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Academy teaches more than tennis

Tennis is a sport that can be played for a lifetime. And a school in Atlanta has set out to develop lifelong tennis players.

Life Time Tennis Academy, located at Peachtree Corners in Atlanta, brought some 30 kids to compete in the Georgia State Junior Closed Qualifying Championships. And, as mid-morning Monday, the academy still had 20 juniors remaining in the draws.

The program’s approach to tennis training is extensive and involves more than just learning groundstrokes, serves, volleys, overheads and game strategies involved with playing high-level junior tennis.

Life Time offers two programs for serious tennis players, a full-day, five-day-a-week program or a part-time program where students who want to attend traditional classroom schools enroll in a program where they complete some of their classes online, freeing up time to train in the afternoons.

What exactly do Life Time participants get in the full-day program?

“I get dropped off at 7:30 (in the morning),” said Landon Ryan, a 15-year-old from Atlanta. He went on to explain that he does on-court training, fitness conditioning, four hours of online classes, followed by more court time.

Ryan credits the extensive on-court training, coupled with the fitness and conditioning training, as a key factor in making him the tennis player he is today.

“It might sound outrageous,” he said. “But I pretty much know that no one else outside our academy is gonna outlast us.

“We have the indoor courts, so weather won’t stop us from playing. And the fitness, we condition five or more hours a week.”

The kids attend nutrition seminars with certified dietitians. There isn’t any junk food served at the on-site “Life Cafe.” Healthy foods like whole wheat grilled chicken wraps are what’s on the menu.

“Health and nutrition (are big) parts of Life Time,” said Sanjay Jayaram, assistant department head of the tennis academy.

Brooks Ryan, Landon’s father, said, “My son is critiquing the nutrition level of what (I’m) eating. He understands that food is fuel for your body.”

For Brooks Ryan, nutrition wasn’t the only driving force in his decision to enroll his son into Life Time.

“They have a very deep, a very good coaching staff. (Each coach) is so strong the quality could anchor any single program. They have eight indoor courts, meaning you don’t loose days due to weather. You can always practice. And lastly, the academy’s approach to fitness; Landon feels his fitness level is a ‘weapon.’ If a match goes to three sets, he feels like he has an advantage.”

Jayaram, who has worked with Life Time since the Peachtree Corners location opened its doors, said, “When Life Time acquired the facility, formerly known as Racquet Club of the South, they spent close to $27 million in renovations. All the programming was revamped. We have phenomenal junior programming right now with 45 kids in our home school program and over 200 in our junior tour program, which is an after-school program.”

For those enrolled in home school, the club has a classroom setting with facilitators to monitor kids’ progress and ensures they are staying on track with their school work.

Players also meet with tournament planning mentors to map out the best tournament schedule for the student’s appropriate playing levels.

“I would never think of going anywhere else,” Landon Ryan said.

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