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Strokemaster My Tennis Life From the Coach


The volley can be a lethal weapon in any player’s arsenal. Here you can see how world No.1 Serena Williams uses this shot to full effect.

What do you see?

Head is balanced and eyes are focused on the contact zone Wrist is stable and strings are aligned towards her target Racquet face is slightly open for the low incoming ball and to impart backspin on the volley Hips are low to suit the level of the incoming ball Forward movement generates power at impact




An invaluable experience at the AFL’s Richmond Football Club helped shape some of Marc Sophoulis’ philosophies at high performance coaching levels. His tennis students now benefit from training methods that offer a disciplined mindset and high intensity work rate.

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ATIONS C ertif ic QUALIFIC ce Ten n is coa ch , 4 in Tra in in g n a te a rm ic h 2 011 , ertif Perfo a ch in g , C S ta r C oa c Sports C o sin g , TCAV Risin g g Fa cilitator, s a n d A s se tra lia Lea d Lea rn in pment coa ch s lo Ten n is Au tra lia Ta lent Deve s l, Ten n is Au nis Schoo ational Ten rn te In e rn elbou VENUE: M g College n Maribyrno s, nnis Award l 2012 oo ustralian Te OTHER: A tanding Tennis Sch Most Outs

Control the present I

started playing tennis as a five year old with my Dad, but I was a keen AFL hopeful as well. I juggled both sports until the age of 17 where I chose to follow the tennis pathway onto the Satellite Tour. My playing career was unfortunately cut short through injury in 2001. Although the most memorable aspect of it all was the friendships I formed by travelling and playing during those years. Many of the guys I travelled with are still close mates and I have crossed paths with a lot of others who are now also coaches. Tennis coaching was never my only career choice. It was always my back-up plan if my playing career didn’t eventuate how I wanted it to. I always wanted to be either a professional tennis player or an AFL footballer first and foremost, although I wouldn’t change what I do now for anything. I love it, I’m passionate about it and I enjoy the daily challenge. After deciding not to put my body and bank balance through any more torment on the tennis tour, I needed to head into the workforce to earn a living. With only Year 12 behind me and no university degree, tennis coaching seemed the instant logical answer for work. I began coaching for my mentor and former coach Michael

Baroch who gave me a fantastic opportunity to work in his well established and popular tennis school, the Melbourne International Tennis School at Maribyrnong College. I began coaching there in 2001 and have never looked back. I worked my way from coaching anyone and everyone to becoming more involved in the high performance side of coaching. I’m currently coaching Australians Dane Propoggia and Arina Rodionova, who are ranked 438 and 225 respectively in the world at the moment. I’ve also worked with a number of other high performance players, including Romania’s Victor Hanescu, Australians Anastasia Rodionova and Monique Adamczak, Indian Davis Cup player Karan Rastogi and China’s Di Wu, Zhang Shuai and Yuan Meng. I am also very fortunate to have experienced coaching at the AFL’s Richmond Football Club for four years. Working under

some outstanding coaches taught me a lot about player development and creating athletes into rounded people. Craig McRae and Jade Rawlings were amazing mentors in leading through their actions, and Tim Clarke is currently mentoring me in my new role at the football club. The philosophy at the Melbourne International Tennis School is simple. Our aim is to provide a disciplined and challenging training environment that will empower all players to maximise their potential in tennis, across all components of the game and life itself. We aim to implement structures into all our sessions, which not only teach the game of tennis but that also teach lessons that can be transferred into life. I base a lot of my coaching theories on other sports. I have researched a lot into tactics of other games and biomechanical theories of techniques in other sports. I think it’s vitally

Players can expect a disciplined and challenging training environment at the Melbourne International Tennis School.

important to keep up to date with new findings and also to see what things may be working in other sports and implement them into my coaching. A lot of my coaching methods are based around AFL [tactically, physically and analytically] and golf [mentally and technically]. There are a lot of things I enjoy about my job. I love the challenge of developing players. I love the fact I’m coaching the game I love and grew up with. I enjoy seeing my players succeed and their hard work paying off. It’s an amazingly rewarding job. I am also very fortunate to have travelled on both the WTA and ATP tours as a coach and mingled with some of the world’s best players as well as seen the world. Sometimes I pinch myself when I think of the job I have and the experiences I have been through. Melbourne International Tennis School has grown into an international business with a base set up in Singapore and possible bases in China and Vietnam in the future. With our work at Maribyrnong College we won the 2012 “Most Outstanding Tennis School” award at the Australian Tennis Awards, which was nice recognition. I like to control the present and give everything I have to the job at hand. I believe that my future will be dictated by the present and how well I do it. DANIELA TOLESKI JULY 2014 AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE



Slice backhand T


he slice backhand can be used to change pace, rhythm, direction and buy time. Neglected in modern times, the slice backhand approach is an effective shot to pressure your opponent. Due to the emphasis of the modern power game and the associated powerful forehands and backhands, the slice backhand approach has seemingly become a lost art. However, it’s pleasing to see more professional players using this shot effectively to get to the net and close the point out with a winning volley. Some of the key advantages of the slice backhand approach are the challenges it presents to your opponent, landing deep or short in the court and keeping low, which will challenge opponents with more extreme grips. Additionally, it travels through the air more slowly than powerfully hit groundstrokes, allowing the player to establish a good net position to cover passing shots. Perceptual skills and decision making are key ingredients in tennis and particularly important when deciding on the right ball to approach the net. 1) Note, Ben recognises the opportunity early and prepares with a continental grip, racquet back while simultaneously moving forward 2) Elbow position is excellent and is assisted by the non-dominant arm 3) Racquet travels in a high-to-low path with the bottom edge toward the target 4) Contact is made in front of the right hip with the racquet face almost vertical at contact 5) A crossover step assists transition to the net 6) The arms separate and the racquet follow through extends towards the target.

The backhand slice approach is executed here by 2010 Junior Wimbledon finalist Ben Mitchell. Geoff Quinlan is Tennis Australia’s Manager of Coach and Talent Development. Geoff is a qualified Tennis Australia High Performance coach and has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours) in Human Movement and Sport Science. He has presented at the Australian Grand Slam Coaches conference, ITF WWCC in Egypt and Mexico and numerous coach workshops in Australia and internationally. 50




My Coach – July 2014 issue  

The latest information for and from Tennis Australia coaches.