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Young athletes score scholarships, support through local tennis academy

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 10:11 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:45 a.m. CDT

As parents, we all want our kids to succeed - in school, in sport, in life. But the road to that success is not always smooth, and the added boost of one-to-one support can mean the difference between enjoying the game and truly excelling at it.

At Score Tennis and Fitness in Countryside, coaches, trainers and experts in fitness and nutrition address every aspect of athletic development, taking a comprehensive approach to coaching. This privately-owned tennis academy prides itself on group lessons with an 8 to 1 or 6 to 1 ratio and private one-on-one lessons. 

 “We have a unique structure-with a specific pathway for beginning tennis players to nationally ranked status,” says COO Natalie Krstev. “Our tennis, tennis specific fitness, and mental toughness programs all are geared toward developing our juniors' fullest potential, whether the player hopes to make their varsity team, attain a USTA ranking, or even a college scholarship.”

The results have been clear. Score boasts a consistent history of Division I full ride scholarship recipients. It has been the home of dozens of state finalists and USTA ranked tennis players.

Score services tennis players of all levels. Score's junior program spans the learning spectrum from total beginners to Division I college scholarship recipients.

For Krstev, it all starts with the people.

“Our national level tennis instructors are all former Division I players,” she explains.

For young players, the 12 & Under program is run under the leadership of Tennis Pro Matt Sunter. Once the head pro at Top Ten Tennis Academy in Melbourne, Australia, he developed a nationwide 10 and under program.

Barry King, Director of Tennis brings more than 29 years of certified coaching to the academy, and has  personally coached more than 150 juniors who have received full Division I tennis scholarships.  He was USTA 2010 Coach of the Year.

Robbye Poole is a former Pro Tour player with a world ranking of 390. Poole was practice partner for Andy Roddick, Donald Young and John Isner, and an NCAA All American for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

Ross VanderPloeg is a graduate of Western Michigan University, where he held the #1 and #2 Singles Position 2012 and 2013. The MAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player that same season, he held the ITA regional ranking of #5 in doubles, and was two-time Academic All Conference.

Athletic success starts with a fit and healthy body, so Score offers tennis specific fitness using state of the art equipment. The Junior Champion Program is an affordable format for the serious junior player who plays more than three times per week.

Elite mini groups are offered by invitation, to train elite junior players with National Rankings.

The importance of the mental aspect in a competitive sport has been long acknowledged by coaches, athletes, and parents, but often players do not spend enough time practicing mental skill and do not have the appropriate guidance while doing it. Score offers access to sports psychology, through tennis pro Mira Radu. This three-time Romanian National Champion and former Pro Tour player helps players enhance tennis performance and gain a competitive edge by giving attention to the mental skills that make the difference, on and off the court.

Score is serious about tennis, but as one of the very few privately-owned tennis academies remaining, the atmosphere still maintains a familial and personal tone, Krstev stresses. 

“We care about our clients' development.”

Find out more: At Score, academy classes are based on ability level.  Potential students can come to the facility for a free evaluation to properly suggest placement within the offered classes.

Memberships to the club are available for adults, along with coaching, training, and fitness benefits in both tennis and golf.  Special memberships are available for parents whose juniors are current members in the Score tennis program.

Score Tennis & Fitness is located at  6550 Joliet Road in Countryside. Call 708-482-4800 for information.

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