By K.J. WEBB
TALENT WITH COACH: Coach Trent Tucker poses with several of his tennis players at the Grand Health and Racquet Club. From left are McKinleigh Lair, Jenks Schools; Olivia Hauger, Holland Hall; Coach Tucker; William Genesen, Holland Hall; and Mitchel Knight, Metro Christian.
SHARON CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Since its inception in 2002, the Trent Tucker Tennis Academy, one of only four United States Tennis Association () certified regional training facilities in the country, has produced many highly competitive players who have received college scholarships and achieved national rankings. By 2009 the Academy’s players had won 46 Missouri Valley Championships and two national championships.
Academy Director Trent Tucker says, “Our players have done, and continue to do very well in the world of competitive tennis.” When asked how he identifies player potential, Tucker says, “It’s a combination of some natural ability and determination. With the right coaching and training, a player can achieve national championship level tennis in Tulsa. It’s no longer necessary to go to Florida or California to train.”
Tucker says, “It’s more cost effective to remain in Tulsa. Some of our players’ parents choose to homeschool in order to allow them to get the training in. They do really well with their schoolwork. In fact, a couple of our homeschool players scored over 30 on the .”
Tucker explains that the discipline on the court and in training spills over into other areas of life. “Our training is intense and requires dedication and discipline,” he says. “Kids start young and build great habits about work, persistence and achieving goals.”
The training is physical, mental and technical. “To really learn any stroke you have to perform it correctly 10,000 times. It takes patience, commitment and lots of time and hard work. Kids start as young as six or seven and as they progress their training intensifies. We’re the only facility in town that offers lessons as early as six a.m., as well as late night.”
Competitive players train up to six hours a day, doing drills, working on strokes, and for the players who get more serious, doing fitness training three times a week specifically geared to improving their strength and game. In addition, with their coaches, they can analyze their stokes on the state-of-the-art video analysis system. “It’s the only system of its kind in the state. With it we can keep a video record of a player’s progression and do a side-by-side analysis of the player’s strokes with a pro’s”, says Tucker. “Our training system is based on the European method and is more technical, more structured and involves more hours.”
All of the training requires a dedicated, knowledgeable, professional coaching staff. Tucker has high praise for his coaching staff. “They really know what they’re doing. They’re also consistent and reliable and form deep relationships with the families. This is extremely important because training at the competitive level requires a family commitment.”
For instance, parents who don’t homeschool must be willing to bring their kids to train early before school starts, and after school. They have to be able to travel to tournaments and follow the coach’s guidelines. “If parents are willing and able to commit the time and trust the coach it will work well,” says Tucker. “You’ll see results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” To that point, Tucker’s coaching staff pushes the player’s hard. “We identify talent, commit, and help make it happen,” says Tucker. “We develop our players physically and mentally and really build their competitive spirit.”
Tucker’s Tennis Academy training produces impressive results. “Last year we set a national recruiting record,” says Tucker. “We sent eight of our high school seniors on to play Division 1 tennis at Cornell, Duke, Miami, Iowa, Marquette, Oklahoma, and University of Missouri at Kansas City.”
Tucker Tennis Academy players are garnering national attention in the world of tennis for their abilities. Thirteen year old California native William Genesen juggles the academic rigors of Holland Hall School (Class of 2016), where he plays tenor sax in the school band with the demands of competitive tennis. Genesen started playing competitive tennis at age seven while living in California, where he was in the elite performance group at the tennis academy where he trained. After moving to Tulsa three years ago, he quickly found a home at Trent Tucker’s Tennis Academy where he has advanced his game and his ranking in the Missouri Valley, as well as at the national level.
In 2010 Genesen finished 28th (out of about 8,000 kids) in the nation in Boys’ 12s. Last summer he was a medal-winner as a finalist in the U.S. National Open in Omaha, Neb. This year he has advanced steadily in the Boys 14s and 16s in the Missouri Valley, where is he currently ranked 8th and has advanced nationally in the Boys 14s. Genesen’s achievements are hard-won. He has practiced before school, after school, and travelled on weekends to play in tournaments. It’s this level of commitment that has taken him, with his coach and mentor Tucker, to the recent National Open in Macon, Ga.
Geneson’s passion for tennis extends to participating at professional tournaments as a ball boy. He cherishes his autographed tennis balls from Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal from the Indian Wells Paraba Professional Tournament. Genesen spends most of his time on the courts, but in his downtime enjoys ping-pong and fishing.
Olivia Hauger, 13, is also a Holland Hall student, Class of 2016. She has a blue-chip player ranking, which is the highest possible. Currently, Hauger is ranked 12th nationally in the Class of 2016, 14th nationally in Girls 14s, and 8th regionally in the Missouri Valley Girls 18s. Her recent accomplishments include: Girls 16s National February Open Champion; Doubles Champion in Girls 18s Missouri Valley February Sweet 16; Quarter Finalist in 2010 Girls 14s Winter National Championships in Tucson, Arizona; and 4th place in Girls 12s Doubles Spring 2010 Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. Yet another of Hauger’s recent accomplishments is joining the Babolat National Team.
Although Hauger has an extremely rigorous training and tournament schedule she maintains a 4.0 . Hauger’s goal is to play on the pro circuit after she graduates from a Division 1 school. Other extremely promising Tucker Academy players getting lots of attention are Zeke Clark, a very talented up-and-comer who is currently ranked 8th nationally in Boys’ 12s, and the very promising Caitlin Calkins is ranked 9th in Girls’ 12s.
The players’ parents credit Trent Tucker Tennis Academy as integral to their kids’ success citing the exceptional, expert coaching and training, the staff’s dedication to the players and the extremely supportive environment, all of which have been fundamental in developing these extremely talented young players, both with bright futures in the world of competitive tennis.
Trent Tucker Tennis is located at the Grand Health and Racquet Club in Tulsa at 3030 E. 91st St. The Grand has been called Tulsa’s premier tennis facility with six lighted indoor and 14 lighted outdoor courts. Fantastic playing conditions, an outstanding variety of tennis activities and services, plus the highly regarded tennis faculty make The Grand the perfect place for tennis for all ages and abilities. Call 918-298-9500 or visit www.grandhealthandracquet.com.