Verde Valley and Sedona Tennis

Tennis Lessons

Jeff Cooper, Tennis Pro

My name is Jeff Cooper. I teach tennis in Sedona and Camp Verde to students of all ages and levels of play. Most of them take private or group lessons once or twice a week pretty much year-round, but I also welcome new and occasional students, including tennis players who are just visiting the area to see Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the many other unique attractions of Arizona.

The Verde Valley and Sedona have a good set of teaching pros, each distinguished by his or her own style and strengths. Tennis players seek lessons for different reasons and enjoy particular traits in a teaching pro. Players who like the way I teach would probably cite the following reasons:

Experienced: I've taught tennis as a certified pro since 1992. Among the hundreds of juniors I've taught, many took lessons with me from age 7 or 8 all the way through playing high-school tennis, dozens of them at the #1 positions on their high-school teams. I've had adult students at every level from complete beginners through college players and top club players.

Comprehensive: My students eventually, when they're ready, learn every shot in the game, because I've found that many of them will have an untapped talent for certain skills they've never tried before, and learning all of the shots makes them confident on every part of the court. Versatility gives a player many more paths to finding ways to win matches.

Scientific: Misconceptions abound in tennis. Some are relatively harmless, and many students instinctively ignore advice that doesn't make biomechanical sense, but some of the biggest misconceptions in tennis are responsible for keeping players well below their potential and, worse, causing long-term injuries. I've always had a deep interest in science, and I make sure to keep up with the important work being done by physicists, experts in biomechanics and physiology, and psychologists about how to improve the performance of the player and the racquet.

Innovative: Over the years, I have developed a huge toolchest of original drills and games for all ages and levels that make learning more fun and keep lessons varied and exciting. I find that students improve faster when they have an enjoyable challenge to engage their skills. "Return of Serve Levels" is a good example, where the student has to return two serves in a row to move up to the next level, starting with returning very soft serves at Level 1 and working up toward returning heavy sidespins, kicks, and tough placements with lots of pace at Level 7.

Tested: In the most literal sense, I was first tested as a teaching pro when I got certified by the PTR, who awarded me the highest rating possible on their extensive certification test. Since then, the main test applied to my effectiveness as a teacher has been the improvement of my students, but my knowledge has also been subjected to a wider vetting through tennis.about.com, a website I ran for 15 years. The more than 1000 pages of articles, step-by-step lessons, analyses of pro strokes, and equipment advice I wrote for the site were read by tennis players and instructors all over the world. I stopped updating the site shortly after The New York Times sold About to a new owner with priorities that diverged from mine. I plan to launch a new, completely independent instructional site in a year or two.

Prickly Pear Flower

Weather that's good for tennis year-round is also good for biking, which is how I spend most of my outdoor time when I'm not on a tennis court. I find biking a perfect complement to tennis, especially mentally. It's great low-impact exercise, especially when I'm not stopping too often to take photos. Springtime is the toughest season for a good workout on the bike, as one irresistible flower after another insists that I take its picture.