Coach Eben’s coaching philosophy is simple. Start them young and start them right. Coach Eben believes in the Athlete-Centered Triangle (ACT). The ACT is defined as a program with the goal of the parents, coaches and club administrators should be to support the athletes and focus attention on meeting the needs of the athletes. Visualize a triangle with the athletes in the middle. Strive to make all decisions with this question in mind: “what is best for the athletes?” Coach Eben also believes tennis is a late development sport (meaning the players will start at a very early age of about 5 or 6 years old) but will play their best tennis in their early 20s. He also believes in the following phases of the game of tennis:
- FUNdamentals phase, usually from the starting age to about age 10. This is a phase where the FUN is capitalized for a reason. Their tennis sessions must be fun, that’s what will keep them coming back for more tennis and also get better.
- Training phase, usually from ages 10-12. This is where the players play on regular basis (minimum 3 times per week), while working on stroke development for all the areas of the game.
- Learning to compete phase, usually from ages 12-14. This is where the players will start playing matches. Coach Eben recommends starting with USTA Junior Team Tennis (JTT) or Level 8 USTA Sanction Tournaments (L8).
- Competition phase, usually from ages 14-16. This is when the player have dominated the JTT league or the L8 tournament. He defines domination as winning all singles matches in a JTT league or winning 3 times of an L8 tournament. Then the player moves to the next level.
Winning phase, usually from ages 16 plus. This is where winning really matters. Whether the player is playing for a High School Team, trying to improve their USTA rankings for a college scholarship or preparing to get on the professional tour. Winning here is a big deal as that’s the only way for the player to be recognized in their local area, region, section, national or international level. By this time, the player should be able to execute all the shorts of tennis with relative ease and possibly no weak points in their game. The must have a weapon and have a pattern of play developed. For example: the player should by now be defined as strong baseliner, counter puncher or a serve and volleyer.