Raja Chaudhuri (pronounced RAH-zha CHOD-three) begins his second season as an assistant coach with the Gator women's tennis program. He joined the Gator coaching staff on August 1, 1998. Those around the courts know Chaudhuri as Raj (RAHZ).
"Last year was a learning year for Raj because he had never been around this type of tennis environment," head coach Andy Brandi said. "He did an excellent job last year and we will only get better as a staff now that he has one season under his belt."
"I enjoy working with players who are talented, have a good work ethic and are willing to push themselves to the highest level that they can possible reach. The type of athlete who comes to the University of Florida is that type of person, who has the commitment and desire to reach the next level," Chaudhuri continued. "I've worked with players who beginning professional careers and some who are already playing professionally and that's essentially what I am be doing here. The players on the Florida team are amazing student-athletes. Every one of them has the potential to become professional tennis players."
In addition to the usual duties of an assistant coach, Chaudhuri also was a hitting partner for the title-winning 1999 U.S. Fed Cup team, which featured Lindsey Davenport, Monica Seles, and Serena and Venus Williams.
Chaudhuri served as a senior staff professional from August 1996 through December 1997 at Van Der Meer Tennis University located in Hilton Head, S.C. He was a teaching professional at the facility, which is internationally recognized for programs that range from introductory level clinics to elite training, were he had worked since January 1994.
Current Gator junior Whitney Laiho came to UF via Van Der Meer.
"Raj has the experience of working with top level players and top level juniors and you need to have that kind of experience to be able to work with this program," Brandi said. "The years that he has spent at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy give him a lot of teaching credibility. His tennis knowledge is a wonderful asset to our program."
His responsibilities at Van Der Meer included preparing touring professionals (ATP/WTA) for tournaments, developing top juniors with national or ITF rankings and coaching players at junior and professional tournaments nationally and internationally. He also was responsible for organizing player tournament schedules, creating and monitoring fitness programs, providing private lessons and organizing, coordinating and teaching recreational clinics and events for all ages and levels.
While at Van Der Meer, Chaudhuri trained a number of tour professionals, including Grant Stafford (career-high rank ATP 56), Joanette Kruger (WTA 27) and Mariaan De Swardt (WTA 28).
From 1988-95, he was a teaching professional at Overland Park Racquet Club in Overland Park, Kan. During that time he also competed in professional tournaments.
He received in 1993 a B.A. in psychology from the University of Missouri, where he graduated cum laude. While at the school, Chaudhuri was the No. 1 singles and doubles player (1991-93) and served as team captain. He was candidate for the Big Eight All-Conference team in 1993 and was a Big Eight Scholar Athlete from 1991-93. He spent his freshman year at Kansas, before transferring to Missouri for his final three years.
At Pembroke Hill (Mo.) High School, Chaudhuri guided the 1988-89 squad to the state championship. His father, who is from Calcutta, India, and mother, who is from Bombay, India, came to live in Kansas City, Missouri, where Raj was born and raised. Both of his parents are physicians, as is his only sibling, an older sister, Pakhi.