Lendl Visits Richmond For Reception, Junior Clinics
By John Packett
RTA Contributing Writer
When Ivan Lendl stops in Richmond these days, he’s mostly concerned about his golf game.
That’s because of his long-time friendship with Alan Matthews and his participation in the old Nike golf tour for up-and-coming players that was held at the Dominion Club in western Henrico County for several years.
But Lendl will have his mind strictly on tennis when he makes an appearance in Richmond May 10-11, both to promote his International Junior Tennis Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and provide instructions to some of the top juniors in the area.
The eight-time Grand Slam champion will be the guest of honor at a reception from 6-8 p.m. at Raintree Swim and Racquet Club on May 10, and then help conduct clinics for some of the best juniors in Richmond the following morning at Raintree.
Lendl is also scheduled to hold another clinic at Byrd Park on May 11 in conjunction with the Davenport City Tennis Championships.
Matthews met Lendl in the late 1990s when he was on the tennis committee at the Dominion Club and volunteered for the Nike event.
“We were looking for something to spice up the tournament,” said Matthews. “A name of some sort that was a good golfer. We thought about a NASCAR driver but couldn’t find one. I was playing tennis with Richard Peyton one day and he suggested Ivan Lendl.”
Lendl, 53, began playing golf regularly after his pro tennis career ended and was quite good at it. The three-time U.S. Open champion was good friends with Bill Scanlon, whom Peyton had coached on the pro circuit for several years.
“[Peyton] called Bill up and Bill gave us [Lendl’s] number,” said Matthews. “So I called Lendl, and he couldn’t make it the year I called. But the next year it worked out with his schedule, and he came down to Richmond to play in the Nike tour.”
Lendl didn’t make the cut but he didn’t finish last either. He also later played in – and won — the Celebrity Players Golf Tour at Dominion Club.
“We played some golf together and kind of hit it off real well,” said Matthews. “After that, he would come through Richmond back and forth between Connecticut and Florida, where he has his homes, and we’d play golf and have dinner. Ivan is a super great guy.
“The most impressive thing to me about Lendl at that time was his focus on raising his five daughters. Three of them played golf in college. That was his devotion for many years. He caddied for them, traveled with them. He was always there for his girls.”
Lendl’s main focus now is on the tennis academy in Hilton Head Island, as well as coaching Andy Murray, who won the U.S. Open last September and reached the final at the Australian Open in January. Murray also won the Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Lendl’s academy (grades 5-12) is based on philosophies Lendl followed to become the No. 1 player in the world. It focuses daily instruction on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training/fitness and mental preparation.
“We’ve identified Richmond as a junior tennis hotbed and encourage local players to come showcase their talent to Ivan and our coaches,” said Peter Orrell, president and CEO of Junior Sports Corp., owner/operator of Lendl’s IJTA.
The reception at Raintree is open to the public at no charge (there will be a cash bar), but those wishing to attend should RSVP to 804-740-1035.
The clinics at Raintree are by invitation only (10-12 year-olds from 8:30-10 a.m. and 14-16-18 year-olds from 10-noon), but anyone is welcome to come and watch on the indoor courts. The clinic at Byrd Park will be from 12:30-2 p.m.
Lendl will be leaving at 2 but instructors from his academy will conduct clinics from 2-4 p.m. at Byrd Park for a fee of $50.