Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Capriati's Former Coach Taking Job at Sunset Center Next Month

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Capriati's Former Coach Taking Job at Sunset Center Next Month

Article excerpt

Jennifer Capriati's loss is St. Louis' gain.

That's overstating things, because Jim Gray served only briefly as one of Capriati's hitting partners and traveling coaches, but the fact is that he will bring nearly five years of international experience to Sunset Tennis Center early next month.

Gray, 27, is leaving the prestigious Harry Hopman International Tennis Academy at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla., to settle here and work with St. Louis juniors.

Why would he do that? For one thing, he said international travel had begun to wear on him. He ran Hopman programs in Japan in 1990, India in '91 and Southeast Asia in '92. He also went to Israel with a player, and in May '92 he played some team tennis in Germany while promoting the Hopman Academy there.

"Worldwide travel takes a lot out of you," he says. "It gets very stressful."

U.S. travel is more appealing to him. A year ago at this time, he was in San Diego as Capriati's coach and hitting partner. He helped prepare her for her gold-medal performance at the Olympics last summer in Barcelona, Spain. He also drilled David Wheaton and other touring pros who stopped off at Hopman's.

But his specialty is juniors. His primary function at Sunset will be working with advanced players, although he won't limit himself to them.

Gray is a native of Lorain, Ohio, and played No. 1 singles at Purdue.

"Sunset has such a good reputation," he says. "I couldn't believe the number of kids coming through that club. I'd really like to bring the techniques I've seen here (at Hopman's) to St. Louis and take those kids to the next level."

Elsewhere: The seeds for the Budweiser Tennis Championships, beginning next Thursday at Town & Country Racquet Club: 1. Hank Pfister; 2. John Lloyd; 3. Johan Kriek; 4. Tomas Smid. The rest of the field: Eddie Dibbs, Gene Mayer, Colin Dibley, Sherwood Stewart, Kim Warwick, Pat Dupre, Ross Case and Mike Tammen. …

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