Coach's Corner Podcast Episode 1- Jeff Tarango
Brian Teacher chats with Coach Jeff Tarango - who was as high as 42 in the world in singles and 10 in doubles. Jeff shares interesting insights growing up as a junior in Southern California with Pete Sampras and Michael Chang, along with coaching Maria Sharapova.
He also shares a story about reaching the French Doubles finals with Goran Ivanišević.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION: Hi. Welcome to Full Court Tennis Coaches Corner.
I'm Brian Teacher, and our guest today is Jeff
Taurango, ATP Tour coach and former great player.
Jeff played on the Tour for 13 years, and each one
of those 13 years was ranked in the top 100.
He reached the highest ranking of
number 42 in the world.
And Jeff was also quite a great doubles player.
He reached number ten in the world
with the finals, reaching the finals of
the French Open with Goran Ivanisovich.
And he's got a very interesting
story to tell about that.
He also grew up in Southern Cal playing tennis
with the likes of Pete Sampras and Michael Chang.
So he's got some interesting junior insights with that.
He's coached on the tour.
Some of the players that he coached were
Andrei Medvedev, who was a French Open finalist,
reached number four in the world.
He's also coached the Moroccan number one, Eunice Elyanawi,
who was 14 in the world, and he's worked
with the current CEO of the ATP, Andrea Gaudenzi,
along with Southern Cal's, Maria Sharapova.
And let's get into it with Jeff right now.
Hi there. Welcome.
Full Court Tennis Coaches Corner, Brian Teacher and I'm so happy
to have Jeff Tarango here, who has been a great coach
on the ATP Tour and a former great player.
But first, Jeff, I want to get into you growing up
as a junior in SoCal, we both played tennis, grew up
here in SoCal, and it's so different today, trying to teach
these kids how to play from what you and I experienced.
And of course, I grew up in the 70s,
you grew up more in the 80s playing.
And so I want to get into your experiences.
So, so happy to have you here today.
So just please, what was it like
you growing up from Manhattan Beach?
Yeah, well, that's the thing, is there weren't really
ever any great tennis players from Manhattan Beach.
We had a lot of very good social players.
We got very lucky to get a guy named Jeff
Abbey, who was number four amateur out of Kentucky.
And he came in as a coach.
And you can imagine back then, since everything
was amateur, if you're number four in the
country as an amateur, you're ranked pretty high
in the world relatively back then.
So we got really lucky in having him.
He got me, like, a basis.
My mom worked very hard with me.
But then we all have to give
credit to Robert Landsdorp, don't we?
I mean, he facilitated a system where I could go in
and hit with players all day long that don't miss right.
And he had a very strict attitude,
and we can't do that stuff anymore.
We can't be as tough as Robert Lansdorp
was in the it just doesn't float anymore.
He worked you into the ground.
Yeah, that doesn't work so well today.
But in general so was Robert
your first main coach of tennis.
Ken Porter worked under him.
Well, Jeff Abbey?
Abbey was my first coach.
And then Ken Porter worked under Robert.
I wasn't good enough to even get
into the Robert Academy back then.
I mean, you had to be, like, top five
in the country to just get on the courts. Right.
So it was a very different environment
where you had to really push hard.
I had some really cool friends, like Mr.
Blackmore, who sponsored me, to be able to
even go walk into Jack Kramer Club because
it was very exclusive back then.
And I would just literally work you my way up.
Like, I can remember Derek Cristano calling me
and saying, hey, will you come up Kramer
club and play a set with me?
That was like the biggest honor of all
time because that was such a great player.
Come in and say, hey, I'll sponsor you as
a guest if you'll play sets with me. Yeah.
So you were doing a lot of drilling with the clinics.
Were you playing sets? Mostly.
How did you kind of hone your style
of play and develop as a top junior?
Yeah, it's interesting you bring that up
because it's a lot different than now.
Everybody's drilling now.
Everybody's doing cross courts, everybody's doing down lines,
everybody's doing ball machine on the feed.
And we would play a set right when you walked in the
door without warm up and then drill for an hour and a
half and then go back out and play another set.
So we're playing two sets a day, five days
a week, and then going and playing tournaments on
the weekend, where back then it was 256 draws.
Sorry, were you home schooled?
Were you homeschooled?
Two doubles matches on the Saturday, then we'd come back
to the Sunday play, two singles matches, two doubles matches,
and that's just to get to the quarters.
The fields were I remember they were quite large.
So were you at school or were you home schooled?
Because I know today so many kids are home schooled
and I'm not a big fan of being home schooled
with these kids were really all the schools where I
grew up were so close to my house.
My elementary school was one block for me.... watch video for more.
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