Influencing The Next Generation –What example are you setting?

One of my favorite activities is to share stories of the lessons that I have learned throughout my many years being involved with tennis. I love the game so much. In addition, teaching and helping others runs through my veins, so I hope you will enjoy and find value in the following story.

Right after high school, I went to train at the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Carlsbad, California. I spent roughly six hours a day in training, not to mention the fact that I often left on trips to play pro tournaments throughout the U.S.  In addition to playing and training, I would help out as a student coach with the high school group in order to give back after my long hours of training.

One specific day, my coach at the time arranged for a few of the players from a local, California D2 team to attend and hit in with some of the better players in the high school group.  Included in the high school group was one standout 12-year-old girl named Pam that we knew would LOVE the experience.   And, it would provide the college players a chance to be mentors, a great example, and a potential inspiration, which could then raise Pam’s game to an even higher level. Boy, were we wrong!  (We will get back to Pam near the end of the story. Stay tuned.)

The College players arrived 10 minutes late and showed little effort or urgency in getting onto the court.  I looked over at the high school players (who were initially excited that they were coming) and literally every single student was watching the college players’ slow and lethargic movements.  I still remember how drastically the vibe changed. It went from excitement to the question of: “This is the work ethic that a top D2 player has?” Eventually, the college players got themselves ready, and the high school players were called over and warmups began.

It is always exciting for me as a coach to watch the dynamic between older and younger players (high school vs. college players).  The high school player sometimes puts so much pressure on themselves that they feel they need to constantly hit winners (and end up losing badly). But other times, they are fairly clueless about the gravity of the situation. And, they end up making it a heck of a match (a win in this case is not uncommon). The college player feels pressure from the first ball in warmup, as they do not for any reason want to lose to a young buck.

The matches started. There were three total matches, comprised of the top 1, 2 and 3 players from the college team and the top 1, 2 and 3 players from the high school group.  The number one match started off tight in each set. The college player, as expected, was able to win the key points and won the match 6-3, 6-3.  The number two match was about as tight as they come, with the college player winning the first set, the high school player winning the second, and they were deadlocked at 3-3 in the final set as time expired for the day.  The number three match was similar to the number one match, with one exception. The high school player took it to the college player and won 7-5, 6-2.  This college player was not pleased and showed it.

Did you think I forgot to tell you about Pam?  Now it was Pam’s turn!  She was so excited. I can still remember to this day the nervous smile on her face.  Pam jumped in and started a set against the number 3 college player.  This is the same college player who had just gotten beat by a 14-year-old and was now walking around with his sense of entitlement showing. He was rolling his eyes at having to hit with a 12-year-old girl, saying out loud to his teammates that it was “a waste of time”.  I glanced over at the high school players, and they all heard him loud and clear. We put a stop to the singles match quickly, as Pam’s eyes were beginning to well up with embarrassment. Even sadder was the reaction from his two other college teammates: they actually agreed with him! They even had the nerve to approach my coach at the time and describe how it was a waste of time. They felt they were being marketed because the parents were watching (I still have no idea what that means) and that the level of tennis was not high enough for them to attend in the future. I am not sure if there has ever been a more obvious case of entitlement in my experience!

I am still to this day horrified by how this scenario played out. And, to be honest, it is just one of the many experiences that has been frozen in my memory and which has helped shape the standards at High Altitude Tennis Academy.  Yes, we can prove that our modern developmental method works with actual data.  BUT, the biggest part of what we do is to show each student how much we care in order to earn their trust. That way, we can teach character, class, and championship leadership. We joke that we are the entitlement removal experts. But really, after retelling this story, it’s no joke.

So what is my main purpose in telling you this story?  My hope is that even one up-and-coming college athlete will spend the time to read this and realize how important their role is in the future of this great sport. Younger kids are watching your every move, and you are teaching them whether you like it or not.  What example do you want to set? What type of person do you want to be remembered as when this journey called life is all over? It’s one of the greatest gifts in life to be able to positively affect someone else’s life. Don’t take it for granted, and don’t miss an opportunity to be a big buddy to an aspiring future tennis star!

By: Ryan Segelke
Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy.
Denver, Colorado, USA.


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Nicole Gibbs in this week #StudentSpotlight, Currently holding WTA 121 Singles Ranking

This week in #StudentSpotlight, Nicole Gibbs currently holding singles ranking of 121.

nicole gibbs

Born on 3rd Mar 1993 in Santa Monica, CA, USA introduced to tennis by her father who had her hitting in the driveway over two trash cans with a board across the top when she was 2 or 3.

She was the star from the college at Stanford University and turned pro after collecting prize money at Wimbledon in 2013.

She admired the Williams sisters from childhood and her favourite surface is hard and favourite shot is forehand. Her favourite tournaments are Stanford and US Open. Her biggest hobby is surfing.

