So what happens the day before the best junior players in the world do battle for the top spots in the world, leading to big contracts, wild cards into the big events and in turn a CAREER which is what everyone is chasing in this sport (and it is not easy!)?
Well, Sunday is traditionally ‘sign-in’ day. This is when players arrive at the venue for last minute preparations, have a hit on the match courts and ‘sign-in’ to show that they are present and ready to play for the following day. As this is a Grade A event – there are 7 Grade A events through the year (the 4 grand slams plus Brazil in March, Japan in October and this one in Milan every May) – for some unknown reason you do not have to sign in. Strange, but true.
Sunday is also the day when the final round of qualifying is played – the day when those on the edge of the top 50 fight for the opportunity to show their worth against the best. You can guarantee one if not more of the qualifiers will go on a run in the main draw to quarters or beyond.. It always looks like an easier draw on paper to play someone ranked lower, but those that qualify have their eye in and have won 3 matches on the courts already, so are always dangerous. As it happens Josh will be playing Hayls from France who has qualified and will be a great challenge for Josh.
We have some notes on him from our team in Australia and as Josh has a day off tomorrow (well, a day off from playing matches), we will spend time going through tactics and making sure the research is done and that Josh is clear on his game style and how it fits against his opponent.
Josh is very much still in his development stage and we will spend lots of time looking for a performance the JWH way- this is important for Josh that he has a clear mind approaching the match. We will then decide together on a couple of areas we want specific feedback on and I will (or I will ask another one of the UK Coaches) to chart a specific area, so we can measure his improvements. I will also be getting some video footage for us to look at – technology these days makes it so much easier to get that instant feedback; the big majority of us are visual learners this is a great tool to have…And the player can’t argue with you when you are watching it together on screen!
Back to ‘sign-in’ Sunday. Today was a little different as it rained and it rained and it…rained! The boys got some court time this morning, but not as much as we would have liked, as the indoor courts were being used for matches. So this afternoon, we came out in the drizzle and set about some short physical work.. We did not want to kill the guys, but it is important they are mentally and physically active, so we warmed up well and fired up some sprints followed by a non-contact game of footy. We allowed the players to win 5-4 to build confidence and keep them happy…honest!
Then back for food, a chat through Josh’s programme, as we have not seen him for a couple of weeks and a general touch base catch up.
Tomorrow is another day, preparation is key, we know it is supposed to rain, so we have booked the only indoor courts available at another club for 9.30 to make sure our guys get court time. Who knows, these little edges may pay dividends come the end of the week, and if not end of the week most certainly over the next 5-8 years, as long as the players keep pushing for the extra edge. The ones who do – remember their names!
Play to Win
Director, SotoTennis Academy
Inspiring Excellence | Tennis Academy Spain