Ten­nis play­ers pre­pare for new sea­son

The Southland Times - - FEATURES - JAMIE SEARLE

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.’’

JOHN HAWKINS/STUFF 634813229

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.

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