Tennis Proway: Viktoria Belinsky's Blueprint for Tennis Greatness
Feb 01, 2024
Viktoria Milvidskaia Belinsky, a former WTA tour professional tennis player and registered WTA tour coach, recently launched Tennis ProWay. This innovative boutique style pro player development program is focused on individualized tailored training of carefully selected young players. Focusing on organizing a team of top professionals around her players just like she did with pro players on tour, Viktoria sets her junior students on a path to become the next generation of tennis professionals.
Her coaching philosophy is a direct product of her experiences. “I’ve had the same incredible coaches throughout my professional player career. Same coaches, same method, same input," she explains. This continuity and consistency in coaching are what she strives to replicate with her own coaching methods nurturing holistic development of a tennis player.
Above: Finalists of European Championship, 1981 (Belinksy with Manuela Maleeva)
Viktoria's story began in an unlikely setting for a tennis prodigy. "I was the first one in my family to be in sports," Belinsky recalls. "Tennis was not that popular in the Soviet Union, where I grew up." Her early initiation into the sport, at six years old, was serendipitous, stemming from her mother's acquaintance with one of the best coaches in the USSR at the time. This fortuitous beginning set her on a path to an eminent playing and coaching career.
Belinsky played at the famous Moscow Spartak Tennis club. She was a member of the USSR national tennis team traveling around the world and became the youngest USSR national champion.
Above: Belinsky with Nick Bollettieri at a tennis tournament in Japan, 1982
Belinsky's pro career allowed her to win ITF tournaments in singles and doubles, and play all four Grand Slams. Her career-high WTA rankings were 168 in singles and 145 in doubles. However, a knee injury unfortunately ended her time on tour.
Belinsky worked at the Russian NTV PLUS Tennis Channel, where she had her own program, devoted to the exploration of different coaching philosophies. She had interviewed Nick Bollettieri, Robert Lansdorp, and Carlos Rodrigues among others. “I learned a lot from them and got really inspired to become a professional tennis coach myself," recalls Viktoria.
Above: Belinsky at Wimbledon in 1992
Having experienced helping her former coaches in Russia to work with younger players including Anna Kournikova after her injury forced Belinsky to retire, Viktoria had a taste of working with young promising talents. She decided to explore the path of being a professional tennis coach by joining the USTA Player Development program in New York, then moving to having her own junior tennis academy in Florida and furthermore becoming a private tennis coach on WTA tour.
After all the knowledge she aggregated over the years, Belinsky's transition to coaching pro players seemed inevitable. "I was working with professional players who are on tour now using all the knowledge and experience I had and developed my own tennis coaching method,” she explains.
Above: A look at some of the pros and junior players Belinsky has coached
Throughout her coaching career, Belinsky worked with prominent names in professional tennis, such as Elena Bovina, a former top 20 WTA player, Galina Voskoboeva, a former top 40 WTA player, and Alexei Popyrin, a current top 40 ATP player. Her recent collaboration with Jeļena Ostapenko, French Open Champion and top 10 WTA player, during the Miami Open in 2023, showcases her ability to connect and effectively work with high-profile athletes.
Her latest venture, Tennis ProWay, is located at the Lauderdale Tennis Club in Fort Lauderdale, in partnership with Director of Tennis Tangerine Manning. With Tennis Proway, Belinsky brought her comprehensive experience to working with aspiring junior tennis players.
Above: Belinksky with Anna Kournikova
She explains, "I don't want to be traveling on tour anymore and work with one player… I want to start working with a very small group of select junior players and their parents who are willing to learn and commit to moving through that difficult path of professional tennis training,” explains Viktoria, signaling a shift in focus towards nurturing young talents.
“Tennis ProWay is not just about practice and private lessons; it is about creating a friendly competition environment tailored to the personal and professional development of young, aspiring athletes,” explains Belinsky.
Above: Belinsky with Galina Olegovna Voskoboeva at the US Open
One of a significant aspect of her coaching philosophy hinges on the necessity of early development of proper fundamentals. "It is very important to have proper fundamentals from a very early age... It becomes really hard to fix it when they're 15 or 16," Belinsky advises, emphasizing the importance of a strong foundation in the formative years of a tennis player.
Tennis ProWay, according to the founder Viktoria Belinsky, differs from traditional tennis academies. "The idea is to have a Team of high-level professionals working with a small group of players, just like the pro players do,” she says, highlighting the personalized nature of her program. This approach is reflective of her belief in focused, continuous, individualized training, essential to the holistic development of a tennis player.
Above: Belinsky's new company Tennis ProWay
Viktoria Belinsky's journey from a young tennis prodigy in the Soviet Union to a world class tennis coach is a fascinating journey. Her coaching approach, deeply rooted in her experiences as a professional player and a professional tour coach offers a unique and effective model in the world of professional tennis coaching. With Tennis ProWay, Belinsky is set to influence the next generation of tennis champions.