Pro Tips – The Backhand Slice

As an instructor at Carmel Valley Tennis, Donald “Don” Gomsi assists players at all levels. Don Gomsi focuses on helping beginning and intermediate players to develop good technique and advanced players to work on their game strategy.

The backhand slice can help a player in a number of ways, including as a way to slow the ball down or as preparation for an approach shot. The technique creates backspin as the strings make contact underneath the ball, but it requires careful attention to mechanics. A proper backhand slice should have a subtle high-to-low path, which the player achieves through upper-body rotation and by turning the shoulder.

A well-executed backhand slice also involves bending the knees, which allows the player to swing through the ball. This helps the slice to take on a length and smoothness that, when combined with acceleration, puts power behind the ball. Power requires control to be effective, however, so a player employing the backhand slice should attempt to scoop under the outside edge of the ball as he or she sends it on its way.

Performance Anxiety on the Tennis Court

Donald “Don” Gomsi, an experienced tennis coach, currently serves as an instructor at Carmel Valley Tennis in San Diego, California. In this role, Don Gomsi helps his players to prepare mentally before playing a match and to develop coping techniques to decrease anxiety and improve on-court performance.

Anxiety on the tennis court is damaging to more than just a player’s psyche. It can cause muscles to tense, which negatively impacts coordination and causes more anxiety-producing mistakes. This cycle can be very difficult for a player to escape, as attempting to ignore the anxiety typically only leads the player to focus more on those same feelings.

Although one cannot simply tell oneself to “stay calm,” a number of mental strategies may have that same effect. Guided imagery and meditation can help to quiet the mind and to refocus it on elements unrelated to the anxiety. Players have a number of such techniques from which to choose, one of the most popular being breath control. This simple act of consciously breathing in and out helps not only focus the mind but decrease muscular tension.

Some tennis players also find that positive visualization is helpful. In this technique, the player imagines the result he or she desires from the experience, whether it’s playing with good technique or simply finishing the match without anxiety. This allows the player to reframe negative self-talk and gain control over his or her own thoughts.

Convention Activities of the USPTA San Diego Chapter

Don Gomsi has contributed to the success of tennis in California for many years. Working now at Carmel Valley Tennis in Del Mar, Don Gomsi provides clinics and lessons for rising stars.

Donald Gomsi also is a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). The USPTA’s San Diego Chapter recently held its third convention in March 2015, during which, a number of seminars covering various topics took place.

One winning coach described the methods he used in team practice. His practices have two objectives: reinforcing basic skills and increasing competitiveness. Sessions are organized into warming up, fundamental skills, competition, fun games, strengthening, and cooling off. Each activity has a goal. For instance, a drill might consist of hitting balls as much as possible.

Another speaker addressed factors affecting players over 40. According to the speaker, over-40 players often have plenty resources to help them improve their games, including extra time and disposable income. They can be motivated to like competitions and workouts and are capable of learning new skills. Pros should concentrate on skills the players still possess, rather than focus on weaknesses.

The College Knowledge Tennis Event in San Diego, California

An instructor with Carmel Valley Tennis, Don Gomsi has served as head tester for the California and San Diego Division of the US Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) since 1985. In this capacity, Don Gomsi helps certify prospective USPTA members. He maintains a website associated with the San Diego Division of the USPTA that builds a sense of community among tennis pros. One event featured in the May, 2015, issue of Get Courtside is College Knowledge, which was held at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in April.

This well-attended event brought together high school and junior players to engage with USPTA-certified coaches in learning about the college tennis experience. A United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis on Campus representative delved into the intricacies of achieving varsity team scholarships and the demands that college athletes face, even at the club team level. Other participants included the University of San Diego women’s assistant coach and the University of Southern California women’s tennis West Nott, CMS head coach. These participants were able to give intimate perspectives on the ways their programs work and the attributes they seek in student athletes.

The Open Era of Tennis

Donald Gomsi has served the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) as a head tester for the last three decades. For nearly three years, Donald Gomsi has also worked as the head tennis professional at Del Mar, California’s Carmel Valley Tennis.

Individuals who are new to the sport of tennis may hear about the open era from time to time, and in fact a number of the sport’s biggest tournaments include the United States Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and many other open tournaments. The open era began in 1968 when these tournaments and a number of additional top-ranked events opened their doors to amateur players and professionals alike. Prior to the start of the open era, only amateurs were permitted to compete at Wimbledon, for example, while professionals played exclusively on the pro circuit.

At the time, the distinction between professional and amateur players was negligible, as many amateurs received substantial compensation for tournament wins and appearances. Meanwhile, the argument that professional players would overwhelmingly dominate their amateur counterparts failed to hold water, as amateur American Arthur Ashe won the first ever joint tournament. Tennis remains an open sport today, and all modern records and statistics are limited to those recorded after 1968.

USPTA Offers Continuing Education for Tennis Players

A member of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), Donald Gomsi leads as an executive director of the organization’s San Diego division. Joining the organization nearly three decades ago and shortly thereafter as a head tester, Donald Gomsi coordinates educational events and association operations. Currently, Mr. Gomsi is spearheading a tennis pro convention in La Jolla, California. Dubbed the San Diego Division Convention, the event takes place at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club on March 8, 2015, and features notable tennis professionals, like USPTA chief executive officer John Embree and tennis coach Rod Heckelman.

To maintain membership with the USPTA, a member is required to complete six credits of continuing education each three-year period. This enhances the sport and ensures all members maintain a high level of skill and knowledge necessary for coaching and playing tennis. To assist individuals in obtaining their credits, the USPTA hosts numerous workshops and events throughout the year. In addition, reading books and viewing DVDs related to the sport is an option.

Among the educational activities available is the Professional Tennis Coaches Academy I, which Donald Gomsi administers. An in-person or online course, the academy covers teaching skills, business and programming, and advanced player development. Following each unit of the program, short quizzes test members’ retention of the information. Completion of the course results in four education credits.

United States Tennis Association’s Grants and Funding

Deeply involved in the California tennis community, Donald Gomsi is the head tennis instructor at Carmel Valley Tennis as well as the executive director for the United States Professional Tennis Association’s (USPTA) San Diego division. Donald Gomsi also maintains membership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

To support the growth of the tennis community, USTA offers a number of grant and funding opportunities, including diversity-based grants and a facilities-funding program. USTA honors the achievements of the first African-American Grand Slam champion with the Althea Gibson Leadership Award, which recognizes one male player and one female player who are exceptional at leading others on the court and in other ventures. To be eligible for this grant, players must train and compete all year.

USTA also maintains its Public Facility Assistance Program to facilitate the ability of tennis organizations to substantially expand the influence of tennis in their communities. An extremely competitive program, USTA conducts a detailed evaluation of an organization’s program components, financial history, and previous successes.