Top Tennis Coaches Honored by USOC

The USTA recently announced that four members of the tennis community were honored with national awards as part of the USOC Coaching Recognition Program. Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez was named the 2009 USOC National Coach of the Year for Tennis, John Evert of Boca Raton, Fla., Director of the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, was named USOC Developmental Coach of the Year for Tennis, Julie Jablonski of Port Townsend, Wash., was named USOC Volunteer Coach of the Year for Tennis, and Butch Staples of Chicago was nominated for the "Doc" Counsilman Science Award for Tennis for his contributions to the sport in the areas of growth and development.

Fernandez is currently in her 2nd year as U.S. Fed Cup Captain after leading the 2009 U.S. Fed Cup team to its first final appearance since 2003. In her debut as Captain, Fernandez led of team comprised of Jill Craybas, Melanie Oudin, Liezel Huber and Julie Ditty to a 3-2 victory over Argentina in Surprise, Ariz., that was secured in the decisive doubles match. The U.S. then went on the road to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2 in a semifinal tie that came down to the doubles match once again. In addition to leading the U.S. to the Fed Cup final in her first year as Captain, Fernandez also received the 2009 Fed Cup Award of Excellence for her contributions to the history and growth of the sport of tennis.

As Executive Director and Director of Player Development of the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., John Evert oversees coaching of more than 75 internationally and nationally ranked junior players. Among the players Evert coached in 2009, 15-year-old Madison Keys had a standout year. She made headlines as a 14-year-old last April in her Sony Ericsson WTA Tour debut in Ponte Vedra Beach by defeating Alla Kudryavtseva 7-5, 6-4 to become the seventh youngest player to win a Tour-level main draw match. Additionally, Keys achieved a career-high No. 29 in the ITF World Junior Rankings in December and won the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in January. Evert also coached 16-year-old Ajla Tomljanovic, who won the 2009 Australian Open girls' doubles title and reached her first professional final at a $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Puebla, Mexico, in November.

As a volunteer coach in Port Townsend, Wash., Julie Jablonski provides free tennis programming for high school and elementary school PE classes, recreational summer camps, YMCA day camps and home school programs, which all utilize the QuickStart Tennis play format. Additionally, Julie coordinates coaches training workshops, community volunteer development programs and mentor programs for community coaches.

Staples, who holds a Master of Science in physical education, is the Head Tennis Professional at the Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago where he spends more than 20 hours per week teaching children ages 5-12. Staples incorporates motor learning and development principles in all aspects of his teachings, particularly as they relate to young children. He is a major proponent of the USTA's QuickStart play format, which utilizes slower bouncing, low-pressure balls, smaller racquets and shorter courts, all tailored to a child's age and size, and has served as Tournament Director at 14 QuickStart tournaments.

To get started playing tennis in a location near you visit the USTA's Tennis Welcome Center . Find more tennis technique information at the USTA Player Development Web site .

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