Features and News by Nino Severino
My time on the World Tennis Tour were undoubtedly the experiences that make up a big part of who I am today.
One aspect of the tour I absolutely loved was watching the players train and prepare at the great WTA and ATP tournaments, this I did countless of times, but I remember one opportunity that stood out, and it was at the Grand Slam tournament, the French Open in Paris. Elena, my player had just finished her training session, we had finished lunch and heard that the great Roger Federer was training on the centre court. As player and coach, we had the privilege of gaining access to the stadium from the players walk way under the stadium. Normally, with accreditation you can just walk through and watch, but for some reason, this session was different, there was a 6’ 8” security guard standing on the door, and he politely told us that no one was gaining entry to the stadium. Elena, being Elena, was not going to take no for an answer, and somehow, she managed to get the security guard to let us through.
This would turn out to be one of those money can’t buy experiences that I will never forget, there literally was no other spectators in the stadium, the only other people watching was Roger’s wife, his agent and two children. This became one of those very unique life experiences, and where the professional Roger Federer was combined with the personal family man. Down on the court was Roger focused on his tennis drills, preparing for his match later that day, and in front of us, 3 rows down were his wife, chatting to his children, the twins Charlene and Myla, it was a joy to be part of this experience, and as Elena and I walked out of the stadium, we just looked at each other and smiled.
On the world tour the very best Marque players get the opportunity to practice, warm up and prepare on the centre court of the tournaments, this is the equivalent of using Wembley stadium, so it’s a big thing for the players, and believe me, the world best players earn this privilege. Miami’s centre court is simply magnificent, and the players’ lounge sits right at the top. I remember my very first trip there and walking through the lounge door, the first person I saw was Judy Murray, at this point I had never met her, Elena introduced me to her and we had a great chat, if you would have told me then that this woman would become the great Patron of our foundation, and she would attend our wedding in Ipswich, I would never have believed you.
After my chat with Judy, I looked down at the centre court, and our very our British No.1 Sir Andy Murray was training, I could not let the opportunity of watching his session go by, so I took the very long walk down the stadium and took my ring side seat to watch the man at work. The heat that day was unbearable, so Andy was training without his top on, the one that struck me was how much work he had put into developing his powerful athletic frame, this is something you can’t appreciate when he his fully dressed. I stayed and watched the whole session, it was great to see him have a lot of fun with three members of his support team, finishing with a game of tennis volleyball, two men on each side of the court, hitting the ball over the net with their feet, this was a game he often played during his sessions.
Elena had already trained and was with the WTA support team having treatment and massage, so I decided to stay and see who was on next, I was not disappointed, as it was the ultimate tennis Gladiator, the great Rafel Nadal. The man is simply a force of nature, I’d watched him many times, and was really looking forward to watching him work. He himself once said, “Train as you mean to compete”, and he truly practices what he preaches. I wish that all the junior tennis players, across the world would have the experience of watching one of his training sessions, it truly is a master class.
I had time to stay for one more player and was wondering who would appear from the entrance of the stadium onto the centre court, I was not disappointed, it was Nadal’s compatriot, Fernando Verdasco the highly ranked Spanish player. This really was the icing on the cake, they say “life experience’s make us who we are”, well, I can say for sure, watching great athletes such as Andy Murray, Rafel Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, back to back is one of the experiences that has made me the coach I am today. The knowledge I have gained, sets the standards I set for the many athletes I work with today!
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