The USTA has announced the four coaches chosen to lead the 2011 USTA Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Teams, an elite training program for the top American collegiate tennis players that began in 1996 and is funded by the USTA. The program is designed to provide players with valuable exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment during the year. Audra Cohen of the University of Wisconsin will join returning coach Jamea Jackson of Oklahoma State University to coach the women’s team, while the University of Alabama’s Bo Hodge, who also coached last year’s team, will be joined by Notre Dame’s Ryan Sachire in leading the men’s team.
The teams, which will feature up to 12 participants each for the third consecutive year, will be named after the NCAA Championships in May. Team members will be selected based on performance at those championships as well as the ITA All-Americans and National Indoor Championships. Players’ results from USTA Pro Circuit, ATP or WTA events will also be considered. Current pros who are past participants include James Blake, Bob & Mike Bryan, John Isner, Amer Delic, Jesse Levine, Irina Falconi, and Jesse Witten.
“The USTA Collegiate Teams provide us the opportunity to work with some of the top Americans playing college tennis, and allow us to use the USTA Pro Circuit as a means to develop their games and keep these collegians on the pathway towards professional tennis,” said Patrick McEnroe, general manager of USTA Player Development. “These four coaches all have professional playing experience and can provide some great perspective for our top collegiate athletes.”
Jackson, 24, is currently in her second year as an assistant coach for Oklahoma State’s women’s team after a reoccurring hip injury prematurely ended a promising professional career that saw her as high as 45th on the WTA Tour. Her best year as a pro was in 2006, when she defeated Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic en route to her only tour-level singles final appearance at Eastbourne. That year she made her Fed Cup debut and reached the third round of all four Grand Slams. She also became a footnote in tennis history when she became the first player to use electronic line calling to challenge a call when the system made its debut in Miami.
Cohen, 25, is finishing her second season as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. Prior to joining the team in 2009, Cohen competed on the USTA Pro Circuit, reaching a career-high ranking of 229th in 2008. Cohen had an outstanding career as a collegian, becoming the only woman in history to reach the NCAA final competing at two different schools (Northwestern and Miami), and winning the 2007 NCAA singles title. A five-time All-American, Cohen was named the 2007 ITA National Player of the Year and won the 2007 Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top collegiate female tennis player.
Hodge, 29, is in his third year as an assistant coach for the University of Alabama’s men’s team, where he has helped lead the Crimson Tide to its 15th and 16th NCAA Tournament appearances in his first two years. Following a brief stint as a touring professional, Hodge served as a coach and hitting partner for Venus and Serena Williams in 2006 and for Mardy Fish in 2007. Hodge played collegiately at the University of Georgia, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to the 2001 NCAA title. Hodge finished both 2001 and 2004 ranked number two in the country, and reached the 2004 NCAA doubles final with current American standout John Isner.
Sachire, 33, is in his third year as associate head coach for Notre Dame after serving for two years as an assistant coach. During his tenure, he has helped lead the Irish to the NCAA tournament on three occasions, as well as the 2008 Big East title. Prior to his arrival at Notre Dame, Sachire coached for one season at Baylor University, helping the Bears reach the NCAA semifinals. Sachire was a standout collegian for Notre Dame; he lost to James Blake in the final of the 1998 ITA All-American Championships and was named the 2000 ITA National Senior Player of the Year. He was also a three-time member of the USTA Collegiate Team. Upon graduating from Notre Dame, Sachire spent five years competing on the USTA Pro Circuit, winning 16 doubles titles.
This summer, USTA Player Development will host two Pro Tour Transition camps–one for the men, one for the women–for the selected players. The men’s camp will be held June 9-15 on clay courts in Boca Raton, Fla., while the women’s camp will be conducted July 2-8, on hard courts in Boca Raton. USTA Player Development will also host two additional USTA Pro Circuit Tournament Training Camps for the women–a camp in Boca Raton June 6-10, and a camp June 13-17 in a location to be determined.
For the second consecutive year this fall, the USTA will serve as title sponsor and host of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s new indoor tennis facility. The USTA will also serve as the title sponsor of the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, the USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships and 88 USTA/ITA Regional Tournaments. In all, close to 10,000 players from nearly 600 schools participate annually in the ITA Regional Championships, which encompass 24 host sites from the Division I level and 64 from the small college divisions nationwide.
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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 750,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 90-plus Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and through tennis, helps underserved youth and people with disabilities to improve academics, build character and strive for excellence. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.