Lessons Learned On-and-Off Court at ITA Coaches Convention
200+ Coaches Enjoy Great Opportunities at Relaxing Resort
NAPLES, Fla. -- The 27th annual ITA Coaches Convention wrapped up on Friday following four days of business meetings, informative clinics and a memorable awards banquet that honored coaches from all five divisions of collegiate tennis.
More than 200 coaches gathered at the Naples Grande Beach Resort for the ITA Convention, which was highlighted by 1996 Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington, who served as a clinician and keynote speaker courtesy of Wilson Sporting Goods. Washington's first act of business was participating on the panel for the USTA Multicultural Coaching Symposium, being held for the first time ever during the ITA Convention.
Washington, a two-time ITA All-American at the University of Michigan, stayed 90 minutes following the end of the session to interact with coaches on a one-on-one basis, including the 10 recipients of the 2011 USTA Multicultural Grants.
On Wednesday evening, Washington was among the attendees at the ITA Mini-Trade Show, presented by the USTA. While mingling over appetizers and drinks, coaches and guests at the ITA Mini-Trade Show visited with exhibitors from tennis organizations such as Wilson, Prince, Babolat, BOLT Sports, Ace Authentic, and TennisRecruiting.net.
Thursday's activities included a clinic conducted by Washington in which he displayed drills designed to make any college player better. Other popular on-court clinics throughout the ITA Convention were led by seven-time Grand Slam champion Stan Smith (Getting More Comfortable Around the Net), Tennis Channel coaching personality Joe Dinoffer (Teaching Racquet Head Speed - The Role of the Wrist) and USTA National Women's Coach Troy Hahn (USTA Player Development & Collegiate Tennis: Transitioning Players to the Pro Game).
Besides on-court instruction, attendees were treated to classroom sessions led by some of their most respected peers. Dave Fish (Harvard men), Sheila McInerney (Arizona State women) and 2011 Wilson/ITA Division I Coaches of the Year Kenny Thorne (Georgia Tech men) and Roland Thornqvist (Florida women) shared some of the secrets to their success with their fellow coaches. Also addressing the coaches was International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2012 nominee Nick Bollettieri, whose six decades in coaching have yielded hundreds of top-level professional and collegiate players.
In spite of their busy schedule, many coaches found the time to play tennis on one of the Naples Grande Beach Resort's 15 Har-Tru courts. After three days of recreational play, 10 coaches competed in a One-on-One Doubles round-robin tournament to cap the Convention.
In a final that featured phenomenal volleys, Ross Wilson of Kenyon College took on Scoville Jenkins of Kennesaw State University. Wilson, who won three ITA National Championships in doubles as a player at Ohio State University, defeated the former world No. 187 Jenkins 4-3(3).
Coaches weren't the only ones who took to the courts this week. More than 60 junior players from across the country competed in the Convention's first-ever USTA Junior Showcase on Tuesday, drawing large crowds of coaches eager to scout rising talent.
One of the most anticipated events at the Convention each year is ITA Membership and Awards Banquet, and the 2011 edition did not disappoint.
As the keynote speaker, Washington delivered a passionate speech in which he implored coaches to never underestimate the impact they can have on their student-athletes. He also took the opportunity to rib his friend and former college rival Thorne, feigning total surprise as he announced that Thorne was the Wilson/ITA Division I Men's Coach of the Year.
Twelve coaches in all were honored Thursday with national coaching awards.
Wilson/ITA National Coaches of the Year
Division I Men: Kenny Thorne, Georgia Institute of Technology
Division I Women: Roland Thornqvist, University of Florida
Division II Men: Greg Prudhomme, Grand Canyon University
Division II Women: Avi Kigel, Barry University
Division III Men: Marty Perry, University of Chicago
Division III Women: Luciano Battaglini, Carleton College
NAIA Men: Chris McMillin, McKendree University
NAIA Women: David Paschal, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Junior College Men: Ron Albers, Vincennes University
Junior College Women: Josh Cobble, Cowley College
USTA/ITA National Coaching Awards
Campus and Community Outreach: Claire Pollard, Northwestern University
QuickStart Provider of the Year: Matt Meredith, Slippery Rock University
In a surprise tribute at Thursday's banquet, ITA Executive Director David Benjamin presented longtime Convention organizer Nancy Breo with a barometer designed by Tiffany & Co. as a retirement gift. Breo, whose favorite hobby is meteorology, has worked with thousands of coaches for countless hours since 1994 to make the Convention an event where they can learn, laugh and look forward to the spring season ahead.
The 28th annual ITA Coaches Convention will take place in December 2012 right back at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. For more information to be published in the coming months, please stay tuned to ITAtennis.com.