IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy’s Grand Slam Players Day 2

Day 2: Maria Sharapova

Its hard to go back in time but I can still remember a skinny and rather tall girl and her father coming to the Academy when she was barely 9 years of age. Did she stand out as a sure winner? To tell you the truth she didn’t even catch my eye until a few years later.

Maria was so confident in everything she did and trying to describe her competitiveness would be impossible and I do mean impossible.

Maria Sharapova training at IMG Academies in 2002

Early in, there were 2 other girls that stand out: Jelena Jankovic, and Tatiana Golovin. Both Jelena and Tatiana were stronger physically but all Maria had to do was stare them down and they both sort of melted.

Jelena has had supper success but our Tatiana’s career was cut short due to a rare blood disease (She had what was needed to be a top ranked professional). Maria experienced so many set backs which would have ended the careers of many other players, but not our Maria.

She dropped way down in the rankings, into the triple figures, had several shoulder operations but somehow within herself she found a way to regain her #1 ranking of the world with her French Open win a week ago. She now has completed her career grand slam and I couldn’t be prouder.

I enjoyed helping Maria and her dad during the early part of her career. Her dad was a major driving force that helped her so much and then he knew when to step away and get a full time coach. Her present staff is very simple: a fitness coach and a super tennis coach in Thomas Hogstedt. He only says a few words to her and that is exactly what she responds to.

I would like to thank Maria for always being so kind to me and my two sons, Giovanni and Giacomo.


~ by Nick's Picks on June 20, 2012.

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