It's been nearly 20 years since the dream of owning and opening a full-time, boarding tennis academy became a reality for Mark Weil.
When the doors swung open for the first time at the Weil Tennis Academy & College Preparatory School on that June, 1997 day in Ojai, California, Weil had the distinction of becoming the first tennis coach to open a full-time boarding school and tennis academy on the entire West Coast. In 2017, Academy Director and Founder Weil and his staff of coaches, administrators and teachers will celebrate a milestone 20 years of existence for what many consider to be one of the most successful tennis academies in the world.
Weil Academy has trained many junior world champions including former ITF No. 1 junior and ATP World Tour Top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, and ITF world-ranked No. 2 Ksenia Milevskaya. There have been top professionals such as World No. 4 and 2009 Australian Open Semifinalist Vera Zvonereva of Russia and Top 50 Sesil Karatancheva of Kazakhstan who have trained at Weil Academy. But Coach Weil's vision has always been clear for his players, and his vision separates Weil Academy from all other tennis academies worldwide: to train and prepare young players to play college tennis at the highest level and study at top universities in America.
Photo to Left: Grigor Dimitrov, Top 20 ATP of Bulgaria, is Weil's most successful Alum. Here Grigor is pictured with Weil Head Coach Mohamed Badran and Weil Student Aiden Jiang after a workout during the BNP Paribas Open.
Photo to Right: WTA World #2, 2010 Wimbledon and US Open Singles Finalist, Vera Zvonereva, is pictured here with Mark Weil. Vera used Weil for her off season training base for 2 seasons during her most successful run of wins (2011 BNP Paribas Open and Grand Slam Finals) on the WTA Tour!
Photo to Left: Weil & UCLA Alum and former Top 50 ATP Doubles Player, Travis Rettenmaier, pictured here with Mark Weil and good friend, Robby Ginepr,i (US Open Semifinalist and ATP Top 20) at the Academy, uses Weil Academy as a training base periodically during the year.
The results of this mission speak for themselves. Weil has trained and placed over 400 US and International students in prestigious American universities like Stanford, Duke, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Emory, Carleton College, Cornell, Brown, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Northwestern, UC San Diego, USC, Notre Dame, NYU, Williams College, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara and many, many more. Some of those players have achieved outstanding success on the court winning six NCAA Team Championships, 10 NCAA All American awards and one NCAA Individual Championship! IN addition, since 1997, Weil has also produced over 100 junior national champions and 50 international champions including one Wimbledon Junior Champion, Two US Junior Champions, two French Open Junior Champions, six Orange Bowl Champions, and six Eddie Herr Champions. Three of Weil's players have reached the Top 10 in the ITF end of the year rankings.
No other American coach nor international academy has achieved more success in placing their students in top American Universities over the past 20 years than Weil Academy. Weil attributes this success to his rigorous selection process and his unique training program focused on achieving excellence on and off the court. The secret, he feels, is finding motivated players whose dream it is to study and compete in American Universities, and the designs customized training programs and competitive schedules for each player to reach their dreams.
"Tennis is an international sport, and what we have helped so many parents and players understand is that tennis is also the KEY to gaining admission into top universities around America, very often on scholarship. Parents around the world are just becoming aware of the incredible opportunities for their children in the US through tennis. Our proven record of placing students in top universities matches perfectly with parents' goals for a better future for their children," Weil believes.
Photo to Left: Head Coach Mohamed Badran, Adrian Alvarez of Mexico (Class of 2016), and Mark Weil pose for a photo after Adrian's official commitment to Seattle University Men's Tennis Team.
Photo to Right: Head Coach Takeshi Ozaki, Seira Shimizu of Japan (Class of 2017), and Mark Weil. Seira Shimizu signs her NLI commitment letter with Purdue University.
Photo to Left: Head Coach Mohamed Badran, Alexis Alvarez of Mexico (Class of 2017), and Mark Weil. Alexis Alvarez signs his NLI commitment letter with University of Washington.
Coach Mark has achieved the highest level of professional coaching in the US with a USPTA Professional Level 1 Qualification as well as completed the USTA's High Performance Training Program for Competitive Player Development in 2005. He began his coaching career in New York City and has run professional training programs in New York City, Los Angeles and now Ojai.
"While other academies burn players out, or train them into the ground with false hope of professional tennis, we maintain a more balanced training approach for our players designed to deliver them to college tennis programs, where they will continue to develop further under their college coaches for the opportunity to play professional tennis. The recent success of players like John Isner, Stevie Johnson, Mike and Bob Bryan and many more, have proven my belief that players can go to college and still succeed at the professional level. This belief is finally now gaining traction with the USTA as the avenue to pursue with their top young American prospects," explained Weil.
