As we approach the end of year one, I have to say I am extremely encouraged and excited by the progress the team has made and what better way to see the progress in action than with a couple of our players here at the greatest tournament in the world, Wimbledon.
Joshua Ward Hibbert who has been with us for a year and started ranked outside the top 500 has shown great improvements with wins over world number 17, and is now inside the worlds top 140 Juniors. He is a testament to what we are setting up at the Academy with his work ethic on the court and humbleness and attitude off the court. These improvements were shown this week after he gratefully received a Wild Card into the Junior Event at Wimbledon and went on to beat world junior number 17 in front of 1000 people on court 12. In the same match Josh broke the record for fastest Junior serve ever recorded, with a 133 mph bomb going off.. he over took some guy called Tsonga! You may not know him, but Roger Federer does! Tomorrow we have STA Access player Liam Broady competing in the quarter finals of the Junior Event at Wimbledon and what an exciting prospect Liam is. His coach Mark Hilton has done a brilliant job with him and on the back of his success at the ITF in Roehampton last week do not be surprised to see him on your TV screens for years to come. Josh is through to the last 16 of the doubles too which he plays tomorrow. Great experiences and well deserved for both players..
Andrew Fitzpatrick is working his way through the rankings and had some success out in Japan Futures to move inside the world top 850.
Our younger pre-academy players are more than holding their own, and have introduced themselves to competitions in Andalucia and are taking to the tournaments very well…
Luke Hammond, who is a player I have coached since he was 6 years old and who accesses the Academy, made me extremely proud the other day when winning the Under 12 UK National Clay Court title; who would have thought it when he was breaking my cones in footwork exercises all those years ago.. Still a long journey ahead of course at this age, but nice to get some well deserved success.
These are some notable successes for the Academy players, but on a wider note, I am excited to announce the arrival of 2 great new coaches on-board the STA Team.
Dominic Mahboubi brings years of experience on the WTA, ATP, ITF tours as well as 8 years working at Barcelona Total Tennis where Francois Raoux (Rafael Nadals coach) was his mentor. Nathan Rooney will also be joining the team and has years of experience playing to a high level, and has been travelling and coaching top players on the ITF and ATP tours, and like Dominic, will be a brilliant addition to the team.
We are all excited to have them on board and this will enable us to continue striving for excellence including more quality individualised programmes, more teams on the road and, all in all, a better service to our players and groups who come to the Academy.
Now that I have given a little update on things at STA, I wanted to also briefly discuss what I have picked up these last 2 weeks at Wimbledon from the top players, whom it has been a pleasure to be around and amazing for our younger players including Liam, who got the opportunity to hit with Novak Djokovic. Our Head of Sports Science, Nick Morgan was asking me last night what these top players were like and 2 words came to mind; Impressive and Comfortable.
Impressive in stature; these guys are serious athletes and have spent many years getting themselves like this. Impressive in their court demeanour by creating an aura around themselves. Impressive how they deal with people, the fans, and the younger players; ensuring they all have time for the younger players – Nadal has hit with a junior every day at Wimbledon and always has time to speak to them. Djokovic was giving Liam some advice and sharing stories with Liam’s coach Mark. Impressive how easily they make the game of tennis look; their efficiency of movement and technique makes the game look so easy.
They are comfortable with who they are on and off the court and in front of the cameras. They look like they belong when walking onto that Centre Court, almost `at home`. When made to stretch for the ball they move so well and look so comfortable on the ball, like they have so much time even when the ball is coming at over 130 mph. Comfortable with their team around them; I have seen them all share jokes with their `entourages` and look genuinely happy in their company.
Two vital ingredients to becoming a champion and maybe the glue to bring all of these ingredients together is BELIEF. Let me share a story told by Novak Djokovic to Mark Hilton this week during a practice session. Novak said “ there are some amazing players in the futures events, some really great players who never make it out of this level, they get stuck! The difference between us top guys and those who are still at their level is the belief we all have and this has helped us get to where we are today”
He didn’t talk about hitting the ball harder, with a different grip, he talked about the belief it takes.. and who are we to argue with a man who has lost 1 match from 47 this year and may well be the 2011 Mens Wimbledon Champion…
Play to Win!
Director, SotoTennis Academy
Inspiring Excellence | Tennis Academy Spain