As American tennis re-evaluates it's High Performance programs, specifically its methods of "talent identification" to reclaim a lofty position in the world, it's worth learning from the NFL and four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
Brady was the 199th player picked in the 2000 NFL draft. His combine numbers at the time, were the worst ever tested for a drafted quarterback. A look at combine testing numbers for the starting quarterbacks in the NFL today puts Russell Wilson at number one. Brady is still last.
His picture taken at the rookie testing camp makes him look kind of well, normal.
Heart, desire, intelligence, willingness to learn, field (or court) vision, leadership and grace under pressure are some of the ingredients of a champion and Brady is a shining example. These qualities are not easy to identify, but they are worth seeking out if we wish to find the next "Tom Brady" of U.S. tennis.
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.