Mike Hall is the head coach of the ACE National and International Team programs.  He is a Coach 4 candidate and receiver of the 2017 Tennis Canada TPA Coaching Excellence Award. 

How do you organize, plan, and prioritize your work?
The first thing I do is determine which weeks will be the competitive phases throughout the year for the players. Once I know that then I can determine how many preparation phases will we have in that year. The preparation phases are where you develop new skills or make technical changes to a player's game therefore you need to have a good idea of how long it will take to make these changes. For most players you get the most preparation time between September and December since most of the major tournaments for the indoor season occur from January to March. 

What do you see as the biggest challenge for a player?
The biggest challenge for players is the mental grind tennis has on you. Tennis is a sport of failure because most points end with errors of some kind. When training, you usually are working on the parts of your game that are not as strong therefore you're going to make a lot of mistakes when trying to improve. Therefore, a player needs to be very resilient and persistent each day. The ones that 'crumble' easily struggle a lot to improve. Staying focused and believing in yourself you can make you great. Michael Jordan said "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

What do you think is the number one thing you can tell them to overcome this challenge?
Well, for me, its not so much about what I can tell them, but more about the environment I can create at ACE Tennis.  For me, the practices have to be always challenging.  Challenge can come in different ways of course....can be physically challenging, or mentally, or be able to perform some skill that is challenging for the student.  And to be able to find the right amount of challenge for each individual.  I think for the most part, the kids enjoy a challenge.  Not something over the top, but that they might be able to achieve.  And that is part of my job, to be able to create a challenge where the student is not sure if they can succeed, and we make them to succeed. As well, as I discussed above, just being able to create an environment where the kids get along and have fun.  A challenging practice can still be a fun practice.  

Players have different talents, what kind of approach do you use to maximize these talents?
I think thats part of the beautiful thing about coaching.  The way I see it, and the way I do it, might be different from the way another coach would do it.  And, of course, both ways might be ok too.  There are so many coaches out there, and I think we are fortunate in Canada to have a lot of good coaches too.  

I think whats important is to not see tennis through one lens.  We have to see what makes the student tick, how the enjoy to play the game, what skills they are good at, and not so good at, and how to build a game around this that can give them success in the future.  As I said earlier, its really about the long term development, and being able to envision what the student can look like in 5-10 years, and how their game will unfold.

What is the role of a tennis parent?
For me, it's pretty simple.  
1. To be able to provide your child with the right amount of training (within your budget)
2. Ensure you hold your child accountable for their commitments, actions, and faults
3. Ensure your child is respectful of their environment and is motivated to improve at their practice sessions
4. And please....leave the coaching to the coach....

What is your take on the Canadian competitive circuit?
Well, I think in Ontario we are fortunate to have so many tournaments every weekend, at least in Southern Ontario.  This provides the players with a good amount of competitive play until they reach a certain level.  Unfortunately, something I haven't touched on yet is the high costs of our sport.  I believe we need to find ways in order for players to have more competitive opportunities within the provinces in order to be able to reduce the costs.  

The UTR ranking is, in my opinion, such a great tool for being able to pair up players to play competitive matches.  I would like to see UTR tournaments here in Canada where boys can play girls, adults can play juniors, etc.  Even all within one tournament.  The UTR system gives players a rating based on performances in tournaments and the rating, while not perfect, is probably the closest thing out there. The UTR rating is also what is used in the NCAA college system in the States - which is where most Canadian juniors go after they graduate.  Having UTR tournaments would broaden the competitive system in Canada, provide more opportunities to play competitive matches against different players, and would give our juniors the chance to improve their UTR rating - without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars traveling. This would in turn give them a better chance to obtain scholarships to the NCAA system.