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Charleston Area Pro to Coach Jelena Jankovic

Jerry Albrikes and Jelena Jankovic
When Mount Pleasant tennis pro Jerry Albrikes answered the phone early one morning last week, nothing could have prepared him for the conversation that followed. The person on the phone was Jelena Jankovic, calling from Malaysia. She explained that she had just separated from her coach and she wanted to know if Jerry would consider coaching her at three upcoming events: Indian Wells, Miami and the Family Circle Cup.
The two first met when she was 11 and training at the Bollettieri Academy where Jerry worked as a pro. Although they stayed in touch over the years, it was only at last year’s Family Circle Cup that the two reunited in person. She had always been a favorite of Jerry’s, so when she popped the question, there was really no way to say no. But saying yes would mean leaving his job as Tennis Director at Live to Play in Mount Pleasant and leaving his wife and children for almost two months. But Jerry’s family and co-workers would have it no other way, despite how challenging it would be to fill the void of his absence. So four days after "the phone call", Jerry was on a plane to California.
The lessons of working with a top WTA began quickly. When trying to reserve a court for his first hit with Jelena, Jerry was told there were no courts available. When he mentioned that Jelena would soon be arriving from Malaysia and want to hit, he was told that all he had to do was use her name, and a court would be confirmed!
Jerry is certain to have many stories to report on his new experiences as a WTA coach. Fortunately, he will be reporting back regularly, sharing his experiences with the South Carolina tennis community. Jelena will play her first match on Friday, March 9, so be sure to checkout upcoming posts on her training and her matches.
About Jerry Albrikes
Jerry was born and raised in Connecticut. He has been teaching for over 20 years and during his coaching career, he has worked with professional, college and nationally ranked players including Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic. Jerry is the current coach for Emma and Earl Navarro, both currently ranked top 5 in the SC 12 and unders. Jerry has also coached USTA adult leagues of all levels, and has taken several teams to Nationals, winning one National Championship at the 3.0 level. Jerry has been named USPTA Rookie Coach of the Year and is the 2010 National Platform Tennis Champion. He played #1 singles and doubles throughout college at Central Connecticut State University, and was named athlete of the year his senior year. Jerry achieved the #1 ranking in New England while competing there in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.



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