Evert, Austin, Capriati, Davenport, Williams, Williams, Bellis? Not quite yet, but 15-year-old CC Bellis, TR Blue Chip and rising sophomore, Class of 2017 has the best chance to ascend to become the next great American since Serena. She is also the total package for marketers: Young, talented, attractive, sincere and best of all, she can play.
I have a few suggestions for her.
1. Stay in juniors and play doubles to develop a more complete game. Bellis is agile and a great ball striker, but she plays like a junior with limited racket skill. Eugenie Bouchard, who seems destined for greatness, stayed the junior course for longer than most, and burst onto the pro scene with the maturity of a veteran.
2. Stay away form the false tennis prophets who will descend on you like flies on you know what, offering to guide you to the next level. Bellis should follow the path that has taken her to the brink of stardom.
3. Build your endurance, strength, patience and character by walking the grounds of the Open anonymously and trying to use the restroom. Parking at Citi Field will develop conditioning.
4. Attend next year's Taste of Tennis. I went as a guest of Long Island/New York Tennis Magazine last week. This event is a great way to add a few pounds, as well as serves as a tremendous motivation to train to counter the effects of 37 meatball sliders made by "Chopped" star Mark Murphy.
5. Stay in school and get an education! You don't want to end up as a tennis commentator one day!
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.