Nelly Ciolkowski blog: My first week as a fellow

July 1, 2017 04:27 PM

Nelly Ciolkowski played tennis at Clemson University, where she graduated with a BS in Management and then went on to pursue masters degrees in Communications Arts and Sports Business, while also getting some college coaching experience. Ciolkowski, who is originally from France, received a coaching fellowship to work with USTA Player Development this summer and has been paired with USTA National Coach and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi, who will serve as a mentor to her during her time in Orlando. Ciolkowski is blogging about her experiences at the USTA National Campus in a weekly blog for In her first entry, she writes about her first week at the USTA National Campus.

By Nelly Ciolkowski

Wow. That was my first reaction as I walked through the doors of the USTA National Campus for the very first time Monday morning. From the Playsight courts to the vibrating foam rollers, everything within Player Development is set up to create the perfect training conditions. As we finished touring the facility, I thought of the modest, cracked courts I grew up on in France. Well, I’m happy it eventually led me here, even if that means I’ll get lost around campus a couple of times.

So by the first day, I could tell this place is unlike any other. I immediately noticed how passionate the team within Player Development was. It felt so good and so right to be a part of it because I, too, share the same passion for the game. Every morning I’m so excited to get there and keep learning a little more each day. I’m very visual, so I spent most of my afternoons walking around, observing coaches on court. I loved how open they were to share information with me. It was interesting to see that everyone has different styles and philosophies, which is why it’s so important to stay true to who you are to be successful.

For a young coach such as myself, to be given the chance to be around such experts in the field is a huge learning opportunity. Before his last day at Player Development, the other fellows and I had a chance to talk with Coach Andy Brandi. I had tons of questions popping through my head but was only able to get two of them answered because we only had 30 minutes with him. All I can say is I feel like I learned more in that 30 minutes than I have in several years. It sounds crazy, but people like that can influence your life, even in such a short amount of time.

It’s been a great week, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 have in store. When she gets back from England, I will be shadowing USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi, which is so special to me. I feel very lucky and can’t thank USTA PD enough for giving me this opportunity.

A bientot,