Steve Johnson Tennis Academy
Steve Johnson Tennis Academy

Steve Johnson Tennis Academy raising
champions in San Clemente, CA

by Rich Neher
Tennis Director, Tennis Dad, Tennis Coach
Steve Johnson is not only the dad of the most decorated college player of all time, Steve Johnson (jr.), currently ranked #42 in the world, but his own accomplishments are amazing: He has been coaching in Southern California since 1980, USPTA P1 rating, USPTA Division Pro and Division Director of the Year, recognized twice by Tennis & Golf Magazine, USTA High Performance Coach, Director of Tennis at the beautiful Rancho San Clemente Tennis & Fitness Club for almost 15 years. Here is where he also runs the Steve Johnson Tennis Academy. Steve coached many ranked juniors who have National and Sectional rankings. Many of his students have gone on to college with scholarships. His students have won several USTA National Championships, Southern California Sectional Championships, Southern California Open Titles and Satellite Titles.
Tennis has to be fun
Steve Johnson says it like it is. He is certainly no politician when it comes to voicing his opinion about tennis, the USTA, 10 and Under Tennis. "We are using TAUT for beginners, it's fantastic for that purpose, but I do not like the USTA's tournament mandate." Watching him communicate with the kids on court shows his love for teaching, the excitement he is able to pass on, and his way of making sure they won't forget how important fun is in tennis.
The Academy currently has 20 kids participating Mondays, and 16-18 kids on Wednesdays. "I love to work with young kids," says Steve. His students are between 6 and 15 years of age. He adds, with a cheeky smile, "That way I don't have to deal with the tennis moms of older kids on their way to College and fame."
A typical Monday afternoon at the Steve Johnson Tennis Academy looks like this: Playful drills, lots of shadow stroking, encouragements, acknowledging of recent achievements, playing out points, laughter, fun. Steve's rapport with the kids is amazing, and so are the two coaches helping him that day, Tony Bujan and Glen Meloy.
Sponsored by BABOLAT and ASICS, the Academy is a great example for bringing the sport of tennis in a methodical, but playful, way to kids and demonstrating the success of that method with achievements in tournaments and Junior Team Tennis leagues. Just by watching the two youngest participants, Grace Hakopian (8) and her brother George (6) crushing volleys and expertly lobbing much taller kids, one can see how Steve Johnson's methodology is working. When was the last time you have seen an 8 year old girl shocking a 14 year old boy easily down the line with a backhand passing shot?
Nothing is given to you in tennis
That is the mantra Steve Johnson has stamped into his son Stevie's mind from very early on. He says, "In tennis, everything is earned." When he passed Stevie on to USC's Peter Smith after coaching him during his formative years, he knew about his abilities, but was probably very pleasantly surprised when he saw USC win 4 national titles between 2008 and 2012. Steve Jr. also won 2 NCAA individual titles in 2011 & 2012 and was named ITA Player of the Year for both years. Today dad's role is more on the mental side of tennis, how to cope with the burden of playing so many talented players, putting away losses, staying sane in the insane world of pro tennis travel. He stays in touch with his son via phone, text, and emails.
You can reach Steve Johnson at 949-492-1515 or via email at

Questions? Please go to our Contacts page and submit them. Thank you!