News from Around Banderas Bay | November 2005
|Puerto Vallarta's Thais Romero on Scholarship at Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy|
Bob Cohen - PVNN
Puerto Vallarta's own 12 year old Thais Romero has been at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy for the last three months on a full scholarship. The value of the scholarship is $35,000 a year. The academy is noted as the best in the world and is located in the tennis hotbed of Sarasota, Florida.
|Left to right: Duncan Forbes, Nick Bollettieri and Thais Romero in Sarasota, Florida at Bollettieri Tennis Academy.|
|Tennis pro Taylor Dentwith Thais Romero, in August 2005, just before Dent left to play in the U.S. Open.|
Upon researching the academy, founded in 1978 and has revolutionized training techniques for future tennis stars, I had the opportunity to ask the founder some questions in an email interview.
Questions for Nick Bollettieri:
Why do you believe than there are currently no Mexican players ranked in the top 300 in the world?
Countries follow trends. They have a better chance of having top players if they have strong, fully funded Federation Programs or by having a well established tennis academy.
In the mid 1970's Florida pros were mostly baseline, clay court players. When and why do you believe that changed?
For the 1970's the majority of the players trained on clay. At that time the trend was not big hitters with killer weapons. Times changed in the late 1970's. Jimmy Arias attended the first Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy at the Colony Beach Hotel with a unique forehand. He hit his forehand jumping off both feet with a strong, semi-western grip followed by a long wrap around follow through around his opposite shoulder. I took one look at that and said "That is the new Bollettieri Academy forehand".
What do you feel the Thais Romero's true potential is as a future tennis pro?
Thais Romero is a young girl, but her physical size is far beyond the other girls the same age. Thais has been blessed with many natural talents, but the main issue is how to put all of the positive factors to together to work in her favor. Her forehand and backhand are hit very aggressively with limited spin and unless she has a solid foundation on contact many unforced errors will be committed. Other parts of her game include a sound volley, excellent overhand and an unorthodox serve motion with sound results. Thais must train diligently in her fitness program and get in the best physical shape of her life. There is no doubt in my mind that she has all the makings to become an excellent player, but at this point has limited knowledge how to play the game utilizing court strategy.
What do you feel has drastically increased the popularity of tennis in recent years on both the professional and amateur levels?
The tour must have excitement from the players plus have rivalries in the top level of play.
Describe a typical day for a young student at the academy, both training and on an educational level.
The Academy has a variety of programs. There is a strong emphasis to education in order to secure college scholarships. In addition to their education, on-court program the Academy provides as part of the program, daily physical fitness and the mental approach to the game sessions. On the average day, after school, students will be on the court for three hours, have additional off-court training for two hours as well as their homework.
The West coast of Florida is now the hotbed for professional tennis players. Why do you believe this big change occurred?
The big changes that make Florida the best place to train are the weather, high caliber players and also several academies. The IMG/Nick Bollettieri Academy is the leader and most successful.
It seems that the appearance of Ivan Lendl on the pro circuit changed the style of tennis in the late 1970's. What do you attribute that to?
In my opinion, the power game and killer forehand was a direct result of Jimmy Arias' forehand in the early 80's (which was described earlier).
What tennis pros do you feel have most impacted the popularity of tennis, both male and female?
There are several pros that have had an impact on the game, including Courier and Sampras, but the man who brings everything to the game both on and off the court is Andre Agassi.
What gave you the idea and inspiration to start the academy?
The Academy came to me as a result of my natural training, desire to work with children and being a volunteer parent. We wanted to be the very best and worked day and night to achieve our mission.
What opportunities are offered by your academy for young players that are financially challenged, unable to afford lessons, as we see often in Mexico?
The IMG/NBTA donates both long-term and short-term scholarships annually to children from around the world.
The list of alumni that have attended your academy is a hall of fame list. Which player or players have made the greatest strides since they began training at your academy?
All of the players I have trained have made an impact on my life. I have worked with nine number 1 players of the world, but keep in mind hundreds of other students have earned full scholarships to college. It would be very difficult for me to single out one player over another. The past two years have been very exciting on the WTA Tour; the comeback story of the year is Mary Pierce, the 16 year old Nicole Vaidisova winning a total of 5 WTA victories to date and Maria Sharapova 2004 Wimbledon victory and also reaching #1. It has been very exciting!