Berger puts a Sock in it

  • JackSportJayBerger
Very few people realise how good a tennis player American Jay Berger was in his day. He was a top junior and ranked as high as No 7 in the world in 1990. He had even beaten Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker.
by JACK MILNER | Aug 10, 2017

He played at the Maccabiah in his junior days and was inducted into the Jewish Hall of Fame.

His professional tennis career ended in 1991 due to chronic knee injuries and other physical issues. When he retired, Berger became coach at Miami University before joining the US Tennis Association (USTA) as head of player development in 2008.

In March, now aged 50, Berger announced he would step down from his role in June.

Since Berger took over the role, men's tennis in the US blossomed. There were two American men aged 21 or younger in the top 200 that year, compared to eight US men ranked in the world's top 200 today.

Moreover, the US led all nations with 14 men entered in the Australian Open main draw this January.

Berger was also the head coach of the US men’s Olympic tennis teams at the London Games in 2012, when Bob and Mike Bryan won gold in doubles. He also took the US men to the Olympics in Rio in 2016, when Jack Sock and Steve Johnson took home the men's doubles bronze medal and Sock won gold and Rajeev Ram captured silver in mixed doubles.

Berger also coached the US Davis Cup team for 12 years under captains Patrick McEnroe and Jim Courier.

Last week week at the ATP tournament in Washington world No 19 Jack Sock announced he was now working with Berger. "He's been in my corner for so many years now, and I just really like his energy," Sock said.

Sock was previously coached by Troy Hahn, but he recently had a child and wanted to spend more time at home. Berger wants to build on Sock's offensive game and his variety on court.

"I think that he has some of the best weapons in the game in his serve, speed and forehand. We want to continue to work on his strengths and just add little parts to his game slowly," Berger said.

The 24-year-old had a good run to start the season, but is coming off a knee injury during the grass court events.

Unfortunately for Sock he was beaten in last Saturday’s semi-final by South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets, just a day after the American had taken out second seed and world No 7 Milos Raonic of Canada. So, that leaves Berger with quite a lot of work to do ahead of the American hard court season.   

Berger’s son Daniel was a decent tennis player and it was assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps but that all changed one day. Daniel’s sister was taking golf lessons, but there were times she couldn’t make it so Daniel would take her spot. “Then I spent one summer and did a golf camp down in Miami and decided this is what I want to do,” Daniel said. “Ever since then, this has been my whole plan.”

Still, he wanted to get the blessing from his dad. So, one afternoon, having watched his father pound tennis balls in practice, Daniel got up the courage to say, “Dad, I want to be a golfer.”

Then he asked: “How many hours do you practise a day?”

Jay replied: “Five hours a day in the summer.”

Daniel responded: “I’m going to practise eight.” And he did.

There was never a word of disappointment about Daniel not going into the family business. “He has never put any pressure on me to play golf,” Daniel said of Jay. “He just wanted to make sure I enjoy it.”

Daniel, now 24 years old, is currently rated No 19 in the world on the PGA rankings.



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