Led by Stan Smith, former Wimbledon and U.S. Open Champion and number-one player in the world, and B.J. Stearns, former top nationally and internationally ranked player and Academy Director, the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy is uniquely designed for individual junior tennis player development. The Smith Stearns Academy is located within one of the top-rated resorts in the country, The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Under Stan, and BJ’s leadership, a staff of highly qualified coaches specifically trained in the Smith Stearns approach work one-on-one with committed young people to help them reach their full potential as players.

Meet our High Performance Coaching Team

Stan Smith

A native of Southern California, Stan Smith won the 1964 U.S. Junior 18 and under championships at Kalamazoo, Michigan and took his talents to the University of Southern California where he was a three-time All-American. He won the 1968 NCAA Division I Singles Championship and doubles titles in 1967 and 1968.

Stan went on to become a #1 in the US and then #1 in the world, winning the singles titles at the U.S. Open in 1971 and Wimbledon in 1972, in addition to appearances in 13 grand slam doubles finals, where he won 4 US Open’s and the Australian Open. He represented the U.S. in the Davis Cup for 10 years, winning the coveted championship seven times. All told, he has won 39 singles titles and 61 doubles titles.

After his illustrious playing career, Stan continued his career in tennis by helping players through coaching and a variety of other coveted roles in the tennis industry. Stan was Director of Coaching for the USTA Player Development Program, working with Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Todd Martin, Chandra Rubin, Mal Washington and Chris Woodruff, among others. He was coach of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Men’s Tennis team in Sydney, Australia. Most recently Stan has served as the President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame from 2011-2022. Stan is known for his ability to communicate clearly on how to improve technique, strategy, tactics and the mental approach to the game – as well as for his legacy of sportsmanship and courtesy.

Even those who don’t follow tennis, know Stan Smith for his legacy with adidas, as the Stan Smith shoe has been a true phenomenon, becoming one of the best selling shoes worldwide.

Stan has lived on Hilton Head and has been the touring professional at the Sea Pines Resort for over 50 years. Stan, along with his wife Margie, have raised their four children on the island, and now are the proud grandparents to 16 grandchildren.

His legacy continues through the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, where he has been able to help develop aspiring junior players for over 20 years. He is most proud of being able to play a role in their overall development and the academy’s ultimate goal of college placement, while watching these young student-athletes succeed in their careers in college and beyond.

B.J. Stearns – Academy Director

The winner of 18 National Championships (gold balls), B.J. Stearns attended the University of Texas, where he played #1 singles and doubles and was team captain. As a junior, he was a member of the U.S. National Team, won the Kalamazoo Doubles twice in the 16 and under division, and won various other National and International titles like the Easter Bowl and Orange Bowl. He has wins against accomplished players such as Paul Goldstein, Justin Gimelstob, Marcelo Rios, Gustavo Kuerten, Magnus Norman and Mark Philippoussis.

In addition to his own career, B.J. has been instrumental in the development of many of the academy’s top players, with his students going on to win titles at all levels of the game –Professional, NCAA individual and team, and Super National Championships. He has coached many All-American collegiate athletes. A highlight of his coaching career was in 2014, when 5 of his former players competed in the NCAA Women’s Team Final – UCLA vs. UNC. It was a proud moment getting to watch them all compete in the final of such a prestigious tournament.

Some of his recent standout students have included Hayley Carter, a top 20 WTA doubles player, former #1 National junior singles and doubles player, and standout at UNC, Cleeve Harper, the 2022 NCAA Doubles Champion from the University of Texas, Robert Loeb, the 2017 NCAA Doubles Finalist from the University of Texas and former #4 nationally ranked recruit, JJ Tracy, a top 10 blue chip recruit and 2022 All-American from the Ohio State University, and Andres Martin, the #5 rated blue chip recruit, standout singles and doubles player for Georgia Tech, and most recently winner of his first ATP tour match at the Atlanta Open.

B.J. believes that good tennis players need to be technically sound and also have a complete understanding of the strategy of the game. He leads by example and wants players to realize that tennis can be fun, even at the highest levels of the game. BJ hopes that players come through the academy with positive experiences that will last with them forever. It takes a team effort, and he values the people that have been instrumental in the success of the academy and our students.

B.J. and his wife Kelley, also a former top junior and collegiate player at the University of Georgia, have been a part of the academy since opening in 2002 and are very passionate about helping young athletes become the best they can be. They have two young children of their own, with another on the way.

