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Coaching: Developing Juniors to become World Class Seniors

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TENNIS COACHING – Mike James (GPTCA International Coach) analyses what is necessary for a player to develop from a junior player to a world class senior. The player, the coach and the parents must work together in the quest for excellence.

 

You simply cannot predict with certainty which junior players on the Tennis Europe and ITF circuit will will or will not come through to become world class seniors.

In this article I will give you my thoughts on basic principles that are essential in helping players to attain the goal of making it to International senior Tennis. Making the future a bit more predictable rather than a lot less so.

The three most significant partners in the quest for excellence, are the Coach, the Player and last but not least the Parents. To have a relationship with an open & honest communication that all parties “buy in” to this Commitment to Excellence and work hard day in and day out is vital for the players transition. Excellence starts from the moment the player gets up in the morning and dedicates their time in preparing for the day eating the right foods with nutritional value through static stretching before training and treating the warm up as an integral part of the on court session.

Caring for the Athlete as a Person and understanding what makes them perform at their optimum level as the coach is vital for success. Other members of the team built around the player, should always consider the player first and winning second and have the unique ability to show empathy and understanding in all situations.

Allowing the player to create and hold the ownership of success and to let them aspire to be the best they can be is key through out their Tennis journey.

Key components that the player must have are:

  • Have groundstrokes that allow them to hit through the court & damage off both wings.
  • Can constantly defend with quality to turn the point around
  • Have a character that can deal with adversity week in and week out

From a psychical as point of view “any player making the transition from the junior to the senior tour is challenging. Players need great robustness to reduce the chance of injury and be able to compete at a higher intensity for longer durations. Therefore greater conditioning is likely to be required. Players need to manage their bodies to maintain longevity and understand that although missing particular tournaments may reduce the likelihood of picking up ranking points, long term planning rest and regeneration is essential” (Science in Tennis 2014)

Mentally there are “two areas that young players breaking into the senior game should look closely at are self-awareness and resilience. Regarding self-awareness, players need to understand exactly what gets them in the best frame of mind to perform at this new level. Players must be clear on their areas to improve and, more importantly, their strengths in every aspect of their game. It is also critical for the player to understand the type of preparation they have to do in order to be emotionally prepared for battle each time they step on court. To improve self-awareness players should think about their role models, goals and ambitions, values and philosophy, and the strongest areas of their personality.

In the critical early stages of their senior career players must be prepared to fail and encouraged to learn from these failures. Resilience is about accepting adversity and learning something from every setback. Resilient players will have a consistent effort level regardless of the challenges they face. They will have a positive attitude to training and competition and view negative situations as opportunities rather than obstacles. Their emotional responses to problems, while not always positive, will be controlled and directed towards finding a solution.”(Grand Slam Sport 2014)

The above thoughts and points are not exclusive for a players development though are the most important ones and would serve as a good template of self examination by any coach who really wants to help turn a Quality Junior into a World Class Senior.

By Mike James (click here for his articles on Ubitennis)

Director of Matchpoint Management

Academy Coach MyTennis

Email: mnwjames@gmail.com

Website: www.mikenwjames.com

Twitter: @mikenwjames

 

References:

Grand Slam Sport: Chris Bradley is currently a trainee Sport Psychologist, working towards Chartered Status with Sheffield Hallam University. He has completed both BSc and MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology. He is also Managing Director of Grand Slam Performance Ltd, a Sport Psychology Provider. Since graduating Chris has worked with varying levels of athletes in a range of sports. He is currently consultant to Middlesbrough and Sheffield United FC and works with several tennis players. He has previously worked in Motorsport and in Rugby League at Castleford Tigers RLFC.

Science in Tennis: Jonny Frasier (click here for his articles on Ubitennis) has a wealth of experience in tennis having been a strength and conditioning coach for over six years,having worked with a range of players from mini tennis to full time professionals competing at Grand Slams. Jonny is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, corrective exercise, performance enhancement specialist and certified tennis performance specialist whilst being a tennis licensed coach having worked with a host of players. He is also a certified tennis performance specialist with the International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA). Academically he has an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science from Sheffield Hallam University and has also taught at Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield College on the Sports Coaching degree.

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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Championship Sunday

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Paula Badosa earlier this week at Indian Wells (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Sunday’s men’s and women’s singles championship matches feature a two-time champion and three first-time finalists at this level.  Victoria Azarenka won this event in 2012 and 2016, two of 10 WTA 1000 titles to her credit.  Paula Badosa, Cam Norrie, and Nikolaz Basilashvili are all vying for the biggest title of their careers, during what has become their best seasons to date.

 

Paula Badosa (21) vs. Victoria Azarenka (27)  – 1:00pm on Stadium 1

For Azarenka, this result is a bit of a surprise, despite all she’s achieved in the sport.  Her record of 28-8 is more than solid, but she’s dealt with multiple injuries throughout 2021, forcing her to withdraw during five different events.  This is her first final since nearly a full year ago in Ostrava. 

For Badosa, this result has been expected for some time.  She’s been most impressive this season, accumulating 40 match wins, and a record of 10-3 against the top 20.  Paula herself will debut inside the top 20 on Monday, and would be just a few points shy of the top 10 with a win on Sunday.

Azarenka will attempt to win her first final since April of 2016.  While she was the champion of last year’s Western & Southern Open, she received a walkover in the championship match from Naomi Osaka.  Vika is 0-3 in her last three finals, all on hard courts.  This is only the second WTA final for Badosa, who claimed the title in Belgrade this past May on clay.  Based on the way the Spaniard has been clubbing her groundstrokes, and her comfort level on these slow-playing courts, I’m going with Badosa to win the second title of her young career.

