Spain Update

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”

Pat Cash Signs on to Help Aussie Kids

Australian tennis legend Pat Cash has signed with Tennis Australia to work with top junior players during 2010.
“I love coaching and I’m enjoying the opportunity to work with Tennis Australia and helping to bring on their top young players,” Pat Cash said.
Cash spent last week on the clay courts of Barcelona, joining former top ten player and AIS coach Felix Mantilla, and Tennis Australia’s head of men’s tennis, Todd Woodbridge, to hit with the next generation of Australian players.
“I am delighted to be working with some really talented kids and helping improve their game. It’s been a good week and I’ve enjoyed the stay in Barcelona,” Cash said.
“Australia has high expectations in sport and I hope my involvement with TA  will help to drive the next generation to major tennis success.”
Members of the AIS Pro Tour program Sean Berman (VIC) and Jason Kubler (QLD), along with talented 14/u players Thanasi Kokkinakis (SA), Li Tu (SA), Jay Andrijic (NSW) and Blake Mott (NSW) from the National Academies all enjoyed the opportunity to work with the former world No. 4.
“It was great to have Pat join the team for our clay court camp here in Barcelona,” Todd Woodbridge said.
“Each day we had the boys out on court with Pat and Felix [Mantilla] and worked them hard. Pat’s influence on how to be the best professional was great.  His experience on how to prepare on court, what’s needed physically and mentally as well as nutritionally, adds enormously to the boys’ development.”

Tennis Australia’s Director of Tennis, Craig Tiley said, “We are very pleased to have Pat on board and joining our terrific team of coaches and former players.
“Last year Pat coached a group of our top boys in Morocco and it’s great we have been able to expand his contribution for this year.”
Next month Cash will head to Ipswich in Queensland to work with a mix of AIS and National Academy athletes during the festival of claycourt tennis at the new George Alder Tennis Centre.
Events in Ipswich include Optus National Championships in both 12/u and 14/u age groups, the Ipswich Pro Tour event and the ITF Gallipoli Youth Cup, for which Cash is Ambassador.
Mid- year Cash will take to the court with players in the UK as part of their preparation for the grasscourt season,  and later in the year will do further work with AIS and National Academy athletes. Tennis Australia.

Mott’s Latest from Spain

Firstly things are going well over here. We’ve had some bad weather so we haven’t gotten on court as much as we’d like, but the weather is better now and we have had some good off court training. See pictures inside this site.

“Blake is going really well. You have done good job he is really good kid and you can see him maturing everyday. I think the trip is very good for him. He is getting along well with all the kids and learning alot from Felix and Pat. Also Todd arrived yesterday so he will get to spend some time with him also”.

“He played one of the better Spanish kids in the region yesterday of his age. Lost the first set 7-5 but stormed home and won the second set 6-2 and then beat him in “super” tie break. It will take him a while to get used to the courts. Both Felix and Pat have been impressed with his attitude and play”.

“So here are picture we have. In the big group photo, you will notice standing next to Pat and Felix is Albert Costa. He is French Open champ and current Spanish Davis Cup captain. Hope your well and speak soon”. Michael Tebbutt.

Blake goes courtside with Lleyton at Australian Open 2010


Hewitt personally invited Mott to attend his training session ahead of the Australian No1 star’s second-round match against Donald Young.

“I couldn’t believe it when Jaslyn (Lleyton Hewitt’s sister) told me she had a voice message from Lleyton to get Blake on the court with him,” Mott said.

“Spending this time with Lleyton’s team and coach Nathan Healey was the best experience of my life. I was able to attend the match in Rod Laver Arena sitting behind the Hewitt Camp and getting a feel of the atmosphere from a position most people dream of.”

Blake hits with former US Open Champion Pat Rafter

PROMISING Bulli tennis player Blake Mott had the self-described best week of his life, attending a training session with Lleyton Hewitt and warming up Sam Stoser for her big clash at the Australian Open in Melbourne this year.

Stoser’s coach Dave Taylor asked Mott if he would lend a hand during Stoser’s warm-up before her match with Serena Williams.

Mott was attending the Australian Open as part of the 2010 National Performance Academy Camp.

He has also secured a full-time scholarship with the AIS in Sydney under full-time coach and former tour player Sandon Stolle.

Besides sharing time with Australia’s top male and female singles players, Mott had another highlight. Former US Open champion Pat Rafter also asked to have a hit with him at Australia’s grand slam.

While he was heading back to Sydney by car the Bulli teenager received the surprise call.

“I got a call to get back to the Open – Pat Rafter would like to hit with me at 3pm that day”. His dad Terry doing a U-turn on the Hume Highway was a dream come true for Mott, to be heading back to hit with a former world number one in Pat Rafter.

Date: 11/02/2010
Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Sport
Page: 40