Trip report USTA National Campus 23-27 January

sbmackie

Rookie
A buddy and I went to Orlando for some tennis education and skill building. We are both 3.5 to 4.0 players depending on league, are active with our neighborhood club and Atlanta leagues, and were seeking specific areas of improvement plus a different inject then what our good local coaches were providing. We are both singles players, so the coaching and drill sessions were focused on that. He is 59, I'm 64.
So: Kim Desdunes is the coordinator for such things at the Center. She did a yeoman's work scheduling with coaches and drills suitable to our level. For the semi private lessons we had Coaches Luis Zuleta, Patick Nagle, Eric Pribitkin and Mark Galina. For drills, we had Sean Bleau, Jenny Woyahn, and Gus Munoz. All provided meaningful instruction, and more importantly, actionable self coaching drills and "nuggets" to bring back. (I'm geeky enough to take attributable notes). Each semi-private lesson was 90 minutes or 2 hours, and each drill session was 90 minutes. So, Monday through Thursday we played for 3 hours, and Friday was a 2 hour coaching session. Drill sessions were limited to 8 players and 2 coaches were provided. The Singles Round Robin was 16 players with two coaches herding the cats and providing injects. Public math says 14 hours over 5 days. Maybe coulda done more, but at some risk to my knees and his back.
We arrived at MCO at 12 on Monday. The first coaching session was at 4:00, and the first drill session was at 7:30. We chose to go straight to the center which is 15 minutes from MCO and we wanted to 'splore the place and start feeling the vibe. Upon arrival we discovered there was an ITF women's 25K in progress. BONUS! Headliner was An Li. Afer our lesson, we found a local Applebee's for a light dinner, then back to the courts for the singles drills, the theme of which was serving and returning. Good takeaways and reminders. Day two schedule was janky, with a lesson in the morning, and 3.5-4.0 Match Play in the evening. We hung out and watche pro matches. Days three and four worked out perfectly; 90 minutes lesson, followed immediately with 90 minute drill session. On day five, we had flights out early afternoon, so we did a 2 hour AM coaching session. With better planning we could have done another hour if desired. There are shower facilities.
Lucky us, no rain, but some cooler temps with winds. We played on the very well maintained har-true courts. We asked to play on the red clay, but no dice.
The racquet bar is a very nice feature. We did a weight, balance and SW on our racquets. My buddies Pure Strikes were tight on weight and balance, but 9 points difference in SW, one 319 and the other 328, which is within manufacturing spec...but geez. Identical strings.
Vibe: the staff was courteous and engaging, and answered all our questions. It's all tennis/pickleball/paddle, all the time. Many aspiring young people with tennis bags running around.
Minor downers: the cafe is only open from 10 to 4. Would be nice to have a morning or evening cuppa available. There is an observation deck that has facilites for a snack bar which was not open. Perhaps it is when a big(er) event is planned. Yes, the facilty is on 2 mile final for 35R at MCO. Interesting to occasionally hear a wing tip vortice above your head or rustling the palm fronds.
We really enjoyed watching the pro's play. I've got a favorite to follow: Mackenna Jones. We happend upon her qually matches day's 1 and 2, in both of which she took her opposition apart. Hard, flat hitting. Geez, I wish I had half her backhand. She drew An Li (currently nunber 144, but has been as high as 44) in the first round and went three sets. NOTE: the quality difference was noticeable. An Li had another gear. Bad luck in the draw. Pro's also make crappy line calls, as there were no line judges/refs's for the qually's. Some racquets took some abuse, and colorful language sotto voce was noticed.

You can do your own homework on costs. Ours, exluding transport by air to MCO, were just over $1000 for rental car, three bedroom condo, tennis, and some groceries. Incidental meals, souvies, cups of joe, etc, not included. Bring the fam and let them do Dismal World.
 
