February 20th, 2017
Venus Williams’ Coach David Witt, Kelvin Rivera Earn PTR Honors
The Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) announced last Friday that David Witt of Jacksonville, Fla., was named PTR Touring Coach of the Year, and that Kelvin Rivera of Saint Cloud, Fla., was named PTR Member of the Year for the state of Florida. Rivera joined Pedro Luis Estrada of Orlando as PTR Florida Member of the Year, the first time the organization named two Florida Members of the Year.
Witt, a former player on the ATP World Tour, is the longest-standing non-family member of Venus Williams’ team. The Florida native grew up on tennis courts in Jacksonville, and was the No. 1-ranked junior in the world before turning pro in 1991. Witt broke into the Top 100 but saw his career come to a halt after a severe wrist injury at Wimbledon in 1994.
In 1998 he turned to coaching, and became the director of tennis at two different clubs before Venus’ agent called to ask if Witt could work out Venus and Serena before the nearby Amelia Island WTA pro women’s tournament. He eventually became the partner of choice for the Williams sisters, and after three years joined Venus’ coaching team full time.
“Many fans often wonder why a world class athlete even needs a coach,” Witt said. “If you’re one of the best players in the world, what can someone else tell you? The fact is, professional sports are more complicated than most people realize, and the stakes are incredibly high. Every athlete can use an extra set of expert eyes on them. It’s an honor to be a part of what Venus has accomplished and to get to coach one of the greatest players of all time.”
Rivera is the director of tennis at the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, and has earned certifications in all five PTR education pathways. For more than 25 years he has also been a certified teaching professional and tester with the USPTA. He has extensive coaching experience working with touring professionals, junior players who are top ranked nationally and internationally, as well as adult players and teaching pros. He has also coached numerous juniors to earn athletic college scholarships, as well as coached novice adults to become successful league players and state-ranked competitors, including coaching many league teams to division championships.
In 2000 Rivera earned the USTA’s Specialist in Competitive Player Development degree. Committed to growing the game, Rivera has served the USTA national body and USTA Florida in many capacities including the National Collegiate Committee, National Hispanic Participation Task Force, Florida Junior Competitive Council and Florida Multicultural Committee. For his volunteer efforts, he was awarded USPTA Florida Division District 4 Volunteer of the Year and Tester of the Year.
Throughout his coaching career, Rivera has held positions at some of the nation’s top tennis facilities, including the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in Texas, Harry Hopman Tennis at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, and the Human Performance Institute in Orlando. He also served as Davis Cup captain for Puerto Rico.
For more info go to www.ptrtennis.org.