THE BREAK: Jelena Ostapenko's run-in with the Latvian Tennis Federation


Every parent wants to maximize the success of their child's tennis career. But what if the biggest road block to that success comes from the well-intentioned parents themselves? Frank Giampaolo has lived the life of a tennis parent, and used his own experiences to develop a critically acclaimed blueprint. He joined the Podcast with Kamau Murray to discuss how his rational yet different approach to teaching the next generation led to a breakthrough, and why his method is revered at the highest levels of the sport.

Giampaolo's road to high esteem in the teaching world began in his own family, as his daughter was experiencing her own struggles on the court.

"She'd come to me and say, 'I don't like the game, it isn't fun.' And she was ranked 80 or 90 in Southern Cal," he recalled in reference to his child's experiences.

She was playing for a particular coach that taught a style based around patience, something his daughter wasn't really built for.

"We just kind of figured out, let's kind of train you how you're wired. So she was allowed now to take swing volleys out of the air, and spot when people are vulnerable and attack. And she went from 80 to No. 1 in California in about 6-8 months."

In hindsight it seems obvious to let a player lean on their strengths, but Giampaolo went fully against the grain in this regard. Tennis is a very structured sport, and with the structure comes the unfortunate side-effects of standardization. They're simply aren't enough hours in the day for the coaches, as tremendous as many of them are, to get to know every little idiosyncrasy of each player. That's where the parents come in. Podcast - Frank Giampaolo Podcast - Frank Giampaolo

"Parents are either the motors helping propel the ships, or the anchors sinking the ships," Giampaolo professed later in the interview.

His methods are complex, some might say innovative, but very matter-of-fact on the surface. Personality tests hold tremendous value in understanding how your child is wired, and Giampaolo believes that knowing what's "under the hood" will lead to a mutual understanding. And certain things go beyond tennis, and beyond what a coach is able to teach. Perseverance, resiliency, and time-management are important life skills, but parents and coaches each assume the other party is the one teaching them. Giampaolo argues for parents to be more proactive, while providing legitimate workflows and data to do just that.

Giampaolo understands that the players will ultimately shoulder the wins and losses, which is why his aim is to create more problem-solving at the junior level.

"Parents sometimes want their kids to just be locked into them and following them all the time like a dependency. But I think they need to be independent. To me, the kids that win are independent problem solvers," he professed.

Tennis is such a cerebral game, and it tests you mentally as much if not more than it does physically. Why then, would you not encourage your child to develop their own mental capacity? One of the best way's this can be done, Giampaolo argues, is to ask for feedback as opposed to give direct orders.

"We ask them, what do you think you should have done? What would be a better option? Or what would you do next time," he cites as examples from his own coaching experiences. "So if there's any parents out there, ask instead of telling."

This podcast features an expert in a chosen field who has dedicated his life to improving the quality of junior tennis, and each player's relationship with his support system. Kamau Murray offers terrific anecdotes as the host, relating to his own challenges and breakthroughs as a coach to the bigger picture the parent-child relationship.

Frank Giampaolo is a sought after voice in the tennis sphere, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. This episode of the Podcast showcases the importance of the message, but perhaps more importantly, it highlights the character of the messenger.