Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tennis Academy Now Has New Home

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tennis Academy Now Has New Home

Article excerpt

During the five years the United Tennis Academy grew its business in the Bradenton area, there was always a goal. Though the vision was strong, it was tempered sometimes with a little uncertainty about where to call home.

Let's just say leasing is never quite like owning for peace of mind.

The holiday season has arrived and UTA has serenity now. It also has a new home.

El Conquistador Racquet Club has had a presence in Manatee County for decades. The Bradenton facility is now the permanent home of the United Tennis Academy.

UTA founders Jeff Russell and Gabriel Trifu, looking for that permanent home and a way to offer more services and amenities, say they found the perfect place at El Conquistador.

"We are excited about the possibilities with the club," Russell said. "Not only is it a great home for our academy students, but tennis is a lifelong sport and we want to reach the entire local tennis community."

Russell and Trifu founded their tennis academy after both had worked for several years at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, now part of IMG Academy. The two most recently ran their academy, which had grown to approximately 35 students, on courts located on the campus of Inspiration Academy, which replaced the now-defunct Bradenton Prep.

The new group officially took over the El Con facility on Nov. 22 and they are already beginning to implement new programming at the 15-court facility, which also has a clubhouse and bar and grill.

Megan Haney, who joined UTA in March, has been named general manager. Russell is the director of tennis and Trifu the director of player development. Ronnie Robinson is the director of adult tennis.

Hugo Armando Jr., the former GM and his father, continue to rent courts at the facility but are not involved in club management.

There may also be a name change in the future, but for now, UTA is simply thankful to have a permanent place to call home.

Future is now

Tennis fans who want to get a peek at tomorrow's champions today should make a point to get out to the 2013 Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, which get under way at IMG Academy this weekend with qualifying matches. …

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