We always exchange our email addresses afterwards to remain in touch. They know they can always contact me if they need anything
Tecnifibre's Next Generation project has seen top ten star Janko Tipsarevic mentoring some of the game's rising talent
It takes one to know one, as they say, and Serbian star Janko Tipsarevic is the first to admit that he was exactly the kind of junior who, at times, needed a guiding hand to ensure he remained on the right path. Having made a highly successful transition from junior to professional tennis, though, the world No.9 has been using the experience from his journey through tennis to help some of the game’s rising stars.
Tipsarevic has enjoyed the support of French manufacturer Tecnifibre for many years and when his racket sponsor approached him with the idea of the 28-year-old mentoring some of the younger players on its books he jumped at the chance.
“I have a very good relationship with Tecnifibre which has been sponsoring me for years now,” he told tennishead. “They are really involved in the junior tour and really based their positioning and strength in the next generation. When we first talked about the project I really thought it was a good idea and I wanted to be part of it. Having been an undisciplined junior, getting a chance to help young players who are willing to improve meant a lot to me.”
Tecnifibre, based just outside Paris, has long been associated with its role in developing talent. Its tagline is ‘Leading the Next Generation’ and it has a number of the world’s leading juniors on its touring team. The project has seen Tipsarevic hook up with a handful of Tecnifibre’s youngsters at different tournaments throughout the 2012 ATP calendar, spending time on the practice court, helping them with technique, tactics, training tips and trying to improve their attitude towards life as a tennis professional. So far, the Belgrade-born star has spent time with American junior world No.6 Mitchell Krueger in Indian Wells in March, Armel Rancezot from France at the Monte Carlo Masters in April and the 2010 Junior Wimbledon champion Marton Fucsovics at the ATP 250 event in Gstaad, Switzerland, during the summer.
“I’ve enjoyed it very, very, very much,” says Tipsarevic. “Each tournament I share my experience on tour with a different junior coming from a different country. They become my sparing partners, my mates for a week. We always exchange our email addresses afterwards to remain in touch. They know they can always contact me if they need anything."
From his time with the youngsters, Tipsarevic says that the mental side of the game seems to be the area they need the most help with. “The difference is in the mindset,” he explains. “Most of these young guys haven’t really set up their professional life straight. That’s why I am here to help. Having a goal, working hard to reach it, being consistent on every aspect of your tennis life – training, practice, fitness, nutrition, stretching.”
The Serbian has enjoyed a career that has so far delivered a Davis Cup winners’ medal (in 2010), a career-high ranking of No.8, and three ATP titles – in Kuala Lumpur and Moscow in 2011 and another in Stuttgart this season. He knows first-hand that success on a tour that is becoming more and more competitive by the day only comes if you are 100 per cent committed to your sport…
… The remainder of this article appears in the November issue of tennishead magazine.