NEWPORT — Lynn Miller stood where she ought to be, and where she is accustomed to being — at Centre Court.
The former Wheaton College tennis coach of 35 years was one of three New England-based recipients to be inducted into the tennis U.S. Professional Teaching Association Hall of Fame Monday during the first round of the International Tennis Hall of Fame Championships.
“Teaching a kid, it depends on what age, but mostly all the kids want to do everything fast, they want to hit everything fast,” said Miller, who now coaches at Kearsage Regional High School in Sutton, N.H., and serves as an assistant coach at nearby Colby-Sawyer College.
“Working with seniors, though, it’s hard to change people who have been playing 50-60 years — they all volley with frying pans.”
Miller will again be at Centre Court on Tuesday when she is honored by the U.S. Tennis Association’s New England chapter as a member of the No. 1 ranked women’s doubles team in the 65-and-over bracket.
Miller is also a top-10 ranked NASTAR (mountain skiing) racer in the women’s 60-and-over division, having qualified for the national meet in each year of the past decade. She qualified for the NASTAR Regional Race of Champions over the winter.
Not so surprisingly, Miller has sustained more injuries skiing (two torn rotator cuffs) than serving a tennis ball.
Miller teaches tennis at the Lake Sunapee (N.H.) Country Club and with the New London (N.H.) Recreation Association, having been a member of the USPTA since 1995.
“The thing about teaching tennis to kids is that you have to slow them down,” Miller said. “You want them to have fun, but also not to develop bad habits. You want to make tennis fun, so that it’s not boring.”
Miller has been the head coach at Kearsage High for the past three years, taking the team to the N.H. state semifinals in her first season.
“This year, we were rebuilding, graduating eight seniors, four of whom were starters,” she said.
Miller found success during the fall and spring seasons with the NCAA Division III Colby-Sawyer program. The women’s team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (losing to MIT), and the men’s team also qualified.
“With the older kids, say at the high school level for example, you want them to use a more advanced (continental) grip,” Miller said. “To get them to serve and volley — they’ll be 10 times as good if they get it down. So you have to be sort of a good salesperson.”
Miller served as the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Wheaton College from 1980 through 2015, retiring to pursue more leisure time activities on the tennis courts and snowy slopes.
“They’ve (USPTA) gone to more of a game-based approach,” Miller said of the emphasis on match management skills. “It’s more now how to play points, less technique-oriented.
“I still have part of me that’s very technical,” she added.
Miller emphasizes having proper form, tossing the ball for service, hitting forehands with different pace and of different lengths, developing strength off of the backhand.
Much like skating is a prerequisite for playing ice hockey, having good footwork skills is a must on the tennis courts, for any surface.
“That really is the key,” Miller said, citing her footwork stations for players of all ages. “You have to reach them good footwork, where to be on the courts, how to get to balls. That’s the key if you want to get to the next level.”
“Usually for kids, they (USTA) say the age nine is a guideline,” Miller said is of trend for youths to continue their enrichment and development. “The kids that are mentored from when they’re younger, the parents may then find them academies so they’re more apt to get better. “Those kids are also not strong enough, so you don’t want to get them injured.”
‘When you’re teaching somebody, whether they’re kids or seniors, I have to try to make them better.”
In the first round of the ATP Hall of Fame Championships on Monday, No. 8 seeded Denis Kudla bested Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-4; 28-year old veteran Donald Young of Atlanta, coming off of a career-best 24 singles wins in 2017, lost in his 13th ATP or Challenger tournament appearance this season, 7-6 (1), 6-1 to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil; while Tim Smyczek outlasted Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.