Vida Venue – MCC Glen Iris Valley
Role – Director of High Performance
1. When did you first pick up a tennis racket?
When I was 9 years old, my cousin lent me a racquet and after a couple shots it felt right so I began taking lessons.
2. Who influenced you to begin playing?
My uncles and cousins. My parents don’t like tennis too much, they wanted me to play rugby instead. They were working all day and didn’t have time to see me play. So I would walk from school to the club and take the bus home late at night.
3. What player did you idolise growing up? Did they influence the way you play?
Edberg first, then Sampras, not so much for game style but for the easy way to play and taking winning as a normal thing.
4. What person/coach made you love tennis?
My friends pushed me to play more than any coach did. Hugo Flores who was also a family friend gave me several lessons and instilled values that were taken for granted back then. The environment in which you grow is very important.
Later I worked with very renowned coaches in my country as a hitter and they encouraged me to think about coaching as a career option. I began as a hitting partner for some top pro’s who were being coached by Leo Lerda, Sergio and Claudio Gariotti. The coaches then gave me the opportunity to share my opinion with these players which gave me so much confidence to pursue a high performance coaching career.
5. When did Vida come into your life?
Summer 2016-17, I was not particularly happy being the head coach of another club and was looking for a change where I could spend more time on court to help develop talent and help young coaches to find ways to carry forward their passion for the game.
6. What opportunities has tennis/Vida provided for you?
Tennis has allowed me to travel all over the world. In 2009, I was working at the Ines Gorrochategui Tennis Academy in Spain, when I received an offer to train in Harvest Tennis Academy in Punjab, India. The academy is under the patronage of Harvey Saran, a tycoon who owns several buildings in Canada, his purpose was to help local kids from his village in India to achieve scholarships in American Universities and attract the best juniors in the country. That project kept me busy for 3 years living between India and Europe every summer.
Ultimately we produced many Top 300 ranked juniors and most of the kids involved got scholarships into Division 1 schools in NCAA. as a testament to Harvey’s vision and the hard work from all parts involved.
The director of coaching in India Todd Clark, arguably one of the best coaches I’ve been working with, enhanced my coaching and introduced me to David Bailey and his footwork method.
Once I moved over to Vida it has given me an understanding about the importance of pathways for all different abilities and personalities. In my case I’m still very committed to produce high performance players as I’ve been doing this for the last 10 years but also need balance to handle private and family life.
7. How has your time at Vida influenced you as a person?
Probably helped me understand that there are many different approaches to tennis and the coaches need to adjust to them as Vida caters to all ages and levels of play.
8. Why do you love coaching tennis?
I love sports in general, the whole idea of competing and helping people to find solutions on the court and off the court with their preparation is fascinating when the athlete clicks with the message given by the coach.
9. How has tennis influenced who you have become?
Tennis has allowed me to live in 4 continents, meet incredible people, learn to be patient, have belief in what I do and try to be curious to find new ways to do my job.
10. Describe Vida in one word?
My trip and presenting in Argentina: Pros and Cons of a success based tennis powerhouse
During the July school holiday break, Ignacio, our Head Coach at MCC Glen Iris went back his home country Argentina. Below is an account of some of his experiences.
Sometimes, hopefully not too often, we forget who are the people responsible for where we are, but going back to places where you learn your craft and find yourself in the environments where you grew up professionally is a great experience.
I left Argentina almost a decade ago but stayed in touch with coaches and players from my times there. Things have not changed too much when it comes to tournament structures, and recently I was asked by the AAT (Asociacion Argentina de Tenis, Argentinean tennis assoc.) and its coaching education body, to present with the topic of social comps in Australia; pennant in Victoria for adults and comps for junior players who could or could not be involved in JT tournaments. This concept is quite strange in many parts of Argentina.
First of all, Argentina is a great place to learn tennis and develop yourself as a good competitive player. This is because of the work ethics in many private academies where they focus on education opportunities, knowledge and have passionate coaches. The conditions also hardened you to play with bad balls on average courts. Except for the bad conditions and lack of new equipment, I tried all this time in Australia to impart this kind of discipline and a commitment to the sport that I was able to see there as player and coach.
The coach education facilitators in Argentina and experienced coaches running facilities were interested in the Australian competitive structures for social players. In Argentina, after turning 10 or 11 years old and leaving green ball coaching, the majority of kids, do not have enough skills or money to travel to national tournaments and they quit tennis if they do not become national level players.
That harsh bottleneck setup creates a big pressure on players to be really good quite early, and tennis is seen as an individual endeavor in which just a few will succeed. The costs impose the mental pressure of becoming a college player, having success as a coach or the ultimate goal of being an atp/wta pro. That tunnel vision allowed the country to produce players and a good coaching standard with not too many resources, but also has caused many junior players to quit the sport very early.
At this point, the country is having less and less players due to an economic crisis that has increased costs and they now see it is necessary to keep social players in the game. With that in mind, I presented the Tennis Victoria competition structure and our Waverley & District Association with all its many grades and options catering for different levels of age and skills. This highlighted to the Argentine authorities and coaches that an alternative competition system is possible and could create an opportunity for late bloomers and for people to stay in the game. And that is could also create revenue for clubs and coaching businesses. Sometimes we see other countries coming up with several players in the pros top 100 and we assume that they have more players or coaching is better. The famous “grass is greener” theory, but sometimes this surface success is a facade for a harsh reality. In this case, where people want to enjoy tennis as a game for life, it might not be the best place to be.
Australia has a great tradition of tennis, we enjoy a grand slam event each year in Melbourne and we have a fantastic culture of a team environment. In the several competitions, there is a large number of amateur tennis players to participate and we definitely have an easier life.
But countries like Argentina will keep producing professional athletes at a higher rate than us, as it is seen as a way to get ahead in life and is a matter of life or death. This philosophy is not necessarily healthy, but one we could learn something from in helping us produce competitive athletes. Balance is the key.
After 9 years abroad between Asia, Europe, and Australia, I cannot help but to try to find the ideal mix. A more defined culture of pathway to Pro or College in which our coaches can share a vision with players and be able to combine the social and friendly atmosphere with a more formal and professional oriented attitude towards our sport.
Tennis – the sport for life.
MCC Glen Iris Valley