Where there is a will to learn, there is a will to play. The phrase embodies all the serious fun Ravi DeSouza has lived over the past thirty years as a professional tennis coach.
“Tennis, or any physical exercise, has so many benefits,” Ravi said. “It’s good for your physical health, your mental health, your hand-eye coordination and your ability to concentrate and focus. That it’s fun and feels good are just bonuses.”
For all the feel good fun, tennis was given a different treatment under provincial COVID-19 restrictions. While golf and other outdoor sports were given the green light to continue early on, outdoor and indoor tennis courts weren’t allowed to re-open when the first restrictions were lifted.
“It really made no sense,” Ravi remembered during a recent interview. “We’re talking about four courts with a bubble over top. Even if we were restricted to half-capacity, you would have had two or four people, plus a pro, in a covered, well-ventilated area the size of a soccer field.”
The tennis pro was deeply concerned about the players he coaches, and their lack of access to the sport and regular physical activity.
“Considering only the physical part of tennis, not the mental parts or concentration elements, then definitely skills are lost quickly, especially for younger kids,” Ravi said, in reference to the early stages of physical development for tennis.
If there was a silver lining to COVID-19 and the restrictions it put on sports, it was that Ravi had to act on an idea he had a long time ago: creating a video library of tennis skills, drills and techniques. The result is a membership-driven site called LearnPlayLoveTennis.com
The program is designed around five fundamentals of the game: eye-hand coordination, footwork, groundstrokes, volleys, and serves.
“You’re never too young or too old to start playing tennis,” the pro said. “I typically start training kids when they are four years-old and, the oldest person I have ever started training was 76.
The longevity of DeSouza’s career, coupled with the drive to create new ways of coaching through video, is testament to his endless enthusiasm for tennis and for passing along the love of the game.
“You can do drills and practice your skills at home, in the school yard, or in your driveway. You can hit a tennis ball against the wall,” the coach reminds his players. “As long as you can stay motivated, you can find a way to play!”
DeSouza created the first videos in his library on LearnPlayLoveTennis.com with the support of the Starter Company Plus Small Entrepreneurship & Innovation Grant in 2020. The grant helped Ravi to produce and edit the videos to realize his plan.
“MBEC really helped me put what was an idea I planned to do at some point into action,” Ravi recalled. “COVID-19 demanded a re-think and they were there for me to do it. Now, I plan to expand the library and the business into the US market now that I’ve trademarked LearnPlayLoveTennis there. This was definitely just my first business expansion. The sky is the limit now.”
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