Cameron Norrie (21) vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (29)  – Not Before 4:00pm on Stadium 1

Norrie has been one of the most surprising and remarkable stories of 2021.  Prior to this season, he had never been ranked inside the top 40.  But like Badosa, he will debut in the top 20 on Monday, thanks to a record of 46-20 on the year. 

Basilashvili has made news for other reasons, as he was arrested last year on domestic abuse allegations from his former wife.  On the tennis court, he’s been quite streaky this season.  Between January and March, he went on a five-match losing streak before winning the title in Doha, which includes victories over Roger Federer and Roberto Bautista Agut.  He was also the champion in Munich, and came through qualifying to reach the semis in Halle.

Basilashvili’s last loss before his successful run in Doha was at the hands of Norrie, who prevailed 6-0, 6-3 in Rotterdam.  Cam has dominated his last two matches this week in similar fashion, defeating Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov while dropping only eight games across four sets.  The Brit has now won his last six semifinals, but his record in finals in striking different.  He’s only 1-4 this year in championship matches, and lost to Casper Ruud two weeks in San Diego 6-0, 6-2.  Meanwhile, Nikoloz has taken his last five finals, dating back to July of 2018.  With the biggest title of their careers on the line, Basilashvili is the favorite to utilize his powerful groundstrokes to secure victory.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Grigor Dimitrov after his quarterfinal win on Thursday (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Saturday’s men’s singles semifinals are quite surprising, featuring four players ranked outside the world’s top 25.  Cam Norrie and Grigor Dimitrov will square off in the first semi, in a rematch from earlier this season in Miami.  The second semifinal is also a rematch from March of this year, as Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz actually played in back-to-back weeks seven months ago, during the two weeks when this tournament normally takes place.

 

Also on Saturday, the men’s and women’s doubles championship matches will be contested.  The women’s final will start the day at 11:00am local time, while the men’s final will close out play after the singles semifinals are completed.

Cameron Norrie (21) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (23)  – Not Before 1:30pm on Stadium 1

What a breakout season this has become for Cam Norrie.  The Brit is now 45-20 this year, and has been victorious in his last five semifinals.  Since his run to the final of San Diego two weeks ago, Cam has defeated four top 20 players: Shapovalov, Rublev, Bautista Agut, and Schwartzman.  Dimitrov also gained crucial momentum in San Diego, advancing to the semis and narrowly going down in defeat to eventual champion Casper Ruud.  Prior to that, 2021 had been a poor season for Grigor, as he was only 15-14.  Dimitrov’s last two wins this week were his most impressive in a long time.  He first came back from a set and two breaks down against top-seeded Medvedev, then survived a third-set tiebreak against Hubert Hurkacz.  When Norrie and Dimitrov met at the Miami Masters event in March, Cam prevailed 7-5, 7-5.  In the last round, Norrie simply walloped Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2.  Based on his current level of play, I like Cam to win his sixth straight semifinal.

Nikoloz Basilashvili (29) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – Third on Stadium 1

What a comeback Fritz staged on Friday.  Down 5-2 in the third and two match points against a red-hot Sascha Zverev, he fought back to eventually prevail in a tiebreak for what was the best and most exciting win of his career.  Taylor has now taken out three consecutive top 15 players: Zverev, Sinner, and Berrettini.  Basilashvili had compiled an up-and-down year, but when he’s on, he’s been tough to defeat.  He’s already claimed two titles this year, in Doha and Munich.  It was in Doha where Basilashvili overcame Fritz in the semifinals.  A week later, Fritz avenged that loss in Dubai, in a match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Their only other meeting occurred four years ago in Chengdu, when Taylor won as a qualifier ranked 94th in the world.  Coming off the emotional high of his huge, thrilling victory on Friday, I expect it will be difficult for the American to recover and be at his best on Saturday.  That leaves Nikoloz with an enormous opportunity to reach the biggest final of his career, and he possesses strong groundstrokes which enable him to dictate the outcome.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2) vs. Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Rybakina – Hsieh and Mertens are looking for their second title as a team, after prevailing at Wimbledon in July.  Kudermetova and Rybakina just began teaming in August, when they reached the semifinals in Canada.

John Peers and Filip Polasek (7) vs. Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev – Peers and Polasek were finalists two weeks ago in San Diego.  The Russians have won their last eight matches as a team, dating back to their title run in Qatar this past March.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daniil Medvedev Withdraws From Moscow

Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from Moscow as he looks to recover for the last two tournaments of the season.

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Daniil Medvedev (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from his home tournament in Moscow as he looks to get fully fit for the rest of the season.

 

The world number two suffered a disappointing exit in the fourth round of Indian Wells when he lost to Grigor Dimitrov from a set and 4-1 up.

After that disappointment Medvedev has decided to take some time off and therefore withdraw from the Kremlin Cup next week in Moscow.

Citing not being at 100% the Russian will now look to be fit for the rest of the season which ends at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, “Hello everyone! I am really sad to announce that this year I won’t be participating in Kremlin cup,” Medvedev announced on his social media platforms.

“It’s always special to have a chance to play in front of Russian fans. I signed in to give myself best chances to play, but with calendar this year being extremely tough I felt that my body is not ready 100% anymore.

“This decision was very tough for me but it has to be done in order to be able to finish 2021 season strong! Thank you and see all soon!”

Medvedev will next play the last Masters 1000 event in Paris-Bercy before finishing his season in Turin as he looks to finish his historic season with a flourish.

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