When Kei Nishikori first enrolled to train at IMG Academy, it was too soon to know that he would become one of the most calculated shot-makers on the ATP World Tour. Yet here we are 12 years later, marveling at the mastery of Nishikori as he riddled Andy Murray with an approach not yet seen from the 26-year old. In a stunning upset, Nishikori defeated Murray for only the second time in his career in a five-set thriller, 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Jose Luis Vacabustamante joined the IMG Academy Tennis coaching staff in 2016, and brought a wealth of experience as a successful junior and collegiate player to the staff. Prior to joining the IMG Academy staff, Vacabustamante served as a graduate assistant coach for the Emporia State men’s and women’s tennis teams. He also spent time as a JCT tennis director at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic, and as a tennis pro in the Maldives at the One & Only Resort.
Jovan Parlic added his experience as a successful youth and collegiate player to the IMG Academy Tennis coaching staff in 2016. Prior to joining the IMG Academy staff, Jovan was a top-five overall junior player in Serbia and relocated to Florida in 2009. In 2010, he was named Florida’s ‘Best Spring Athlete’ by the Miami Herald, and moved on to play a four-year college career for the Southeastern Conference’s University of Arkansas. During his time with the Razorbacks men’s tennis team, Jovan was a four-year SEC Honor Roll member and served as team captain from 2013-15.
The 2016 Rio Olympics concluded on Sunday, Aug. 21, and a number of IMG Academy alumni, trainees and team training guests won on the biggest stage in international sports. Athletes with IMG Academy ties collected 17 total medals. If IMG Academy were a country, it would have ranked tied for 17th in the world in Rio, alongside Spain and Kazakhstan. Here are some sport-by-sport highlights of how IMG Academy connected athletes and teams fared in Rio.
TENNIS: Six medals (1 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze)
As the Physical Conditioning Coach responsible for overseeing the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis program, Justin Russ is responsible for the development of effective programs based on improving tennis performance, enhancing overall athleticism, and preventing injuries associated with tenn
IMG Academy alumnus Christian Harrison’s professional comeback took a huge leap forward over the weekend. Competing in Illinois, the 22-year old earned his first pro title since 2013 at the Car-X Futures $25k of Champaign. In the final, Harrison came from behind and toppled Rhyne Williams of Tennessee, 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, IMG Academy alumnus Kei Nishikori earned another milestone in Japanese tennis. Competing in men’s singles, Nishikori went on to win bronze, becoming the first Japanese player to medal in the sport since tennis was re-added to the Games in 1988. In the final, Nishikori bested Spain’s Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3 in a match lasting nearly three hours.
IMG Academy alumnus Michael Mmoh punched his ticket to the U.S. Open Main Draw over the weekend after winning the USTA Boy’s Under-18s Junior National Tennis Championship on Sunday in Kalamazoo, Mich. In the final, Mmoh upended Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Florida in dominating fashion, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
Over the course of 68 years and 18 Olympic Games, the island nation of Puerto Rico had never captured a gold medal. But that all changed when 22-year old Monica Puig conquered the women’s tennis singles competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on Saturday. In the final, Puig bested world #2 ranked and reining Australian Open champion, Angie Kerber of Germany, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
IMG Academy alumnus Yoshihito Nishioka, a native of Tsu, Japan, had a breakthrough performance by reaching the semifinals of an ATP World Tour event for the first time in his career at the recent BB&T Atlanta Open. Nishioka, 20, reached the semis with a convincing win over Horacio Zeballos, 6-4, 6-4.