The Split Step Defined

As coaches, we often utilize the word “Split Step” in terms of being a mistake our players have made. Instead of reacting to a player’s mistake, let’s be proactive and tell our students what we expect before they fail to use the split step. Ultimately, this skill should become a weapon as opposed to a weakness. With a solid foundation and knowledge of this skill set, players will know exactly what is expected of them. The following are a list of points of emphasis when teaching the split step: 

1. The player should establish a solid, wide base well before they make contact with the ball. 

Their feet should be slightly wider than shoulder length. Perhaps, use the length of the racket to illustrate this distance. You can simply have the student place their racket in front of them, with feet on both right and left edges of the frame and grip (i.e. at least 27 inches apart). Have them bend using their knees, not the wais, and freeze in this position after raising their head up. Key variables should be: 

1. Chest forward, leaning slightly over their belly button or waist.

2. Knees slightly bent and not in a locked position. 

3. Students should be balanced, with their weight distributed properly to the balls of their feet, NOT the heels.

2. Allow your players to know they are in attack-mode, not chill-out mode. This position is used to produce enough momentum that will assist them in pushing off in any, certain direction. You can tell them this is NOT a STatic position, and to NOT be STationary, STanding STill, or STopped. Instead, tell players they must be rocking on the balls of their feet, ready to pounce, and engaged! 

3. A player needs to have subtle moments that occur almost simultaneously with the opponent’s strike or contact of the ball before forming the split step.

Some examples include: staggering their feet and taking a stride into the split step position or simply subtly leaning in a direction as part of the split. In the video posted on our social media channels, UNCG Commit Olivia Gallagher demonstrates shading or leaning to her strength and making sure the split step is not a stop step that builds momentum in the direction she wants to move. This is also a great way to create spacing for your groundstrokes prior to executing them. Players may be familiar with similar movements before returning a serve. Nothing changes about a split step, but the movement and actions taken prior to splitting can differ slightly, varying from player to player. 

Fun Ideas: Split step means to SPLIT, not to STOP. It’s not called a stop step for that reason. To find this position, ask a student to stand in what they feel is a good split step, then ask them to close their eyes. Inform them that you are going to push on their back or head. They will create resistance to your push if they get wider and lean slightly forward with their chest over the belly button in a coiled position, thus realizing they did not have proper positioning before you pushed them. For younger developmental students, use the visual of a snowman. Use the 3 sections to ask what’s the most important. The answer is the base or the bottom that supports the middle and the top. It’s the widest of the 3 sections to be able to support the other.

Additional Notes: To execute a good split step, have students perform the crossover recovery step after hitting the ball with a wide base. DO NOT ALLOW the student to stop when trying to implement a good split step. Call it a movement that helps them to become in control of their body again in order to push off in the direction of the next shot while still maintaining balance. Let’s be proactive, not reactive. You can plan ahead instead of learning from your mistakes after the fact. By setting up properly and applying a dynamic, engaged position just prior to your opponent striking the ball, your ability to cover your opponent’s best strokes will be made easier, I PROMISE! I don’t see the speed of the game becoming any slower; therefore, I see the need to emphasize and reinforce the preparatory phase (i.e. the split). Let’s look athletic before, during, and after. This sport requires a proactive and athletic look before anything even happens.

UTAThe Split Step Defined
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Horseshoe Bend CC Tennis Teams Up with Universal Tennis Management

Horseshoe Bend Country Club Tennis Operations to be managed by Atlanta‐based Universal Tennis Management, a nationally recognized leader in Tennis Management, starting in January of 2021. 



Universal Tennis Management (UTM) is pleased to announce it has been selected to manage Horseshoe Bend Country Club (HBCC) tennis operationsin Roswell, GA., a premier private country club located in Roswell, Georgia. UTM will manage the beautiful Horseshoe Bend Country Club tennis facility starting in January of 2021.    

Horseshoe Bend CC opened in 1974 and gained prominence in the tennis community in the early 1990’s when it was selected as the site of the AT&T Challenge where tennis stars Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang competed. HBCC tennis received another boost following an expansive transformation of the tennis facilities in 2015.  That year the United States Tennis Association (USTA) recognized the new facility with their Outstanding Facility Award! 

Today, the Horseshoe Bend CC facility offers 13 full‐size outdoor courts, with 7 hard courts and 6 clay courts, 2 of which are European red clay!  In addition to these courts HBCC also has 4 mini‐courts that can be utilized for youth tennis play or instruction (with low‐ compression balls) or pickleball.  Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, and the HBCC membership has shown great interest in this fast‐paced game!    

As a UTM‐managed private facility, members and guest of HBCC can expect superior facilities, exciting programming, and excellent customer service. UTM prides itself on growing the great sport of tennis in the metro Atlanta area, and they are eager to bring their expertise to the HBCC membership.  UTM Partner, Tim Noonan will oversee the transition and London‐born, Ryan Hughes will be the Director of Tennis.  Tim Noonan is excited about the future at HBCC, saying, “Horseshoe Bend CC is a beautiful facility with a great membership base.  We hope to build their programs and customer satisfaction to even greater levels than they have seen in the past.   

We can’t wait to get in there and meet the wonderful people of HBCC!” 

