We have all had a fantastic time in Barcelona. We had some issues when we first arrived, as it snowed more than anyone can ever remember in one day, which was highly unusal for this time of year. But for some of the boys who had never seen snow before it turned into a great experience. We also had a great Sunday where we went and had tapas with all the young kids, the AIS boys, and all the coaches including Felix and Pat. We then went on to Sagrada Familia, which is the famous Gaudi church. it was amazing place, and Cashie, having seen a documentary on it before, explained some of the history to the boys.
Once the weather cleared we had some really good training sessions. The main purpose for these young boys to come over here, was to learn from Felix clay court movement, patterns of play, and the importance of consistency on any surface. In the first week we did a lot of footwork work, including a lot on the right way to slide to the ball, both on offense and defense. Felix has been great, really patient, but tough on the young boys, and they have repsonded really well to his instruction. He has also taught the guys a little Spanish along the way, and they have all given it a go, with Blake Mott being the one who has been trying hardest.
Cashie was great the first week also. I think he really enjoys working with the young ones. The kids were really in awe of him in the beginning, but Pat was really open with them, and before long they were really comfortable around him and asking alot of questions. Pat worked with them on volley technique, and the results were pretty immediate. But he also did quite a few agility sessions with them and talked about the importance of stretching, keeping a well-being diary, and something that really resonated with the kids, of not placing too much importance on winning in practice, and treating as exactly as it is, practice. He also gave all the boys signed chequered headbands, which a few of the boys felt the need to put it in a safe!
Todd has also been fantastic. He spent a lot of time on technique with the kids, and also did alot of work on point constrction, shot selection, and court positioning at net.
Rudy Sopko, the trainer, was also awesome here. especially during the first week when we weren’t able to spend much time on court.
Here are some quotes from the boys.
Jay Andrijic (NSW)
“One of the great things about this trip has been talking to Felix about his experiences at my age, and how he had trouble with his emotions at the same age, and how once he got then in check, he was able to go down the path that eventually got him to top 10 in world. As someone who struggles with emotions sometimes during matches, it’s great to relate to those experiences.”
Blake Mott (NSW)
“It’s been unreal learning from three guys who have been at the top of the game for a long time. Its amazing to me how relaxed they are, and it shows me that it’s important that to be a top player you also have to be relaxed when competing.”
Li Tu (SA)
“It has been great experience and I’ve learned from each of them. Felix has helped me with my serve, Cash with my volley, and Todd has shown me how to move through the ball at net among other things.”
Thanasis Kokkanasis (SA)
“I have gained a lot of confidence from being around these champions of the game. They have been really generous with thier time, and them taking time to show me what they have learned, has given me the confidence to be a pro one day.”
Lastly, as a coach it has been great for me. I played against all these guys on the circuit, but have never talked tennis like these few weeks. And I have picked up many things from each of them. The more time our young guys can spend with all three the better. Each coach is really suited to working with young guys as they really soak up the info passed along to them, and they communicate really well with them both on professional and personal level. I’m looking forward to more weeks like this.
Michael Tebbutt, National Academy Coach Sydney. “Tennis Australia”