This is when training began in earnest, and early on Felix recognized that Neo had more untapped potential than any of the other boleritos. The relationship between Felix and Neo proved serendipitous. Felix taught Neo proper groundstrokes as well as tactics and strategy. Felix’s estimate of six months to beat the other ball kids ended up being way off: it only took Neo three months to separate himself from the rest of his group. Not only was this great news for Felix who had a star pupil to be proud of, but it also proved to work out very well for Neo. Right around this time, Felix spoke with Oscar de la Renta, who asked if Felix had any students who had what it takes to become a great tennis player. As you can probably surmise, Felix had one student in mind. With the help of Mr. de la Renta, Neo was given the opportunity to attend Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy, a selective academy in Florida that has trained the likes of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams. While at the academy, Neo received his high school diploma, awards for his outstanding tennis, and a scholarship to The Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Neo is currently attending that university for a degree in business administration and
plays both singles and doubles on the college tennis team.
While Neo and Felix are kindred spirits able to do what they love, Felix wanted me to mention that it takes an entire team of people in order to produce players like Neo. Neo’s story would not have been possible without the help of Frank Elias, Frank Rainieri, Moises and Oscar de la Renta, Maria and Jose Smith, Anita and Bill Parry, the Bianchessi family, Vanderhorst, Fernando Soler, Junior HP, Vera and Shailesh Jain, Jhanna and Carlos Torreira, Margarita Maria Pilier, Paul Anthony Beswick, and many, many more. While tennis is an individual sport, it truly takes a community to foster the boleritos and make the program possible.