TopCourt Review - Tennis MasterClass Series

TopCourt has launched the next "MasterClass for Tennis" with massive star power.

A tennis project backed by the Bryan Brothers, Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, and other world-class players. Tennis lessons are demonstrated by some of the best players in the world.

A partnership of Tennis and Tech

In 2020, the fundamental way we enjoy our sport gets redefined. Indian Wells was canceled, and suddenly the tennis world found itself having a LOT of extra time on their hands. Equipped with 4K cameras, drones, and a tech-savvy team (led by Harvard and other college tennis alums) - TopCourt was born.

The tennis platform is designed to bring the player and fan right onto the pro's tennis court.
The Hollywood production value and an All-Star lineup will set the new gold standard.

Our Tennis-Bargains Exclusive Preview -
(Link shared exclusively for our Tennis-Bargains fans)

Two main reasons why fans attend pro tennis events

Going to any Major like the US Open, I value these 2 bucket list experiences above all else:

1) Watching the 5th set Grand Slam match live on center court
2) Seeing and *listening* to the Tennis Pros prepare and practice from courtside

For #1, we have ESPN and Tennis Channel for all the big matches coverage on our TVs.
For #2, eager fans were barred from the US Open grounds this year. We missed all those special moments of exhibition genius and unscripted, off-camera candid insights outside the stadium.

We each want to train, feel, and hit like our tennis heroes.
For the lucky few in the crowd who managed to squeeze into a front seat at a US Open practice, it wasn't always comfortable. I remember waiting around P1-P5 all day long patiently in a queue, as rows of heads peek behind a wall of fans for a quick glimpse of one or two favorite stars.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible at these noisy events to ever catch all the tips thrown around in a drill or understand the coach's subtle advice to the player. Even if you could hear over the crowd noise and not get blocked, it would be really nice for once not to suffer the risk of being suffocated by a giant tennis mob crowding over you!

With COVID-19 in 2020, we found a better, safer way for fans to "be there"...

*NEW* YouTube Previews: TopCourt's Latest Video clips

Updates for Oct 2020 - TopCourt's Top Guns 

TopCourt's newest episode: Aryan Sabalenka (Top 10 in singles and doubles)
Andrey Rublev wins his 4th Tour Title in 2020.

Views from up close and personal

This gives the unique first-person experience that makes TopCourt so unique and special.

You get to be the "fly on the wall" with overhead drone shots, intimate camera angles, and personalized commentary speaking directly to you as if you're the private lesson student.

TopCourt offers 30+ different pros and coaches - all gathered together, then recorded and mic'd up for one reason - to show you their inner game and shots that shaped them. Each pro has a different skillset and background. Their unique personalities make the TopCourt campus so diverse and structured.

Watching the Lindsay Davenport documented series is like following a well-choreographed story with each chapter of her career. During her drills, you never feel the pro is holding back or the shots she explains are too imposing to try yourself. The edits are well done with many enhanced cues (such as the mini-court icon at the bottom revealing where the player and each ball bounce is placed).

You get the benefit of all their combined years of experience on tour, which distills differently with each pro's own style and humor in their teaching role. Chapters are bite-sized enough to absorb a few key ideas. You feel motivated to then go out to implement, without feeling you have to binge-watch it all in one sitting.

Best Episodes of TopCourt - what I would watch first

Best Drills: Brian Brothers - Doubles Volleys (side to side)
The 16-time GS champions and GOAT of doubles. Great drone footage, clear ideas.

Best Stories: Lindsay Davenport - "Top of the Mountain"
Origin, World #1, Olympics, Grand Slam Champion, Mom

Best Instruction: Monica Puig - Backhand & Footwork
Very easy on the ears and eyes. Covers A to Z: Grip, Preparation, Shoulder Turn, Stance, Split-step.

Best Background: Fernando Verdasco - The Spanish Way
Growing up in Madrid, Success in Juniors on Hard Courts, Facing Rafa, Davis Cup Champion.

Play like the Pros

On TopCourt's show court, you learn straight from the pro's own descriptions as he/she demonstrates. It covers not just the nuts and bolts technique, but also the inner intent behind maximizing each shot's potential.

