Serena Williams’ Coach

Rick Macci is a coaching legend that may be remembered as the greatest tennis coach of all time.  But he has no plans on slowing down.  After moulding the Williams sisters, Andy Roddick, and Jennifer Capriati, he took the time to sit down with me and tell me some of his story.


Q. You’ve coached everyone from a 6 month baby hitting balloons (even if you told them to come back in 4 years) to senior citizens and your approach is the same.  Teaching is teaching.  If there was one piece of advice you could give to a 3.0-4.0 level player, who wanted to improve.  What would it be? What is the most important ingredient for that person?

A. The most important thing is to enjoy the competition and play as much as possible. nothing beat repitions!

Q. Your dad died when you were 12.  Was this fuel for you? Do you think your insane drive to compete and be the best came from maybe wanting to make him proud?  Is this what you think motivated you to go out and hit balls on the garage door with your mom’s headlights on? In other words, how much did that affect your wiring you think?

A. No that wasn’t fuel. I think my love to play tennis and compete overall and help others lead to who I am and my drive. Helping others and caring about others and finding a way to do better , has just always been me. That persistence has molded me. I feel I have to get better, even today!!!

Q. When you’re building weapons with a player, do you always start with something first?  Is it developing what’s inside while developing athletic skills, balance, strokes, etc? Is there something that comes first, or is it different for every player?

A. Building weapons is a mind set and how a coach looks at things. I build courage , no fear and always look at a big big picture and there will be lots of positive errors. It is jr. development, not jr. final destination! I build the groundies first, early, cut the court, play the ball, attack 24/7. I feel when your nervous, everybody can go back!!!!!

Q. In general, do the students that come to you who maybe came from a rough background fare better in their careers because of having to overcome adversity at a young age? Are there more Wiliiams’ out there or more Roddicks?

A. Kids that come now a days have the means to train. Tennis is very expensive to do it right. I would love to help kids who cant afford it and are hungry like a lion and appreciative. Those will handle pressure better in the long run. I can build the player. the wiring inside  a lot of time comes from family environment/influences,,,,, but I can override it a lot and mold them.

Q. When it’s all said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

A. I would like to be remembered I guess as the best ever!!!! how is that for thinking big!!!!

Q. What would you tell a 45 year old who’s got some glaring technical difficulties in his swing? Is there an amount of time/reps of concentrated effort that once he completes, his forehand will be reliable?  Is there a magic number to fix flaws or is it different for everyone?

A. Depends on student and commitment to practice on a ball machine etc. Do they really want to change? and who is doing the changing? Maybe they should just get more fit and better tatics. Technique changing when your older are tough, but I have had many do it, but 10,000 reps on a ball machine!!!! Ouch!

Q. I loved the story of 2 on 2 and the 5 dollar bill!!  What other types of things do you do to make training more fun?

A. T shirts sweatshirts wrist bands racquets string money,  free lessons and most of all, lots of high fives!

Q. You said the common thread between Roddick, Venus, Serena, Jennifer, and Maria was their competitiveness, and that a coach who can bring that out is doing them a tremendous service.  What types of things do you do to bring out that competitiveness? Or is it just part of the DNA?

 A. Talk to them about greatness. All sports. Never lose sight of that. A competitor first. don’t get caught up in forehands backhands, work on positive attitude fighting running for everything ,, no time to be a baby and get mad. Everything make them compete / fight.

Q. Do you have take any days off?  I know you’re on the court 50 hours a week.  But what do you like to do on your “down time”?
A. I work 7 days a week. in my blood. Sat sun only 5am to 1. Maybe 2.mon thru fri 5to 5 or 6. This is what makes me tick. I need to interact and the tennis court is my living and other things is what you make it. to me fun is work and work is fun. that is why I have the energy /passion and enjoy it . I give me energy and im making a difference in others lives. I know im over the top , but that is what make the world go round!!!i do sleep 7 hours!!

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