In February I took my first trip to the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton Florida, thanks to an invite from my friend Devin Tao who I’d met through NYC clinics. Devin was generous enough to invite me despite the fact that all the other guys in the group he was organizing were strong 4.0 and 4.5 players… Thankfully all the guys turned out to be incredibly cool about dealing with the lone “aspiring 4.0” in the group.
We did an intense 4-day program, each day of which started with a kick-ass workout that included things like suicides and sprints and burpees etc followed by fast-paced drills. On day 3, we got word that Nick Bollettieri wanted to take an hour to meet with us and work with us all individually. We walk into the indoor facility where he was working with some astounding juniors and I was in heaven. Nick was full of energy and passion, incredibly encouraging, and a total class act. He looked at each of our forehands and backhands and gave everyone some surgically precise observations on what to work on.
Nick then took us over to meet one of his juniors, a modest young girl with a radiant smile who we all thought was around 12 years old. In introducing her, he talked about the importance of early preparation. Of sound footwork. Of leaning into the shots. Of a relaxed swing, and more…. And then we all just watched in awe as she attacked the ball against a backboard aiming for red and yellow targets, executing brilliantly the practice drills Nick asked her to show us. Below are a couple videos from that session. I watch them every once in a while to get inspired. I may be an old guy, but I want to train with the intensity and drive of a junior for as long as my body can take it.
* Watch in particular her early preparation and smooth “C” loop on forehand
* Watch in particular her (1) forward lean into the court on backhand at 0:14 forward and (2) excellent hip rotation and correct ending position of back leg after impact
I’m planning on another visit to the IMG Bollettieri Academy in early 2013 and can’t wait!