On TV, viewers get fixated on a great play. Then at best, we see one slow-motion replay of the last winner. But does anyone explain the subtle mental mechanics that go into constructing that point? The scoreboard does not tell the whole story. Now, when you see that glamourous play (the Flash), you begin to recognize some of the preparation (the Dazzle) that goes into setting it up.

The Presence of Professors

"The real teaching by Masters is not with words; it is with Presence."
The 5th Agreement (Don Miguel Ruiz)

I'll never forget as I stood next to Rafael Nadal last year. Those few precious moments alone, holding my breath in awe to witness a moment of glory with the Master. Just one single square-foot of real estate on red clay was worth my flight ticket halfway around the World.  Last year, I actually found myself on the same court as Rafa (twice) in Spain.

For that rare opportunity, I would gladly travel back to Barcelona or Mallorca without hesitation. My Spanish wasn't even that great - but somehow I understood. Watching Moya and Nadal dialogue back and forth through every tennis ball is like being in a trance. Being there within earshot of your tennis idol will exceed your greatest expectations and worth the journey.

When you get to hang around these top pros on a regular basis, you also begin to receive what can only be described as the education from sheer proximity to greatness.

On TopCourt, Fernando Verdasco retells his personal memories facing Rafa. He recalls the pressure of playing his best against Nadal at the semi-final of a Major in the 5th set. From all his childhood struggles in the juniors to heroic Davis Cup glory days inspired by "Yes We Can" in 2008. He shares insider stories that are simply not broadcasted on TV.

"Purposeful" Practices

As a tennis coach, journalist, and photographer, I have covered a lot of pro events. But even I would prefer to arrive early during qualifier matches or the early first-round days. All the top players are still loose and comfortable. Teams are relaxed and jovial.

When revisiting any of the four Grand Slams, if I could only be there for just one hour, I would beeline straight to the practice court of Federer or Nadal. Hanging out by the side of any Indian Wells practice court for an hour simply feels so relaxed and natural. Away from the tension and outside the pressures of center court matches - it gives you everything else that is not available on TV.

Upfront and Center is exactly where TopCourt puts the viewers with every frame.

Beyond the Spotlight and Locker Rooms

Brilliant interviews and background stories.

Be it their parents or coaches influence at an early age or a major turning point in their career, we see what fueled them early on. The interviews and stories on TopCourt take you beyond the spotlight. Very much like ESPN's 30 for 30 series, it adds a lot of humanity to the player's journey.

Another big bonus is that fans also get to relive the drama of their biggest wins and losses, truer to life than any tennis biography. In this relaxed filming setting, they can speak with a zen-like clarity from the heart, sharing their life's ups and downs with tennis since childhood.

Away from the constant pressures of competition and probing media at tournaments looking for a sound byte, they have the time to reflect deeply and showcase their favorite moments.

TopCourt Academy Campus

Top ATP and WTA players and coaches include many former and present Grand Slam champions. Nearly every player I watched has been in the Top 25 of the world with multiple tour titles.

The TopCourt pros practice their craft until they can't get it wrong. For each of them, it is a matter of their own survival. Each must hone and master each set of drills before they will dare put it on the line against the stiffest competition in the world.

Here are some of the top players with their YouTube preview trailer linked:

- Genie Bouchard
Fernando Verdasco - Bryan Brothers
- Lindsay Davenport
- Taylor Fritz
- Belinda Bencic
- Sloane Stephens

See Elite Coaches paired together with Rising Star Players

Brad Gilbert (August)
Brad recounts his coaching experience with his former #1 students: Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Andy Murray. Brad gives out on-court coaching tips and advice to Eugenie Bouchard.

Paul Annacone (September)
A former coach to Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, he works with Taylor Fritz to give you the American Dream Team of player-coach pairing. Taylor has reached his career-high ranking this summer.

Who's Next?
Every 2-3 weeks, fans can expect another player video chapter released including former champions in the line-up:

- Sofia Kenin - 2020 Australian Open Champion
- Petra Kvitova
- Sam Querrey
- Elina Svitolina
- Reilley Opelka
- and many more

The price is $180/year, but for a limited time - we as official TopCourt Ambassadors can provide you our 14-day free trial this week exclusively for our fans, are you interested to try?

With no fans are allowed into the US Open this year, this is the closest experience we can offer to replicate the player's practice experience. As our valued reader, we are so proud to offer our free trial - as a "TopCourt Ambassador" immediately after its June launch. We signed up with our own company credit card to test the sauce and it doesn't disappoint.

