One of the greatest tennis players of all time has recently started his own academy - and a New Zealander will hold a key position. Czech legend Ivan Lendl opened his academy in May, and former Davis Cup representative David Lewis has been appointed as the coaching director.

The facility - the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy - is based in South Carolina, and takes students aged from 6 to 17. Lewis says the role has been in the pipeline for a while.

"Ivan and I have been in discussions for a few months and he knew I was interested in an opportunity to coach juniors in the United States," says Lewis. "We share the same philosophy and work ethic so it is a perfect fit."

Lendl speaks highly of the New Zealander, who was Federation Cup captain in 2007 and 2008 and trained Marina Erakovic for a period: "[David] brings a tremendous level of knowledge and passion for the game.He will play a crucial role in developing the training regimen and curriculum for students."

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Apart from being one of the true greats of the sport, with eight grand slams, 270 consecutive weeks at No 1 and a Davis Cup title with Czechoslovakia, Lendl was also known as being one of the hardest workers on the circuit. He had a methodic, almost obsessive approach to preparation and was absurdly dedicated; in 1990 and 1991 he even skipped the French Open to have a longer build-up on grass for Wimbledon - though it remained the one slam to elude him.

Lendl played once in New Zealand, a fleeting visit. Within minutes of beating John McEnroe in an exhibition match at Stanley Street in 1984, he was whisked away by helicopter to a waiting plane at Auckland Airport. Lendl's competitive streak has not waned since his retirement in 1994; he took up golf, and has won more than 25 club championships across the four golf clubs he belongs to.

"The process of developing players will occur step-by-step," says Lewis. "We are focusing on creating a challenging and competitive atmosphere. Our students train in a professional environment and we [will] push them to their limits, regardless of their playing ability."

Lendl was also said to be impressed with the Lewis pedigree. While David reached a highest singles ranking of 152, brother Chris went to 23 along with that unforgettable run at Wimbledon in 1983.

Fellow sibling Mark was also a pro, and coached Michael Stich to the 1991 Wimbledon title.

Lewis's new role may also present opportunities for young Kiwis. He remains an executive director of the SEED foundation, the non-profit organisation charged with supporting New Zealand's young tennis elite.

"The communications lines are wide open," says Lewis.

"Through my position with the SEED Foundation, we help New Zealand tennis players find training at the highest level and this academy is an ideal location to do so. Top juniors from New Zealand have already expressed interest."

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