Sam Fischer, 12, from Nashville, Tenn. takes in some instruction on Wednesday at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy.

Sam Fischer’s tennis ranking has been rising over the last year, and the seventh-grader wants to make sure he continues to climb the rankings ladder.

Fischer, 12, made the trip from his home in Nashville, Tenn., to New Braunfels to soak up the      deluge of tennis experience at John Newcombe’s Tennis Academy, or NEWKS, as it is referred to.

And Fischer said it was one of the best decisions of his young life.

“I’ve been working hard on all aspects of my game here at NEWKS,” Fischer said. “I came here to really focus on the mental side of tennis. I want to be able to maintain that focus at the end of matches.”

Hailed as a five-star recruit by, Fischer is ranked No. 4 in Tennessee and No. 74 nationally.

Fischer said he has already seen improvement from the personalized instruction Academy director Phil Hendrie said NEWKS is known for.

“We don’t coach all the kids the same way,” Hendrie said. “Tennis is such an individual sport, and we tailor our instruction to fit the student.

“That is something that we really hang our hat on (at NEWKS).”

The Academy welcomes roughly 100 new kids per week for a minimum three-week commitment during the summer, while the facility also offers a year-long program during the nine-month school year.

NEWKS also offers a week-long  junior tennis camps.

Students attend three-hour practices twice a day, daily fitness sessions, weight training twice a week, and matches every day, not to mention summer tournaments.

The Academy alumni association is like a who’s who in tennis, with former No. 1-ranked player Llewton Hewitt, Lukasz Kubot, Ryan Harrison, David Nalbandian, Mirjana Lucic and Li Na all in the 2011 Wimbledon draw.

Harrison won his first Wimbledon match last month, while the No. 6-ranked Li Na won the 2011 French Open singles title, making her the first Asian country representative to win a Grand Slam in singles.

The dream of playing on the ATP Tour is a good one to have, but Hendrie said most of the Academy students are getting ready for collegiate tennis.

“You always love to see a former student go on to the professional ranks,” Hendrie said. “But most of the kids just want to have the experience of playing college tennis.”

Fischer said he is focused on  improving his game, and not thinking too far into the future, but whatever happens, he intends his pilgrimage to NEWKS to be a yearly tradition.

“Right now, I love the game of tennis,” Fischer said. “And at NEWKS, you are around others who  love the game.

“I’ve had such a great time this year, that I am going to come even longer next year.”

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