Sign up with any email and password
Just as with every tennis product that has ever been reviewed on, we put our personal money at risk first before our readers. 

TopCourt will even send you an email notification 2 days in advance of the trial expiration to remind you, in case you are not happy before the 14 days are up.

No obligation to pay if you are not happy at the end of the trial. More players and episodes will be available each month, so stayed tuned as we announce.
$0 payment for the first 14 days, no charge
Reviewing every product firsthand is the only way to give the Tennis-Bargains seal of approval - on every racket, string, ball, event ticket, or tennis gadget.

If we did not put up my own money to research and try it first, we would not expect you to do so either.

At any later time, if a better product eclipsed it or felt it hasn't lived up to hype or expectations over the long run, then it would not stay on this site very long.

This is Tennis-Bargains and we stand by the products we recommend.

Is TopCourt worth the $15/month?

It depends on your goals.

For the Tennis Fan: if you already subscribe to the Tennis Channel or TennisTV and want more exclusive content (not just match play), then TopCourt is loaded with all the extras.

If you want some first-hand insights about the players, then likely you can consider it as another Netflix or Hulu or ESPN/Disney+ streaming service. Disclaimer, I only pay for Netflix but recently have been cutting back on other media in order to get outdoors more.

For the Tennis Student: $15 x 12 months is $160 - definitely a very good value over a year to compliment live instruction these days.

If you take private lessons, those are typical $50-$65 per hour. That is the average price to hire a certified teaching professional. Once you get 20+ solid instructors in the lineup, this pays for itself.

With 3 hours of coaching time, you can expect optimistically to get a few fixes on your shots if the coach is good AND you go home to practice what they teach you. Check out our tips for getting the most out of TopCourt and other distance learning videos.

As a USPTA coach, I will provide my own honest opinion. If I give lessons and can cover just the forehand OR serve in 3 lessons, I am happy and that is a really successful day. But realistically that is pushing it even coaching a talented athlete.

TopCourt just has a lot more variety of talent at the ATP/WTA Pro Tour level - the very best out of the best. From each pro's 3 drills or lessons, I would say expect about 2 out of 3 to be moderately useful and accessible for both juniors and adults. I would watch the Stories and Training before viewing the Drills so that you get some background on the TopCourt coach.

YouTube Tennis - free content but quality advice is very scattered
YouTube allows anyone in the world to claim they can teach you tennis, even if they themselves have never played at the tour level. It doesn't mean the content is bad, but sometimes the explanations and view the watcher sees are actually not explained in full. Sometimes steps are skipped without the best viewing angles. Other times, they gloss over or oversimplified topics so it fits into a video.

There are some notable exceptions to show you one stroke really well - example: Tour-level forehand (Rick Macci), just look at those basic videos first. When you are ready for something more modern and demonstrated by a 2020 pro then look at TopCourt.

I would not recommend a brand new beginner to hop onto TopCourt and expect to improve right away - lots of practice on the court is more valuable. For every 1 hour lesson, expect to perform 2-3+ hours of practice for maximum results.

Comparing TopCourt to other Online Tennis Videos

*NEW* See our free direct comparison of TopCourt vs Top Tennis Training and other online programs.

Fuzzy Yellow Balls

Wil Hamilton started the online tennis training idea about a decade ago. The target audience I would say is 2.5-3.5 players who want to learn the Tactics and Strategy behind singles and doubles. There is a lot of chalkboard talk (he loves to talk) and his X's and O's start feeling like a scene from a football play calling huddle. Some may like that play-calling style, especially if you're playing leagues or tournaments below the 4.0 level.

YouTube Tennis Channels

The wild west of tennis content.
Everyone has their own ideas and style. There is a lot of "click-bait" too and often lessons are over-simplified into 3-5 min videos with flashy titles but the quality has a very wide gap. The negative is that you might learn the poor technique or make wrong assumptions if you try to learn purely from YouTube. Recording yourself and doing a visual comparison is recommended.

YouTube is great for watching highlights and replays. But it's a mixed bag when it comes to quality and developing your tennis game.

Top Tennis Training

The UK blokes Alex and Simon explain almost all their shots with a back-to-front camera angle in their British accent. Most of the content is broken down by them talking about stroke analysis. They might be strong players but their videos do not always translate to improving an amateur's game.

