Jr. Orange Bowl tennis

Parents go all in for 12-year-old tennis player

 

The parents of Adam Neff, 12, bought land in rural Bradenton, built three courts and hired a full-time coach.

 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Grateful son</span>: Adam Neff, 12, on the training advantages he has been given: ‘I really thank my parents every day for all they’ve sacrificed.’’
Grateful son: Adam Neff, 12, on the training advantages he has been given: ‘I really thank my parents every day for all they’ve sacrificed.’’
Michelle Kaufman / Miami Herald Staff

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

Even by the standards of junior tennis, where parents are known to spare no expense to advance their children’s careers, 12-year-old Adam Neff’s family stands out.

Rather than hire a local coach in Cincinnati, or send their promising son to an academy in Florida, Guy and Ann Neff, both doctors and graduates of University of Miami medical school, decided two years ago to relocate the family to Bradenton and build a $160,000 practice facility in their back yard.

They bought five acres of land in rural Bradenton, near a bird sanctuary, built a house, and three courts, including a red-clay replica of the French Open court at Roland Garros, a purple hard court like the one at Key Biscayne’s Sony Open, and a U.S. Open replica hard court. They also built a gym with an indoor hitting wall for rainy days and a recovery room that features a leased CVAC hyperbaric chamber.

Like star Novak Djokovic, who swears by his hyperbaric pod, Neff, the nation’s No. 2-ranked player in his age division, spends 40 to 60 minutes per day in the pressurized egg. The chamber simulates high-altitude conditions, and is said to improve athletic performance by increasing circulation and aid recover time by adding oxygen-rich blood cells to the body.

The Neffs hired Lance Luciani, who worked previously at Nick Bollettieri’s famed academy, as a full-time coach. Luciani trains nine kids at the facility. Neff’s 10-year-old sister, Katarina, and his 5-year-old sister, Isabella, also take lessons.

Easy win

Neff, who is 5-10, needed only 27 minutes to win his second-round Jr. Orange Bowl tennis tournament match over Brazil’s Vinicius Saleme at Salvadore Park on Wednesday. The match was so easy that Luciani arranged an afternoon practice session to get more work in. This is Neff’s final 12-under event before he moves up to 14s, so he wants to finish the year with a bang.

He won the U.S. Spring Nationals last spring, and two weeks ago won the Eddie Herr tournament. He has only one loss in the 12s this season, and that was in Paris, where he was one of 16 kids invited to play the prestigious Longines Future Tennis Aces event. He got a taste of international talent, losing badly on his 12th birthday to a German player.

‘Tough trip’

“That was a good experience for him, but tough trip,’’ Luciani said. “Next year, we’ll be dipping our toes into the ITF [international] waters. That’s his goal, not so much of the kiddie stuff anymore. Having the private facility is perfect, gives us all we need to push the kids as far as they can go.’’

Neff said he is very grateful to his parents. Dr. Guy Neff, a hepatologist, was a liver specialist at Tampa General Hospital but now works in Chicago in the pharmaceutical industry. He commutes to Bradenton on weekends. His mother, Dr. Ann Neff, is a dermatologist.

“I really thank my parents every day for all they’ve sacrificed,’’ Neff said. “I know it’s really hard for them, especially changing jobs and starting a whole new life.’’

"People are going to call us nuts, but that's all right, I've been called worse," Dr. Neff told The Wall Street Journal in a recent article. "If this doesn't work, there's always opportunity to be a doctor or an attorney or an accountant, or whatever he wants to do."

The Jr. Orange Bowl tournament continues through Monday. The 14s boys are at UM, 14s girls at Crandon Park, 12s girls at the Biltmore and 12s boys at Salvadore Park.

Read more Tennis stories from the Miami Herald

  • Nadal, Federer advance in Monte Carlo

    Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal and three-time runner-up Roger Federer were a pair of easy second-round winners Wednesday at the $4 million Monte Carlo Masters tennis event.

  •  
Milos Raonic of Canada returns the ball to Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan during their match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

    Federer & Nadal into Monte Carlo Masters 3rd round

    Roger Federer was happier than eight-time champion Rafael Nadal after their straight-sets wins to reach the Monte Carlo Masters third round on Wednesday.

  • Diyas reaches 1st WTA quarterfinals since 2012

    Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan reached her first WTA quarterfinals in two years by defeating Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-1, 6-4 in the second round of the Malaysian Open on Wednesday.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category