 

Eric Turner – Director of Player Development – Senior Academy Coach

Eric came to Smith Stearns as a young player where he lived and trained at the academy throughout his junior career. As a junior, Eric won two National Open Championship titles and reached the quarterfinals of the Super Nationals four times and the semi-finals twice. He won a bronze ball in doubles at the Winter National Championships and also competed in the Orange Bowl. A five star recruit, Eric then went on to play at NC State before transferring to Elon University where he played #2 singles and #1 doubles and earned First-Team All-Conference honors. He led his team to a conference championship his junior year and as a senior he was voted the captain of the team.

Eric has had a successful transition into coaching, where he has coached multiple USTA ball winners and ITF Champions. He has also been the traveling coach to the academy’s top players at USTA and ITF tournaments all around the world. He was the travel coach to Robert Loeb, a former #4 blue chip recruit and All-American player, Vikash Singh, when he made the finals of the Orange Bowl in the 16’s, as well as many other students who went on to win ITF titles. Eric has also been instrumental in helping his students attend some of the nation’s best colleges.

Eric started his career at the academy as a young coach out of college and has worked his way into the role as the Academy’s Director of Player Development, working closely with Stan and BJ in the daily academy sessions while focusing on all of our student’s development. He is a very talented coach who has a keen eye for what his students need to achieve success.

Patrick Fediuk–Director College Placement & Tournaments – Head Academy Coach

A native of Canada, Patrick Fediuk earned a degree in history with a minor in coaching and physical education from Presbyterian College in 2009 and was a four-year member of the Blue Hose tennis team, where he was an Academic All-American and earned All-Conference Academic honors.

Patrick most recently comes to us again from his alma mater Presbyterian College where he has the Head Coach of the Men’s Team for four years. In his second season, PC won the Big South Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. During his tenure Patrick coached several players who earned both Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Big South Freshman of the Year honors. Prior to PC, Patrick worked as a coach at Smith Stearns for over four years gaining experience and developing his knowledge of the game.

Patrick has been a lead coach and travel coach to many of the academy’s top juniors. He has coached over 20 top 50 nationally rated recruits. One of his coaching highlights was being able to help Andrew Schafer make the finals of the prestigious Eddie Herr International Junior Championships in the boys 16’s.

Patrick has been a part of the academy for over 8 years. He has worked his way up from a young coach to head coach, and is now the Director of our College Placement Program. In addition, Patrick serves as the Tournament Director for all of the National tournaments that Smith Stearns plays host to.

Patrick is one of our most passionate and well-liked coaches and knows how to motivate and get the best out of our young players. His energy is contagious and everyone loves to be on Patrick’s court!

Julian Sullivan – Director of Video Analysis & Instruction – Head Academy Coach

Julian is originally from Philadelphia where he was the #1 ranked player in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware region before going on to play for North Carolina State University. At NC State he played #3 singles and #1 doubles. He reached as high as thirty nationally in doubles and has had numerous wins over ranked opponents including the number one team in the nation. He is a 4-time doubles champion at the ATA National Championships.

Before joining Smith Stearns, he worked at the North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Julian has maintained a high level of play over the years and his strong left handed game style consistently pushes all of our students. He has worked with many of the academy’s top players, most recently Akari Matsuno, when she won the L1 National and became #1 in the USTA National G18 rankings, Cleeve Harper, the 2022 NCAA Doubles Champion from the University of Texas and JJ Tracy, the Big 10 Freshman of the Year and 2022 All-American from Ohio State. Julian also helped both Hayley Carter, UNC standout and top 20 WTA doubles player, and Nadja Gilchrist, top National player and All American in singles and doubles at the University of Georgia, while they transitioned into their professional careers.

Julian has almost 10 years of coaching experience at Smith Stearns and enjoys working with all levels of junior players. He is passionate about analyzing students strokes and game plans with video analysis and is very in touch with both the technical and strategical aspects of the game. Julian has now transitioned into the role of the academy’s Director of Video Analysis and Instruction and looks forward to helping all of our students fine tune their games.

Alfredo Soliz – Academy Coach

Alfredo Soliz is a tennis professional with more than 30 years of experience. As a former Bolivian National Coach, Alfredo traveled in South America and Europe for more than 7 years with the top ranked junior players, developing many national and international champions along the way. Alfredo is a former FED CUP coach, ITF coach, PTR National Tester, and Etcheverry Certified Fitness Trainer. He has presented many times at the PTR Tennis Symposium on Hilton Head Island, the PTR Inaugural Asian Tennis Seminar in Shanghai China in 2007, the ITF Worldwide Tennis Seminar in Valencia, Spain in 2009, as well as various other seminars around the world. Alfredo is a high energy coach with years of experience, who is passionate about helping young players develop.

