USTA Play Dev Names Coaching Awards; Honors Gauff, Berger, Others
April 29, 2020
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 29, 2020 – The USTA announced that Corey Gauff, father and coach of teenage sensation Coco Gauff, was named the 2019 Team USA Developmental Coach of the Year as part of USTA Player Development’s annual Team USA Coaching Awards. Northwest High Performance Tennis in Kirkland, Wash., was named the 2019 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, while USTA Eastern was named the 2019 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year. Renowned coach Jay Berger was given this year’s Team USA Legendary Coach honor.
Gauff has been the longtime coach of his daughter, Coco, who debuted on tour in 2019 to immediate success and worldwide fanfare. As a 15-year old, Gauff was the youngest player to ever qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon, where she then reached the Round of 16, becoming the youngest player to do so since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. Coco also reached the third round at the US Open, won her first WTA singles title, in Linz, and her first two WTA doubles titles, with partner Caty McNally, at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and Luxembourg.
“One of the traits of a great coach is the ability to focus on process and long-term development,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “Corey’s discipline and long-term focus in coaching Coco is evident in the path that Coco’s game has followed: building on a strong foundation of fundamentals and continuously adding new skills at the right time. I admire the way Corey has guided Coco’s development as a person and player. He and Coco’s mom, Candi, have set the standard for how to parent a champion.”
Northwest High Performance Tennis, based in Kirkland, Wash., saw its players succeed across multiple levels in 2019. Players from NWHPT won seven ITF Junior singles and doubles titles and eight Gold, Silver and Bronze balls in USTA events in 2019. Kirkland native Katja Wiersholm was a singles quarterfinalist and doubles champion at the USTA Girls’ 16s National Championships, while she and Daniil Kakhniuk (Bellevue, Wash.) also earned their first WTA and ATP ranking points, respectively. NWHPT sent three players to NCAA Division I programs (Alan Yim, Harvard; Brandon Wong, Washington; Hunter Egger, Gonzaga), and launched its first full-time tennis academy in 2019, welcoming back former professional Gail Brodsky Hanson to full-time coaching alongside owner/director Mark Hanson.
“Northwest High Performance has done an incredible job impacting young players along the entire player development pathway,” said USTA Head of Men’s Tennis Kent Kinnear. “Mark Hanson and his team have a program that helps produce a steady stream of solid all-around players year after year. In 2019, NWHP had a tremendous year with the numbers of players sent to the highest level of national tournaments and their results at those levels. The program focuses on solid fundamentals from a very early age and provides clear developmental steps leading up the player developmental pathway. They also have been great ambassadors in the Pacific Northwest Section, hosting TEAM USA Sectional Camps and Sectional Coach Workshops. Congratulations to their whole team, and we look forward to their continued success as a top U.S. junior developmental program.”
USTA Eastern has developed one of the strongest junior pipelines in the nation and has created incredible opportunities for junior competition. A number of USTA Eastern juniors had success at Grand Slam events in 2019, including Eliot Spizzirri (Stamford, Conn.), who captured the boys’ doubles title at the US Open, Alexa Noel (Summit, N.J.), who made the Wimbledon girls’ singles final, and Cannon Kingsley (Northport, N.Y.), who reached the boys’ singles quarterfinals and doubles final at the Australian Open and the US Open boys’ singles semifinals. Eleven other USTA Eastern athletes participated in the 2019 US Open, headlined by Kristie Ahn (Upper Saddle River, N.J.), who reached the fourth round. Further, 15 Eastern juniors scored top results at national championships in 2019, with 11 capturing gold ball tournaments, including Stephanie Yakoff, who won the Junior Orange Bowl and also reached the Easter Bowl semifinals and Clay Court Finals in the Girls’ 14s division.
Last year, Eastern held 16 Early Development Camps under the direction of Richard Bowie, Todd Doran, Alex Cole, Sasha Bluestone and Kat Sevcikova, and 40 Eastern players received the opportunity to attend two Team USA Camps. The department also organized the second installment of the Big Apple International Cup, a team tournament that has top 12- and 14-and-under squads from Israel, Mexico, Spain and other countries across the globe facing off against each other.
“The Eastern Section always has a steady stream of players performing throughout the whole pathway, from top juniors nationally to the international level, and this showed in 2019,” said Johnny Parkes, Senior Manager, Player ID and Development. “The Section exudes professionalism, dedication and commitment as they provide supplemental training and competitive opportunities for players, coaches and parents. A big congratulations to Julie Bliss Beal and the entire Eastern Section for their support of the coaches, parents and players throughout the section as they work together developing players at every level of the pathway.”
Berger currently serves as a ‘Master’ coach for rising American Reilly Opelka, who won his second career ATP singles title at Delray Beach earlier this year. Berger was USTA Player Development’s Head of Men’s Tennis from the time the job was created in 2008 until 2017, when he transitioned to private coaching. Berger, who joined the USTA as a National Coach in 2003, also served as head coach of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Teams for London 2012, when Bob and Mike Bryan won Gold in doubles, and Rio 2016, when Jack Sock and Steve Johnson took home doubles Bronze and Sock (Gold) and Rajeev Ram (Silver) medaled in mixed doubles. Berger also coached the U.S. Davis Cup Team for 12 years, under captains Patrick McEnroe and Jim Courier, and was both the head men’s and women’s coach at the University of Miami.
“Throughout his career in tennis, Jay has achieved success at every level. Jay’s skill, tenacity and professionalism defined the way he competed,” Blackman said. “Throughout his coaching career, Jay harnessed those same qualities to make an impact, most notably as the Head of Men’s Tennis for USTA Player Development for nine distinguished years. Most recently, Jay’s work in coaching American standout Reilly Opelka over the past two years has been outstanding. Jay’s understanding of the game, how to practice with purpose and discipline, and his role as a mentor, have helped Reilly to maximize his ability and develop into one of the most feared players on the tour.”