Players starting tennis are advised to learn the fundamentals prior to trying their advanced courses. I found it complicated comprehension and misses some basic progression steps needed for improvement. They do a good job making it look easy though (someone on their team mistakenly "borrowed" one of our Federer photos in the process, oops!).

Whether you are a junior or advanced adult player, finding the right coach is the key!

Distanced Learning - 2020's new paradigm

Distance Learning - it's here to stay...

Colleges, schools, parents - we all understand the simple yet inconvenient truth. It affects all students - rich or poor, young or old, from rural to urban. The new classroom format is at home...for better or worse.

Education is shifting to becoming digital, continuous, and largely self-driven.

Digital content will reinforce more screen-time.
In turn, we must seek more time outdoors to get un-plugged.
Quality education must now be both engaging and entertaining in TicTock-sized chunks.

In the ocean of digital noise and swipe-left, he who can gather their attention wins.

We must adapt or risk failing our children's future.
Not one semester, not one year, but one generation.

Finding the right teachers and patchwork of content is key to mixing that magic "spoonful of sugar" to keep kids learning.

Spend $15 for a Lesson from a Tennis Legend

Free previews. 30-day money-back guarantee. Career Slam and Olympic Champions.

Andre Agassi Academy on Udemy

Topics: All Strokes and Mindset
Length: 10 chapters, 1 hour
Skill Level: Intermediate to advance.
Coach's Rating: A-

Pros: Love Agassi's lectures; great stories, clean form, invaluable tips for the tournament players; Udemy certificate included; lifetime review

Cons: Limited angles, using 1080p video. Should be familiar with tennis basics and fundamentals.

Serena Williams on MasterClass

Topics: Fundamentals and Technique
Length: 9 chapter lessons, 2 hours
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Coach's Rating: B

Pros: Great Filming, lighting; In-depth narrative; Beginner-friendly

Cons: Focuses mainly on only one stroke - the serve. Fairly basic advice.
Student video critique and review period is over;

6 Truths of Education in the Post 2020 world:

  1. Learn Anywhere - Social Distance is baked-in. Crowded lecture halls become obsolete.

  2. Dynamic Pacing -  smarter kids can accel at a rapid pace, not held back;
    slower students are not discouraged for not keeping up. Lack of comparison and peer judgment.

  3. Asymmetric Sharing - One Teacher can now deliver personalized 1-on-1 lectures anywhere in the World at any time zone. Sal Khan of Khan Academy: "variable time, fixed outcomes".

  4. Better Visuals - Classic topics must be modernized for newer viewers and younger audiences.

  5. Tests as Games - Fun, friction-less, and adaptive; knowledge retention should be interwoven and skill-checks sprinkled generously. Participation and Practice are the keys for success.

  6. Digital Badges and Points: Showering rewards for not just the right answer but also for showing the proper reasoning to arrive at those conclusions.

Learn and Watch - Tennis Classes at Home

TopCourt Tennis
5 Tips for Studying Video

#1) Feel free to jump around!

It's Not compulsory to go linearly from Chapter 1 to Chapter 10 in order. Explore all topics briefly at least once. Skip ahead a bit, if you know it.

#2) Don't Binge!

Yes, this is not like trying to blast through 5 seasons of a sitcom in one weekend. It's not a race nor a time-limited food buffet to see how many dishes you can stack.

The goal is to understand this stuff and retain it.

  • Watch a few videos, then take a break to think about it. I prefer 90-minute "sprints".
  • Share or explain what you learned to a peer, in your own words.
  • Sleep on it - let your subconscious review the lessons and ideas overnight before bed.

#3) Learning to Practice Ratio of 50:50

How to Study Smart is a great youtube video to watch for any student.

  • Take one or two drills max at a time.
  • Write down in your own words the keys points first.
  • Go out with a parent, friend, or coach. Demonstrate what you witnessed.
  • When you teach someone else, you reinforce it. Always be a student of the game.

