Ever wondered what it takes to raise a champion in the grueling world of junior tennis? Lisa Stone, founder of Parenting Aces, joins us to discuss this and gives a few tips to parents about the journey!

Contact Parenting Aces Podcast host, Lisa Stone

You can contact Lisa by visiting her website at ParentingAces.

Here’s a complete transcript with Lisa:

Carolyn: 0:07
Hi, this is Carolyn, and I’m here with Erin, and we’re really excited to have Lisa Stone from the Parenting Aces podcast with us. Her podcast just finished its 12th season and she is a tennis parent but also a tennis player, so she knows what it’s like to be in the trenches. So, lisa, thank you so much for doing this today.

Lisa: 0:27
Thanks so much for asking me. It’s always fun to be on this side of the mic.

Carolyn: 0:31
Okay, can you start off and tell us about your tennis background?

Lisa: 0:34
Sure. So I come from a tennis family, well on my dad’s side. So my dad has played tennis his whole life. He’s 85 years old now and he grew up playing in New Orleans, went on to play at Tulane and they won a national championship while he was there, which was pretty awesome. And, of course, when I was born, my brothers were born, we were all introduced to the sport, even though our mom isn’t really a tennis player at all, but she supported it and so I’ve been playing since I was a kid. I grew up playing juniors in Louisiana and in the southern section and never really went beyond that. I had no aspirations to play in college or play professionally or anything like that. I just I enjoyed the cute clothes and the cute boys.

Erin: 1:24
honestly, when I was a kid.

Lisa: 1:28
And I really stepped away from the sport for a very long time several decades actually and only when I started having children and realized, oh yeah, they should probably learn how to play tennis, I started getting back into it and our kids were raised in Atlanta, and any of your audience that knows Atlanta knows that the tennis scene there is unbelievable, unbelievable. I always joke that whenever you move to a new neighborhood in Atlanta, the first thing people ask you when they come knock on your door isn’t like your name or how many kids you have, it’s what level Altar are you?

Erin: 2:09
Oh, that’s funny.

Lisa: 2:10
Yeah, and so I got really into it again. You know, once I started having kids and they started playing, and then when my youngest, who’s my son I have two daughters and a son my son is the one who really fell in love with the game and was the impetus behind parenting ACEs.

Erin: 2:29
Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you about. So my question is why did you start a podcast? But give us that background and what your motivation was.

Lisa: 2:36
Sure. So when he was nine years old he went to a tennis camp at University of Georgia and came home after being at that camp and said I want to play college tennis, I want to play at the University of Georgia, I want to play for Coach Manny Diaz. And I was like, awesome, I have no idea how to help you achieve that goal. None, so I went to his coach and shared the goal and said, okay, so now, what, like what do we do? And his coach at the time was just teaching him on our neighborhood courts and he said, honestly, lisa, I have no knowledge about junior development. I just know how to introduce kids to the game and kind of get them having fun with it. You need to find a developmental coach, somebody who can, you know, get him ready for tournaments and all of these next steps that are coming. And I was like, how do I do that? And he put me in touch with a couple parents that he knew in my neighborhood and they kind of got me started and got me to the right coach for him for the next step. And then I found that every step of the way there were these challenges and I would go to the coach and say, okay, what do we do now? And the coach would be like I don’t know. I’m like what do you mean? You don’t know. Like you’re the coach, you’re supposed to guide me through this. And what I found was by talking with other parents, we were all in the same boat and there was all this stuff to learn about junior tennis and the journey and the pathway to college and beyond, and nobody was providing education around that. And so when my son started high school so we’re now going from age nine to now we’re at age 14, 15, things were starting to heat up in terms of his tennis. He was getting really good, he was very serious about it, he was working super hard, and I just was super frustrated about like, what tournaments should he be playing in. And I stumbled on this Facebook group that was made up of former junior tennis champions, so adults that were my age and older, who had gone through this exact journey that my son was on. I started asking my questions in that group and they were sharing the most valuable information. I mean it was incredible like really detailed about like, okay, if he wants to play this tournament, these are the tournaments he needs to be playing for the next six months and you know all that kind of stuff. And finally, one of the members of that group said you know, lisa, if you have all these questions there are probably lots of other tennis parents out there that are having the same questions why don’t you gather all this information up and throw it on a website? And I was like, oh okay, I know how to do a website because I had done that for a previous business, and so I came up with the name Parenting Aces. I built the website on WordPress and I started blogging. And I was blogging everything from how to sign up for tournaments, how to pack a tennis bag If you’re traveling to a tournament, what needs to go with you, nutrition information that I was gathering from these experts in this group, the mental side of the game, you know information that I was gathering from these experts. And finally, somebody asked me if I would be interested in doing a radio show, which is the precursor to podcasts. And it was part of a tennis network, a radio tennis network, and they had shows on the pro game and on fitness and all these different things, but they didn’t have anything specific for junior tennis. And so I said, sure you know I’m happy to do that. I have a theater background too, so perfectly comfortable talking on a microphone. And so I started the podcast, and that was summer of 2012. It was my very first episode and it’s just been going ever since. A couple years ago the tennis channel reached out and asked us to become part of their network of podcasts, which you know. I was very honored, was hoping that that would help grow the audience, and it has to some degree. It’s nice just to be part of that platform, but other than that, it’s just me, my microphone, my computer, much like you guys, sitting down trying to figure out who to talk to, who has an interesting story or interesting information that is pertinent to junior tennis development, college recruiting, college tennis and transitioning to the pro tour. So that’s kind of it. We just finished season 12 and we’ll be starting up season 13 in January. That’s crazy.

