Tennis Europe Coaches Conference

Over 120 coaches from 39 of Tennis Europe’s member nations attended the 2018 Tennis Europe Coaches Conference, which was held from 19-20 October. (Photo Gallery | Video)

Hosted by the French Tennis Federation at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, this year’s event focused on the topic of ‘Women’s Tennis’ and featured a host of world-class speakers.  

Friday’s programme kicked off with introductions from Tennis Europe’s Development Committee Chair Christiane Jolissaint and updates from the organisation’s CEO, Thomas Hammerl and ITF Development Officer for Europe Vitor Cabral, before keynote speaker Patrick Mouratoglou took to the stage.

Coach of 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Founder and President of the eponymous academy, Mouratoglou spoke passionately about his views on coaching and offered an insight to the reasons behind his success as a coach. Following a question and answer session, he then led the coaches through some of his favoured on-court drills.

Under sunny skies, the day continued with on and off-court presentations from the LTA’s Jo Ward and Irena Chichmarova of the Belarus Tennis Federation before concluding with an interactive panel discussion.

Day 2 saw a varied programme, kicking off with China’s Li Pingwei’s discussion of the WTA Pathway, before ITF Team Coach Petra Russegger provided some insights of a female coach. Carl Maes, the former Belgian Fed Cup captain and long-time coach to Kim Clijsters then gave the delegates a look at a scientific approach to coaching female players before focusing specifically on training patterns for transitioning juniors.

After lunch, the sessions moved back on court with Roch Vidal of the FFT detailing technical and tactical drills around the serve and return before Ruben Neyens of the KNLTB explored how to develop movement for juniors.

The conference concluded with former world #1 Dinara Safina addressing the delegates. The three-time Grand Slam finalist shared her career experiences, with a particular focus on the challenges of dealing with pressure.

The 34th edition of the Tennis Europe Coaches Conference was the first to be ‘open’ in nature, allowing private coaches to attend alongside the delegations from member nations (subject to approval from the national federation). Amongst the official delegates were two former WTA players now focusing on coaching; Anna Smashnova of Israel and Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus. Using the full array of facilities available at the state-of-the-art academy, the workshop-style conference employed a variety of presentation settings, including courtside and classroom, panel discussions, and – for the first time - interactive question and answer sessions, moderated by Vitor Cabral.  

Summarising the event, the ITF Development Officer for Europe commented, “With this conference we tried to accomplish a few ambitious goals: to work in an outstanding venue, have a speaker panel of the highest quality and the best logistics possible. We managed to achieve all these objectives. For a conference dedicated to women’s tennis, it was also important to us to have a strong representation of female speakers, and I must extend special thanks to Dinara Safina for her contribution, which gave us the chance to hear from a former world #1 for the first time at a Tennis Europe conference. Indeed, the whole panel was outstanding, and the coaches were extremely happy to have an exclusive insight from Patrick Mouratoglou on his unique methodology.”