Gilbert honored at
Team USA Coaching Awards
March 25, 2019
Joseph Gilbert, longtime coach of Collin Altamirano and Jenson ‘J.T.’ Brooksby, was named as the 2018 Team USA Developmental Coach of the Year as part of USTA Player Development’s annual Team USA Coaching Awards. Lakes Tennis Academy in Frisco, Texas, was recognized as the 2018 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, while USTA Southern California was named the 2018 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year. Renowned coach Jose Higueras was also honored with a Team USA Legendary Coach Award. All honorees were recognized at a reception on Sunday at the adidas Easter Bowl junior tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.
Gilbert (pictured above, center with trophy), the owner and director of the JMG Tennis Academy at Arden Hills Athletic and Social Club in Sacramento, Calif., helped guide both Brooksby and Altamirano to new heights in 2018. ADVERTISEMENT Brooksby won the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship and earned a wild card into the US Open on top of winning the Easter Bowl boys’ 18s singles title and reaching the junior semifinals at the US Open. Altamirano, a former USTA Boys’ 18s champ himself, reached a career-high ranking of No. 283 and qualified for the US Open main draw.
Additionally, Gilbert coached Mason Nguyen and Ishaan Ravichander to USTA National Winter Championship boys’ 12s and 18s titles, respectively, while JMG’s Zach Lim took home the boys’ 16s title at the International Spring Championships. After being honored as the first Team USA Developmental Coach of the Year for 2013, Gilbert is the first two-time honoree.
“It’s certainly no coincidence that Joseph is the first two-time Developmental Coach of the Year honoree," said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “He’s more than proven his developmental coaching expertise with the successes of both Collin and J.T., but he’s also shown to be an outstanding leader as the director of his JMG Tennis Academy. This honor is deserved, and we wish him continued success now and in the future.”
Players from Lakes Tennis Academy won 12 combined Gold, Silver and Bronze Balls in 2018 and six ITF junior singles and doubles titles, along with top-level junior success from Savannah Broadus, who rose to No. 30 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, and Kailey Evans, who nearly broke into the Top 100 of the junior ranks. Mitchell Krueger, of course, qualified for the 2018 US Open and set the table for a 2019 in which he’s already won his first career ATP Challenger title, in Dallas, and risen to a career-high ranking of No. 159.
Led by owner and academy director Nick Johnson and junior academy director Dave Licker (pictured above, second from right), Lakes Tennis Academy has programming for every level of player, starting from red-ball youth, and boasts 40-plus full-time players. They focus hard on making their players more professional, so when they leave the academy after high school they will not just be college tennis players but leaders of their teams. The culture of the staff and every person who works at the academy is very family-oriented. Their overall goals are to help make Dallas, Texas, and United States tennis better in any way possible, and five coaches from Lakes participated in Team USA camps in 2018.
“Lakes Tennis Academy continues to set a standard of excellence in culture and development for all of its players at every level,” said USTA Head of Men’s Tennis Kent Kinnear (pictured above, second row). “In addition to the emphasis of development of the players, they also focus on the professional development of their coaches which is a huge asset for the Texas Section as well as Team USA. Congratulations go out to Nick Johnson, Dave Licker and the rest of their staff at Lakes for being great partners, teachers, coaches and ambassadors of the game in the Dallas area and beyond.”
USTA Southern California was the home section for players succeeding at every level of the game in 2018. Along with the continued success of Serena and Venus Williams and Mike Bryan, both Sam Querrey and Taylor Fritz reached career-high rankings and CoCo Vandeweghe won the US Open doubles title and competed in the WTA Finals in doubles. Southern California juniors also turned in solid results at many prestigious events, including: the USTA Boys’ and Girls’ National Championships, through Brandon Nakashima (boys’ 18s finalist, earning a wild card into US Open men’s qualifying), Kayla Day (girls’ 18s finalist) and Dylan Charlap (boys’ 12s finalist); the Easter Bowl and USTA National Spring Championships, through Anessa Lee (girls’ 16s’ champion) and Maxwell McKennon (boys’ 16s finalist); and the 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis Competition, where Katrina Scott was a part of the third-place Team USA girls’ team. Led by Player Development Manager Trevor Kronemann (pictured above, second from left), Southern California also hosted one Team USA Sectional Camp and multiple Early Development Camps.
“The Southern California Section has obviously been a hotbed for tennis talent for many, many years, and players from Southern California proved that even further in 2018,” Kinnear said. “From the highest level of professional tennis to every level of the juniors, Southern California once again solidified itself as an epicenter for development, with top juniors and pros moving up the ranks both nationally and internationally. A big congratulations to Trevor Kronemann and the entire SoCal Section for their support of the coaches, players and parents throughout the section as they work together developing players at every level of the pathway."
Higueras is regarded as one of the premier coaching minds in tennis and a champion of developing an aggressive all-court game, starting with a base of movement and tactical development on clay. He spent 10 years as USTA Player Development’s director of coaching and was instrumental in implementing a comprehensive, unifying coaching philosophy that evolved into a comprehensive player-centric system for teaching, training and coaching that was embraced by many of the best private-sector coaches and programs in the country.
Jose's outreach and engagement with the country's best coaches and programs was an important component of USTA Player Development’s “Team USA” initiative, which engaged the private sector and the USTA's 17 Sections to create a three-way partnership that gives American players comprehensive support at the local, regional and national level. As a player, Higueras, a native Spaniard, won 16 tour-level singles titles, reached the French Open semifinals in 1982-83 and was ranked as high as No. 6 in the world. After retiring, he went on to coach, most notably working with Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Todd Martin and Mary Joe Fernandez.
“This year, in this category we have only chosen one coach, because his influence and contribution are unique,” Blackman said. “Over the past 11 years, Jose has been the ‘coaching leader’ for Player Development and a resource for every high-performance coach and player in the U.S. Jose's knowledge, skill and passion for the game, combined with his unique ability to create engagement on the court or in the classroom, make him our award recipient. We have Jose to thank for our teaching and coaching philosophy, which has unified the country's coaching community, and we thank him for his tireless commitment to American tennis.”
Photo credit: Dave Kenas
Pictured (left to right): Johnny Parks, Trevor Kronemann, Kent Kinnear, Joseph Gilbert, Dave Licker, Jon Evans