“We are thrilled to announce this management relationship with UTM,” said Jacqueline Welch, General Manager for Horseshoe Bend CC.  “Our shared goal is to enhance the tennis experience for our members and their guests at Horseshoe Bend CC.” 

About Horseshoe Bend Country Club: Horseshoe Bend Country Club (HBCC) is an individually owned, private country club is nestled in a magnificent rolling green horseshoe formed by the beautiful Chattahoochee River as it sweeps across the northside of Atlanta on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Following the magnificent revitalization project, Horseshoe Bend Country Club has found its sweet spot as the premier, family‐oriented, private country club in North Atlanta.  HBCC features an 18‐hole Championship Course originally designed by Joe Lee in 1973 and redesigned in 2012 by Hall of Fame Golf Course Architect Bob Cupp.  A tennis complex, winner of the 2015 United States Tennis Association Outstanding Facility Award. Our swim facility offers three resort style pools and serves as home to an active swim team, the HBCC Mustangs. With numerous dining options and an activity calendar boosting more than 300 events annually, there is something for everyone! Our promise is pristine facilities, exceptional service, in a welcoming environment where all are treated fairly and equitably and we’re on a mission to create a community where members make and sustain enduring friendships through their participation in activities and events around the Bend. 

About Universal Tennis Academy:  Universal Tennis Management (UTM) exists to promote the growth of adult and junior tennis. We promote tennis through our world‐class instruction, comprehensive programming, quality customer service, and extensive knowledge of club management and operations.  UTM is committed to instilling a positive impact on the community through ethical business practices, outreach activities, mentoring programs, and charitable endeavors.  UTM Partners and Directors have over 290 years of tennis experience.  They have been professional players, country club directors, college coaches, owners of an 11‐court swim & tennis club and managers of both public and private facilities. 

Contact: Jacqueline Welch, General Manger, Horseshoe Bend Country Club            

Phone: 770‐992‐2310 

Email:   [email protected]

UTAHorseshoe Bend CC Tennis Teams Up with Universal Tennis Management
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Who’s ready for… PADDLE?

At Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, there is one more great sport to add to this list; Paddle! Platform Tennis, more commonly referred to as Paddle, is a great fall and winter activity for the racket sports’ lover.  Paddle began in the Northeast as a winter alternative for the tennis players with limited access to indoor courts.  In the fall of 2015 the Peachtree Paddle League teamed up with other local investors to get a 3 court facility  built at Bitsy Grant.  It is one of the nicest facilities in the country, and they were the first public paddle courts in the Southeast!

UTAWho’s ready for… PADDLE?
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UTA Pro Spotlight: Meet Ross Beall

Meet Atlanta native Ross Beall from Chastain Park Tennis Center!

Roswell native Ross Beall started working with UTA while still in high school, serving as a junior professional at Chattahoochee Plantation Tennis Club. Upon graduation from Pope High School, Ross received an academic scholarship to attend Oglethorpe University. While attending Oglethorpe, he was a 4-year starter and served as tennis team captain.

UTAUTA Pro Spotlight: Meet Ross Beall
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The Ballboy Diaries: July 2019 Edition

July brings two things to our Atlanta tennis community. First, it brings the heat! The true dog days of summer are here, and bringing 3 or 4 shirts to work is just another day for our pros. July also brings the best tennis players in the world to town, as the BBT Atlanta Open takes place at Atlantic Station. It is an exciting week for all local tennis fans, but for me it a very special week. I, along with Patricia Jensen (the Jensen Brothers’ mom), coordinate the Ballboys/girls for our ATP tour stop. It is a long, hot week, but watching the youth of Atlanta patrolling the courts at the BBT Atlanta Open is a great thrill for us. Growing up in St. Louis, I was a ballboy on anything and everything that rolled through town, and being able to pass on my knowledge and experience is a great privilege. I have been on the court with Stan Smith, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Billie Jean King, and Jimmy Connors, and being up close to the action only fueled my love for the sport of tennis!
UTAThe Ballboy Diaries: July 2019 Edition
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UTA Pro Spotlight: Meet Caio Borges

Meet Caio Borges from Sharon Lester Tennis Center at Piedmont Park!

Caio grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, competing in national and international level junior tournaments. In 2006, he accepted a tennis scholarship to play for Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.  Caio was an active member of the men’s tennis team for four years, playing line one doubles and two singles.  He was captain of his team and received the N.A.I.A Champion of Character award during his senior year.  Caio also received the All Team Scholarship award while at Lee.  He received a BA in Communications from Lee University and an MA in Design and Media Management from Miami International University.

UTAUTA Pro Spotlight: Meet Caio Borges
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Pace Academy Tennis Has a Year for the Ages

In 2016 the Pace Academy athletic programs made the jump to the 3A classification, up from 2A in previous years.  What this meant for Pace Tennis was competing on the same level as perennial powerhouses Westminster and Lovett.  I must admit that my original thought (shared by many other UTA coaches) was, “What is Pace thinking??”  Westminster and Lovett have been winning state championships for years, and they are always among the best teams in Georgia at any level!  Pace had always had some good players, but usually lacked the depth that the other top programs had.

UTAPace Academy Tennis Has a Year for the Ages
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