GoRecess Playground Pro: Kristy Oshita, Bumblebee Tennis; NYC
Where She Teaches: Founder & Director of BumbleBee Tennis; Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn
Hometown: Mililani, Hawaii
Background: Kristy Oshita started playing tennis at a very young age, where her first tennis tournament was in the 8 years and under division. Practicing every day with her father and sister, she was consistently ranked in the top 15 in Hawaii for her age division. Focusing on doubles in high school, she and her partner won regional tournaments three times, and made it to the semis and quarters for two years in the State tournament.
Despite her success in tennis as a teenager, Kristy assumed her tennis life would dissipate once reaching college. She thought she would focus on her bigger passion which was for small business and entrepreneurship. However in college, she ended up playing on two Division I college tennis teams as well as doing a lot of tennis coaching. Approaching graduation and planning to move to New York City, she would never have imagined even bringing her tennis racquet would be necessary for the next chapter in her life.
After arriving in New York City and teaching at a high-end tennis club in the city, she realized how difficult it was for anybody to learn and play tennis in the city. Frustrated with seeing how far people had to go to access tennis and the extremely high prices, she realized that she should merge her love for entrepreneurship and tennis together to create a tennis school that offered amazing tennis lessons which could also be accessible and affordable.
And then Bumblebee tennis was born.
ABOUT BUMBLEBEE TENNIS
What types of programs are offered at BumbleBee Tennis? BumbleBee Tennis is an exciting New York City tennis school, offering tennis players the most convenient and affordable tennis lessons in New York. With convenient court locations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, Bumblebee Tennis offers private and group tennis lessons for youth and adults, tennis clinics, and cardio tennis classes.
What inspired you to start BumbleBee Tennis and what makes it unique from other tennis programs? To continue from my bio, I wanted to be able to see more kids be able to access and learn tennis. Tennis gave me so much as a young child, and even as an adult, that it just didn't seem right that so many who people wanted to learn tennis couldn't for certain reasons (location, access to reliable tennis lessons at a great price, etc).
Bumblebee Tennis solves this by taking on the challenges of providing tennis access to different locations in a busy city. We are now able to offer tennis in all three boroughs, including various locations within Manhattan itself.
In addition, from teaching for more than a decade with different tennis organizations, I have discovered a very unique way to teach tennis that allows students to quickly and easily learn strong tennis fundamentals. Further, since we know New Yorkers are very busy, we invested a lot of our resources in putting our class booking system online to allow for reservations 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That was a huge investment that I am really proud to see working out well for our students! We also provide tennis lessons 7 days a week and have our phone customer service team answering calls 7 days a week during regular business hours. Yeah, we don’t believe in sleeping!
Running a tennis school is definitely challenging, and is not for everyone, but knowing that our unique set up provides tennis access to more students, and that our unique methodology allows more students to learn more quickly, we are compelled to keep going.
Why do you recommend tennis as a great way to get in shape? Tennis is so amazing because it keeps you constantly moving, so it is engaging constantly and rewarding with each time you see your ball go over the net. In addition, it incorporates the effective techniques seen in popular exercise programs like P90X and Insanity, which are based on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
HIIT is when you do bursts of high intensity movement to get your heart rate up and burn more fat. There are times when you just want a stop in the middle of a point or rally, but the ball keeps coming back and you keep pushing yourself, so you are forced to keep a high intensity for short intervals which leads to a more effective fat burning workout! In addition, tennis is great because it works out your legs, back, arms, and core muscles.
For those who are new to tennis, what advice do you have? This is a great question and I'm glad you asked this. Focus on getting your fundamentals right, so that means control in the contact point. The contact point is where the racquet meets the ball.
It's easy in the beginning of learning anything to want instant results and go after the fancy-looking moves. For new tennis players, this might mean wanting to look like Roger Federer, and taking a big swing and hitting the ball really hard without much control. I totally understand that temptation, but I encourage new tennis players to resist and focus on a good foundation of a controlled shot. The thing is the biggest joy of tennis is rallying, and control is the most effective way to achieve that goal.
So new tennis players, I encourage you to practice by standing close to the net, which allows you to practice your short controlled swing. In addition, you'll be able to start rallying instantly! I promise it doesn’t matter what the next court over his doing, let them stand way back in the court. It's more important that you have fun and build good fundamentals by starting with a controlled shot.
How does someone know what level of play to sign up for? The levels of difficulty for our classes are labeled based on the USTA’s National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP). A rating of 2.0-3.0 basically means you are an advanced beginner or slightly better. 3.5-4.5 means you are a solid, consistent player who is classified as an intermediate to advanced player. Below is an overview of the ratings:
- 1.5: You have limited experience and are working primarily on getting the ball in play.