Here is her career in brief since 2007 (data taken from

2014 – First Top 100 season; QF at Seoul (l. to Ka.Pliskova); made Top 100 debut afterwards on September 22 (rose from No.101 to No.92); reached 3r once (US Open) and 2r once; fell 1r three times and in qualifying eight times (incl. other three majors); won one singles title on ITF Circuit.

2013 – Reached 2r once; fell 1r once (US Open) and in qualifying five times (incl. Australian Open andWimbledon); won one singles title on ITF Circuit.

2012 – Played first four WTA main draws, reaching 2r twice and falling 1r twice (incl. US Open); also fell in qualifying once; won one singles title on ITF Circuit.

2011 – Fell in WTA qualifying twice (incl. US Open).

2010 – Fell in WTA qualifying twice (incl. US Open); won one doubles title on ITF Circuit.

2009 – Played first WTA qualifying at Los Angeles and US Open (both as WC).

2008 – Continued to play on ITF Circuit.

2007 – Played first events of career on ITF Circuit, winning one singles title.

Check out for HAT athletes who all be competing in different championship over this weekend. Wish them all good luck

ITA – WY District Cup – JR Indoor Championship

Boys’ 16 Singles:
-Andre (16 Doubles with Ryan L)
-Ryan L (16 Doubles with Andre)

Boys’ 18 Singles:

-Ryan N (18 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 12 Singles:

-#1 Seed Isabella (12 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 14 Singles:

-#1 Seed Sammy (14 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 16 Singles:

-Meghna (16 Doubles as well)

-Hana (16 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 18 Doubles:

-Maleeha (18 Doubles as well)

Major Mortgage Autumn Junior Classic Championship

Boys’ 16 Singles:

-Jackson C (16 Doubles as well)


Boys’ 18 Singles:


Flying Horse Clay Downs Championships

Boys’ 12 Singles:

-#1 Seed Batman

Boys’ 16 Singles:

-#3 Seed Andrew

Girls’ 10 Singles:


Girls’ 16 Singles:




Perception vs. Reality, An Article by Ryan Segelke, CEO & CO-Founder, HAT

A Message from the Owners

I had an interaction recently that I want to share with you all – one that I think is relevant to any student who is part of a tennis team or adult who is part of a business team. At the local coffee shop, there is a regular who I come across nearly every time that I walk through the doors. She seems to be consistently in a bad mood and anti-social; every time I try to get her to smile by going out of my way to hold the door for her, she actually seems slightly more annoyed (I like a challenge – so I engage in a game called “can I make this person smile?”). One morning my “perceived” notion about her got even worse when she scolded the barista for not getting her coffee right.

Being engaged in this challenge/game of trying to get this grumpy woman to smile, I decided one day that I was just going to start talking with her in order to get to know her better. We were both standing in line, and I sparked a conversation. To my surprise, she engaged with me! I asked her, “How has your week been?” She replied, “Terrible”. Instead of stopping there and simply re-confirming my “perceived” opinion about her, I asked, “Why?” Over the next 10 minutes, I learned that she is a recent divorcee going through financial troubles and that she works at a hospice where she has to deal with terminally ill patients on a daily basis. At the end of the conversation, she thanked me for listening and we parted ways with a brief hug. Wait – what? I also found out that she is a tennis enthusiast and is interested in helping students in need to enjoy this great game! That’s not at all what I expected to happen when we started our conversation. I was expecting her to not respond to me at all or cuss me out for bothering her.

So what lessons did I learn here? It’s three-fold. I think it’s extremely easy and takes very little effort to look, point at, and judge others rather than take the time to really understand them on a deeper level (what’s really going on here?). When you do take the time to get to know someone on a deeper level, you will find out that the person is not anything similar to who you “perceived” them to be.

Secondly, when we are judging others, we are missing opportunities to improve ourselves and we are wasting our energy on things that we cannot control. Was it bettering me to judge this woman who I knew nothing about every time that I entered the local coffee shop? Couldn’t that energy have been better spent elsewhere to enhance my life or someone else’s who I care about? The answer is: absolutely! It is my experience that those individuals who are more concerned about why everyone else is not living up to their standards are actually the ones who are not happy and not achieving what they want. Those that are achieving great things don’t have time to waste on aimless rhetoric; they are too busy pursuing their own goals.

Lastly, life is all about relationships. Taking time to truly get to know people will no doubt get you closer to what you want in life. I realize that there are specific personalities (lone wolf types) who will fight this notion. For them, no one does things as good as they do, and they actually find working with others to be a nuisance. However, it is my experience that this specific personality type is ALWAYS underachieving because they ALWAYS end up being the bottle neck or reason for lack of growth within a group. It takes trust, a team, and strong relationships to make things move in a powerful and successful direction.

So, this week when you come across that person who rubs you the wrong way, engage them in a conversation. I bet you find out that they are not at all what you “perceived” them to be! And make sure to let me know how it goes.

By: Ryan Segelke
Grand Slam Level Coach, CEO and
CO-Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy