James Practicing this Offseason at Saddlebrook
January 2010 - Melbourne, Australia- Shortly after the 2009 U.S. Open, James and his longtime coach Brian Barker ended their working association. James and Brian remain best friends, but coaching duties have now been assumed by Kelly Jones, former ATP player and coach to such players a Mardy Fish and Xavier Malisse.
Many of JB's fans have written in asking to learn more about Kelly, so I thought it a good idea to forward along some questions to him. Below are his responses.
What initial coaching approach did you take with James?
KJ: Whenever you take on the responsibility of helping an elite tennis player your initial job is really to watch, ask questions and listen. With James it was only slightly different - last year Brian Barker invited me to spend time with them on court for several weeks which eased the transition period. I was privy to much information before I stepped on court with James for the first time.
How is working with James different from players you've coached in the past?
KJ: My routine with James is very different from my last ATP coaching experience. Every player is different. A coach must find out the details that make a player successful and where they need or possible could use improvement. For instance; Different game styles, different mental approaches, different practice habits and training routines are some examples that relate to each player.
Any particular aspects of his game you worked on during the off season that you can share?
KJ: The biggest areas of focus has been a continuation of building on his strengths and moving forward and finishing at the net.
How does your role as coach change during tournaments, vs. the offseason?
KJ: The role as a coach doesn’t change but when at tournaments the focus becomes very specific on preparing for competition. In other words, we won’t be spending time working new skills or drills.
Will you be traveling with James full time this season?
KJ: It appears that we will have a full schedule together this year. I am happy to stay on board full time if James feels good about the direction his career is taking.
Any details about your personal/family life you care to share?
KJ: I am married to former WTA Player Tami Whitlinger-Jones. We happily spend our time trying to catch up with our 11 year-old daughter Makenna who is playing tennis, soccer and softball.
You have a tennis training academy with your wife, talk a little about that.
KJ: We started a tennis academy in the Fall of 2009 in Tampa at University of South Florida - named TennisLMS Institute after the software program TennisLMS which is a platform for tracking and monitoring long-term player development. We use the software program to share information with parents, coaches and players to show plans and progress. I am currently the President of TennisLMS (Learning Management System).