Chautauqua tennis enthusiasts will be bouncing off the wall for this week’s opportunity.
At 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, July 26 professional tennis player Jimmy Arias will be holding clinics for Chautauquans ages 14 and up at the Chautauqua Tennis Center. Arias, who was, at one point, ranked the No. 5 men’s professional in the world, will be teaching classes, which will focus on a mixture of strokes, strategy and point play. The classes will also offer an opportunity to play one-on-one with Arias in a game of point play, as well as time for those enrolled to have lunch with Arias.
During his professional career, Arias had an incredible forehand that is now a basis for modern-day tour players in the professional league. Arias is the youngest player to have earned a world ranking — at age 15. Arias started playing as a professional one year later — at age 16.
“Since Jimmy is from Buffalo, and rose to such prominence in the tennis world achieving a No.5 national ranking, there was much local interest,” said Lee Robinson, program director at the Chautauqua Tennis Center. “The Chautauqua community is avidly looking forward to Arias’ visit.”
Through an extensive professional career starting in his teenage years, Arias won a bronze medal representing Team USA in the 1984 Summer Olympics, the same year he made it to the quarter finals of the French Open.
After retiring from playing professionally in 1994, Arias worked for ESPN and the Tennis Channel, commenting for competitions and landmark games around the world. While he still appears to commentate, Arias also serves as director of tennis at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Arias said he has a new found passion for coaching that continues to grow at IMG Academy.
“There’s a part of me that wants to be (at IMG) more than I have been this summer,” Arias said. “Certainly, (I want to) spend some time with the kids and see if I can change some lives, and not just their tennis (skills) — but their perspective on life as well.”