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Lugones Earns 2021 Coach Of The Year: 'I Never Thought I Could Win This'

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2021

Argentine Facundo Lugones has been voted Coach of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards for his efforts in helping Briton Cameron Norrie to the best season of his career.

Norrie won his first two ATP Tour titles, including an ATP Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The gritty lefty was an alternate at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he played two matches following Stefanos Tsitsipas’ withdrawal. Norrie finished 2021 with a 52-25 record.

“I’m incredibly happy. I never thought I could win this award, it’s surreal. But that’s the beauty of the sport, that anything could happen. I just want to also thank my team, Julian [Romero] and Vasek [Jursik], they work incredibly hard throughout the year to get Cam ready, and also Devin Bowen and James Trotman since day one, helping the whole team,” Lugones said. “Most importantly I want to thank Cam for being an animal and getting through all those tough matches that ended up getting me the award.”

Lugones’ journey with Norrie began at Texas Christian University, where they were teammates. Lugones was a senior when Norrie was a freshman.

“I got an Economics degree and I was looking to work in finance, in a bank or something like that. Since I had another year of school without playing, I started helping the team as a volunteer coach and I really enjoyed that and started working in a tennis club and still helped the team,” Lugones said. “The coaches there were really encouraging me to give it a shot and I started to really enjoy it and get better at it.

“I thought maybe I could have a career in it and then Cam offered me to start traveling with him, so him and the coaches there saw something in me and thought I could do well, and then I went with it.”

Facundo Lugones
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
When Lugones took the opportunity with Norrie in 2017, he did not imagine he would be a coach at the top level of the ATP Tour so quickly. But the Argentine has followed his passion, and that has paid dividends.

“I enjoyed my degree in Economics and all that, but I didn’t feel a passion. I thought if I could get really good at this, I could have a job that I really, really love,” Lugones said. “It came down to what I like most: tennis or finance? The rest you will have to find a way to get paid well, do the things you like. But at the end of the day it came down to what I like most and it was a no-brainer.”

Lugones has watched his charge rise from the very beginning of his professional career to the biggest stages in the sport. He is thankful for everyone who has supported them along the way.

“I just want to thank everyone who voted for me and all the coaches who always had advice for me or were willing to teach me something,” Lugones said. “I can’t thank you enough and I’m excited for next year.”

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Prajwal Hegde Honoured With 2021 Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2021

The Times of India’s tennis editor Prajwal Hegde has been recognised with the Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award in the 2021 ATP Awards.

“I’m very, very happy,” Hegde said. “As an Indian, covering a global sport that runs on the wheels of individual excellence, where we’ve come up short in recent years, you are on the periphery of things… This award is recognition that my work is relevant internationally too.”

Hegde, who played tennis at national level when younger, began her journalism journey with the Times of India as a freelancer, while she completed her BA in Journalism degree at Mount Carmel, Bangalore. From there, Hegde’s first job was with Mid-Day in Mumbai from 1992-1996, covering a range of sports, including tennis, cricket and field hockey.

Hegde then spent nine years with Deccan Herald, Bangalore, where her focus shifted largely to tennis, covering Wimbledon, Davis Cup ties and ATP Challenger Tour events in India. Her successful work earned Hegde the opportunity to become the tennis editor of the Times of India in 2005 and from there, Hegde has had memorable experiences.

Two highlights include interviewing Roger Federer on a twilight boat cruise in London during the 2011 Nitto ATP Finals and covering Indians Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna on court.

“I was quite unwell that day in London, looking back, I can still feel that discomfort,” Hegde said. “I was actually wondering how I would get through the rest of the evening at The O2, but when Nicola (Arzani) told me the ‘Roger interview’ was on, I felt completely well. In an instant. It was ridiculous.

“Indian tennis is a difficult business to cover if it pulls at your heartstrings. You are constantly faced with what was and what is… But it has given me great moments too: Davis Cups, Bhupathi-Paes, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza, covering them at different stages of their journey, home and away, anchored me. It gave me a sense of belonging.”

Hegde has also written books, with her debut novel ‘What’s Good About Falling’ published by Harper Collins in 2018.

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Chip Brooks, Original Bollettieri Academy Coach, Dies Aged 67

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2021

Chip Brooks, one of Nick Bollettieri’s original coaches at IMG Academy, passed away on Thursday aged 67. With a distinctive southern twang, he worked with 10 ATP and WTA No. 1-ranked players in Bradenton, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic.

Brooks began working alongside David Brewer, a future US Open Tournament Director (2012-19), at one of Bollettieri’s summer camps in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, as a sophomore for $60 per week. He would earn his college degree in General Studies in 1976 at Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, close to the place of his birth.

Brooks and Brewer then joined Bollettieri at the Colony Beach Hotel, on Longboat Key in Sarasota, where they were part of a six-person team. For the next three years, Brooks didn’t have a day off as the academy dream became a reality, first at the DePalmer-Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978 at West Bradenton. Thereafter, a tomato field became available in 1980 and Bollettieri’s operation fast expanded to become IMG Academy.

Barring four years as Director at the Lexington Tennis Club in Kentucky, which provided a different perspective on business management, Brooks worked as one of Bollettieri’s finest coaches for 40 years as Director Of Tennis. He always had a kind and positive word to motivate junior players.

Courier told, “Chip was one of the beloved originals at Nick’s academy and had a hugely positive impact on so many, myself included. He will be dearly missed.”

A USPTA Master Professional, Brooks worked with early boarder Jimmy Arias, the pioneer of the inside-out running forehand, then Agassi and Courier, assisted Reno Manne when Pete Sampras practised in Bradenton and spent a year with Becker before handing over the reins to Mike DePalmer Jr. He went on to train Marcelo Rios, Mary Pierce, Anna Kournikova, Filip Krajinovic, Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki and a number of other players. He was named the USPTA Kentucky Pro of the Year in 1988, and the USPTA Florida Pro of the Year in 1998 and 1999.

Brooks had been married to his wife, Patty, for 41 years, and they had four children, Jake, Lindsay, Jared and Lacey. He was a championship-winning fisherman and once ranked in the Top 5 in Florida. He also enjoyed hunting, held a real estate broker license since 1992 and had a home inspection business.

The funeral service will be held on Friday, 17 December in Bradenton, Florida.

Jack Alexander ‘Chip’ Brooks Jr., tennis coach, born 15 September 1954, died 9 December 2021

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