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2017 TENNIS CONGRESS Is A Great Success By Master Coach Craig Cignarelli

It is the final evening of the Congress. With the crowd now dressed for the closing banquet, blister tape peeks out from high heels and suntanned faces now light up the room. Athletes from several countries tote well drinks while faculty members wander through the crowd like rock stars. Several athletes stop the on-court celebs to ask for photos, to receive a final tip and to reminisce about the things they’ve learned. It’s been a hard week, one frequently described as trying to drink from a fire hose. Imagine learning fitness from tennis’ best scientist, Mark Kovacs, or doubles patterns from Feisal Hassan, or mental techniques from Jeff Greenwald, or insight from fifty experts in their respective fields. This is the Tennis Congress, a fountain of information where maximum ratios are 4:1, where a single player works with seven different elite coaches over three days, where attendees sit in on world-class seminars with insight so strong, even the world’s best teaching professionals are taking notes.


Tonight though, the Congress is closing. Aside from tomorrow’s competition where sixty select participants will receive one on one coaching for four hours of matchplay, the weekend is over. At dinner, the participants listen to the awards for the week, a series of door prizes, sportsmanship awards, and tribute to the founder of it all, PJ Simmons. Before the meal ends, world number one doubles player, Bethanie Mattek Sands takes the stage to deliver a teary-eyed speech about her life on tour, her feelings about the Congress and the future. For nearly an hour afterwards, the attendees rush to her side for photos and inspiration.


As midnight approaches, participants snap final photos with coaches and friends and then head back into the hotel to pack for morning flights. As they pass, their final thoughts ring out in the stairwells –

“The best thing I’ve ever experienced.”

“Best birthday present ever.”

“It’s just incredible how anyone could put something this amazing together.”

‘I just got coached by three people I see on TV at every tournament. How insane is that?”

Their words are still echoing, drifting onto the desert winds to find a home in the nearby mountains. Perhaps they will stay there until next year. Or maybe, like an ace on match point, they’ll just become memories, perfect moments to be talked about at dinners in countries around the world. Yes, that’s exactly what PJ Simmons wants – a world of people with happy memories.


Photo by Craig Cignarelli


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