Last edited:

mikeler

Moderator
They must not do it anymore but there was a time where they would let you play on the red clay from either 6 PM to 7:30 PM or 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM. It was only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. The court fee was $50 but if you have never played on red clay before, I think many would spend that. They usually had most of those courts full when they allowed play on the red clay courts.
 

pedrogcr

Semi-Pro
A buddy and I went to Orlando for some tennis education and skill building. We are both 3.5 to 4.0 players depending on league, are active with our neighborhood club and Atlanta leagues, and were seeking specific areas of improvement plus a different inject then what our good local coaches were providing. We are both singles players, so the coaching and drill sessions were focused on that. He is 59, I'm 64.
So: Kim Desdunes is the coordinator for such things at the Center. She did a yeoman's work scheduling with coaches and drills suitable to our level. For the semi private lessons we had Coaches Luis Zuleta, Patick Nagle, Eric Pribitkin and Mark Galina. For drills, we had Sean Bleau, Jenny Woyahn, and Gus Munoz. All provided meaningful instruction, and more importantly, actionable self coaching drills and "nuggets" to bring back. (I'm geeky enough to take attributable notes). Each semi-private lesson was 90 minutes or 2 hours, and each drill session was 90 minutes. So, Monday through Thursday we played for 3 hours, and Friday was a 2 hour coaching session. Drill sessions were limited to 8 players and 2 coaches were provided. The Singles Round Robin was 16 players with two coaches herding the cats and providing injects. Public math says 14 hours over 5 days. Maybe coulda done more, but at some risk to my knees and his back.
We arrived at MCO at 12 on Monday. The first coaching session was at 4:00, and the first drill session was at 7:30. We chose to go straight to the center which is 15 minutes from MCO and we wanted to 'splore the place and start feeling the vibe. Upon arrival we discovered there was an ITF women's 25K in progress. BONUS! Headliner was An Li. Afer our lesson, we found a local Applebee's for a light dinner, then back to the courts for the singles drills, the theme of which was serving and returning. Good takeaways and reminders. Day two schedule was janky, with a lesson in the morning, and 3.5-4.0 Match Play in the evening. We hung out and watche pro matches. Days three and four worked out perfectly; 90 minutes lesson, followed immediately with 90 minute drill session. On day five, we had flights out early afternoon, so we did a 2 hour AM coaching session. With better planning we could have done another hour if desired. There are shower facilities.
Lucky us, no rain, but some cooler temps with winds. We played on the very well maintained har-true courts. We asked to play on the red clay, but no dice.
The racquet bar is a very nice feature. We did a weight, balance and SW on our racquets. My buddies Pure Strikes were tight on weight and balance, but 9 points difference in SW, one 319 and the other 328, which is within manufacturing spec...but geez. Identical strings.
Vibe: the staff was courteous and engaging, and answered all our questions. It's all tennis/pickleball/paddle, all the time. Many aspiring young people with tennis bags running around.
Minor downers: the cafe is only open from 10 to 4. Would be nice to have a morning or evening cuppa available. There is an observation deck that has facilites for a snack bar which was not open. Perhaps it is when a big(er) event is planned. Yes, the facilty is on 2 mile final for 35R at MCO. Interesting to occasionally hear a wing tip vortice above your head or rustling the palm fronds.
We really enjoyed watching the pro's play. I've got a favorite to follow: Mackenna Jones. We happend upon her qually matches day's 1 and 2, in both of which she took her opposition apart. Hard, flat hitting. Geez, I wish I had half her backhand. She drew An Li (currently nunber 144, but has been as high as 44) in the first round and went three sets. NOTE: the quality difference was noticeable. An Li had another gear. Bad luck in the draw. Pro's also make crappy line calls, as there were no line judges/refs's for the qually's. Some racquets took some abuse, and colorful language sotto voce was noticed.

You can do your own homework on costs. Ours, exluding transport by air to MCO, were just over $1000 for housing, rental car, three bedroom condo, tennis, and some groceries. Incidental meals, souvies, cups of joe, etc, not included. Bring the fam and let them do Dismal World.

