Teaching Pro Spotlight: Chris Lewis

Back in 2005 when former Wimbledon singles finalist Chris Lewis made the decision to leave the comforts of his native land of Auckland, New Zealand, and move to the hustle and bustle of Irvine in Southern California, it was surely a case of New Zealand’s loss quickly becoming SoCal’s gain.

Lewis accepted a job to work at the Woodbridge Tennis Club in Irvine with Director of Tennis Chuck Brymer, and although the two had never met, with their prior involvement being limited to two international telephone conversations, they hit it off and now more than 12 years later run one of the most successful high-performance junior tennis academies on the West Coast.

Woodbridge Tennis Club’s Chris Lewis, left, and Chuck Brymer.

“I always loved Southern California and knew it would be a great place to teach and develop top juniors,” said Lewis, who turned 60 in March. “Chuck and I did hit it off right from the start and it has proved to be a great fit for both of us.”

Lewis and his partner Brymer are poised for bigger and better things in the coming months as the pair’s Brymer Lewis Tennis Academy will see a major expansion. Brymer and Lewis will direct the tennis programming out of a new 25-court facility at Orange County Great Park. Located on a section of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, the new City of Irvine-owned complex will be a sport recreational hub and is currently under development on 688 acres of parkland. Within that acreage is the development of a 194-acre Sports Park.

Since his arrival, Lewis has worked with some of Southern California’s top junior players, including now touring pro, Mayo Hibi, former Australian Junior Open finalist, Sean Berman and former Orange Bowl age group winners, Reo Asami and Joseph DiGiulio.

Chris Lewis and John McEnroe….NOW…..

…. AND THEN

Lewis also helps train last season’s UCLA’s No.1 player Gage Brymer, Chuck’s son, as well as 15-year-old up-and-coming Stefan Dostanic. Dostanic made the final of the USTA Springs Nationals Boys’ 16s at the Easter Bowl in April, and then fell in the final of the Boys’ Interscholastic CIF Singles at The Ojai playing for Woodbridge High. In early June, Dostanic won the CIF-SS Individuals tennis title over Peninsula’s Connor Hance, becoming the first sophomore since Brymer won the title in 2011. “He’s got an exceptional all-around game, great serve and tremendous athleticism,” Lewis said of Dostanic. “He’s just 15 and has enormous potential.”

Lewis enjoys being on the court each day with some of the best juniors in SoCal. “It’s not only something I enjoy, I’m passionate about it,” he said. “It’s so measurable, to be able to see these kids keep getting better as they maximize their potential.”

Lewis is able to impart to his students some of what he learned from two of the all-time greats in coaching, Harry Hopman and Tony Roche. In 1975, Lewis won Wimbledon’s junior boys singles title, and it was just a pre-cursor to that day he faced McEnroe as an unseeded finalist in 1983.

“I grew up in New Zealand dreaming and imagining what Wimbledon would be like. In fact, I would play imaginary Wimbledon finals against my two brothers in the backyard,” Lewis said. “To get to Wimbledon and make it to the finals was a realization of that dream. It was a long time ago, but it really feels just like yesterday.”

Lewis once told a reporter: “My fascination with the place meant that when I came to England [in 1974], the first thing I did was go straight there from the airport to see what it looked like.”

Lewis hasn’t been back to the All-England Club during The Championships since the mid-1990’s, but will return to Wimbledon this summer in a “Last 8” celebration honoring his finals appearance in 1983.

Lewis won three singles titles and eight in doubles on the pro tour and attained a career-high World No. 19 ranking [1984]. He also led New Zealand to the 1982 Davis Cup semifinals.

After 12 years on tour, he retired in 1986. He coached the German pro Carl-Uwe Steeb, whose ranking climbed from 100 to a career high of No. 14 during their time together.From 1991-93, Lewis coached and trained Ivan Lendl, one of the game’s all-time greats.

Check www.brymerlewistennis.com in the coming weeks for all the information on the academy.

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23 Responses

  1. Steve, I just wanted to add that had the interview been conducted a little later, I would have been able to mention that Stefan Dostanic’s good friend, Aditya Gupta, won the boys 16’s singles at the recent SCTA Sectionals.

  2. Chris Lewis is an incredible coach – amazing to have a champion like him in Orange County working with juniors. Very lucky indeed!

  3. Indeed SOCAL is very fortunate to have Chris Lewis. We have first-hand experience on daily basis. He runs the clinics and coaching lessons with relentless intensity, no nonsense style, and a keen eye towards long term junior development. Safe to say he is one of the best developmental coaches you are going to come across. Though good luck trying to get onto Chris’ calendar. Its a long wait list, but worth the wait!!

    • Hi Amit. It’s a privilege working with your son, a highly intelligent and receptive student who has a wonderful future ahead of him. I was so pleased to see him win the Sectionals last month.

  4. Proud to be a part of this team, and extremely excited for the upcoming expansion. Chris and Chuck are two of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I have had the honor of working with, and their commitment to helping top juniors realize their potential is unparalleled

  5. I started going to Woodbridge Tennis Club my sophomore year of high school. It wasn’t until the end of my senior year that I started taking private lessons from Chris Lewis. Never have I had a coach with that much passion for the game and that much power to make me believe in my potential. Irvine is extremely lucky to have gained a coach like him.

    • Thank you Kristina. As one of the hardest working and conscientious players I’ve worked with, you have been a tremendously positive influence on the younger players in our program. You have also been a shining example of what it truly means to subscribe to the high-intensity environment that is in place at our academy. Chuck and I love having you there!

  6. We recently had the pleasure of working with Chris Lewis. His understanding and perspective of the game, junior development, and the industry as a whole is pretty special. Chris is not afraid to speak his mind, you know you’re getting the real deal when talking/listening. Having the opportunity to have him involved in our new platform was a tremendous addition. He’s a true intellectual who got the most out of himself as a player.

    • Jeff, high praise indeed. Thank you. And speaking of your “new platform”, Rhabit.com, massive congratulations on going live. The site looks absolutely stunning!

  7. Chris Lewis and Chuck Brymer worked with my son for years until he went to college. My son now plays college tennis. In the summer when he is on break he still goes back to Chris. They are both excellent coaches. Best of Luck!

  8. Looking forward to the new facility. Great coaching staff, and a well run academy. Chris is an outstanding coach who knows how to develop aspiring junior players.

  9. So impressive! SoCal tennis is lucky to have these pros… We’ve been on the waitlist for the academy, but with the new location opening, we hope to get a spot.

  10. Both Chris and Chuck are excellent coaches who seek to push you towards your limit and exceed your own expectations. Their dedication to instilling self belief is second to none along with establishing a strong work ethic and positive attitude. Junior tennis players in socal are fortunate to have such great mentors for the game as well as growth as a person.

    • Thank you Paul. You are words are truly appreciated. As are your intelligence and your work ethic. You have added, and continue to add, tremendous value to our program. Thank you for being such a big part of it.

  11. Chris and Chuck will be running the Brymer Lewis Tennis Academy at our newest facility, the Great Park Tennis Center. 16 courts dedicated to the academy, we’ll be producing the best players in So Cal for many years to come.

  12. Chris Lewis has had the chance to play at the highest level of professional tennis, as well as coach several top pros. He brings this experience when teaching in his program; the quality of the insight and feedback that he offers is unparalleled. It’s profound to see how some of his students improve and excel drastically within months being in his program, and I wish him continued success!

  13. Reini, thank you for your kind words. They are much appreciated. As is your much valued participation in our academy. Thank you for not only being a part of it but also for working so hard every minute that you’re there. Chuck and I love having you around!

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