Coaching: How I Found my Purpose

Allison and Veronica, her first student

Courtesy of Allison Lvovich.

Allison and Veronica, her first student

Allison Lvovich, Staff Writer

I’ve played tennis competitively for as long as I can remember; it still feels like my first tournament was yesterday. As the daughter of a (very intense and Russian) coach, I was quickly forced into the sport at a young age, and for years, I resented it more than anything. I dreaded attending practices, especially when I knew the weather wasn’t at its finest state. Eventually, I learned to love the sport and embrace my family’s history with it instead of trying to brush it behind me.

I started playing matches when I was nine and I won my first tournament at 12. It was the morning of the final, and my family had just received the news that my uncle passed away. I was devastated as it had been a month since I saw him and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I was at a complete loss for words and most definitely did not have the emotional and physical energy to play in a final. However, I remembered how hard I worked to get there and something inside me told me that I needed to win this final, and win it I did.

After playing at an academy full time for three years, I began to burn out of competitive tennis a little before COVID hit. When the virus took its toll on our country, the academy started to fall apart and I felt like I was only holding on to tennis by a mere thread. I felt confused and lost; all I’ve ever known was matches and tournaments. I never thought I’d get sick of it. However, the environment of my academy was what convinced me to stay for so long. Throughout the years, I’ve learned a countless number of lessons from tennis and my entire character was built thanks to my personal and academy coaches. The motivation and drive they taught me has helped me through almost every situation life has thrown at me thus far.

I tried to hold on for as long as I could, knowing how disappointed my dad would be if I quit. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel like all the work we put in was a waste of time.

Since immigrating to America and earning his first clients, my dad has earned the reputation of the only coach who plays in any and all weather conditions. Frozen courts that look like an ice skating arena, soaked courts in the pouring rain– you name it, he has taught and played in it. I truly never understood why until I began coaching; his love and passion for teaching fueled him to leave his bed in the morning everyday, rain or shine.

My first experiences with coaching were under his tutelage: Twin Lakes tennis camps. I attended his camp for the first time during the summer before my first grade year and I started coaching in his camp the summer before my freshman year of high school. It was the strangest transition, but I got a small taste of what I’d be doing with the majority of my free time two and a half years later.

I earned my first real student the summer of 2020, when the pandemic was still ripening and no one had much information on how the virus spread. Tennis was a popular attraction because of its socially distant nature, and the number of new players boomed. Because of this, my two friends and I decided to host a small, four-day camp at our swim and tennis club. One of the beginner girls took a liking to me and after the camp, and her mother contacted me asking for one-on-one lessons. After over a year and a half, I still coach her at least once a week. She now plays at an academy and is serious about tennis in her future. It has been the biggest privilege watching her grow and improve, and it’s been amazing to create bonds with people through a basket of tennis balls.

One of the most exciting parts about this entire experience for me is the recommendations. After my first student, the word about me began to spread around the tennis community in my area and my number of lessons and students built up rather quickly. As of now, I have coached a Boy’s 18 and under Alta team that won their division, a Girl’s 15 and under Alta team during their off-season, and 13 individual students (not counting drills).

Last week, I was teaching regular students of mine: a mom and her son. Both of them were visibly improving, and you could easily tell by the looks on their faces. Both were beaming with excitement and happiness, which made me beam with excitement and happiness as well. The hour went by in a flash and as I walked to my car, I felt a wave of peace and serenity knowing that I was making impacts on other people’s lives. I sat down and closed my eyes, trying to absorb the rush of emotions I was experiencing. My eyes welled up with tears, as I finally realized my purpose. Since I was a child, I’ve constantly thought about my purpose; what is it? When would I figure it out? How would I figure it out? I never once thought that my purpose would be sitting right out in front of me, a simple opportunity I didn’t know I would ever take.

Around my community, I’ve always been known as the coach’s daughter or Mikhail’s daughter. I feel like coaching by myself has given me a real name and another reason to leave my bed everyday.