In the Community: Ace Academy
by Stephen Miwa
Ace Academy - possibly the best tennis facility in the area that you have never heard of. While known nationally and internationally because of the talent they produce, their name is just now starting to pick up traction in their local community of Naperville, Illinois. Cesar Morales, Ace Academy’s owner and director, has spent the majority of his life with a tennis racquet in his hands. Cesar starting playing when he was just five years old making it all the way to the professional level. Now he is sharing his passion for the game through coaching, which he has been doing for the last sixteen years. Formally opening Ace Academy (Ace) in 2006, Ace has now grown into a facility with seven courts – two 78’, two 60’, and three 36’ – which aid is teaching the proper mechanics to players of any age and size. With numerous accomplishments and accolades to his name, Cesar is now passing along his knowledge to players of any age and ability at Ace.
“Anyone who wants to learn is who we focus on,” Cesar says. This can be seen by the vast age range of players who train at Ace. With players ranging from 3 to 75 years old, the knowledge of the coaches Cesar and his team have is astounding. “We focus on the holistic aspect of the player from A to Z. That’s why we call Ace an academy because it is an academia.” Cesar continues, “We spend a lot of time when it comes to research and education on how we can get a player technically, tactically, physically, and mentally strong which are the 4 Pillars of Ace.” These 4 Pillars are the backbone of what is taught at Ace and what sets them apart from other facilities. Tennis is an amazingly difficult sport for several reasons – once a match starts there is no coaching; matches can be played on a variety of surfaces each of which poses their own challenges; and the mechanics of the game are so precise that just slight miscalculations set the elite players from the rest. These reasons, among others, are why Ace holds to their 4 Pillars.
Cesar explains the 4 Pillar approach:
“Technique – understanding the biomechanics and the body movement of a player. Tactics – understanding the strategy and the metrics needed to implement in a match in order to win. Physical ability – understanding that a player from their formative years all the way to being an adult all have their own challenges, and we work to develop all of them based on sizing of courts that is relative to them. Mental ability – understanding what things are going to break down, when they are going to break down and how to work with a logistical process that we teach our players to get around these barriers during a match. If you don’t know how to teach all of those aspects, you are going to make a big mistake at some point. And we don’t make them at Ace.”
This is the reason why Cesar stresses the absolute importance of having a professional coach compared to someone who knows how to play but does not hold the professional certifications. With this, he also stresses the importance of knowing the kinesiology and biomechanics of a player. “This is where Achieve really comes in to help us understand the structural makeup of an athlete’s body.” Cesar continues, “Most of us are mostly the same, but there are anomalies in some players. So, if they are struggling somewhere, we send them to Achieve to get work done and get the knowledge of their range of motion, muscle makeup, balance and more.” Cesar explains that the game of tennis has not changed all that much from a tactical and technical standpoint, but he points out that the advanced analytics and data that they get from advanced medical teams like Achieve have changed how they train a player. Knowing the differences between the sexes and the body styles within them has helped Ace to limit the injuries their facility may see because of how they have adapted their programs to each athlete. This paired with the studies of other Ace partners have led to new things like a serve count (much like a pitch count in baseball) in developing players to help prevent overuse injuries.
All of this has really made Ace into a top tier facility, but Cesar is not content to just stay put at this level. One of Cesar’s accomplishments includes being a High Performance Coach, and he sees this as an important aspect of growth and a way to give back. “Our job is to teach everybody other aspects of coaching behavior,” Cesar says. With this, one of his future plans for the growth of Ace Academy is to build another facility and focus on coaching behavior for coaches of any sport. “We are able to give back to the community, give back to other sports, and really progress the athletes in this area from athletes in other areas.” Producing elite tennis players has always been a passion of Cesar, but being able to make the Naperville and Chicagoland areas a hub of elite athletes of any sport is the future dream that he has for Ace Academy in the years to come.
For more information on Ace Academy, please visit their website:
For more information on Cesar Morales, please visit his website: