PTR & ITF Certified Professional Tennis Coach
Coach Rotjes is using his own player experience to help others develop and improve their tennis game.
Tennis enhances both your physical and mental health. It is a fantastic way to exercise, to raise your heart rate, and feel good when you play. If medical concerns do not limit a player’s activity, tennis is truly a sport for everyone. The sport improves one’s overall health and provides socially distant fun.
During our interview, Coach Juan Carlos shared what inspires him to help others become the best tennis players possible, his personal fitness regimen for staying in shape, and his passion for the sport which has enabled him to coach others to a positive mindset for successful living.
“In this age of a global pandemic, more than ever, we need ways to improve our health, decrease our stress and anxiety, interact with others in a safe and socially distant way, and simply enjoy life. The sport of tennis is a wonderful way to achieve all these goals,” says Coach Rotjes.
“I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, as the fourth of seven siblings. I was fortunate to have both of my parents play the sport. They taught me to be an athlete, to develop persistence, to be diligent, and to be a good sport on and off the tennis court. My parents instilled a love of the game within me that has never gone away,” states Coach Juan Carlos. “Although all my siblings played tennis, after a time, each of us dedicated ourselves to different endeavors. I have always had the support of my relatives and the special love of my maternal grandmother (a great woman) who has taught me good things.”
DEVELOPING A PASSION FOR TENNIS
“I began playing tennis in my native country of Venezuela at five years old. One day, while we were on a family vacation, my father, Carlos Rotjes, said, ‘you didn't go to tennis class.’ I wondered what he meant. The next day, my father took me to a tennis class, and there I fell in love with the sport.
“I began to practice the game more often, and I became extremely competitive. During my formal secondary education in Venezuela, I began to play state, regional, and national tournaments, which resulted in my classification as the twenty-seventh ranked junior player in my country. I started teaching tennis at the age of 16, serving as an assistant to my coach in summer camps in La Guaira, Venezuela. After completing my university education, I played fewer tennis tournaments and gave more time to teaching the sport.”
INSPIRATION TO COACH TENNIS
“In 2019, I decided to emigrate to the United States, looking for new opportunities and a better quality of life for my family. Fleeing from the crises--socioeconomic and political--in my country, I wanted to grow personally and professionally,” Coach Rotjes said.
“I wanted to teach this sport in the country where there have been countless talented players, to share my knowledge of the game with others, and to learn more about this culture. I am enthusiastic about teaching tennis because I like to see others progress towards achieving their goals. I enjoy seeing the expressions of satisfaction on their faces as they play this beautiful sport and gain all the benefits that it brings. It is a great feeling to see my coaching reflected in the games of those I teach.”
“I provide coaching to tennis players of all ages, from five years old. Players are different. One of the first things I do is conduct an assessment of their goals. Are they trying to lose weight? Are they trying to start or get back into tennis? Are they interested in playing in a league or tournament? What is their background in tennis? Based on my background in the sport, it is easy for me to detect players who have natural ability and/or have played tennis. Once I have an idea of the players’ goals, then I can start the process of mapping out an action plan to help them reach those goals.
“I have a simple mantra that I share with my students: grateful, thankful, blessed. I use this phrase to remind my students--whether young or old--that if they are on the tennis court and able to play, they are blessed. It may be due to my cultural background or the fact that I totally appreciate this opportunity to experience the American dream, but I want everyone with whom I interact to enjoy the beauty all around us – a beautiful sunny day, two squirrels chasing each other courtside, or a hawk flying over the court as we are playing. I know that may sound cheesy, as Americans say, but the simple blessings in life mean so much to me and my family. Helping students achieve a growth mindset is fundamental to successful living.”
“Usually, I give morning private tennis lessons. These typically span one hour and can involve my providing instruction to individuals, groups, and league teams. In the afternoons, I provide coaching services for Seminole County in the different programs/classes offered by the public park. In one-to-one classes, the individual benefits more because I can focus my attention on that person’s game. In group classes, I have an overarching goal to seek improvement of the entire group. Ideally, I encourage players to train with me at least twice a week to reinforce learning and skill development.”
PERSONAL FITNESS REGIMEN
“I train at least three times a week to stay in shape. In my personal training regimen, I include these activities to strengthen my muscles, enhance my on-court stamina, and maintain fitness: CrossFit, cycling, playing scored matches against my advanced students, and playing competitive tennis in official tournaments, running, and swimming.”
ADVICE FOR NEWBIES WHO WANT TO PLAY TENNIS
Tennis is truly a sport for all ages and all player levels. For those who are new to the sport, and who want to start playing, here are Coach Rotjes’ tips:
Always watch the ball.
Assume your opponent will return the ball no matter how good your shot is.
Avoid heavy meals before play.
Play competitively, if you like, but always have fun.
Rest on alternate days after play.
Start slowly. Do not try to become Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams overnight.
Stretch before and after you play.
Use sunscreen to protect your skin, especially if you live in a state like Florida.
You are never a spectator on the court.
THE LIFE-CHANGING IMPACT OF TENNIS
“I met my wife through mutual friends 14 years ago. Our greatest treasure—Anastasia—was born, and I began teaching her how to play at age three. Currently, I coach my daughter in individual lessons three times a week. She has fallen in love with tennis, and I love our shared quality time while we enhance her skills, discipline, and emotional control. The idea has certainly occurred that she could become a professional tennis player by taking advantage of my knowledge of the sport.”
“It is important to have mental toughness on the tennis court. In my first book, Tennis Tips: Simple Strategies for Playing Your Best Tennis, I offer basic tips, advice, and strategies from my knowledge and experience on how to start and develop general tennis skills.
“Over the next few years, I would like to see more of my students playing great tennis: in junior tournaments, at the collegiate level, and/or, depending on age, in senior tournaments. Of course, I would like to see my daughter winning tournaments and achieving incredible things. Additionally, I would like to author a second book to help players develop strategies for playing their best tennis.”