- 2.0: You are familiar with the basic positions for singles and doubles play, but you lack court experience and your strokes need developing.
- 2.5: You are learning to judge where the ball is going, although your court coverage is limited. You can sustain a short rally of slow pace with other players of the same ability.
- 3.0: You are fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but are not comfortable with all strokes and lack execution when trying for directional control, depth, or power. Your most common doubles formation is one-up, one-back.
- 3.5: You have achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but need to develop depth and variety. You exhibit more aggressive net play, have improved court coverage and are developing teamwork in doubles.
- 4.0: You have dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate-paced shots. You can use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success and occasionally force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.
- 4.5: You have developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. You have sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. You tend to over-hit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.
- 5.0: You have good shot anticipation and frequently have an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. You can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys. You can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overhead smashes, and have good depth and spin on most second serves.
- 5.5: You have mastered power and/or consistency as a major weapon. You can very strategies and styles of play in a competitive situation and hit dependable shots in a high stress situation.
- 6.0-7.0: You have had intensive training for national tournament competition at the junior and collegiate levels and have obtained a sectional and/or national ranking.
- 7.0: You are a world-class player.
What can you expect in your Cardio Tennis classes? Do you need to be an experienced tennis player in order to take these classes? Cardio Tennis can be utilized as a fitness or cross-training activity and helps build endurance, strengthen muscles and improve agility. Cardio Tennis alternates constant stroke patterns with cardiovascular training moves such as foot shuffles, court to mid-court runs, lateral, forward and backward sprints, and an exercise that requires players to hop over and back the court boundary lines.
Beginner players may need more instruction before jumping into Cardio Tennis. We offer an Intro to Tennis class that will provide an overview of the serve, volley, forehand and backhand. In general, Intro to Tennis lessons are great for those who first want to work on their technique before performing tennis drills as well as those who want a review of the basics.
How do you know determine your racquet grip size? Manufactured tennis grip sizes range from less than 4” for juniors to 4 7/8” for the largest adult hands. This might not seem like much of a range, but the difference even 1/8” makes is surprising. The most commonly used method for finding your grip size is by using the following steps:
- On your dominant hand, note that your palm has three main creases
- Hold your hand flat, with the fingers alongside one another
- Measure from the middle crease of your palm, up the line between your middle and ring fingers, to a point equal to the height of the tip of your ring finger
If you’re between an eighth of an inch when you measure and you’re not growing, you’ll be better off choosing the smaller grip since a small grip can be fattened up easily with an overwrap. One thing to keep in mind is that overwraps can’t fatten a grip effectively more than one-eighth of an inch without rounding off the bevel edges on your handle.
GETTING TO KNOW KRISTY
Proudest tennis accomplishment? Definitely starting Bumblebee Tennis, and seeing daily the number of people we bring tennis to.
Favorite professional tennis player? I definitely respect Billy Jean King, for her role in the battle of the sexes tennis match that helped bring more respect to females, in sports especially. She has also done a lot for tennis as a whole.
Favorite racquet type? I like the VÖLKL brand because the racquets feel more solid to me. Also I feel like they help prevent me from hitting out a lot, which trust me, on certain days can happen a lot. And ball pick up isn’t the type of special tennis workout I am excited about.
Favorite brand of tennis attire? Was it just me, or was there anyone else who wanted to quit their job and become a ball girl for the U.S. Open just so that we could get some Ralph Lauren Polo U.S. Open apparel? Darn they were so cute!
Your best stroke? Volleys.
One-handed or two-handed backhand? Two handed and volleys 1.5 on the backhand - that’s when you sort of let go of the left hand on the backhand volley when the shot calls for it. Overall, I am a two-hander. In fact, my sister grew up doing a two-handed forehand and backhand like Monica Seles. Maybe we were just a two-handed tennis family. I’ve always wondered if we had a third hand if we would have even been three handed.
What other fitness activities do you incorporate into your tennis routine? Lots of push-ups, squats, and core workouts.
If you could give GoRecess users one piece of tennis advice what would it be? Use tennis to make working out fun for you and your kids. The thing is, if you can make working out fun, you'll do it more. That is the number one best thing about tennis, it’s an extremely fun way to exercise (with the second best thing the cute outfits of course!).
It doesn't matter how you look or how far from the net you stand, tennis is about rallying and having fun. Did you know you can play tennis anywhere? On a handball court, in your driveway, even in an alley. You just need a ball, a racquet and a friend (or even a wall). Nets are optional. Just go out there and play! And don’t worry about what others say, if someone comes up to you and says that's not tennis, tell them to call me and I'll set them straight!