physical growth that accompanies sports participation.

 

Schedule of Events – Friday, March 29, 2019, 6:00—10:00pm

6:00—6:30pm—Check In
6:30—8:00pm—Zumba Jam
6:30—8:30pm— Tennis Play
8:15—10:00pm—Dinner, Silent Auction and Drawing

 

Cost: $60 per personPre-registration required. Deadline to register: Monday, March 25th, 2019. Includes dinner, one drink ticket, a $35 tax-deductible donation to the Fred Sommer ACES Scholarship Fund, Inc. and Zumba Jam or 2 hours of tennis donated by the Aspen Hill Club. Registrations are available at the Club.

Not a tennis player? Not a problem! Join us for Zumba Jam on the basketball court from 6:30—8:00pm!
Light refreshments will be available in the Main Lobby, plus a chance to bid early on silent auction items. You also get a sneak peek at all of the items you can win at the drawing, including:

AHC fitness, aquatics, tennis and group exercise classes and training at discounted rates.

Registration Form

Donation Form

Tennis

Key to Success: Best Return of Serve Options for Doubles Players – January 2019

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Tennis players should view the tennis court as a blank canvas and you are the artist with all of the creativity. The key to being a great returner in doubles is to be very creative and mix up your returns. Listed below are all of the best returning options for doubles players from your best to worse returns.

 

Return Cross Court Deep

It’s always great if you can return a ball right back to the server deep into their court. If done successfully, you will give the returner no time to react immediately after they serve.

 

Return Cross Court Short Angle

Hitting the return cross court short with an angle can catch the server off guard and force them to run forward barely getting to the ball. If they are reaching for the ball then there is a strong possibility of them popping it up for your partner or you to pick it off.

 

Lob Cross Court Deep

This play is effective if you are playing against someone who serves and volleys a lot. I wouldn’t suggest this for every play but every so often to keep them on their heels and potentially pinned back on the baseline. If you can execute this lob well enough then they may think twice about closing in so quickly.

 

Chip and Charge Cross Court

If you are a master at slicing then chipping their serve with underpin and charging the net can be very effective. This play could take your opponent by surprise and force them to come up with a great shot. They may even take their eye off of the ball because they are so focused to see what you are doing as you charge their way. It may even force them to just make an error.

 

Lob Down the Line

Lobbing the net player down the line is always a great option as it puts the other team in disarray immediately after the return. It also forces the server to have to run that ball down if the net player can’t get to it. If this play is used well, there is a great chance that there will be a lob coming your way for you to put away, so be ready and look for it.  If you are playing against a team that does not move very well then that lob will not be coming back at all.

 

Passing Shot in the Doubles Alley

Using this play can be risky but can be very effective if done right. I like to use this play toward the beginning of my matches to send a message to the net player not to poach. Even if my team loses the point, it may be worth it because that pesky net player may think twice about making any moves because of that one shot you hit. This shot can also work if there is a player who likes to stand very close to the center of the court. Hitting down the line will force your opponent to move more toward the line to free up your cross-court returns.  One last way this will work is that element of surprise. Every once in a while you may catch that net player sleeping.

 

Right at the Net Player

The final play is for you to go right to the net player. By hitting right at your opponent one of three things will happen. One, they will get handcuffed and hit back a weak volley. Two, they will be getting out of dodge to avoid the ball. Three, you are going to hit them. It is a part of the rules. Please remember that tennis is a gentlemen’s sport so please make sure you apologize if you hit your opponent. As you can see this play is way down on my list, our intention is never to hurt anyone so please be mindful before doing this play. One measly tennis point is not worth risking a long time friendship.

 

Next time you are on the court be sure to try all of these great return options. Paint that beautiful picture with your great creative mind. Outwit, outplay and outlast all of your opponents with as much variety a possible. Keep on Playing!

Tennis

Key to Success: How to Serve and Volley – December 2018

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A lot of players believe to be an effective serve and volley-er that they need to possess a big serve and lots of foot speed to get to the net. This is far from the truth. In fact, it is quite the opposite. One of the biggest mistakes players make is hitting a hard flat fast serve and running straight to the net. Don’t do it!

Let’s Think About the Serve Options

Which type of serve is going to get you closer to the net in optimal volley position? The answer is a nice spin serve that is well placed. Taking some pace off of your serve will provide you more time to get closer to the net for your first volley.

Serving down the “T” will take the return angles away from your opponent, therefore, forcing them to hit the ball in more of a straight line to you. This will make your first volley easier to handle.

Serving right at your opponent can also be very effective as it will jam your opponent up and force them to hit the ball over the net defensively.

Another serve to consider is serving the ball to your opponents weaker side, either their forehand or backhand. Even if you are serving out wide, it can be effective if the return is coming back weak. It may be worth it to serve out wide. You will have to determine this as the match is played to know what is working and what is not.

Positioning

The last thing you want to do is serve the ball and run straight up to the net. You will actually hurt your chances of hitting a great volley. Think about it as gradually working your way up to the net. Most players are going to hit their first volley around no-mans land or just before you reach the service line. The key to success is to run up a little bit at a time, split step, make your volley and then move up some more. This is what us pros call closing the net. You want to get to your optimal volley position after your first and potentially your second volley. Typically in doubles, the team that gets to the net first has a great chance to win the point.

What is the best volley position to be at? The answer is about three feet inside the service line. You do not want to have your nose on the net as this will give you less time to react to the ball and leave you open to be lobbed. So you want to get close to the net but not too close.

I hope this helps all my serve and volley-ers out there.

Keep on playing!