Coach Mark and his entire staff focus their energy on the true development of each individual player within a team dynamic--to truly develop a player's competitive game, and to turn junior who play tennis into competitive tennis players, and then turn those tennis players into tennis champions.
Renowned tennis coach and author Wayne Bryan has called Weil Academy the "best academy in the world" and his nephew Carl attended Weil full-time. Bryan thinks it is Weil's enthusiasm that makes him so special. "I'm a huge Mark Weil fan. He has enthusiasm, he has charisma, and is a great leader," Bryan said. "He's passionate about tennis, and he cares deeply about the kids. He's honor-bound to do his best to get them a college scholarship, and improve their tennis, and take good care of them. I really admire him really as much or more than anybody in all of tennis."
Coach Mark has fostered special relationships with coaches like Bryan, and collegiate tennis coaches like UCLA men's coach Billy martin and USC women's coach Richard Gallien, among many others. It is not rare for these top NCAA coaches to visit Weil Academy and get to know his players. "When I first opened, I had to beg college coaches to come to the academy and meet our terrific kids," said Weil. "But over the years, we've really been able to strike up unique relationships with these many, many college coaches. And now they are coming to us and offering our players wonderful scholarships (wanting our kids to come and) to be a part of their programs."
Coach Martin's son Wil attended Weil Academy during his senior year of high school. "Being a college coach for 30 years, I've seen a lot of kids who have come through academies," Martin said. "I had coached players who had attended here and heard what a great job Mark, and Mo and everyone has done here for many, many years. It wasn't an easy thing to send my son away for his senior year of high school. But he was ready and really wanted to focus on his tennis and achieve his goal of playing college tennis. Our experiences with the Weil Academy have been A-plus and I would highly recommend it to any parent considering sending their child to Weil to focus on his and her tennis and place them in a great college. It's really a no-brainer, and I thank Mark so much."
Renowned tennis coach and author Dr. Allen Fox calls Mark Weil a close friend, and visits Weil Academy to teach and inspire the Weil players. Fox's son attended the academy. "I had heard it was a good one, and I was looking for a place to send my kids." Fox said. "I got to know Mark quite well and I was attracted by the quality of the academy and also, just Ojai as a great place for an academy. It's a beautiful little town in the mountains: Quiet, safe, and away from distractions, so I figured it would be a good place to send my kids, and it was."
From Left to Right: Wayne Bryan visits the Academy to work with players. Head Coach Mohamed Badran & Mark Weil with UCLA Men's Head Coach Billy Martin. Mark Weil with Dr. Allen Fox.
Coach Mark grew up and played junior tennis in New Orleans, Louisiana, reaching the No. 2 ranking in New Orleans in his senior year. He followed his private coach, Donald Losman, PhD, to Northeast Louisiana University where he played on the NLU's team under legendary coach Johnny Robinson.
During his college years at NLU, Weil discovered his love of American Literature and American Theater and majored in both, winning Best Actor at Northeastern LA University in 1980 as well as achieving a special Internship to Britain's National Theater. Weil also was a staff writer for NLU's school paper, and ran for Student Body President in 1981. After graduating in 1982 with a BA in English and two minors in Journalism and History, Weil moved to New York City and enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse, an acting and directing conservatory in Manhattan. Weil was also accepted to the Boston College Graduate School into the Master's English Program, but chose to remain in New York to pursue coaching and theater.
Upon completing his studies at the Playhouse, Weil began coaching tennis in New York City and coached both juniors and adults at several prestigious clubs. But his passion for theater was also growing and so Weil founded and served as Managing Director of the Stillwater Theater Company in Manhattan for five years from 1987 to 1991. His company produced 14 American plays in five years and was a critical success.
In 1993, Mark and wife Jane, a professional stage manager in New York, moved to Los Angeles where Weil took over a small after-school training program at Mountain Gate Country Club in Brentwood. Within two years, Mountain Gate was the top program in Los Angeles, with over 200 sectionally ranked players and many national players. But Coach Weil wanted a bigger challenge, and after researching Ojai and several tennis academies in the US, decided to open his own Academy in Ojai.
Mark and Jane Weil live in Ojai just blocks from the Weil Academy and have three sons: Jack, Mitch and Pierre.
Coach Mark invites you to come and experience his academy first hand and see if your child is ready to achieve all of their tennis and academic dreams here at Weil Tennis Academy!
Mark Weil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.