Related Biography: Coach Lennart Bergelin
Some tennis coaches focus on the mechanics of the game, teaching perfection of form, grips, and other techniques. Others emphasize strategy, inspiration, and other mental aspects of the game. Yet others strive to simply bring out the natural best in their players. It is in the third category that one finds Lennart Bergelin, who coached Bjorn Borg from 1972 until the tennis star retired in 1983.
Born in 1925 and Borg's senior by 31 years, Swedish-born Bergelin was an accomplished tennis player in his day. A two-time Swedish National Champion, Bergelin won the German Championships in 1951; for eight straight years he was the star player of Sweden's Davis Cup team. After winding down his own playing career, he turned to coaching, becoming captain of the Swedish Davis Cup team from 1970 to 1975. From 1976 onward, Bergelin turned down the captain position, and focused exclusively on training Borg and managing the tennis star's career.
When Bergelin met 15-year-old Borg, he cautioned other coaches against trying to change the talented young player's two-handed backhand and rough-looking strokes. Neither did Bergelin counter Borg's decision to stick mostly to the baseline instead of developing his volleying skills. "It's difficult to tamper with success," Bergelin said in 1980's Bjorn Borg: My Life and Game.
After Borg, at 26, announced his retirement, he grew estranged from the coach who had been a father figure to him. When Borg attempted a comeback nine years later, the tennis star chose to train not with Bergelin, but with Welsh martial-arts guru Ron Thatcher, also known as Tia Honsai.