| By Michael Sarro

It's not every day when a junior tennis player has the opportunity to meet and learn from a former top 10 ATP Tour player. But on Jan. 22, City Parks Foundation tennis players had the opportunity to receive on-court training from Tim Mayotte, former number seven-ranked singles player in the world. Students of the Reebok Tennis Academy and the Chase Aces Tennis Program were given a pep talk, offered advice, and participated in a question and answer session with Mayotte.

To start his discussion, Mayotte took a tennis ball and drew a smiley face on it. He then told the players to stare deep into the ball and not look away. He then had them pair up and had each pair draw a design on their ball, and told them all to focus on that design as they were hitting. After the hitting session, he asked them all what they saw in the process. Many players said they could barely see the design and that it was just a blur as they were hitting it. Other students said that not only were they able to see their unique design, but that it looked as if the ball was slowing down as they were preparing to swing. In the end, the overall feeling from the drill was that the students said they had more focus, longer rallies and were more engaged in their rallies.

“The ability to focus is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do,” said Mayotte. “If you are able to focus, it makes everything, particularly in tennis, that much easier.”

The Chase Aces and Reebok Tennis Academy are free tennis programs for select tennis players. CityParks Tennis provides free tennis lessons to thousands of kids ages five to 16 annually in more than 36 parks throughout the five boroughs of New York.