The USTA announced the hiring of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl to work with top-ranked U.S. juniors, and I could not be happier.
As a player, Lendl was a true student of the game, possessing great mechanics, supreme fitness and a relentless work ethic. Lendl might be the best ball striker I have ever seen, but I didn't get the sense that he was a natural genius on the court blessed with the talent of an artist. Ivan Lendl competed as a consummate professional, earning his greatness with grit, desire and will. He is exactly the kind of coaching talent that U.S. tennis needs to take the next step forward.
Is it asking too much to consider hiring Martina Navratilova next?
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.