Guest Author - Clare Chambers
IMG Sports Academies based in Florida, USA are a central driver in the development of future sports stars. The Bollettieri Tennis Academy is just one of these special sports academies and attracts a mix of student-athletes, adult enthusiasts and flourishing junior talent from around the world which makes for an inspirational training atmosphere. So whether you are looking for high-level professional instruction or simply a sporting holiday, you have every option spread across 400 stunning acres. IMG has an admirable track record having played a critical role in the development of some of the most famous tennis careers including Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova among many others. India’s current leading young tennis player Yuki Bhambri has also been trained at the Academy.
To help the Indian tennis scene to flourish, IMG academies decided to partner with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) in summer 2010, to identify and develop the latent junior tennis talent, in and around India. Those identified as potential future Indian tennis stars will be awarded a scholarship that will provide for full sporting as well as academic costs at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Brandenton, Florida, USA. On the day of selection, 11th and 12th July 2010, over 50 talented juniors aged 11-15, hand-picked by the AITA and in consultation with coaches across India, took part in trials held at Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi. Fifteen juniors were cherry-picked by Nick Bollettieri, who went on to compete for the third stage of selection at the end of which, only four lucky players were granted admission to the esteemed IMG Tennis Academy, and are due to commence their training in September 2010. These lucky, and gifted, junior players will latterly continue their academic education alongside their first class tennis coaching and their performance will be closely monitored throughout the duration of their scholarships. The aim of Nick Bollettieri’s training regime is the create players who have ‘a multi-faceted approach’. He blends technical with strategic on-court training and specialized performance physical training as well as mental conditioning - all this alongside a customised academic curriculum. Bollettieri likes to ensure that young players are well prepared for the life after tennis as well as on court action.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) claims that it has always recognized the need for quality grass roots programmes as a catalyst in the development potential of Indian tennis and that they are “...happy to partner with IMG Reliance Scholarships for India in their endeavour to identify and hone talent under the legendary Nick Bollettieri. The initiative augurs well for the future of Indian tennis and developing world class Indian players”, says Anil Kr. Khanna, Hon. Exec Vice President & Secretary General of the AITA. It is hoped that such alliances and scholarships will continue to found an interest in the establishment of India’s own world class sports academies which will catapult India onto the world tennis stage.
Andrew Wildblood, Executive Director, IMG Reliance agrees that India is an already emerging force on the world tennis stage and that this alliance with the AITA has taken the first step in a ‘remarkable journey’ in realising a common objective of developing the talent pool in India with the AITA.