Jorge Capestany has made quite a name for himself in the tennis world. Just a few of his many accolades include Master Professional with the USPTA, International Master Professional with the PTR, six-time Michigan Pro of the Year, and USPTA Midwest Hall of Fame Member. The list goes on and on. However, perhaps what Capestany is most well-known for is his reputation as ‘the drills guy.’
Before becoming one of the most notable names in tennis coaching, Capestany and his family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. Growing up in Michigan, he did not begin playing tennis until the age of 14 when he somewhat surprisingly made the varsity team as a freshman in high school.
Looking to improve his game, Capestany sought the help of a pro from a local club. However, he and his family simply didn’t have the money to join the junior team. Nonetheless, the pro offered him a walk-on pass, where he was only able to play when other club members were not utilizing the courts.
Capestany and another local boy took advantage of the opportunity, playing sets each afternoon for an hour before the junior team began practice. They would then retreat to the lobby to do homework, hoping they would have another opportunity to get back out on the court before the night ended.
The pro who offered Capestany the walk-on pass took notice of the his effort level and offered him various jobs within the club in exchange for lessons, which were where Capestany was first exposed to the art of drills.
By the time his senior year rolled around, Capestany began assisting with the young kids’ classes. The pro told him that if he wanted to get paid and continue coaching, he would need to obtain PTR certification.
Capestany went through the certification process and continued to coach throughout college. At the conclusion of his career, his college doubles partner reached out to him and asked if he would like to be the Head Pro at the same club he grew up working and playing at.
At just 22 years old, Capestany found himself developing some of the top juniors, three of which would go on to win Gold Balls. Before he knew it, hundreds of people were on waiting lists to join the club he had grown up at, seeking his coaching expertise.
Years later, Capestany has now logged 63,000 hours teaching on the tennis court. For 20 years straight, he taught 40 to 50 hours and six to seven days per week. Because he taught for so many hours, he was always looking for new drills to use with his students.
“I started going to conferences left and right, and I was always looking for drills. Sometimes I would score, but most of the time I wouldn’t get anything,” said Capestany. “I started to tell the leaders they needed more drills in the presentations. Sometimes they would add somebody, but most of the time they wouldn’t. Finally, the leaders told me I should do my own presentation.”
Capestany opted to heed their advice and develop his own presentation, which was entitled ‘Drills, Drills, Drills’ and was first delivered at the USPTA World Conference in 2002. “My goal was to get something for people to do the next day back at their clubs. As a person who had sat in the audience for many years, I knew that the best thing was when someone would show me a drill in three to five minutes and move on. I wanted 10 to 15 drills, not just two,” he recalled.
“After that presentation, I had my epiphany moment. I got 20 speaking offers within the hour. My takeaway was, ‘Wow, people think my drills are pretty good.’ I realized a lot of pros struggled with drills, having enough of them and having creative ones. I thought I wanted to do a drills website. I wanted to be like YouTube, where you could just look up drills,” said Capestany.
Knowing nothing about website editing and development, he hired one of his students to help edit the first 500 videos for his website, TennisDrills.tv. Today, the site has over 2,000 tennis drills, as well as instructional courses, with subscribers from over 65 countries across the globe. Each drill also has its own printable instruction diagram.
“I think now a lot of people know me as the drills guy because when I do speak at a convention, they want me to speak on drills,” said Capestany. “I have 20 different presentations I make, but what I’m most known for is drills and that’s what most people want. I’ve carved out a little niche as the drill guy. I’m always coming up with new ideas and crazy stuff.”
So, how does Capestany select the proper drill for each situation he is presented with when he has so many to choose from? “When people ask what my favorite drill is, I tell them it depends on who it’s for. I have a favorite drill for baseline, for consistency, I have another favorite for serving and returning. Basically, I reverse engineer it based on the player’s issue. Once I know their issue, I know what to do. If I have the problem and how many people are on the court, I can come up with something,” he said.
When on the court, Capestany firmly believes that there are five play situations – serving, returning, baseline play, net play and passing shots and lobs. Based on these areas, which he has coined as his ‘promise,’ he assesses a student on their strengths and weaknesses in each category.
“Every practice should have a certain amount of time in each of the five play situations. If you come to a clinic with me, my promise is that you will work on all five of these areas,” explained Capestany. “You don’t have to work on serves for 35 minutes, but it has to be in there. I use that framework and make sure that I have one or two drills in each category. The formula has worked really well for us and it’s a simple framework.”