The Best Tennis Academies in the US
This article is written for parents of junior tennis players hoping for college scholarships or even a professional career. My very first advice is to look for a private tennis coach who suits your kid. Nevertheless, for those tennis parents who want to send their kid to a tennis academy, I strongly recommend doing your own research, comparing all pros and cons, including quality of coaching, schooling, boarding and pricing. I also advise you to read my previous articles “Choosing a tennis academy” and “How to find a good tennis coach?”
One more thing to remember is that the chance of going pro for any player is very slim. So never give up on school.
In the contemporary world everything is about ranking and branding. Before buying something valuable, people look at the rankings: universities, cars, resorts, and so on. Today I am going to talk about my top five academies for junior tennis players. I am going to consider only those academies which provide boarding and schooling for their students. I won’t consider the USTA Training Centre in Boca Raton in my article.
I do not pretend that my approach is perfect and there is definitely no scientific research. This is just my personal opinion and it can be different from yours. At the same time, I tried to do this as objectively as possible. I took into consideration the following factors: presence of highly qualified tennis coaches with a good reputation and background, location, individual approach for player development, and pricing.
1) IMG Academy Bollettieri
It’s no surprise that my number one is IMG Academy Bollettieri. It is the most famous and respected tennis academy in the US with an excellent record of developing world class players, including Serena and Venus Williams, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and many others. The academy has a complex approach to the training process, good tennis facilities and school programs. But it is also the most expensive tennis academy in the world.
Those who might consider sending their child to there are parents who have a lot of money and who are ready to spend it on a well developed brand backed by the most powerful company in sports industry, IMG.
2) Evert Tennis Academy
The academy that I put in second place is Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, FL. It also has a very good history of developing strong tennis players. Like NBTA, it has a partnership with IMG. Some of the most prominent current tennis players who have had experience with Evert Tennis Academy are Peng Shuai and Madison Keys. The cost of one year is about $48,000, which is much lower than at NBTA.
3) Saviano Tennis Academy
I placed Saviano Tennis Academy in third place. The academy is located in Plantation, FL. Nick Saviano also has a good record in working with world class players, such as Sloane Stephens, and he was a world class player himself. His academy is relatively small and has a family oriented atmosphere. Unlike in many other academies, boarding players live with tennis-friendly families around the academy.
4) Van Der Meer Tennis Academy
Number four, in my mind, is Van Der Meer Tennis Academy in Hilton Head Island, SC. Dennis Van der Meer has over 40 years of experience coaching players of all levels, from novice to Grand Slam champions, like Billie Jean King. His academy has a good history of tennis players’ development and has worked for more than 20 years. It has more affordable pricing of about $33,500 for a full year.
5) Gorin Tennis Academy
I decided to position Gorin tennis academy in fifth place. It is based in Granite Bay, CA. The academy has been helping players for many years. Among their best students are Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Kunitsyn. The price for a year is about $35,000, which definitely places the academy in a good position.
Academy Owner and Director Tim Blenkiron was the 1997 NCAA doubles Champion and spent five years as the Team Agassi coach. Blenkiron and his academy have helped develop over 7 players to top 5 national rankings including Asia Muhammad, Cristala Andrews, Jeff Vongman, Kristofer Yee, Patrick Kawka and Kimberly Yee. The academy has placed over 65 players in top colleges around the nation including USC, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgetown, Villanova, NC State and The Citadel.
“A players attitude is everything here,” explained Blenkiron. “All successful people follow the same principles and attitudes and that is what we emphasize, the mind and attitude of a child. The technique and fitness is vital for success as well but tennis is mostly mental.”
Their additional off court “Ivy League Prep Leadership Development Program” is designed to help those students who want to use their top national tennis ranking and good grades to get into the nation’s best colleges. “For those who want to play pro, we believe that being intelligent makes them a better player. For those who do not go pro, being intelligent gives them entry into the best colleges and the best futures. We want to build professionals at life!” says Blenkiron.
According to Kimberly Yee, now the #1 ranked player and recruit in America, “There is no place like it. Everyone here is good to each other and helps each other get better. I have never seen someone come and not love it. It’s a team environment, more like a family.”
This academy is a good value with full time enrollment at just $1,500/month. Housing is offered to out of state and international students with academy families. It’s a full high performance academy including mental, fitness and nutritional training for half the cost! I highly recommend checking out this hidden gem in the beautiful international city of Las Vegas.
All these academies have a pretty good combination of professional tennis coaching, schooling and boarding. Please remember that in many cases while considering the total budget, you need to add at least 20-30% to the listed price for tournaments, private lessons, entertainment, insurance, etc.
If you want to send your kid there, think twice, compare all the options, and only then make a decision.
About the author: Valery Yalouskikh has his own tennis blog http://www.tennisconsult.com/
He mostly writes about things regarding the development of strong tennis players and other tennis issues.
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