Jez Green from Brasil... PDF Print E-mail

So the coastal tour of South America has come to an end for us. This tour is always very different from other junior circuits in that you really do become a big traveling family of tennis players and coaches sharing numerous flights, bus journeys, meals, check-ins, check-outs and of course matches against different members of the different teams.

Probably due to the fact that it is a very arduous trip with many problems and hassles along the way everyone kind of blends together in a common goal of competing and surviving. The players become close, no matter what nationality because everyone is in the same boat so to speak, it almost becomes a traveling colony of gypsy tennis players.

I always find the camaraderie out here to be very high and you tend to make sure you keep in contact with all the people you meet from this circuit. Myself and Ilija have made some good friends out here, I stayed with a very funny Czech coach called Petr last week, who among many comments this week said about his very good but unpredictable player that “you cannot coach him, you just observe.”

I also stayed this week with ex-tour player Mark Keil who insisted on clapping himself awake each morning while shouting things like “great job man” or “thanks, I appreciate it”. There was also Atilla, the Serbian-Hungarian who came and supported every one of Ilija’s matches and with whom I had a few well earned beers. Good guys all and good coaches.

While speaking about the coaches it is worth mentioning that the standard of work being done out here with the players was very high. These are coaches who know tennis and people and have paid their dues. They are producers and I have no doubt that there are at least 10 players from this trip who will be top 100 one day. They are not famous but they are great characters and they are the ones who make players in tough conditions by doing the tough every day work of moulding young minds, bodies and games in arguably the most crucial time in a young player’s development - the transition between junior and senior tennis. It was a pleasure to work with them.

Ilija has done very well out here. He made one quarterfinal and three last 16s, not bad for a young 16-year-old playing top level under-18 tournaments, and he has helped send his message to tennis with great determination. He needed to bring a lot of guts to the table out here and he did. No more so than in his second round here where his opponent served for the match twice but Ilija dug very deep to win the final set tie-breaker 7-0.

In these five tournaments, Ilija beat three top 50 juniors, two top 100 juniors and three of the losses were to eventual finalists or champions. As a result he has moved to 117 in the world.

It is these kinds of matches in strong tournaments that help cement your pedigree in the game and contribute to a player forming a lasting reputation. The performances are remembered as you travel through the levels and then re-emerge subconsciously as and when you meet these players again and again through the course of your career.

With his efforts he has made sure he is on track to be competitive at the highest levels of tennis and this was the goal.

I have enjoyed this trip immensely even though at times the grind was almost unbearable but at least it was shared by some really good people and included some really exciting tennis that saw the continuing growth of a player.

Hasta luego from Brazil,



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