For as long as he can remember, Brooklyn’s Tyler Korobov has been playing tennis, getting his start playing the sport when he was around six- or seven-years-old on the public tennis courts of Manhattan Beach.
“I started at a really young age, and we would just go to the courts and hit around,” Korobov said. “But I got really serious about the sport when I was about 10- or 11-years-old, when I started competing in the highest levels in 12 & Under.”
A couple of years later, Korobov is now 14-years-old and heading into his freshman year at Fort Hamilton High School. His game has come a long way over the last few years, and he is now playing up a division in 16 & Under tournaments.
“It’s definitely more challenging. I’m not the biggest kid there, as there are kids who are much bigger, stronger and more developed than I am,” said Korobov. “But I think I have a big game and can match up well with them. I’m ready for the challenge.”
Much of Korobov’s development has come in the last couple of years after he began training at MatchPoint NYC, working closely with his coach, Alex Roberman, who has elevated his game.
“He’s the best. I think I have been with him for about three years and he has just taken my game to a whole new level,” said Korobov. “He works really hard, he’s put in so many hours and he really cares about my game. A big thing is the student-coach relationship, and I definitely have that with him.”
Roberman added, “Tyler has gone from what seems like Level One to Level Eight. He never really had any proper training before. Plus, I really push him and make him work hard. If he continues practicing this hard, he should be somewhere in the top 20 in the nation as he gets a bit stronger and taller. It’s a process.”
Korobov was hampered by some injuries last year which slightly halted his progress, but Roberman has helped him get into better shape and has worked on his fitness. He is put through rigorous drills each day during his training, and MatchPoint NYC, where he has been training since it has opened, provides him with the perfect setting, providing him with everything he needs. Prior to MatchPoint, Tyler would play outdoors at Manhattan Beach or Kaiser Park, or indoors at Mill Basin Health and Racquet Club, which has since been bought by MatchPoint NYC as its second location. But as soon as the flagship MatchPoint NYC location opened up, the Korobovs found their tennis home.
“The facility is amazing,” said Korobov. “When I’m done playing tennis, I can go up to the lounge and do my homework, eat a healthy meal. If I want to work out, I can go to the gym and go on the treadmill. It’s all here. This is the perfect facility for a tennis player, or any athlete for that matter, to grow their game.”
Despite not being the biggest kid, Korobov possesses a powerful game. As a lefty, he generates big spin on his forehand, and that is the shot he uses to control points.
“I think I dictate really well with my forehand,” said Korobov. “It’s kind of my power shot. Plus, since I’m a lefty, it’s kind of tricky for a lot of the players I face. I’m really crafty also, I use my slice and drop shot a lot. I like to come to the net, so I think I have developed a solid all-around game.”
There are still a few facets of the game that Korobov wants to improve upon, and he has spent a lot of time trying to develop his backhand to turn that into a weapon as well. In addition, he has put in a lot of time to improve the accuracy and power on his serve, which can be an extremely difficult shot to return from a lefty.
“I’m always aiming for the top of the division. I always want to be the best and always want to advance higher,” Tyler said. “I don’t want to be the kid who is still stuck in the 14s Division when I’m 14. I want to be the 14-year-old who is taking on the challenge of going up and playing older and bigger kids. My goals are to continue to try and compete at a higher level, and keep progressing my game to become the best player I can be.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org