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All in the family for Dents

Tennis academy launches Monday for former CdM High standout and tennis professional Taylor Dent.

January 28, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Yet, Ricker said he's very excited about the new academy. He said it will be ideal for the local player who wants to train in town and really improve his or her game.

Ricker said in the past several years, he hasn't had a tennis player ranked in the top 100 in the Southern California 14s come into CdM from the three Newport Beach tennis clubs.

The main issue, Ricker said, is that the clubs haven't really pushed local USTA tournaments to the young players. They typically encourage their junior players to play in-house "Penn" Leagues, and match play on the weekends.

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"To be a real tennis player, you have to play USTA tournaments and lots of them," Ricker said. "There's no getting around it. That's how it's done. That'd be like a 10-year-old signing up for AYSO soccer and saying, 'All I want to do is practice. I don't want to play on the weekends.'

"Everything that Roger Federer does in tennis is to prepare himself to play tournaments … I think it'd be great for our town if we have a place that really motivates the kids to maximize their potential."

That's what the Dents have in mind.

Naomi Bharath, a Tesoro High sophomore who has been coached by Phil Dent for about 18 months, will be quick to sign up.

"A lot of the people I know who do tournaments are looking forward to it," Bharath said. "I'm definitely excited about it. I've learned more from [Phil] than from any other coach. He's just really good at communicating."

Taylor Dent said he knows that, at least for now, his academy won't have a chaperone service like the famous IMG Bollettieri Academy in Florida, or an on-site school.

Still, he's thinking big.

"We want this to be the tennis player's mecca," he said. "Right now, our goal is to make this the West Coast academy to go to."

For more information, call (949) 721-8819 or visit http://www.denttennisacademy.com.

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