Coaching: Developing Juniors to become World Class Seniors - UBITENNIS
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Coaching: Developing Juniors to become World Class Seniors




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



Twitter: @mikenwjames



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.


Ons Jabeur Acknowledges Mental Toughness Ahead Of Charleston Semi-Finals

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in her mental game as she heads into her fourth WTA semi-final in Charleston.




Ons Jabeur (@VolvoCarOpen - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in the mental parts of her game after reaching the Charleston semi-finals.


The Tunisian comfortably beat Coco Gauff 6-3 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the last four in Charleston.

It was a dominant performance from the world number 28 who broke on six occasions to set up a semi-final against Danka Kovinic.

However yesterday’s win was also evidence that Jabeur’s mental toughness has improved as in 2020, the Tunisian was 0-5 in quarter-final matches and 0-2 against Gauff having lost in Lexington and Rome to the American teenager.

Speaking after the victory, Jabeur admitted that it was nice to settle those demons last night, “Maybe this year is a revenge year for me,” Jabeur told the WTA website.

“Honestly, mentally-wise I’m much better. I’m getting there. I had my opportunities against her last year. She’s a great player. I know exactly what I’m going to face and I was ready for the battle.

“I’m glad that I’m playing good now. I know that clay is amazing and I gotta say, I have been enjoying sliding a lot lately. It’s the best part of the clay. I like the green clay. It’s different than the red clay but I like it. The bounce is not too high, it’s not too low. It’s a good balance for me.

“I’m just trying to play my game. I’m trying to enjoy after a very tough start to the season. A lot of expectations. I’m really glad I got to prove myself this week and I’m in the semi-finals.”

Jabeur will look to continue her good form in 2020 which saw her climb into the world’s top 30 and end the season with a 27-11 win-loss record.

Saturday will be Jabeur’s fourth WTA career semi-final and her first since 2019 where she reached the last four in Tianjin.

The meeting with Kovinic will be the first WTA Tour meeting of their career although Jabeur won their meeting on the ITF circuit in Budapest in 2018 6-2 6-1.

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Lorenzo Musetti’s Run Ended By Djere In Cagliari

Sonego, Fritz, Basilashvili, join Serb in semi-final line-up.




Laslo Djere (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Italian teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti’s run at the Sardegna Open was ended by Laslo Djere in an error-strewn match played out in tricky conditions.


The 19-year-old, who has looked in supreme form this week and ousted top seed Dan Evans in a second round thriller on Thursday, appeared to run out of steam in the deciding set as the Serb ran out a 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.

The strong gusts that have blown across the centre court all week at the Cagliari Tennis Club appeared to have saved their best efforts for this encounter, as both men seemed to be affected by the tricky conditions. Djere particularly struggled on his serve, offering up 8 double faults, but he was still able to take control of the final set as his young opponent faded.

Musetti will no doubt still be pleased with his work in Sardinia. He will be one to watch next week as a Wild Card at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he has been drawn against Aslan Karatsev in the first round, with a potential second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, third seed Lorenzo Sonego ensured there would still be an Italian representative in the last four as he came through against Yannick Hanfmann 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. The German started impressively and had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Sonego then recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the ensuing tie break to level proceedings, before going on to seal the win.

In the semi-finals Sonego will have the chance to gain revenge for his defeat in Doha last month to Taylor Fritz. The American second seed came through 6-3 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Aljaz Bedene.

Fritz appeared to be cruising at a set and a break up, with his opponent struggling to make an impact on the gangly American. It left Bedene somewhat uncharacteristically venting his frustration, but this seemed to work for the Slovenian as he was able to break back. It was Bedene’s serve that let him down at a crucial moment, two double faults at 3-3 helping to hand Fritz another crucial, and ultimately decisive, break.

The final semi-final spot was claimed by Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 under the floodlights in the final action of the day. Struff has struggled for form so far in 2021 but had looked solid so far this week, and the match-up led to some predictably entertaining rallies. After a tight first two sets, Doha champion Basilashvili was able to take advantage of some Struff errors early in the third, surging to a 3-0 lead. Despite a mini-fightback from the German, Basilashvili clung on to book a Saturday meeting with the unseeded Djere.

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Lorenzo Musetti Blasts ‘Disrespectful’ Evans After Reaching Cagliari Quarter-Finals

Lorenzo Musetti has called Dan Evans disrespectful after reaching the Cagliari quarter-finals.




Lorenzo Musetti (@atptour - Twitter)

Lorenzo Musetti has hit out at Dan Evans after beating him to reach the last eight in Cagliari.


The Italian rising star defeated Evans in a tight contest 6-1 1-6 7-6(8) to reach the quarter-finals in Cagliari.

Musetti saved four match points having been 4-0 and 6-3 down in the final set tiebreak before rallying back to claim victory.

However after the match there was an unusual celebration from the 19 year-old, who threw his racket into the ground.

Clearly frustrated, the Italian made it known after the match that he didn’t appreciate Evans’ attitude, “There are respectful experienced players on the pitch. Others like Evans, they try to use my youth to shoot (win) matches,” Musetti was quoted as saying by TennisHead in his post-match press conference.

“But it’s all experience for me. Evans disrespected me. I don’t want to be treated like a young man. It was really tough. I was 3-6 down in the tiebreak and he was playing good, always going to the net and always aggressive.

“I tried to stay calm and tried to play each point. That is what I did and it worked, so I am really happy and really proud of myself with this win.”

During the match, Evans implemented some unusual return positioning in the second set which is what may have upset the Italian.

However the main thing is Musetti is now into the quarter-finals in Cagliari as he continues his rise among tennis’ elite.

The Italian has already beaten the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov as he has already broken into the top 100.

Musetti will play Laslo Djere of Serbian in the last eight on Friday.

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