Tennis players prepare for new season
Twenty-four of Southland’s promising tennis players are learning more skills in a recently formed high-performance coaching organisation.
Dunedin-based Southern Extreme Tennis was launched this year to provide advanced coaching to young players. Extreme Tennis held its seventh clinic and first in Invercargill on Sunday at the velodrome.
The 24 Southland players, who are primary or college students, trained through the winter and the Extreme Tennis coaching day has helped them prepare for the Southland Closed Tournament in Invercargill and Winton on October 28.
Players at the tournament will be selected to represent Southland in different age groups at the Southern Junior Teams Event in Dunedin on November 10 to 12. Players will be chosen for Southern teams - from Timaru south - competing at the National Teams Event in Auckland and Christchurch in January.
Invercargill man Peter White received welcome news on Monday when he was appointed Southern’s under-14 coach.
White is one of the four Extreme Tennis coaches. He, along with Shaun Paringatai, of Dunedin, and Steve Dries, of Oamaru, held training sessions at the velodrome. The other coach, Mat McCutcheon, of Dunedin, would have been there if a fourth court had been available, but there is room for only three.
Extreme Tennis’ coaching clinics cover a variety of topics, including ways to strike the ball, hitting the ball with more strength, match planning, different racket grips and mental toughness.
Paringatai says players wanting to compete at high levels must have the skills to make the right decisions during games.
‘‘Tennis is an individual sport. If you lose, it comes back to you.’’
Tennis is one of the harder sports to learn, with many techniques required, Paringatai says.
‘‘If someone’s good at tennis at 7 [years old], they’ll be good at other sports.’’
The coaches assess the ability of the players with the view to putting them into groups, according to skill level. Players showing the most ability from the three regions - Southland, Otago and North Otago - will train together in Dunedin.
‘‘Bringing them together makes them better players,’’ Paringatai says.
During his playing days, Paringatai was New Zealand Ma¯ori champion in the 12s and 14s age groups, and, as a senior, he ranked No 1 in Otago.
Eight players from last weekend’s coaching day will attend a clinic in Dunedin tomorrow. They are Emma White, Finn Holden, Ben Wylie and Bianca Popham, of Invercargill, Kade Wilson, of Gore, Lachie Elder, of Balfour, and Daniel and Ryan Munro, of Winton.
‘‘The more tennis they play leading into the Southland closed tournament, the better it is for them,’’ says White, who has been coaching for 27 years.
‘‘Commitment to tennis is the only way you can get better.’’
White says Southland has strengthened ability-wise in junior ranks, with it reflected in results in recent years.
Tennis Southland operations manager Jo Grimwood says the Extreme Tennis coaching is a great opportunity for the province’s juniors.
‘‘It is excellent to see the competitive juniors accessing opportunities like this,’’ she says.
‘‘Hitting balls through winter and being able to work on elements of their technical game during the off-season are a strong way to lead into the tennis season. Southland are looking towards another strong season having had high placings in previous competitions and eight Southland junior players selected to represent Southern age-group teams to compete at nationals last year.’’
Talented junior Finn Holden is also doing well in table tennis. He is in the national under-15 table tennis squad and, in July, he won gold medals in the under15 boys’ doubles and mixed doubles at the North Island championships in Auckland.
Meanwhile, Winton tennis player Emilia Price leaves today for International Tennis Federation tournaments in Sydney and Canberra in the next fortnight. She then comes back to New Zealand for more federation tournaments in Auckland and Hamilton.
Late next month, Emilia will play for the Sunnyhills Tennis Club in the Auckland club competition.
The 16-year-old spent the winter playing tournaments and being coached in Atlanta in the United States. On her way home, she made the quarter finals in an Oceania Championship in Fiji.
Her mother, Katrina Price, says Emilia’s tennis career is progressing in the right direction.
‘‘She’s still working hard and enjoying it ... she’s making little gains all the time.’’
Southern Extreme Tennis coach Steve Dries with some of Southland’s up-and-coming players, from left, Jack Claridge,10, Cody Stevens,11, Lucy Rudel, 12, and Rafferty McIntosh, 9.