USTA Player Development Adds
Erin Maher | March 22, 2019
USTA Player Development has officially added high-performance wheelchair tennis to its organizational structure, marking a full integration of high-performance wheelchair tennis into USTA Player Development for the first time ever.
Jason Harnett, National Manager and Head Coach for Team USA Wheelchair, will lead the high-performance group out of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., reporting to Dr. Paul Lubbers, Senior Director of Education & Sport Science.
"High Performance Wheelchair Tennis is one of the most demanding event categories in our sport," said Martin Blackman, USTA Player Development General Manager. "The integration of this department into Player Development is critical to ensuring that we have one unified strategy for all of our High Performance Team USA players. ADVERTISEMENT Over the past two years, Player Development has worked seamlessly with Jason and his team, but now we can fully leverage our Player Development resources to support the best wheelchair tennis players in the country. It is a very exciting and important step forward for American tennis."
In 1998, the USTA assumed responsibility of the organizing and management of all aspects of wheelchair tennis from the National Foundation for Wheelchair Tennis (NFWT), started by International Tennis Hall of Fame Member Brad Parks and his wife, Wendy. Both the high-performance and grassroots arms of wheelchair tennis were organized under the Community Tennis side of the USTA from then until last month, when a two-year-long assimilation of the high-performance wheelchair program culminated with its full incorporation into USTA Player Development.
"Joining Player Development has been a dream for many," said Harnett. "Today, with the hard and persistent work by many people currently and those that came before us, this dream has become a reality. This will represent a healthy division between the grassroots efforts on the Community Tennis side and the High Performance push coming now on the Player Development side."
As part of Player Development, age-qualified and selected American wheelchair players will have access to the same resources as able-bodied high-performance players at the National Campus, including on-court coaching, strength and conditioning, mental skills, analytics and video analysis, nutritional education and physical therapy.
In 2018, Mackenzie Soldan, a Paralympian, became the first ever high-performance wheelchair athlete to train full time at the USTA National Campus. The USTA further exemplified it's commitment to wheelchair tennis when the National Campus hosted both the 2018 Wheelchair Collegiate National Championships in April of last year and the NEC Wheelchair Masters in November. In addition, the campus also has a weekly wheelchair clinic for players.