Wilander wheels through Cleveland
by Andy Collier
May 04, 2014 | 2641 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mats Wilander visited the Cleveland Country Club this weekend with his Wilander on Wheels Tennis Clinic. The tennis legend is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Mats Wilander visited the Cleveland Country Club this weekend with his Wilander on Wheels Tennis Clinic. The tennis legend is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
He’s won seven major singles titles, one major doubles title and 33 overall titles in doubles and singles combined. His accomplishments enabled him to be inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.

These days, Wilander is taking his skills and experience and sharing the sport he loves with his Wilander on Wheels (WOW) clinic. The WOW clinic allows Wilander to go all over the world conducting tennis clinics riding in a huge motorhome. Since he started the clinic, he’s been to over 300 clubs in North America. Wilander travels with Cameron Licke, who was captain of Naval Academy’s tennis team in 2002 and 2003 and is a member of the Naval Academy Sports Hall of Fame.

“We’ve been doing these for about four years, and we typically do it between 90 to 100 days in a year,” Wilander said. “Typically, we come in and we do two or three one and a half hour clinics at a club, private or public. They’re very small, so there are only eight people per session which is nice. There’s a maximum four players per court with me and our other coach Cameron Lickle.

“We travel with a photographer, Tim Brown, who takes beautiful pictures and we put them on Facebook. We have a lot of fun.”

The WOW clinic made a stop in Cleveland at the Cleveland Country Club on Friday to conduct two clinics.

“Everybody looks like they are good players,” Wilander said. “We have a lot of fun. It’s a new adventure for us, even though it’s been four years. We get to new clubs all the time. I’ve never been to the Cleveland Country Club. I don’t think I would have ever passed through Cleveland maybe if it wasn’t for this. We go to Grenada tomorrow where we went last year as well. We have some repeat customers and some new clubs. It’s really fun.”

Wilander, who is a native of Vaxjo, Sweden, said visiting the Delta adds to his life in the United States.

“It’s an interesting difference in culture,” Wilander said. “I’ve lived in America for about 25 years now. I started out in New York City, then Connecticut and now I live out in Hailey, Idaho. If it wasn’t for Wilander on Wheels, I would never get to see the United States the same way I see it now.”

When the planning of the clinic took place over four years ago, Wilander loved the concept of driving to locations.

“It’s just something that I had an idea that maybe we should go to people,” Wilander said. “We started in Las Vegas at the end of 2009. We did a little tour and camped out by the red rocks just outside of Las Vegas, and we realized this could be really fun. Now, it’s fun and turning into a bit of business as well.”

According to Wilander, the experience of going all over the country in a motorhome has proven to be a huge luxury.

“I’ve seen the United States from the air,” Wilander said. “I’ve seen all the airports and all the hotels. Everybody gets tired of that, so to have everything with you in an RV makes everything simple. You have your own bed. You know what the mattress is like. You know you’re not going to be disturbed, and it’s nice. I’ve seen some really nice camp grounds as well along the way, but mostly it’s because of the people. People are really excited when we come. When you meet people excited, you get excited yourself.

“It’s not so much teaching,” Wilander added. “It’s more get a good work out and get a good idea of what the pros think about when they practice and play.”

Wilander said one of the main reasons he decided to use a motorhome to get to his clinic sights is to make his clinic easier on the average fan.

“I’ve been to a lot of fantasy camps where typically the participants fly in and stay at a four or five star hotel,” Wilander said. “It’s very expensive. You’re in Hawaii or one of these exotic places, and it’s a big expense for people.

“I would rather stay in an RV than at a nice hotel. This way, you can basically cut the cost for a participant by 10 percent of what they have to pay. We get to see new people everyday and new clubs everyday.”

Wilander said the biggest thing he loves to share about tennis is what it enabled him to have in his life.

“I met my wife at the US Open, and I have four kids,” Wilander said. “We’re just out here making sure players of this sport respect the game and the game is bigger than any player or any attitude. It gives you a chance to grow as a person, and it gives you a chance to develop.”