Nice report! Do you know how much was just the tennis expenses?
Thanks!
 

puppybutts

Hall of Fame
So $1000 for 4 nights and 14 hours of tennis? some private lessons are $100 per hour, which would be $1400 alone. doesn't seem as crazy expensive as I would have thought for Florida

- Ann Li is a great player...shame her ranking plummeted, wonder what's going on
- Racquet bar sounds cool

thanks for sharing. question - you listed "housing" and "three bedroom condo" separately. were those two different things?
 

sbmackie

Rookie
We split the coaching costs, and the housing was a 3/2.5 condo. Plenty of room. Overkill for us, but at booking time it was no more expensive then a 2/2 and we thought a 3rd person was coming.Next time we will look earlier and try to find something within 30 minutes. And, we both thought a 2/1 student/coach ratio was good.
 

dkmura

Professional
Thanks for the detailed report on your trip. This is the kind of report that can help many of us in the future!
 

Connor35

Semi-Pro
Great report, thanks for the detailed into.

I used to liven Lake Nona when it opened and you're spot on: The staff is amazing and friendly.
Agree, it would be cool if the observation deck bar was open more -- even for events, it seems like it rarely is. Hard to imagine it wouldn't be used more.

The Racquet bar guys are great. One day I took my 8yo down when I was picking up racquet and they invited her behind the counter, showed her how the stringing worked, etc. Really nice and really helpful guys. Sean Prokes has been there running it since it opened.
 

Purestriker

Legend
A buddy and I went to Orlando for some tennis education and skill building. We are both 3.5 to 4.0 players depending on league, are active with our neighborhood club and Atlanta leagues, and were seeking specific areas of improvement plus a different inject then what our good local coaches were providing. We are both singles players, so the coaching and drill sessions were focused on that. He is 59, I'm 64.
So: Kim Desdunes is the coordinator for such things at the Center. She did a yeoman's work scheduling with coaches and drills suitable to our level. For the semi private lessons we had Coaches Luis Zuleta, Patick Nagle, Eric Pribitkin and Mark Galina. For drills, we had Sean Bleau, Jenny Woyahn, and Gus Munoz. All provided meaningful instruction, and more importantly, actionable self coaching drills and "nuggets" to bring back. (I'm geeky enough to take attributable notes). Each semi-private lesson was 90 minutes or 2 hours, and each drill session was 90 minutes. So, Monday through Thursday we played for 3 hours, and Friday was a 2 hour coaching session. Drill sessions were limited to 8 players and 2 coaches were provided. The Singles Round Robin was 16 players with two coaches herding the cats and providing injects. Public math says 14 hours over 5 days. Maybe coulda done more, but at some risk to my knees and his back.
We arrived at MCO at 12 on Monday. The first coaching session was at 4:00, and the first drill session was at 7:30. We chose to go straight to the center which is 15 minutes from MCO and we wanted to 'splore the place and start feeling the vibe. Upon arrival we discovered there was an ITF women's 25K in progress. BONUS! Headliner was An Li. Afer our lesson, we found a local Applebee's for a light dinner, then back to the courts for the singles drills, the theme of which was serving and returning. Good takeaways and reminders. Day two schedule was janky, with a lesson in the morning, and 3.5-4.0 Match Play in the evening. We hung out and watche pro matches. Days three and four worked out perfectly; 90 minutes lesson, followed immediately with 90 minute drill session. On day five, we had flights out early afternoon, so we did a 2 hour AM coaching session. With better planning we could have done another hour if desired. There are shower facilities.
Lucky us, no rain, but some cooler temps with winds. We played on the very well maintained har-true courts. We asked to play on the red clay, but no dice.
The racquet bar is a very nice feature. We did a weight, balance and SW on our racquets. My buddies Pure Strikes were tight on weight and balance, but 9 points difference in SW, one 319 and the other 328, which is within manufacturing spec...but geez. Identical strings.
Vibe: the staff was courteous and engaging, and answered all our questions. It's all tennis/pickleball/paddle, all the time. Many aspiring young people with tennis bags running around.
Minor downers: the cafe is only open from 10 to 4. Would be nice to have a morning or evening cuppa available. There is an observation deck that has facilites for a snack bar which was not open. Perhaps it is when a big(er) event is planned. Yes, the facilty is on 2 mile final for 35R at MCO. Interesting to occasionally hear a wing tip vortice above your head or rustling the palm fronds.
We really enjoyed watching the pro's play. I've got a favorite to follow: Mackenna Jones. We happend upon her qually matches day's 1 and 2, in both of which she took her opposition apart. Hard, flat hitting. Geez, I wish I had half her backhand. She drew An Li (currently nunber 144, but has been as high as 44) in the first round and went three sets. NOTE: the quality difference was noticeable. An Li had another gear. Bad luck in the draw. Pro's also make crappy line calls, as there were no line judges/refs's for the qually's. Some racquets took some abuse, and colorful language sotto voce was noticed.

