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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Visit to UCLA; USTA Honors Coaches at Easter Bowl

After a very long Sunday at the Easter Bowl, today was a "vacation" day for me in Southern California. My husband and I were invited to visit UCLA by men's assistant Grant Chen, and because in my nine previous Carson/Easter Bowl California trips I had never done so, today was the day.

The UCLA men were off today, after returning yesterday from their weekend matches against Utah and Arizona, although a few of them, including freshmen Joe Di Giulio and Mackenzie McDonald, were at the Los Angeles Tennis Center to hit. Sloane Stephens was also there practicing in preparation for the Fed Cup tie with France this weekend in St. Louis, and the women's tennis team was practicing in the perfect Southern California weather.

Chen took us on a insider's tour, as we visited Pauley Pavilion, the Hall of Fame with its 110 NCAA championship trophies, the training room, the weight room and the sports information area. We then walked along Bruin Way, to the original buildings on campus, including Powell library, before stopping at the Ackerman Union for lunch.  It was a great way to decompress from an intense two weeks of covering tennis, and a walk along Marina del Rey, looking at hundreds of boats of all sizes and shapes, also provided some much needed relaxation.

General Manager of USTA Player Development Patrick McEnroe, with Jerry Baskin

Wednesday evening during the Easter Bowl, the USTA honored for coaches for their contributions to tennis in this country: Jerry Baskin, Jack Sharpe, Nick Bollettieri and Robert Lansdorp.  Lansdorp and Bollettieri disagreed often, and even when they did agree, they didn't seem content to leave it at that. Bollettieri said he believed college was an appropriate path for world class juniors now, given the changes in the game and the lack of sponsorship money available to help juniors transition to the level where they can be self-supporting.  Lansdorp disagreed, saying he was all for education, but studying at college and developing as a tennis player were not compatible.

Sharpe and Baskin spoke much less, although Patrick McEnroe attempted to direct more audience questions to them, so they could contribute their knowledge as well.

Joseph Gilbert was honored as the 2013 USOC Developmental Coach of the Year, and the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland was named the 2013 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year.

Next year's honorees are likely to fewer in number than this year's, but if you have nominees, I would suggest submitting them to Kent Kinnear, Director of Player ID and Development, via email at Kinnear(at)usta.com.

The USTA provided this release on the event, and Steve Pratt, the Easter Bowl media director, wrote this summary for usta.com.


Barry said...

I hope you had a great visit to UCLA with Coach Chen -- people like he and Coach Martin are what make college tennis so special. They are truly the best there is! As a former UCLA Manager (2007-2011), I'm glad that you had a chance to tour campus and experience what it is like to be a Bruin.

Thanks for all the work you do (and have done over the years!) to cover college tennis.