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Top Junior Tennis Academies Set to Compete in Inaugural Prince Plugged In World Championships

Bordentown, NJ — The stage is set. Country champions have been crowned and now, for the first time ever, top junior tennis academies from six nations are on their way to Rome, Italy to determine which academy is the best of the best.

In four years, the ground-breaking Prince Plugged In (PPI) program has revolutionized junior competition, training and education and online interaction, by connecting nearly fifty of the world’s most elite high-performance tennis academies.

Coaches and players who have been accepted into the PPI program share revolutionary training tips, equipment insights, match-play strategies, and engage in a year-long series of team competitions called Challenge Cups -– designed to help players reach their full potential. It is at these Challenge Cup events where academies battle one another to accrue points which ultimately determine the top academy in each country.

According to legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, whose IMG/Bollettieri Academy plugged into the PPI network, “The format is incredible. These coaches are more than just teaching their students how to hit the ball — they are teaching them crucial on-court strategies, the importance of sportsmanship and how to compete and win. A program and format like PPI is one of the most powerful tools we have to reach out to tennis coaches and students worldwide. By connecting academy students and coaches around the world, we are promoting the sport, facilitating the abilities of potentially great players and cultivating the next great champion in the process.”

The PPI World Championships will take place May 2 through 6 bringing together national winners from five countries for an opportunity and experience like nothing else in junior tennis. Aside from the team competition, Prince has arranged for special guest speakers and training sessions for the kids, trips to Rome’s historic sites and tickets to the Italian Open where the academies will sit courtside and get to meet players. Overall, Prince is bringing more than 60 kids and coaches to Italy for the event.

Academies competing for the PPI World Title are:

United States winner: T Bar M Academy, Dallas, Texas
Spain winner: Tenis Val, Valencia, Spain
Italian winner: Club Sant’ Agnese, Rome, Italy
United Kingdom winner: Totally Tennis, Basingstroke, England
Russian winner: Club Sochi, Sochi, Russia
United States Runner Up: IMG/Bollettieri Academy, Bradenton, Florida

“It is amazing to think about how fast and far this program has grown in four years,” said Ken Merritt, Director of Teaching Programs at Prince. “We have some of the best junior players in the world competing on behalf of their academy and their country. In a few days, kids from across the globe will converge on the red clay of Rome for a true, once-in-a-lifetime tennis experience. While they come from different places and speak different languages, their experience with PPI has been the same and this is a chance for the players and the academies to measure themselves against players from other parts of the world.”

In fact, the opportunity is so unique that one academy, IMG/Bollettieri, decided to make the trip to Rome, even though they were not champions in their respective country, and would need to pay their own way. Once on site, all transportation, meals, tickets and other logistics is handled by Prince and the team of volunteers at the host academy – Sant’ Agnese. For many, if not all, of the kids (especially those from the United States) this will be their first trip to Italy and to add to the overall experience, all of the kids will stay with Italian host families.

Unlike anything else available to top junior players, the PPI format is built on a team concept (something most kids do not experience in top-level junior tennis). Like all PPI Challenge Cup events, the World Championships will be a round-robin format allowing each academy and every age group, the chance to play against every other academy in a series of dual matches. Each dual match will consist of four age groups (18U, 16U, 14U, 12U), boys and girls, competing in singles. In addition, boys and girls doubles matches will consist of a 12U player teaming up with a 14U teammate and a 16U playing with an 18U teammate. This allows the younger players the chance to play up an age level which, in turn, contributes to their growth as a player. If a match is tied 3-3 after singles and doubles, a mixed-doubles super tiebreaker is be played – with the team that reached 3 first choosing which age groups will play. On-court coaching is allowed. Each dual match will begin with an introduction ceremony, a small gift exchange between the academies, and a team cheer. In the end, the team that accrues the most points in the dual matches will be crowned PPI World Champion.

“We are extremely proud of this program and want to thank the coaches and academy directors around the world who have embraced it and made it a success. The goal of PPI is to bring together like-minded academies, focused on improving their players’ game and providing them the format and tools to do so,” said George Napier, Chairman and CEO of Prince Sports, Inc. “This inaugural World Championship is the culmination of four years of hard work, and Prince’s continued commitment to junior players and we look forward to watching academy names get added to the PPI World Championship trophy for years to come.”   

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