You can do your own homework on costs. Ours, exluding transport by air to MCO, were just over $1000 for housing, rental car, three bedroom condo, tennis, and some groceries. Incidental meals, souvies, cups of joe, etc, not included. Bring the fam and let them do Dismal World.
Sounded like an awesome trip...except for Applebees.
 

sovertennis

Professional
Wife and I did the same camp the week before Christmas and had some of the same coaches (I especially liked Patrick and Mark; Patrick spent about 90 minutes with me doing some hitting drills in lieu of the Saturday round robin because I was the only 4.5 in the group. Really nice of him to do that). I was especially impressed that almost all the activities (I avoid the term "drills") were live ball instead of fed AKA dead ball. The level of coaching throughout was excellent and I brought back a lot of insights into my own game and also to improve my coaching. The facility is indeed wondrous, and the staff immensely warm and friendly. Would def go again.

Coincidentally M. Jones lived across the street from me prior to going to college, and her Mom and Dad (both coaches) moving to CA. Glad to hear she's keeping at it.
 

sbmackie

Rookie
Yes, what we call "drills" in my northern 'burbs Atlanta neighborhood are really hit and giggle coach fed point play. I got a chance to speak with Makenna's Dad. I think he said they live in Tampa.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
If it rains, are there guaranteed indoor courts available at the same scheduled lesson or clinic times?
 

sbmackie

Rookie
If it rains, are there guaranteed indoor courts available at the same scheduled lesson or clinic times?
Good question to ask them. One of the coaches (I believe it was Eric) said in the summer when it is to hot, they will go indoors for some drills/lessons. If I heard him correctly, the Player Development students get priority on the indoor courts. I will tell you this: we were going to go in November. The hurricane/tropical storm impacted three of the five days. There was no question about canceliing. There is an ""otherwise" concellation policy you can find on their web site.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
I'll be heading out there on Wednesday, not to play but just to look around. There's a 60k WTA event going on so will be doing some watching as well.
 

mikeler

Moderator
Good question to ask them. One of the coaches (I believe it was Eric) said in the summer when it is to hot, they will go indoors for some drills/lessons. If I heard him correctly, the Player Development students get priority on the indoor courts. I will tell you this: we were going to go in November. The hurricane/tropical storm impacted three of the five days. There was no question about canceliing. There is an ""otherwise" concellation policy you can find on their web site.

I think the priority for indoor courts is Player Development (during the day), lessons at night and leagues if it rains. We got to play indoors last summer when our final match got rained out the last evening of Sectionals.
 

Connor35

Semi-Pro
If it rains, are there guaranteed indoor courts available at the same scheduled lesson or clinic times?

No. There are simply too many outdoor courts & too much going on all at once to guarantee this.
Plus there are only 6 (I think) indoor courts whose primary purpose is for the pros & juniors in the development program.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
I was vacationing in Florida and was at the national campus last Wednesday and Thursday. Pretty cool place to visit and they had a WTA 60k event going on so I got to watch some very good tennis. Sabine Lisicki was the biggest name and it seems like she may be trying for a comeback at age 33.

Other than an hour or two of pretty heavy activity on all of the courts (tennis, pickleball, and padel) right around the lunch hour, the place is pretty quiet. There were probably no more than 20-30 spectators at the WTA event, and many of those were parents/coaches. The racquet bar had a long line of racquets waiting for restringing but the pro shop was pretty deserted all the time we were there. At least with the weather that they had last week, planes are not an issue at all.
 
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