For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
Jay Berger has left Brian Gottfried to work with Andy Brandi, the women’s coach at the University of Florida, who also trains Kathy Rinaldi. - Tennis Magazine / March 1988
He peaked as a player at No. 7, reached the quarterfinals of two Slams and has beaten Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors. After knee issues curtailed his playing career in 1991, he established himself as a top coach, and ever since he has been one of the most respected individuals in that field.
Yet after all he has done, Jay Berger now finds himself recognized more for being the father of the widely admired pro golfer, Daniel Berger.
Here we’ll focus on Jay, who made a remarkably smooth transition into the field of coaching.
“I always knew I wanted to give back,” Berger says. “Tennis has been great to me, and I knew this when I was playing. I really wanted to help young players, and not necessarily to become pros. I wanted to help them become better people through tennis.”
After coaching stints at FIU and the University of Miami, Berger became a national coach for the USTA in Player Development. From 2008-2017, he was head of men’s tennis, a position he finds the most rewarding of his storied career. In 2017, he helped coach Jack Sock to his career-best season.
Berger has transitioned to Director of Instruction for the Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, FL. He is now working with different kinds of students, but his approach to coaching hasn’t wavered.
“The other day I was out there with a 79-year-old young man, and I enjoyed it as much as anything,” Berger says. “I enjoy teaching and coaching, and
I will do that for the rest of my life."