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Changes afoot to make junior tennis stronger

ITF experts Tim Jones (left) and Mike Barrell (right) stand with Tennis Cambodia’s Braen Aneiros and Mam Phalkun
ITF experts Tim Jones (left) and Mike Barrell (right) stand with Tennis Cambodia’s Braen Aneiros and Mam Phalkun at the end of the JTI Coordinators Workshop in Bangkok. Photo Supplied

Changes afoot to make junior tennis stronger

Tennis Cambodia will soon hit the reset button on its Junior Tennis Initiative to incorporate several key recommendations made by International Tennis Federation experts on activity progressions, competitive formats and result-oriented grassroots development.

The reshaping of the all-encompassing JTI, which includes Tennis 10s for students and U12 and U14 programs for emerging talent, follows new ideas that were floated at the 6th JTI Coordinators Workshop organised last week by the world governing body in Bangkok for the benefit of the Asian region.

Held at Thailand’s National Tennis Centre, the four-day workshop comes after five other similar drives in East Africa, the Caribbean, West Africa, Southern Africa and Central America.

Tennis Cambodia’s technical director and national team coach Braen Aneiros and head of junior development Mam Phalkun were among the 24 coaches and national JTI coordinators from 13 countries across Asia attending the workshop, which was jointly directed by ITF development officer for the region Suresh Menon and ITF experts Tim Jones and Mike Barrell.

On the opening day, the participants were confined to a classroom where Jones spoke at length on the challenges that lay ahead and the ways and means to deal with them effectively.

The whole of the second day and part of the third saw Barrell’s comprehensive presentations on Tennis 10s and phased development through the red, orange and green courts. The ITF expert drew the attention of the coaches and coordinators to more efficient competitive formats, which would make the learning process for the trainees that much better.

On the concluding day, Menon touched on players’ pathway, talent spotting and high performance training for the most talented U12 and U14 players.

By way of practicals, the participants were split into four groups and one from each was chosen as the leader to run a small competition.

“The JTI workshop has very much energised the participants and the enthusiasm showed by them will no doubt be taken back to their countries and passed on to other coaches involved in junior programs,” said Menon.

Aneiros, meanwhile, said the workshop was “very helpful” while noting that he and Phalkun would be making changes in order to improve the Kingdom’s junior program.

“We now have a clear sense of areas that need change to get better results. I strongly feel that our emphasis should be on quality more than quantity,” he added.

Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit told the Post yesterday: “The wealth of knowledge that Braen and Phalkun have brought back from the workshop is so vital for Tennis Cambodia and our coaching staff. I am certain the positive changes that will soon follow will strengthen our junior and grassroots programs.”

In order to share his workshop experience with the other Tennis Cambodia coaches and to discuss future developmental strategy, Aneiros will be conducting a one-day coaches clinic on August 2.

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