King, Magill among coaches honored with Team USA Coaching Awards

March 27, 2017 12:00 PM

By Sally Milano

Several coaches making an impact on tennis at all levels were honored with Team USA Coaching Awards at an awards reception Sunday at the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif.

Tennis icon Billie Jean King, renowned coach Rick Macci and University of Georgia legend Dan Magill were honored with Team USA Legendary Coaching Awards; Mike Gennette and Henner Nehles were named the 2016 Team USA Developmental Coaches of the Year; Smith Tennis in Indianapolis was recognized as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year; and USTA Northern California was named the 2016 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year.

King is a legend not only in tennis but in all of sports. During her playing career, she won 39 Grand Slam titles – 12 singles, 16 doubles, 11 mixed doubles – and defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973, which is widely considered one of the most significant moments in American sports history.

King was one of the original nine women’s players who broke away from the tennis establishment in 1970, which led to the founding of what is now the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour. She also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and co-founded Mylan World TeamTennis, where she played and coached for many years. Her name graces the home of the US Open – the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – and in 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.

As a coach, King led the U.S. to four Fed Cup championships, compiling a 22-5 record over nine years as captain, and she coached Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez to Olympic gold medals at the Atlanta Games in 1996. She also served as a personal coach to both Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte in the 1990s.

Macci has coached and influenced several of the games biggest stars on both the men’s and women’s tours, including Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, Andy Roddick, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mary Pierce, along with current up-and-comers Sofia Kenin, Vicky Duval, Tornado Alicia Black and Hurricane Tyra Black.

A seven-time USPTA Coach of the Year and USPTA Florida Hall of Fame inductee, Macci is renowned for his technical, strategic and mental expertise. The USPTA Master Professional owns and operates the Rick Macci Tennis Academy out of Boca Raton, Fla., where he continues to coach students of all ages and levels.

Magill is regarded as one of the most influential people in college tennis history. During a 34-year career as the University of Georgia’s head men’s tennis coach, Magill became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I tennis history, leading the Bulldogs to a 706-183 record, two NCAA team national championships and a combined 21 conference titles (13 outdoor, 8 indoor). He also helped produce five national collegiate individual champions.

Magill was also a longtime sports information director at Georgia, and his name graces both the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and the press box inside Georgia’s football stadium. He has been inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor, National Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

"What more can possibly be said about this year's Legendary Coach Award recipients – three true experts of our game,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “Billie Jean King's achievements as a player, pioneer and activist have transcended tennis, and her resume as a coach – as U.S. Fed Cup Captain and coach for World TeamTennis and for Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte – deserves its own celebration.

“Rick Macci is one of our sport's greatest coaching minds, proven by the almost surreal list of champions he has coached and influenced. Rick's expertise and passion for teaching continues to keep him as one of the world's foremost instructors.

“Dan Magill’s accomplishments at Georgia assured that his legacy will never be forgotten,” Blackman continued. “Dan is on the Mount Rushmore of college tennis. The longevity of his teams' and players' success is matched only by the lasting impact he made on those who played for him."

Team USA Developmental Coach of the Year recipient Gennette has been the primary coach for one of America’s most promising juniors in Claire Liu. Liu won the girls’ doubles title and reached the singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2016, and followed that by sweeping the singles and doubles titles at the Grade 1 ITF International Hard Court Junior Championships. She peaked at No. 8 in the world junior rankings in the fall. Gennette also worked with former world No. 1 junior and current Top 200 pro Kayla Day through June 2016 as well as Austen Huang, who ascended to the No. 1 USTA Boys’ 18s national ranking – one of 10 players Gennette has coached to a No. 1 USTA national ranking in his career.

Gennette completed his 23rd season as head men’s tennis coach at NCAA Division III Cal Lutheran University in 2016 and continues to run the Total Tennis Academy in Southern California.

"Mike Gennette is one of the premier junior coaches in Southern California, and the list of great juniors he has taught and coached over the years more than speaks for itself," Blackman said. "The relationship between Mike and our national coaches is strong; his and Henner Nehles’ work with Kayla Day is a great example of collaboration between a private-sector coach and a USTA national coach.”

Nehles, a USTA national coach based out of the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., coached Day in 2016. Day reached the world No. 1 junior ranking this past fall after winning the girls’ singles title and reaching the doubles final at the US Open. She also won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into the US Open women’s draw, where she advanced to the second round.

Additionally, Nehles assisted Lou Belkin in coaching former Eddie Herr Girls’ 18s champion Kylie McKenzie, and he coached Easter Bowl Girls’ 18s champion Alexandra Sanford.

“Henner Nehles has done a tremendous job of working with our country's top private sector coaches and is an asset to American tennis as a national coach who exemplifies what it means to be part of an inclusive Team USA,” Blackman said. “Henner has had a positive developmental impact on many of our top junior girls.”

Jeff Smith, Bryan Smith and Stephanie Hazlett, of Smith Tennis in Indianapolis – a USTA Certified Regional Training Center and a TEAM USA Host Site for both TEAM USA sectional and regional camps – are the primary coaches for a number of players who had exceptional results in 2016, including Olympic silver medalist and Wimbledon doubles semifinalist Rajeev Ram, NCAA women's doubles champion and SEC Player of the Year Brooke Austin (Florida), ITA All-American Ronnie Schneider (North Carolina), USTA Boys’ 16s National Hard and Clay Court champion Lukas Greif, USTA Girls’ 14s National Championships semifinalist Emily Desai, and Nishesh Basavareddy, one of the top 12-and-under players in the country.

Smith Tennis also assisted in coaching Sara Daavettila, who was the ITA’s top-ranked freshman, at North Carolina, and sent 22 players to the USTA National Championships in August. Bryan Smith serves as the Midwest Coaches Commission Chair, and all three coaches are active in the Midwest Section and TEAM USA.

Players developed in the Northern California Section had outstanding results in 2016: Mackenzie McDonald won the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles at UCLA; Stefan Leustian won the prestigious Les Petits As 14-and-under event in Tarbes, France; and Katie Volynets won the 16s singles titles at both the Eddie Herr and Metropolia Orange Bowl junior tournaments. Northern California is also the home section of CiCi Bellis, who finished the year at No. 91 in the world, the youngest player in the Top 100.

Player Development Manager Summer Verhoeven led the section in executing all of its Early Development Camps (EDCs), a TEAM USA Sectional and Regional Camp at Stanford University and two EDC Coach Training Workshops.

Pictured above (l to r): Mike Gennette, Summer Verhoevern, Bryan Smith, Stephanie Hazlett and Kent Kinnear (credit: Dave Kenas)