Great Advice For Junior Players

Tennis Recruiting has posted a great article featuring Amanda Fink, who reached the top 300 on the WTA tour. This March, Amanda will be honoured as the USPTA San Diego ‘Pro Of The Year’. She is currently a teaching pro at Santaluz Club, San Diego, CA, USA. It is wonderful to see someone of her calibre and expertise embrace the role of coach and mentor. Well done to my good friend Amanda!

I have taken a few Q&A from the article which I believe are terrific advice for any aspiring junior.

Tennis Recruiting (TR): How did become a teaching pro?

Amanda Fink (AF): I played almost three years on the tour. I stopped [in 2012] because the traveling aspect wore me down. I’m not a huge fan of living out of a suitcase. It was time to take a break. I wasn’t sure I was completely done, but my parents said why don’t you teach a couple of lessons and get your coaching certification through the USPTA while you figure it out. I ended up staying put. When I stopped playing on the tour, I thought the last thing I’d want to do is stay in the game and coach, but the more I did it, the more fond of it I became. It was the natural thing to do. [Fink also worked at her hometown club, The Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center in Calabasas, Calif., and at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., before coming to the Santaluz Club.]

TR: Let’s go back to your days as a junior player… Were you always a highly ranked junior?

AF: No, actually, I do feel it took me awhile to get there. In the 10s, 12s and 14s, I was always in the rankings, but I wasn’t doing anything major until I was older. Even when I was, though I was ranked really high, still to this day, I didn’t win one huge tournament. I finished third at the [National] Clay Courts once. I just did consistently well to stay in there. I really did take my time to develop. I feel my major jump came while at college. I was very fortunate to have a really great junior career and nice really set of accolades, but you can still make things happen when you don’t win tournaments.

TR: What other advice would you give to today’s juniors on player development?

AF: Play practice matches. I go through this with the kids I teach all the time. When I was younger, my mom had a list of all the juniors who were in my area. I had a clinic one day a week. One or two days a week I would have lessons. On all of the other days or even along with lesson days, she said you have to schedule a match to play. You play best two out of three sets. That was a really huge advantage in my development to get that match-play experience. You can’t replicate a tournament and a high-pressure match, but that will get you close. We’ve lost that driving attitude to play practice matches, whether because it’s a challenge travel-wise, or it’s our ego in losing, but it’s super important to a high-level juniors’ development. It’s as important as any of the technical or skill development you do with your coach. And don’t limit these matches to a certain level of opponent. Play people that are better, worse and same level as you: It’s how you learn to deal with different opponents in a tournament.