It’s the time of year where many sit down and reflect on their year just gone, we all sit down and watch SPOTY on the BBC, we start thinking about our New Years Resolutions and importantly it is the one time of the year that we all stop and spend time with our families and loved ones.
The question is often asked of a Tennis Academy, was it a successful year? I guess this question can only really be answered if you have clear measurements in place of what success is to look like. In some fields, I guess this really is pretty simple to define. Let’s take the recent high profile sacking of Jose Mourinho, no one can argue that he hasn’t had an incredibly ‘successful’ Managerial career to date. How is he judged? By the number/frequency of trophies he wins. Six months after taking Chelsea to a Premier League/Carling Cup Double he was fired for not bringing enough ‘success’ to the club this season. This shows the black and white nature of football at this level. Winning and losing are the most important measures for a club owner (as this links to the financial gain for the club).
If we were to look at that here at STA I would say we have a great ‘success’ (in line with our goals set) throughout 2015. This has not come without lots of failure and heartache and not without hours of endless work put in behind closed doors by the players and staff alike.
So here it is in numbers… Go!
26 of which were at the Andalucia Circuit here in Spain
3 National Titles
And 24 International Titles…Wow, that’s a nice reflection!
26 internationally ranked players
Of which …
8 Tennis Europe
10 ITF Juniors
1 Davis Cup Representative
3 players represented their countries
At a private Tennis Academy this can’t be the only measure of success when we are dealing with children of 5 through to professional Tennis Players aged 22, but rest assured it is an important measure for us at the Academy, as we can’t get away (and don’t want too) from the gladiatorial nature of the sport as one does battle again another, no holds bars, no outside ‘help’ allowed, just me and you. It is not for the faint-hearted when we talk about ‘mental toughness’.
That being said, we very much pride ourselves on what we believe are also very important measures of a Tennis Academy.
Player welfare/happiness – A player spends 25% of their day on the court/in the gym looking to directly improve/develop their ‘performance’, but what about the ‘other’ 75% which we know is so pivotal in terms of their overall development as a person and in turn their mindset going into their 25% performance work. A big challenge for us or any international Tennis Academy, but a challenge we take very seriously.
Player development – I was recently fortunate enough to spend a few days with Louis Cayer (LTA Head of Performance Tennis & Davis Cup 2015 Winning Coach) who talked to me about ‘developing’ a player being very different to ‘improving’ a player. And I couldn’t agree more. We need to have the ‘vision’ as a tennis coach of what we want our players to look like: act like, think like, play like and much more before we can put the ‘stepping stones’ in place to develop this player.
Keeping Options Open for Life- When your player is 18 years old, are they in a position where they have options? Here at STA we set up an initiative called ‘BE KOOL’ which stands for ‘Keeping Options Open 4 Life’. The main objective of the programme is to ensure that our players have all the relevant information in what their options are through the benefits that tennis gives them in terms of network and transferable skills. This links into the 2nd objective which is for players to develop a perspective on their tennis careers which we believe leads to the ‘performing’ better in the here and now.
Over the last three years, we have had 12 players graduate from the Academy to go to a US College Scholarship, which is the small matter of $1,000,000 in value over the 4 years. A fantastic return on all that emotional, financial investment from players and parents alike.
Coachable kids are employable kids – Through environment and strength of values within a programme, great things can be achieved in terms of the type of ‘people’ that come out of your programme.
This is a day-to-day driver in our programme here at STA through our Performance Behaviours that we demand from players and coaches alike.
Last, and certainly not least, as I reflect on 2015, how can I go without mentioning the Worlds Best Tennis Nation, the 2015 Davis Cup Champions! What a year it has been for British Tennis led off the court by Coach Leon Smith who showcased the value of teamwork and believing in each other, to the on-court leader Andy Murray whose years of dedication and determination came flooding out in each tie as the year went on. Like a steamroller leaving all in his wake, NO-ONE was going to prevent him lifting the famous trophy. A fantastic opportunity for British Tennis to build on, and that I am sure they will do, but spare a thought for where the nucleus of their team spent their formative years developing their game, outside and mainly on the clay courts in Spain.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and thank you for your continued support you give us here at STA.
Here is to Happy and Healthy 2016. From there on in it is up to you.
Control the Controllables
Director, SotoTennis Academy
Inspiring Excellence | Tennis Academy Spain