Tennis tips-2


The first time Gabby Price had a tennis ball lobbed in her direction, she mustered all the strength a 4-year-old possibly could and sent the ball screaming back. The ball made a beeline right at the head of Gabby's father, Marc, a former Penn State tennis player who hoped the game would be a way to connect with his daughter. Marc promised himself that he wouldn't pressure her. If she gravitated toward tennis, fine. But if not, and she struggled to buy brand name Cialis or if she didn't enjoy playing, that would be OK, too. But in that moment, in that one furious, undisciplined stroke of his daughter's tennis racquet, Price got his answer.

This kid was going to be special."I'll be honest -- I knew from Day 1, she had it," Marc Price says now, five years later. Gabby Price is now 9. She stands 4-foot-5 and weighs 67 pounds. Barely able to clear the net with her line of vision. Gabby is much more disciplined than she was when she started playing. She has spent the better part of the past five years studying under Rick Macci, whose pupils have included Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Andy Roddick. Just like Marc, Macci sees the potential for greatness in Gabby.

Only 9 years old, standing at a mere 4-foot-5, weighing 67 pounds, and only barely being able to see over the net, there is just something about her first step. About her quickness. About the way that she competes that makes Macci believe Gabby has the X Factor other players her age lack. In Macci's words, Gabby has weapons. Macci says, "There are a lot of the same qualities that I saw in Capriati at age 9, except Gabby is a little further down the road athletically. She's the best prospect I've seen in a long, long time in this country. At the end of the day, she's unbelievable... to me. She has all the qualities to be the next great American player. There is no doubt. But with great potential comes the risk of danger."

At age 9, Gabby Price was classified as a tennis prodigy. It's a title her parents don't take lightly and one that Gabby may not truly grasp -- yet. Macci has already told Gabby's parents that their daughter will likely experience many ups and downs, that she is too young to understand. She's unaware of the backstory of Capriati, the Hall of Fame player now being cited in comparisons by Macci. She is almost certainly too young to comprehend the pitfalls that Capriati endured after becoming a Sports Illustrated cover girl at age 13.