#4) Maximize Screen Time Efficiency - 3 views for every 1 clip

1st time viewing any video - Skim through and get the overall idea
2nd replay of the video - Write on paper the key points (in your own words)
3rd / final or later replay - answer these questions in your head:

  • What are the basic mechanics?
  • When do I use it in a match? When should I avoid it?
  • Identify one good habit to focus on. List one bad habit to avoid with this drill.
  • Why is it used? Explain its usefulness.
  • Where should you hit the ball? How close to the lines do I need to hit?
#5) Have Fun! Use a Game or Contest
Set some progression goals to level up and challenges with friends.

Level 1 - Make 3/10 in a target area, Level 2 - 6/10 in a target area, go for Level 3.
Keep it interesting and yet challenging enough to keep going.

These tips can apply to any online education platform.

Other MOOC's I would also recommend: Udemy, Khan Academy,

Happy Money - Tennis Retirement with Money and Happiness

Tennis players retire by 29, 39, or 69...

To do so happily starts with finding a sustainable Zen relationship with your spending and saving habits. How you feel about money may determine if it flows into your life like water or slips away like sand.

Normally, I keep topics mainly around Tennis.

Today I want to switch gears and talk about the Mindset of Money, "Bargains" of Life.

Too many today are simply grinding it out. From freshly-minted pros, long-time coaches, to the countless fans globally struggling with debt or unemployment. Double-digit negative GDPs around the world is the new norm, while most are still deep into recovery or cryogenic freeze mode. The people who are worst off are in the OR/ER rooms waiting for ventilators - a microcosm of the greater health of this planet.

I am going to introduce a very inspiring book and audiobook I found during these difficult times. It is called Happy Money (and you can peek at this short youtube intro). Blogger Financial Samurai also wrote a great article last week about How to Feel Rich even if you Can't Get Rich.

With this platform and audience, I hope that I can help reach some of you who are unhappy or struggling during the lockdown. Both tennis professionals and fans alike are affected. Keeping Fit in multiple dimensions: your wallet, your body, but also the health of your mind.

Happy Money - the EQ of Money

The Book I want to share is called Happy Money, by Ken Honda

A jolly, round face man - Ken's quiet, disarming demeanor may fool some about his real wealth, but he is definitely a guru on the EQ and IQ of money.

Think of him as the Marie Kondo of Money Flow - instead of tidying up your room, Happy Money seeks to help you tidy up your cash and enjoy the way you feel about what you have.

The goal is to make "happy little millionaires"; emphasis on happy - not millionaire.

Thank you, money in. Thank you, money out.

It is all about appreciating and using the money to spark and accept positive energy - in and out. Very much a "wax on, wax off" approach for this gratitude cycle. In fact, he suggests viewing money as a form of Energy.

Sure, it will pay bills and buy food - but more importantly, it is our psychology with money that shapes our mood. It has helped me, and hope that it will help you too! (more below)

Son of Immigrants and Refugees

Growing up with struggling parents who came to escape from war-ravaged Vietnam and desperate poverty in South East Asia, the mindset travels with them to find ends meet. It is the son of a refugee that shares this verse now. I grew up poor with struggling parents who had no choice but to create their own business because their English and high school education was not good enough to be hired for any "normal" white-collar job as 1st-gen immigrants. So I only offer my own perspective. There are hundreds of thousands far worse off than me that have perished.

Countless lives and grandparents who had their retirement dreams ahead of them dashed, never to see that day when they could travel to their dream vacation they had saved up their entire life.

The Pixar movie, Up, is the memory that pops up in my head of the old man who lived in the little house with his wife to save up for their dream life while the world kept building around him.

You know someone, and maybe it is you, that strives to make it up there to Paradise Falls. We owe it to those who were lost, or left behind in America, to help get them there. Maybe with just a few colorful balloons at a time.

But I say to those who have dared and dreamed and toiled before you - even one small person has the chance to lift them up. Guide them with support, and we get there together.

Having bucket lists is not enough - dreams are so fleeting if not pursued with passion and urgency.

We struggle and save our whole life to fulfill that promise - to our children, to a better life for family, to justify our pain of past sacrifices for the promise of a new brighter tomorrow: Annie's song.

2020 shows us that all the preparation in the world can sometimes go right out the window. Well-crafted and planned futures. Only to be stolen by this invisible cloud of virality and fear.

We face the essential fact: Life is uncertain, the End is always closing fast.

So I urge my reader to consider this idea:

The far worse crime is to have never lived - to never have started/grown/shared something new with the World - in a sheltered existence of timidity

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