Articles

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  • Being a good tennis parent Tennis parents play a vital role in the development of their children as it relates to participation in sports,particularly in tennis.  
  • Being a good tennis coach… It’s a privilege to be a coach – to have an opportunity to guide young people in their tennis career. There are many factors which distinguish a good tennis coach from the others.  
  • Interview with Nikola Milojevic # 1 ITF junior player It is not often in the world of tennis that two players from the same country, at the same time are the best on the ATP and the ITF juniors list.  
  • Interview with Jelena Gencic Identifying a future champion in any sport is a multistage process. It is truly remarkable to be able to recognize special talent from a large group of beginners in a particular sport.  
  • Size Does(not) Matter In the era of modern tennis there is a noticeable presence of tall players in both men and women's divisions. One might theorize that the height of a player could quite possibly be a contributing factor in predicting the future success of the player.  
  • Interview with tennis coach Del Little It was once said that humility suits well only to those who would have a reason to be immodest. So such can be said for tennis coach Del Little and it will not be further from the truth.  
  • Consistent work brings success In working with young tennis players some issues often remain unanswered, and the main reason is mostly due to neglecting the effect of developmental characteristics of the youth in development.  
  • The transition from junior into professional tennis Anyone can say that "wants to become the best player in the world", but few of those are willing to sacrifice and "pay the price" and that is indeed true.  
  • Interview with Robert Lansdorp If you can value a coach by the achievements of his players than you can consider Mr. Robert Lansdorp as one of the most important and most influential tennis coaches from the beginning of Open era till today. He is unique because he coached four players from their earliest junior days up till their top rankings: Tracey Austin, Lindsey Davenport, Pete Sampras, and Maria Sharapova.  

Interview with tennis coach Del Little

It was once said that humility suits well only to those who would have a reason to be immodest. So such can be said for tennis coach Del Little and it will not be further from the truth.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to be in the company of a person who has so much experience in tennis, and he acts and speaks as if there is still a lot to be learned about his favorite game.

When back in 1943 young Del Little arrived from Denver, Colorado to California, he settled on the Pacific coast, in the Redondo Beach area, three blocks from the ocean, where even today after almost seven decades, he still resides. From the very beginning he loved surfing and all his spare time between school and school commitments, he spent catching waves.

Young Del Little

S.M. -How did you become one of the most famous tennis coaches in the South Bay and have spent most of days in your youth surfing the waves?

D.L. – Yes, it is true that I loved surfing but when I went to Redondo Beach High School I discovered my love for other sports: basketball first of all and after that beautiful game of tennis. Practicing surfing and basketball has helped me later to improve the game, especially tennis footwork for players. Low position that surfers have all the time, and basketbal players mostly when in defense, is very similar to the low position of the tennis players before the shots and in the low position of the recovery steps. So when I later worked with young tennis players we spent most of the time exercising these two elements of the footwork: balance and agility.

S.M. - Have you continued to work out simultaneously on basketball and tennis later during college years?

D.L. - Unfortunately, I tried two times to study at the El Camino College but love for surfing and other sports was bigger. I started practicing tennis more and more every day and later playing some local tournaments as well. But I think a life changing opportunity for me came when I started working at Kramer Club.

S.M. - Kramer Club has always been at the center of tennis events in Southern California ...

D.L. - ... And not only in Southern California, but had a special significance in American and world tennis. When I got a chance to be a manager in the sixties and later a coach, Kramer club had a different look than it is the case today. There were fewer tennis courts and there was no clubhouse or pool. But my greatest personal and profesional benefit during my stay at Kremer club was the opportunity to learn tennis from one of the best in the business-Vic Braden . At the same time Vic was the head coach at Chadwick school and I worked at that time as his assistant. He was a treasure of knowledge and a great innovator in the tennis sport. He was highly sought after so it was the time that he was unable to satisfy all interested students for a tennis lesson, but he thought a half an hour lessons and was working from morning to night without breaks. Even there were those who were flying to L.A. to get a 30 minute lesson from him. I remember that sometimes dozens of people watched his lessons to learn more about tennis technique and tactics.

Del Little and Sveto Matovic

S.M. - The Kramer Club has passed a number of world-renowned tennis names ..

D.L. - Club was really a magnet for top players already established, who came from all over the place and among others they were: Tony Roach from whom I learned the perfect volleys, Stan Smith, who had a brilliant technique and great footwork.I will always remember that in the summer of 1967 our best juniors achieved such success that rarely any tennis academy can achieve today. Our young players have won 113 trophies by playing in various tournaments throughout the United States that same summer. I am realy proud to be seeing that flyer where our juniors are shown with the trophies. Among others the Kramer Club created two young stars of tennis: Tracy Austin and Pete Sampras.

S.M. – How did the beginnings look like when you started working with the most successful junior tennis players?

D.L. - Tracy Austin began early to be engaged in tennis, in the age of two, I remember that we spent time on the paddle court trying to hit the ball. She was different from other children because she always listened and always approached training very seriously. Pete Sampras used to come for a long time to train with me on Tuesdays, when I moved to work on the courts of Tennis club "Racquet Swingers" in Lomita . We have devoted great attention to improve his footwork and balance. He trained after school and he always played a number of practice matches. He always had a strong desire to win and even then as a very young player, he was very focused on tennis and serious about all of his obligations.

S.M. - Why today we don’t have the type of champions like Tracy Austin and Pete Sampras?

D.L. - There are many differences in the approach to this sport among young players now and then. We sincerely liked tennis, it was important to us just to be outside on the playground, and we didn’t mind if we played for hours and even on the paddle courts, and often the only heavy rain could chase us away from the tennis court. Once the players were very interested in the game and coaches were asked different questions, now I see that most coaches ask questions, players are fairly passive participants in the learning process. Today's juniors have the philosophy that the harder they hit the ball the better and the opponent would not be able to return it back. I remember that my student Eliot Teltcher played very patiently, so that he was primarily playing to hit the ball over the net one more time than his opponent. Today's players develop techniques and the geometry of the game,but they forget that in fact the most important thing is to get to the ball- they forget about the importance of footwork. So we see a large number of juniors and even at the age of 14 - 15 years who have problems with balance, coordination and agility. So I think this part of the tennis game should be given maximum attention in the very beginning of practicing tennis. When creating a good player my motto has always been "move your feet and use yourbrain." When today after so many decades of the tennis sport participation in the process of creating a top player, when I try to briefly explain what it is for all champions in common I see that they are all very dedicated to what they do, they all have great confidence and great desire for the sport success.

Del Little now

S.M. - How do you spend nowadays without a tennis racket?

D.L. – Even though I am not holding the tennis racket in my hand as I did for a very long time, it doesn’t diminish my love and interest for this sport and I still follow all of what is happening in the world of tennis. Daily I visit tennis courts in the Soth Bay and as much as it is possible I follow the development of today's junior players. In my spare time I read a lot and about tennis among other things, so I can still find something interesting every day about my favorite game-tennis.

Sveto Matovic, January 17, 2012 Los Angeles