What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance?

USTA Florida challenged its tennis teaching professionals to reflect on their journey through the sport of tennis as compared to where they are today. What have they learned? What would they have done differently? What advice would they give to others now on that same journey? For the pros, it’s a walk down memory lane to put to the old adage “hindsight is 20/20” to the test.

First up we have Play Tennis Gainesville Head Pro Christopher Champion. Champion, who was born in Miami and raised in Palmetto Bay, has been passionate about the game of tennis since he began playing at 5 years old. As a junior, he competed in local and state USTA tournaments. Champion is a United States Profession Tennis Association (USPTA) Elite Professional and a certified USTA High Performance Tennis Coach who had served in a variety of roles in the tennis community at both the local and state levels before joining USTA Florida.

What didn’t you do when you were younger that you wish you had?

I think if I would have played a bit more tournaments and trained a little bit harder, and understood how to focus as well as the grand scheme of things about what I was doing, I think that would have definitely helped me within my development.

How would you have practiced differently?

I would have definitely practiced differently by utilizing my twin sister a lot more effectively. I would have pushed not only myself, but her as well, to go out onto the court and train and have some fun.

How would you have approached or played matches differently, knowing what you know now?

I think probably the most important thing that I’ve taken away is understanding the different patterns of play. When I was younger I was just having fun, trying to keep the ball in, trying to make sure that my opponent didn’t get the ball back – but I don’t think I understood the patterns of play as well as I do now.

How can kids practice and use your advised tips?

You have the internet! Read and understand the different patterns of play and become a student of the game. Don’t only rely on your coach.

What tennis advice would you give other kids?

Tennis is a great sport. You learn a lot. Please listen to your coaches and work with your parents – it is a team effort for you to develop as a player. Keep that in mind!