Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wilander brings WOW tennis camp to valley

Return some balls from the former world #1


Mats Wilander (left) and Cameron Lickle are bringing their WOW bus to Sun Valley. Photo by

Sweden's Mats Wilander, formerly the world's #1 tennis player and a seven-time Grand Slam singles king, has been living with his family in Sun Valley for the past 10 years.

But it's only been just over a year that International Tennis Hall of Famer Wilander has been on the road with business partner Cameron Lickle and the "Wilander on Wheels" (WOW) tennis fantasy camp.

Lickle, from Palm Beach, Fla., is a 2003 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who captained the Annapolis tennis team in 2002-03. He was ranked #1 among college players while in the Naval Academy. He has served five years as a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy.

Since they dreamed up their idea in 2009 of touring the country and bringing the WOW fantasy camp experience to people's backyards, Wilander and Lickle have traveled in their 1995 Winnebago to locations in California, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and Canada.

In that relatively short time, Wilander and Lickle have conducted more than 50 clinics.

They pride themselves upon hitting continuously with each participant—pushing those in the small, personalized clinics (8 people maximum per session) as hard as they want to be pushed. Lickle said, "We don't just feed balls out of a basket." Recently, Wilander and Lickle created a partnership with Ketchum's Zenergy Health Club/Spa at Thunder Spring. Lickle said, "We will park the Winnebago one week a month at Zenergy and conduct WOW clinics in Sun Valley."

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They plan to serve as instructors at their Zenergy home and tour the country for half the year in the Winnebago.

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, Wilander and Lickle ran their first WOW clinic at Zenergy, for members only. It was the first of two clinics planned for Zenergy this winter. Open to the public, the next clinics are set for Feb. 2-5 and April 27-30.

Lickle said, "We run drills that Mats ran as Sweden's Davis Cup captain and also drills that I do to train with on a daily basis to prepare for matches on the Futures Tour.

"We limit participation to eight people for each 90-minute session (4 per court) to keep the time as intimate and personal as possible. We are hitting with participants the whole time to create a unique opportunity for those involved."

In February, WOW will return to south Florida to conduct several clinics in Palm Beach and Delray Beach while Wilander is competing on the ATP Champions Tour. Lickle said WOW has just received permission to run exhibition matches at Sun Valley Resort in the summer of 2011.

WOW has also partnered with the charity organization Debra, which seeks to find a cure for a skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa. EB is a genetically based disease characterized by painful blistering. Wilander's son Eric was diagnosed with EB at birth. One primary reason the family moved to Sun Valley 10 years ago was to live at a higher altitude to help Eric's condition.

The world's #1 player in 1988, Mats Wilander had 33 career titles, an overall 571-222 record and was the driving force behind Sweden's run of seven straight Davis Cup finals berths in the 1980s—capped by wins in 1984, 1985 and 1987.

Wilander, 46, turned pro in 1981 and by age 20 was the youngest man in history to have won four Grand Slam titles. His glory days were 1982-88. He retired in 1996 and since has captained the Swedish Davis Cup team, coached Russian tennis player Marat Safin and continued to compete.

He and his wife Sonja, a native of South Africa, have four children—Emma, Karl, Erik and Oscar. Emma has been an outstanding student-athlete at The Community School and Wood River High junior Karl has placed third twice in the Idaho High School Activities Association's state tennis meet.

Call Lickle at 787-438-4263 or visit wilanderonwheels.com to learn more about WOW.




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