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USTA announces tennis coaches for Rio Olympics

2/8/2014: Day 1: Christina McHale of the U.S gets encouragement from captin Mary Joe Fernandez during her match against Karin Knapp of Italy during their singles match on Day 1 of the U.S. vs. Italy Fed Cup First Round tie at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio.
June 23, 2016 04:14 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

With just six weeks until the world’s gaze shifts to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the USTA has selected a two-time gold medalist and two of the America’s greatest tennis ambassadors to lead Team USA into battle on the tennis courts of Brazil this summer.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez (pictured above) has been named as the women’s coach of the 2016 U.S. Olympic tennis team, with USTA Player Development Head of Men’s Tennis Jay Berger selected to coach the men. Dan James, head coach of the U.S. national wheelchair team, has been named coach of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair tennis team.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio, with the tennis competition being staged Aug. 6-14 at the Barra Tennis Center. The 2016 Paralympic Games will be held Sept. 7-18, with the tennis competition scheduled for Sept. 9-16 at the same venue.  

All athlete and staff nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.

“Each of the coaches who have been chosen to lead our U.S. teams has outstanding credentials and have proven themselves as great leaders and motivators,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman, CEO and President. “The Olympics and Paralympics provide a magnificent stage for us to showcase the very best of tennis, and we are extremely fortunate to have Mary Joe, Jay and Dan serve as coaches for our teams – and ambassadors for our sport – as we go for the gold in 2016.”

Four years ago in London, Serena Williams won gold in the women’s singles, Bob and Mike Bryan captured gold in the men’s doubles and Serena and big sister Venus teamed up to win gold in the women’s doubles. Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond also took home a bronze medal in the mixed doubles and Nick Taylor and David Wagner won gold in the Quad doubles in the Paralympics.

Team USA’s coaches are optimistic for a similar medal haul in Brazil.

“To be able to represent the U.S. for a fourth time at the Olympics is a tremendous honor,” said Fernandez, who won a gold medal in the women’s doubles with Gigi Fernandez in Barcelona in 1992 and again in Atlanta four years later. “I’m excited and looking forward to helping the top American women as they look to capture medals in Rio.”  

The 2016 U.S. Olympic tennis team will consist of up to six men and six women, with a maximum of four men and four women competing in the singles competition and a maximum of two men’s and two women’s teams competing in doubles. The U.S. also will be able to place a maximum of two teams in the mixed doubles competition.

The Olympic Tennis Team player nominations are made using the ATP World Tour and WTA rankings as of June 6.  The U.S. Olympic nominations are under the review of the ITF and will be formally announced in the coming weeks.

“It’s the greatest honor to represent the United States, especially for the third time at the Olympics,” said Berger, who also served as an assistant coach in Beijing in 2008 and as the men's tennis coach in London in 2012. “I am looking forward to working with the guys in Rio and know the team is excited to climb up on the medal podium.”

The U.S. has won 21 Olympic medals in men’s and women’s tennis – more than any other nation – since the sport returned as a full medal sport in 1988. U.S. players have won 15 medals at the Paralympic Games, including the gold medal every year in the Quad doubles division since that event’s inception in 2004.

“I could not be more proud to be coaching these great athletes and to be representing Team USA once again,” said James. “The Paralympic Games are an amazing event as they offer these athletes the opportunity to showcase their sport and be seen by millions of fans around the world.”

The 2016 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Team will consist of a maximum of four men and four women in the wheelchair singles competition, with no more than two doubles teams in the wheelchair doubles competition.  In the quad wheelchair competition, a maximum of three players may compete in the event, with a maximum of three in the singles event and one team in the doubles event. Team nominations will be based on ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Rankings as of May 23, 2016. The Paralympic team will be announced the week of June 27.

This will be the seventh time that wheelchair tennis has appeared at the Paralympic Games as a full medal sport, having made its debut as a demonstration sport at Seoul 1988.