In our May/June issue, we brought you a feature story by Diane Tauber Schultz called “Sharapova, Creamer, Manning & You — Train Like the Pros at IMG.” As many of you already know, IMG Academy is an amazing academic and sports training facility in West Bradenton where professional athletes go to sharpen their skills, where children from all over the world go who have aspirations of becoming pro athletes, and where many every day people who want top-notch training in the physical and mental aspects of sports can go to improve. After hearing Diane’s zeal for what she saw and learned while researching and visiting IMG Academy for her article, I decided it was time to sharpen my tennis game and go train like the pros at IMG’s Bollettieri Tennis Academy for three full days.
Handsome Brazilian Miguel Rosa is the Manager of Adult Programming. Miguel made my entry into the program smooth and personally welcomed me my fi rst day on the courts. Desmond Osuigwe, a U.S. citizen originally from Nigeria, is the headteaching professional. Desmond set the daily routine of drills and directed the other teaching pros. He is a true professional in every sense and is a magnifi cent instructor. Among Desmond’s staff, I had the pleasure of working with Karim Chaouqi, a colorful Moroccan who made our grueling drills fun. It is apparent by his constant smile and upbeat personality that Karim loves his job and working with people, but he also loves everything French — cheeses, champagne, Paris, the French Riviera — ooh la la! There were other teaching pros — Zoran from Croatia and Mohammed, also from Morocco by way of Paris, who also worked me hard.
Every morning, everyone attending the adult tennis program, endures a half-hour of rigorous exercise. I used muscles I forgot I had. Then it was time for tennis. As I limped to my court already feeling like I was out of shape, I met Annabelle from London, Arnaldo (we called him Roma) from Italy, Pa-tri-cia from South America, Deanna from Baltimore and several other wonderful people. The drills were fast, furious and challenging. I never moved so much and so fast in my life. By the time I was fi nished on day one, I was sufficiently pooped.
I decided if I were to get through day two in one piece, I would need to book a deep tissue massage at IMG’s The Wellness Spa. It was there I met the woman that was to rescue me – Cat. I’ve had many massages in my life, but to have one by Cat is second to none. She found muscles I never knew I had. I enjoyed it so much, I booked another massage the following day.
By the end of day two, I went home, collapsed on the sofa and didn’t move for hours. My husband Ron told me the next morning that he was tempted to put a mirror under my nose to check for condensation because I never moved! When I fi nally did get up and felt my sore muscles, I seriously considered staying home. I called myself every name I could think of — wimp, coward, quitter, and some other choice words. My namecalling worked. I put on my best tennis outfi t, and went to IMG for day three of training. Boy, was I glad I did.
It turned out that my last day was my best day. I moved better. I worked through my muscle pain. I felt stronger. And, I know my tennis skills were defi nitely improving. It was also the day I got to see the 23rd ranked female player in the world, Nicole Vaidisova, train. It was amazing to watch her hit the ball and see her tennis stroke up close and personal and I only had to drive twenty minutes! More pros were expected to arrive soon as they were getting ready on IMG’s hard courts for the US Open. How cool is that!
In the afternoon session, it rained a bit, so we moved under the tent to fi nish our session. It was there I got to meet Nick Bollettieri himself. Nick has trained some of the biggest names in tennis including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Venus and Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova. At age 70 plus, Nick still teaches every day focusing his sharp eyes to fi nd the next tennis superstar.
I can say with certainty that had there been a day four and five of training for me, it would have continued to get easier and easier (well, not too easy!) but I am sure if you have gone through any type of similar training, you know what I mean. The fi rst couple of days are always the hardest. If you love tennis and want to improve, I highly recommend you meet Miguel, Desmond, Karim and the gang and go train like the pros at IMG’s Bollettieri Tennis Academy. I know I’ll be back!