Erin: 7:26
That is. That’s a long story. I mean I’m excited for you that you’re so committed to it. You must get we get emails from fans. I’ll call them fans Weird to say that, but we get emails from people from all over the country asking us. First of all, they think we’re experts, which you know we’re not. But we can always find them the information and we always write back to them. But I’m sure you probably get a ton of questions now because you really are in that niche space of you know you’re, I mean.

Carolyn: 7:53
I’m sure there’s other expert in junior tennis. Yeah.

Erin: 7:56
And there’s other podcasts out there now, but most of them and I’m sure you found this too most tennis podcasts are about pro tennis players and those stories and you know all that, and so I think that’s why you know your little niche is so great.

Lisa: 8:08
Yeah, I mean. What’s interesting is there are other podcasts and, of course, lots of websites and Twitter accounts and things like that. What I’ve found is most of them are focused on the top tier of players, and the majority of our kids are not top 10 in the world. No, you know they’re. They’re. They’re maybe top 10 in their neighborhood, you know, but they still are really solid players who want to play college tennis and there are opportunities for them to do that, and so that’s really my core audience is, you know, the people whose kids aren’t getting the support from the governing bodies, who who aren’t being tapped at age eight to come train down in Florida.

Carolyn: 8:51
Yeah, lisa, since you are such an expert at this, can you give a few tips for parents of tennis players?

Lisa: 8:58
I mean my mantra with parenting aces is your role as the parent first and foremost is to have a great relationship with your kid at the end of this process. Everything else is gravy. If you have that relationship intact at the end of the day, you’ve done it right. And I can’t say that enough because I know as parents and you guys can commiserate with this. You know you get sucked into what your child is doing. You become so invested and listen. Outcomes are important in our society. Wins and losses are what people talk about and we as the parent have to take a step back from that and remember that the wins and losses are just a blip, but it’s the experiences, the knowledge, the friendships, all of those things are what really count at the end of the day. And if we can kind of keep that front of mind, I think that’s crucial. And and then we’ve done a great job as as a sports parent, and more than that, I would say let your child drive the process. That’s another big point for me is this can’t be about us as the parent. It has to be about the child and it has to be about what they want and what they’re willing to do to get what they want, and keeping the lines of communication open with your child is just. It’s so important because what they say they want at eight years old changes when they’re 12 and when they’re 16, and when they’re 18. And we have to have a good enough relationship with them that they feel comfortable coming to us and saying I know I said I wanted to be number one in the world when I was five, but now I realize that there are other things in life that I want to be able to accomplish and I don’t want to put all my eggs in that basket. Right, you know. And then you have to respect that. Right, you have to respect that.

Erin: 10:58
Yeah, because I’m sure, like you, like, that’s a dream of yours too, to see your son go on and play at that high level, whatever the highest level is that he wants to play at. Right, yeah, you know so, yeah, I mean.

Lisa: 11:08
I wanted him to achieve his full potential, whatever that meant. I didn’t know what that meant, because I just hadn’t been around junior tennis in so many years, but it became evident as he was developing where his highest potential was based on his commitment to putting the daily work in Right.

Carolyn: 11:34
We really appreciate Lisa coming on the podcast. We have one more episode with Lisa where she tells us what she’s learned from doing a tennis podcast for 12 seasons and also the craziest thing she’s ever seen in junior tennis. Also, she has a lot of valuable information on her website, which is parentingasiscom, including how you can do a one-on-one consultation with her. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the courts soon.