By Kathryn G. Menu
As a young tennis player in Brazil, Ross School tennis coach Vinicius Carmo found success ranking in the top five in Brazil’s Junior National Ranking before earning a full athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee.
However, this week Carmo said if he had at his fingertips the kind of program the Ross School will commence this fall, he imagines his tennis career could have gone even further. Now, he is excited at the prospect of a lifelong dream of his own becoming a reality for more than a dozen young tennis players.
“If I could have had something like this, it would have been the ideal,” he said on Monday. “At many tennis academies, you have to give up academics, or the level of academics drops dramatically. This is an opportunity for students to go to a good school, and concentrate on playing great tennis.”
The Ross School Tennis Academy (RSTA) was unveiled last week, and will offer domestic and international student athletes focused on tennis the opportunity to enjoy the Ross School curriculum coupled with rigorous tennis instruction.
According to Carmo, the program will be the first of its kind in the northeast, offering both academics and a complete physical and mental conditioning program focused on individual tennis instruction aimed at yielding college and professional level tennis players.
Carmo, who has led the Ross School boys and girls tennis teams to championship seasons, said this idea was conceived when the school first built its tennis center.
“We have had it in mind for a long time, and finally we had the time to put it together,” he said.
The program will offer students 25 hours of tennis training with a coach each week, as well as five hours of conditioning with a trainer. Mental strategy sessions, weekly sports psychology consultations, monthly evaluations, competing in tennis tournaments, as well as a college placement program including private SAT and ACT test preparation courses will also be offered.
In addition to Carmo, who will serve as the academy’s director, other instructors at RSTA will include Argentinean tennis professional Alejandro Tejerina, who ranked 11th as a junior player in his native country before playing for Division 1 University of Tulsa where he was named 2001 Rookie Player of the Year.
Brazilian tennis professional Mauricio Gattuso will also provide instruction. He has been a coach at the Ross School since 2009, but has coached tennis since 1994, and was a nationally ranked player in Brazil.
Students in the RSTA program will focus academically on five core curriculum classes including English, math, science, foreign language and cultural history, with international students also offered English as a Second Language courses at Ross School in lieu of the foreign language requirement.
According to Carmo, students will be able to board at Ross School or attend as day students, and RSTA will run through the standard school year. Students can choose, he added, to enroll in Carmo’s summer high performance tennis camp if they want to continue their conditioning in the off-season.
The cost of entering the academy will be the standard Ross School tuition, which can range anywhere from $29,500 to $45,600 depending on grade level and whether students are boarding through Ross School, although students can apply for financial aid. In addition, academy students will pay $15,000 to be a part of the program, although Carmo noted considering the amount of services the academy intends to offer, the price tag is not as steep as one may think.
“People pay more than that for eight to 10 hours of coaching a week throughout the year, and here you are guaranteed 25-hours of coaching, as well as conditioning, college placement, sports psychology,” said Carmo.
The program will not be open to just anyone, he added, as it aims to be a competitive tennis academy. Students will need to first gain acceptance to the Ross School, and then will spend a day with Carmo, training and talking about tennis.
“If they don’t have a passion for it, it just will not work,” explained Carmo.
The academy will be limited to a maximum of 24 students, although Carmo’s first year goal is to secure 10 to 12 qualified candidates for the academy. However, Carmo said the feedback in just the last two weeks has been overwhelmingly positive and he doubts his goal is unachievable.
“The international community has given us great feedback,” said Carmo, who said he has students from Brazil and Germany interested in the academy. “This is also a good opportunity for kids from the New York area who might not want to go away to Florida for this kind of program. Now they can do it closer to home.”