Talking with USTA's Tom Gullikson
by Colette Lewis
, 25 April 2014
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If you've been to a major junior tournament in the United States this year, you've probably seen USTA Lead National Coach Tom Gullikson there - watching matches and talking with players, parents and coaches, both formally and one-on-one.
A former ATP Top 40 player, Gullikson is in his second tour with USTA Player Development, having returned to the organization in 2009. From 1988 to 1997, Gullikson was employed in Player Development and was Director of Coaching at the USTA from 1997-2001.
The native of Unalaska, Wisconsin captained the US Davis Cup team that won the title in 1995, and he coached the US men's Olympic team in 1996, where Andre Agassi won the gold medal in singles.
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Gullikson serves not only as a Lead National Coach, but also as a liaison for the 12 USTA-designated Regional Training Centers. He has recently worked with young American pros such as Ryan Harrison and Denis Kudla, juniors such as Alex Rybakov and Reilly Opelka, and he also conducts RTC camps for 10- to 13-year-olds. High Performance coaches education workshops are also part of his job description; in February, he conducted one during the US Davis Cup in San Diego.
I spoke with Gullikson last month in Mobile, during the USTA's inaugural Spring Team Championships, and he provided his perspective on that event as well as Davis Cup, college tennis, the changes in the sport since he played, and the prospects for escaping the current "rough patch" American men's tennis is experiencing.
Questions and Answers
Colette Lewis (CL): Do you enjoy the travel required in your position at the USTA?
Tom Gullikson (TG): It's part of tennis. In a perfect world maybe you wouldn't have to travel quite so much, but you've got to go where the tournaments are. If you're working with the pros, you're going to be down in Australia. I missed Christmas with my family this year, because I left for Brisbane on December 23rd and landed on Christmas Day.
And obviously our country is a big country, the size of Europe, so when we have these different Regional Training Center camps, they're spread out all over the country. This year we're doing a liaison program, where the national coaches are going to be a contact for one or two of the RTCs, and I'm working with Junior Tennis Champions Center up in College Park.