Patrick O’Keefe – Director of Tennis at Sea Pines – Academy Coach

Alfredo Soliz is a tennis professional with more than 30 years of experience. As a former Bolivian National Coach, Alfredo traveled in South America and Europe for more than 7 years with the top ranked junior players, developing many national and international champions along the way. Alfredo is a former FED CUP coach, ITF coach, PTR National Tester, and Etcheverry Certified Fitness Trainer. He has presented many times at the PTR Tennis Symposium on Hilton Head Island, the PTR Inaugural Asian Tennis Seminar in Shanghai China in 2007, the ITF Worldwide Tennis Seminar in Valencia, Spain in 2009, as well as various other seminars around the world. Alfredo is a high energy coach with years of experience, who is passionate about helping young players develop.

Nicolas Guillon – Academy Coach

Nico is a native of Draveil, France, in one of the suburbs of Paris, and played for Mercer University (NCAA 1) for four years, as a top-ranked singles and doubles player. He was a two-time All-Southern Conference selection (2017, 2019), and earned an All-First Team Conference spot as both a singles & doubles player in 2019. He graduated with his Bachelor of Business Administration in Sports Business and Management in May of 2019. He then served as a graduate assistant coach for two years while pursuing his Masters of Business Administration, which he earned in May of 2021. Before coming to Smith Stearns during season breaks, he worked periodically as a Tennis Pro at the Navesink Country Club and as a Hitting Partner to a top 180 pro, former 19 in the world, traveling with her to WTA and ITF events.

Kevin Murphy – Academy Coach

Originally from Washington D.C., Kevin Murphy played for the University of Scranton as high as #3 singles and #1 doubles and made the conference finals and two conference semifinals. He started coaching at his alma matter Gonzaga College High School where he continued the dynasty of 14 Washington Catholic Athletics Conference titles in 16 years. Kevin went on to coach at the Prince George’s Tennis and Education Foundation in 2019, and in 2020 was named Director of Tennis for developing players with the purpose of obtaining college scholarships. In 2021, Kevin was named the Assistant Coach at the University of Scranton, taking his team to another conference finals appearance. Since starting his coaching career in 2016, Kevin has worked with over 12 Division 1 players. Kevin believes that true success comes from effort and willingness to go above and beyond on the court.

Alice Batson – Director of Fitness and Nutrition

Alice received her B.S. in Exercise Science from Florida State where she was a Division 1 scholarship swimmer. As a graduate assistant in the exercise science department, she worked as a strength and conditioning coach. Later she attended University of South Carolina to obtain a Masters in Public Health and Physical Activity, specializing in Obesity Interventions. There she assisted in developing and running a medically based childhood obesity program in conjunction with an orthopedic practice and the university.

Over the years Alice has coached fitness and nutrition in Miami, Los Angeles, the Midwest and South. She has the highly respected Certified Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is an NCCA-Accredited ACE certified Health Coach #W47083. She also holds national certifications in Personal Training, Functional Training, Pilates, Youth Fitness, Sports Nutrition and Group Fitness and speaks regularly about nutrition and fitness. Passionate about working with athletes of all ages, some of whom went on to receive athletic scholarships and make division one teams. Alice is committed to helping athletes reach their full potential through elite level conditioning, nutrition, and mindset.

A native of South Carolina, she currently lives in Sea Pines with her husband John and 2 amazing dogs, Snoop Dogg and Dolly. In her free time she enjoys kiteboarding and competing in standup paddle boarding. Their daughter, Jordan is a grad student at Pratt Institute in New York.

Marwin Kline – Sports Performance Trainer – Speed Specialist
Who says speed can’t be taught? Marwin Kline firmly believes that it can— in fact, he’s been demonstrating how for almost 25 years. Marwin Kline was raised in the low country and attended the University of Tennessee on a full Track & Field Scholarship. His accolades include: 1996 Olympic Trials qualifier, 1995 Track & Field News Magazine ranked #32 in the world in the 400 meter dash, a three time All American, four time all SEC, a team captain, and a John Young team captain award winner.

In his many years of training, Marwin has had the opportunity to work with numerous professional and collegiate athletes in a wide range of sports including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis. His passion for athletes and their development— both on and off the field or court— is present in each of the sessions. Marwin is a mentor to many and a very well respected professional in his field.

Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M. – Director of Mental Conditioning

Passionate about personal growth and the development of high performance team cultures, Matt has more than a decade of experience working with athletes, coaches, parents, businesses and educators on the mental aspects of elite performance.

As a Performance Consultant with Telos Sport Psychology Coaching, Matt assists the development of individuals and teams from the junior level to the highest professional ranks through workshops, individual meetings, speaking engagements and publications. His clients include Olympians, NCAA teams and pros currently competing in a number of sports across the world. He has published numerous books, performance handbooks and virtual training spaces to guide performers toward reaching their potential in various domains.

For nine years, he served as Director of Mental Training for Junior Sports Corporation in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where numerous All-American student-athletes continue to emerge from the culture created under his guidance. Matt received his Master of Education from Boston University in Counseling/Sport Psychology and is an active member of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology..

Besmir Muskaj LAT, ATC, CES, AIB-VR – Director of Sports Performance – Head Athletic Trainer

Besmir is a competent, resourceful, and highly motivated Athletic Trainer who has made a huge impact in the Sports Medicine Department with Smith Stearns as the Head Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Performance.

Besmir received his Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Trainer from the University of North Florida in 2013 and has gained experience treating in wide variety of settings.

Besmir then received his certification of Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) from the National Academy of Sports Medicine which allows him to perform Functional Movements Screens to create individualized exercise programs based on the impairment assessed.

Besmir has worked in many settings from High Schools to Division I Collegiate Sports to the NFL (Jacksonville Jaguars) to many different clinics. Besmir spend most of his time with Division I Collegiate Sports at University of North Florida where he worked specifically with Men’s and Women’s Tennis Programs and was a part of four Conference Championships and two NCAA Championship appearances.

Later he moved into a Sports Rehabilitation Clinic as the Director of Sports Medicine and treated all ages as well as created and operated a Wellness/Athletic Development program.

Besmir is also certified by the American Institute of Balance in Vestibular Rehabilitation where he treats many patients for vertigo, vestibular, or concussion symptoms. With his experience, Besmir enjoys applying his skills to further insure the safety of the athletes and enhance their performance.

 

Meet our support staff

Joanie Hyndman – Academy Administrator & Director of Admissions

Joanie brings a wealth of experience to the Academy, having been a very active “tennis mom” to both Kelley Stearns and sister Yvette, both collegiate Division I players.  Joanie maintains close relationships with all the families of our student-athletes, plus she manages all student admissions, all housing operations and staffing, relationships with local partner schools, and more.  Joanie is often one of the first points of contact for any Smith Stearns prospective student. Joanie’s professional background includes finance, customer service, hospitality, and physical education, having worked for various corporate entities including Coldwell Banker, Delta Airlines, and more. Joanie attended Springfield College studying Adaptive Physical Education.

Kelley Stearns – Academy Administrator

Kelley was consistently ranked in the top ten nationally as a junior player and travelled internationally with the USTA to various trips across the globe including participation in the World Youth Cup. Junior highlights include doubles titles at both the Easter Bowl and Eddie Herr and singles runner-up finishes at the Eddie Herr International and the National Clay Courts. Before college, Kelley played some professional tournaments for two years, earning a WTA ranking of #570 and winning the doubles title in a $25,000 pro circuit event. Kelley then attended the University of Georgia on a full scholarship and helped the Bulldogs to two SEC Conference Championships as a player and another as a volunteer coach while also achieving top five national rankings as a team. As a senior Kelley played both #1 singles and doubles for UGA and was named the MVP at the SEC Tournament. She then completed her Masters Degree in Sports Management in her last year at UGA.

Sarah Braun – Director of Student Services

Sarah is passionate about helping develop a well-rounded child through athletics and academics. She grew up as springboard and platform diver and went on to receive a scholarship to Clemson University. She earned Academic All-American awards while earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She taught middle school English for four years at Hilton Head Prep, the school Smith Stearns partners with so closely. After missing the world of elite junior athletics, Sarah moved into the office at Smith Stearns as our Director of Student Services,  where she collaborates with the players on a daily basis and also coordinates with students and schools in the college placement program.

eileen

Eileen Gilchrist – Girl’s House Parent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smithstearns2016wr_moonlightproductions-436Leroy Gilchrist – Boy’s House Parent

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teodora Nedkov 

Our Smith Stearns Tennis Academy

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