Colette Lewis of Zoo Tennis interviewed John Roddick
recently. John is relaunching his Academy and it's now called Roddick Total Tennis
This is old news
but we never posted it, so:
Junior Winner's Roddick Connection
PARIS -- We couldn't win a round here in men's tennis, but we're doing a great job of training another country's winner.
The French Open junior boys champion, Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus, was crowned Sunday and there was not only rejoicing by his family in Minsk, but no doubt at the John Roddick Tennis Academy in San Antonio, Texas as well, where this 16-year-old has been training since he was 14.
About the only person he hadn't called within a half hour of taking down Australia's Greg Jones in the final was John, who is with Andy and Jimmy Connors at Queens Club in London, getting ready for Monday's start of the grass-court run-up to Wimbledon.
Why haven't you called John and Andy? I asked. Vlad smiled. It's his little payback for the joke the Roddicks played on him two years ago. "I'll tell them when I see them tomorrow." He's playing a 16-player junior invitational at Queens, beginning Wednesday.
Payback? Roddick's management agency, SFX, discovered Ignatik when he went out in the semifinals of an under-14 tournament in France at age 13, and they signed him and sent him initially to a small academy in California.
"I didn't like it there," Vlad said. "There weren't enough good players and the coaches were a little strange." OK, we won't explore that further. Just get on with the story.
"So, now I am 14 and playing junior tournaments in Europe and they call again and say they have a bigger academy they're sure I will like. But they don't tell me the name."
They flew him to San Antonio, picked him up at the airport and drove him to the academy. When he saw the name "Roddick" on the sign at the entrance, his face lit up.
"I think they wanted to give me a little surprise," he said. Maybe he would have won the French Open juniors had he worked the last two years at another academy. Who knows? The only thing you know for sure is that his game has grown, and especially his serve, working at Roddick's and occasionally practicing with Andy.
One of these tournaments they're going to get his name straight. The French Federation listed him as Vladimir Ignatic, but that's a Russian translation of his Belarussian name, which is Uladzimir Ignatik. Whatever. Friends just call him Vlad.
Or, they can now call him Champ.