I had the distinct fortune to play on Scott Treibly’s (click for biographical data) high school team in 1992. After a successful career playing and coaching NCAA tennis, Scott is now a major figure in shaping junior tennis at IMG/Bollettieri. He was kind enough to answer some questions on the sport we all love.
1. Scott, could you briefly describe your coaching duties? What are you doing now with tennis?
I am a head tennis coach and director of college placement at IMG/Bollettieri Academies in Bradenton, Florida. Each day I am on the court working with aspiring juniors from all over the world. I also conduct tennis clinics all over the world and write for 5 tennis publications. One of my latest articles was titled “The Case for only One Serve.” I believe the pros should adopt only one serve to make the points longer. Today so many of the points are just a serve and a return.
On the one serve proposal, I would assume we’d see more play like what we see from Rafael Nadal. What style of play do you think that would favor?
It would hurt the big serving guys like Roddick and Karlovic, but Nadal and Federer would still be the top 2 players. I think it would allow for more volleys and longer points. The chip charge would be a great play off of a second serve.
2. Who are some of the notable players you have worked with?
Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Tommy Haas … I have been on the court with all of these players. My more day to day work is with students who are getting ready for the early stages of the pro tour or college tennis. I work with students of all ages, but primary with students ages 14-20.
3. Do you have any advice to juniors aspiring to play college tennis? Has Title IX had a major impact on male and female opportunities in tennis or is that story overblown?
College Tennis in my opinion is the greatest format for tennis because it is a team environment. I would tell any kid that is hungry to compete that there is a school for them out there. Do not get caught up in DI, DII or DIII. Be open-minded and find the right fit.
With regard to Title IX I wish that football could stand on its own so men’s sports would have more scholarships. I am happy to see the growth of women’s athletics. I think Title IX has created a lot of opportunities for female sports. Men’s tennis and other Olympic sports are endangered because they are not money makers and athletic departments need to balance their books.
4. Looking at Amer Delic, Benjamin Becker and John Isner among others, do you see NCAA tennis as playing a major part in generating quality professional players?
I want college tennis to be the training ground for the pros but in reality there are less pros from college now than 15 years ago. It is hard to believe because the level of commitment has increased, but the competition around the world is so much stronger. In the 1980’s tennis did not have the international depth that you have today. Granted many international players are playing college tennis but maybe one player a year is making it into the top 100 of the pro ranks.
Do you think the days of a Todd Martin type player, reaching two grand slam finals and 4 other grand slam semifinals in his career, emerging through the NCAA to be more or less over?
No. Pros are going to come out of college. I would just like to see more pros come out of college. If you go through the ATP and WTA draws week by week, you will see only a player or two that played in college. I would like to see 20 players in the top 100 that played college tennis. I think good juniors should go to college for two years and if they have improved turn pro. The peak on the pro circuit is 21 to 24 so in essence the timing is perfect.
5. I coached a high school team for two years, and one frustration I had was that some great athletes would join the tennis team to cross train for basketball and do reasonably well despite having no formal tennis training before high school. In some cases they ended up liking tennis better than basketball, but I think we can all agree that starting serious tennis at 14 or 15 is way too late in terms of reaching one’s full potential as a junior. What does the USTA need to do to identify and attract interested talent earlier?
The USTA needs to have hands on programs in all the communities around the United States. They need to invest more in the grass roots. I would like to see them make more of commitment to high school and college tennis. For tennis to be more popular, the scoring needs to be simplified and it should be promoted in more of a team format. Very often kids get burned out by the individual competition. Prince Racket Sports is promoting the sport by having Academies from all of the country compete against each other in a team format.
On the USTA promoting a team system, I never played at the level you played at, but you mention burnout. My roommate in college had a pretty high Midwestern rating and he mentioned burnout. He and I agreed that we loved playing junior tennis but hated the hooking on calls and dealing with some tennis parents. Do you think a team environment would cut back on hooking, crazy parents etc.?
No way. You have this in all sports.
6. Scott Treibly is the most talented tennis player I ever had the chance to see play up close and hit with in my time in tennis. It was a treat to be part of the same team with him at Louisville Saint Xavier High School. Scott has done some awesome things on the tennis court in singles and doubles including a great run to the doubles semifinal at Kalamazoo in 1992 that ended in a tight 3 set loss to the eventual champions. The most amazing thing I saw Scott do was beat 2 other nationally ranked players consecutively to win the 1992 Kentucky High School state title while playing with a broken right wrist.
I have always wondered how you did that. As a 6’3” lefty serve and volley player, having a broken right wrist did not doom your chances against even regionally ranked players, but how do you beat one junior ranked in the top 30 in the nation and another in the top 75 back-to-back with a bad wing given that you hit a two handed backhand and had to slice everything?
Thank you. I had a month to prepare to play Michael Mather and Edwin Lewis. I practiced only volleys, no groundstrokes, for one month straight knowing that would be the key. The injury actually made me focus and get the job done. The other factor was the will to win.
Note – Here is an interview Scott did with former University of Florida player Jesse Levine.
You Might Like:
Scott Leaving WTA CEO Position to Head NCAA PAC-10 Conference
Ana Ivanovic On Boyfriend Adam Scott: “He Aced Me A Few Times”
Henin Retirement Statement by WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott
Scarlett Johansson Beats Sharapova for Sexiest Award