Universal Tennis Partners to Create Online School for Tennis Students

September 13, 2020

September 10, 2020 (Palo Alto, CA) — Universal Tennis, the premier global tennis platform and the company behind the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR); and ICL Academy, an online school for 7th-12th graders launched by education experts from the Dwight School and the Institute of Civic Leadership, announced today a partnership to establish the Universal Tennis School.

The first-of-a-kind academy will be a full-time online private school for young student athletes (grades 7-12) who are pursuing tennis, and will commence virtual classes this September. It leverages ICL Academy’s platinum-standard curriculum focused on student engagement through a personalized, blended approach that combines academics with tennis training.

“We have long recognized the importance of education for all players to achieve their goals on the court and in life,” said Mark Leschly, Universal Tennis Chairman & CEO. “As more and more students pivot to online learning due to COVID, we are pleased to launch the Universal Tennis School in partnership with ICL Academy to offer aspiring tennis players the ability to dedicate themselves to tennis and to their education in a highly personalized, flexible and high quality environment.”

The Universal Tennis School is uniquely suited to address the needs of a competitive athlete by featuring an overall first-class education with real teachers, personalized instruction, live courses and self-paced learning. In addition, students will have access to expert college counseling for guidance on college pathways, along with invaluable connections with tennis coaches, professionals and fellow student athletes.

“Education and supporting kids, especially young inspired tennis players, are a real passion of mine! Blending great education with tennis and character training is the ideal combination for any young person.” said Tommy Haas, former World #2 and current #1 on the Men’s Champions Tour as well as Tournament Director at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open.

Former tennis champion and ICL board member Monica Seles noted, “I have been a supporter of the Institute for Civic Leadership for a long time. Its vision and focus on the character of each and every student extends far beyond tennis. ICL Academy is fundamentally about providing student athletes necessary life skills and preparing the next generation of tennis players with the tools for success.”

“The Universal Tennis School has special meaning for me,” said Kirk Spahn, founder of ICL Academy and fourth generation educator, who previously founded the Dwight School in Manhattan’s Dwight Global online program and the Institute for Civic Leadership, a nonprofit that for 20 years has inspired, educated, and supported a new generation of youth civic leaders to take positive action in their local and global communities.

Kirk comments further, “When I was in high school as a top ranked tennis player, I faced a difficult decision of pursuing my dreams of playing professional tennis, or attending an elite prep school that would prepare me for an Ivy League Education. No student athlete should have to make a decision between a first rate education and their dreams, and the Universal Tennis School will enable talented young players to achieve at the highest levels academically and athletically.”

The partnership with Universal Tennis comes amidst a series of new ICL Academy partnerships in recent up weeks with leaders from across industries such as tech, sports, and the performing arts, including Draper University to create a Tech Entrepreneur Academy, Independent Arts Entertainment, and Bode Miller and creation of ICL Winter Sports Academy.

To learn more about the Universal Tennis School, visit