Former top junior, college and professional tennis player and coach Jess Lehnhoff started her college placement company , Lehnhoff Tennis International in 2014 after she noticed Swedish junior players needing help with the American college recruiting process. Here was a great opportunity that many young Swedish players missed out on simply because they didn’t understand how the system worked.
Thanks to her tennis career at the University of Florida, where she was ranked #1 in the nation and a seven-time All-American, Jess had developed close friendships with college coaches in the United States. Many of her ex-teammates and friends had also turned to coaching college tennis. They were always asking Jess if she knew of players that would fit into their schools.
And so, despite Jess having no formal business experience, LTI was born. The need was simply too great. The lack of knowledge and resources in Sweden relating to college tennis motivated Jess to do something about it. Jess took the same tenacity and perseverance that she displayed on the tennis court throughout her career and applied it to her company.
Just as Jess fought for every point during her playing career, so too would she fight for every kid that joined LTI, helping them find a college that best fit their goals. So far, Jess’s dedication has paid off. Since the start of 2014, LTI boasts a 100% success rate in placing its clients in universities across the United States. What makes LTI unique is that it focuses its efforts on only Swedish tennis players. With this approach, each client can be rest assured of always receiving a high level of service, expertise, and attention. Some of the Universities LTI student athletes have attended are ; Dartmouth, St. John's, University of San Francisco, Davidson, St Thomas Aquinas, Concordia, SCAD Atlanta, University of Montana, Cal State LA, University of Iowa, University of Utah, Montana State University, Hofstra University, St. Edwards University, Rockhurst University, UNCG, Skidmore, among many others. Currently, LTI has access to hundreds of Division 1, Division 2, Division 3 as well as NAIA & JUCO coaches.
Jess hopes that all of her clients will have the same rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience that she had playing for the University of Florida. With her unwavering dedication and wise approach to choosing colleges perfect for each individual player, chances are high that Jess’s clients will find rewarding opportunities playing tennis at american colleges just as she did.
Born and raised in Guatemala City, Jess Lehnhoff first picked up a tennis racket at the age of five thanks to her three older brothers. The four siblings shared a wooden racket, fighting over whose turn it was to hit the ball against the wall in their neighborhood club.
By the age of nine, Jess was no longer simply smacking tennis balls against a backboard. While representing her country in tournaments throughout Central America, she achieved the #1 ranking in the under-10s, 12s and 14s division in Guatemala.
Jess’s family moved to Florida when she was 11 and, three years later, she became the #1 ranked 14-and-under player in the US as well as the world.
As a 14-year-old, Jess won every national and international tournament entered, including the prestigious Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl titles, and was honored as the Florida Player of the Year. She was also featured in Tennis Magazine as America’s # 1 All-Time Junior Player from 1990-2000, just ahead of Lindsay Davenport with #2 ranking and Chanda Rubin at #3.
When she was 16 years old, Jess was ranked #1 in the US and #11 in the ITF world rankings. That year, she took home the Orange Bowl doubles title and reached the semifinals in singles.
Not one to peak early, Jess kept improving and, by the age of 18, she was ranked #1 in the US and #9 in the ITF (world) rankings. She competed in Roland Garros, US Open, and Wimbledon, and was chosen for an exhibition match in Japan alongside Jennifer Capriati, Chanda Rubin and Monica Seles. It was a profound experience that gave her a glimpse into the real lives of professional tennis players.
In 1998, at 18 years of age, Jess began competing in professional tournaments as an amateur. The biggest win of her young career came against Sonya Jeyaseelan, the 94th ranked player in the WTA at that time.
Having been recruited by many top universities in the US, Jess struggled with the tough decision of whether to turn pro or go to college. But the moment she stepped foot on the University of Florida campus, her mind was made up. She would be a Gator no matter how many critics told her to turn pro.
As part of the top ranked college team in the nation, Jess’s tennis improved greatly thanks in no small part to the university’s resources. The coaches, nutritionists, tutors, sports psychologists, fitness and athletic trainers, contributed greatly to her success. Using those tremendous resources as much as possible, Jess worked the hardest she had ever worked in her tennis and fitness and remained committed everyday to improving. Her junior year at UF, Jess and doubles partner Whitney Laiho went undefeated on their way to becoming NCAA doubles champions. As a wildcard at the US Open Doubles Championships, they reached the round of 16, tying the best US Open record for any collegiate player, before losing to Navratilova/Sanchez-Vicario. For their hard work and success on the court, Jess and Whitney were named National Doubles Team of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
By her senior year, Jess had been named captain of the Florida tennis team, which she led to the NCAA team finals. As the nation’s top-ranked player in singles and doubles, Jess won both titles at the All-American Championships, achieving such a feat for only the third time in history. Jess then went on to make the NCAA singles finals, playing an unprecedented 18 matches in ten days.
Jess graduated from the University of Florida as a 3-time grand slam champion, a 7-time All-American, the southeastern conference player of the year award winner, and ITA national senior Player of the Year. She also won the following awards:
After college, with her TV and Film production degree complete, Jess turned pro. In less than three years on the tour, Jess won more than 10 pro tournaments and reached the ranking of 166 in singles and 105 in doubles. She competed in the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. As a member of the Guatemalan Federation Cup team in 2007 and 2008, she led the team to its best ever showing, while playing #1 singles and doubles.
Since retiring from professional tennis following a couple of wrist surgeries, Jess has coached for over 10 years in various locations, including Florida, New York, London and Sweden. She is PTR certified and coaches players of all skill levels, specializing in junior players with professional aspirations as well as players in need of technical stroke modifications.
She has coached some of Sweden’s top junior players, leading them to their first ever National titles as well as International (ITF titles). She has also coached ATP players, traveling with them to various tournaments around the world and leading them to some of their best wins on the pro tour. Jess is currently coaching a group of Sweden's top juniors, as well as managing and directing her college placement company that she started in the beginning of 2014. It is Jess’s diverse experience as an athlete and coach that puts her in a unique position to unlock the potential in each and every client that she works with.
“I had the opportunity to coach Jess during her senior season at the University of Florida. That season she led the team to a 2nd Place finish in the National Championship. Jess received numerous individual awards including her 7th All-American Honor. However, it was her passion for the teams' success that makes her a special individual. Jess is the most talented athlete I have ever coached. Her knowledge for the game is remarkable. Over the years she has developed the ability to communicate her understanding for the game and pass it on to those she comes in contact with. Jess has a world class work ethic, and a drive you don't often see in people. She has the ability to motivate those around her, and uses her charismatic personality and humor. Jess is hard working, smart, trustworthy, and highly motivated. Above all, she is also a fine person and well-respected in the tennis community. She has truly earned my respect.”
"Mike and I grew up playing tennis with Jess since we were 12 years old. We traveled the world together as juniors and have the utmost respect for her as a player, but more importantly as a person. There isn't a nicer, more hard working and talented player/coach out there."
"Jess is a very talented individual who I have known for over 15 years. She is caring, hard working and loyal to her friends and peers. I have no doubt that she puts in 100% with everything that she does. Jess has a ton of experience as she is an accomplished former pro player. Her knowledge of the game is profound and she would be a tremendous asset to anyone wanting to improve."