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Friday, December 29, 2006

To Academy or Not To Academy

While I was in Florida, Peter Bodo was too, and even though he was at IMG/Bollettieri's for only a day, he gathered plenty of material for an interesting TennisWorld post. He reveals an offer Bollettieri made to the USTA, who apparently declined it, although no reasons were given. Bodo's remarks regarding a six-year-old Bollettieri student produced many perceptive comments from his readers, and many interesting issues were raised including the special needs of gifted children, the boarding school option, how young is too young, etc.

I know many juniors who go to academies, including Bollettieri's, and many who do not. Some do not because they aren't interested in leaving their homes and families. Some do not because they can not afford it and they have not been offered scholarships. Some do not because they are happy with the progress of their game with their local coach. And yes, some do not because they are not interested in pursuing tennis that seriously.

But if you have a child who loves tennis and excels at it, and you are from say, Nebraska or Minnesota, how do you choose between giving that child the opportunity to develop against top competition and a "normal" family life? Do you move the entire family to Florida or Southern California? And does this only increase the pressure on the child, who now feels responsible for prompting such a major change?

These are dilemmas that no one can presume to resolve for someone else. It turns out that the six-year-old's parents felt the commenters were jumping to conclusions, and they sparked another interesting batch of comments when they took the opportunity to weigh in with the particulars of their daughter's situation. That comment (12/22 12:50 p.m.) is in this post.