Section Spotlights: Manchester Athletic Club - USTA New England


By Johnny Parkes, USTA Player Development Player ID Manager

You could sense this was the heart of a community!

The sheer amount of activity going on in the morning was amazing, women’s league matches filled the courts, high gym activity, spin classes, swim classes, dance classes, you name it, it was going on. You could sense this was the heart of a community! The facilities were fantastic and defined a multi-purpose facility that truly had something for everyone of every age at every level, and yes, there was even pickleball too! 

Always keep learning!

The full-time academy players were doing their homeschool, Massachusetts Online, on-site. They had quality instructors dedicated to helping the kids learn. 

High performance coaches Francisco Montoya and Celeste Frey were giving private lessons in between the groups of academy students. Attention to detail was high, great progressions were used and a philosophy being delivered was crystal clear to see. Coaching was simple, efficient and very effective. 

Francisco told a story about when he was in Morocco with a player for an ITF Junior event. He said he took a couple players through a great warm-up, while observing the court behind him spending 15-20 minutes of their short time on court playing a mini tennis game with continental grip only. The players were competing, sliding, essentially giving full effort right from the start. At one point they had to consolidate courts and they traded out playing points. He said his players played a couple points, quality wasn’t great, but the mini-court warm-up players, played two extremely competitive points right after, digging out short balls, slicing, all of it, and the coach of those players turned to him and said, “see, that’s why you play more mini tennis”. Francisco explained how this experience gave him perspective to work on these skills more.

Taking a games-based approach is sometimes overlooked as coaches can overdo breaking down skills in closed settings. Francisco and Celeste’s players were learning these fundamental skills through using the two great components of teaching in group dynamics, COLLABORATIVE AND COMPETITIVE so the player’s got the most out of each other and their practice. 

Players are a product of their environment, if their environment challenges them to problem solve, they will generally become good problem solvers.

Manchester Athletic Club is where all sports meet in the name of fun, activities for all, not creating biases for one sport versus another. This is how communities grow, this is how sport grows, activity for life has a chance. 

Facilities don’t have to be immaculate, it’s about the people, the culture and the environment people are exposed to. The kids at Manchester Athletic Club are in a great environment learning from passionate, quality, dedicated people who are committed  to the growth and development of their students both on and off the court.