Zina Garrison and Rodney Harmon Named Coaches of 2008 US Olympics Tennis Teams
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 18, 2008 – The USTA, the governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S., today announced that U.S. Fed Cup Captain Zina Garrison and Rodney Harmon, USTA Director of Men’s Tennis have been named as the women’s and men’s coaches for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Tennis Teams. In addition, Dan James, Head U.S. National Wheelchair Team Coach, has been named coach for the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Team.
The 2008 Olympic Games will be held August 8-24 in Beijing, China, with the tennis competition being staged August 10-17 at the Beijing Olympic Tennis Centre. The 2008 Paralympic Games will be held September 6-17 in Beijing with the tennis competition scheduled for September 8-15 at the same venue. The Olympic competition will conclude eight days prior to the US Open and will be played on the same DecoTurf II hard court surface as the US Open.
“With the top names in tennis competing in Beijing prior to the US Open, the Olympics add another dimension to what will be a memorable summer of tennis,” said Jane Brown Grimes, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “Tennis as a sport benefits greatly from being showcased on such a prestigious international stage as the Olympics.”
“Zina, Rodney and Dan each possess that combination of character and competitive fire that define leadership and are synonymous with the Olympic ideal,” said Arlen Kantarian, CEO Pro Tennis, USTA. “Each brings experience as an accomplished player and coach, with a unique ability to connect with the athletes to lead our quest for 2008 gold.”
“I’m honored to be selected again as the Olympic coach,” said Garrison. “Some of my fondest tennis memories are from the Olympics and the incomparable thrill of winning a gold medal. The goal is to share in that Olympic experience with our team this summer.”
“We have the nucleus of a very competitive international men’s team who will all be medal contenders in Beijing,” said Harmon, who has been USTA Player Development Director of Men’s Tennis since February 2002. “I know the American men will relish the opportunity to compete on one of the biggest stages in sport.”
The 2008 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. Olympic team selections will made by June 23. The U.S. Olympic Committee will approve all team and staff selections for the Olympic Games.
The United States has won 15 Olympic medals in men’s and women’s tennis since its return as a full medal sport in 1988 — more than any other nation. U.S. players have won 10 medals at the Paralympics, including a gold and a silver in 2004.
The 2008 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 (limited movement or strength in at least three extremities), 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 selections will be based on ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Rankings from May 19, 2008.
“The Paralympics is the ultimate platform for worldwide competition among outstanding wheelchair athletes,” said James. “It is a tremendous privilege to coach at the highest level of international play and I am eager to begin our quest for medals.”
Wheelchair tennis was introduced to the Paralympic program in 1988 as an exhibition event before becoming a full medal sport at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona. Paralympic tennis is an open competition, eligible to those athletes with a mobility-related disability and all competitors must compete in a wheelchair.
The USTA was officially designated by the USOC as the national governing body for the Paralympic sport of wheelchair tennis in June 2002, becoming the first Olympic national governing body to earn this recognition. As the national governing body for wheelchair tennis, the USTA manages wheelchair tennis in the United States, including the sanctioning of tournaments, overseeing the ranking systems, creating and managing a High Performance program for developing elite disabled athletes and coaches. The U.S. Olympic Committee will approve all team and staff selections.