English man Dan Thorp from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in Wimbledon was recently appointed head coach of the Boris Becker Tennis Academy at Mission Hills in Shenzhen.
A leading tennis coach with a 20-year world-class track record, Thorp said he would stay at the Shenzhen resort for about half of his three-year tenure. He will run the program on a daily basis even when he is in the United Kingdom.
Thorp’s first visit to the city was with tennis legend Becker in 2016, when the three-time Wimbledon winner joined hands with Mission Hills to establish the world’s first Boris Becker Tennis Academy there.
“I was immediately struck by the ambition and potential for tennis here.” Thorp said that he had met many local players here over the past few weeks.
“I’ve worked with a lot of players who are complete beginners, I’m really impressed by how enthusiastic they are about tennis and how keen they are to learn and how quickly they take instructions.
“We’ve had a few really good players. I’ve seen one or two who can play very well internationally.”
The ages of the students vary, with the youngest being around 5 or 6.
For parents who want their kids to achieve success in tennis, the coach has some advice.
“I think it’s good to start before the age of 7 or 8. Playing tennis very young can be limited in their long-term development.
“If you have ambitions for your children to be good at tennis, it’s not a good idea for them to play just tennis when they are too young. It’s important they develop a wide set of skills, to play a wide range of sports like tennis, football and golf to develop multi-skills. You need to give them a lot of variety, and when they get a bit older they can choose the sport they really love and dedicate to that sport.”
Another advice he would give is not to underestimate the importance of physical training.
“Those top players in the game are incredible athletes. The athletic development has to happen.”
He also advises parents to get out on the court and have fun with their kids, as tennis is a “fantastic sport to do with the family and enjoy together.”
The past decade has been a golden period for British tennis, with Great Britain winning the Davis Cup for the first time in 70 years, and Andy Murray making history with three Grand Slams.
He attributed his country’s success to good training programs, domestic competitions and international experiences.
Thorp said that Murray and his brother Jamie is the biggest reason for Britain’s success in Davis Cup.
Thorp, 47, said that he had been sending videos from here to his four kids in the United Kingdom and planned to bring them here.
The coach has not yet had enough time to get out of Mission Hills and explore the city, but found some really good tennis clubs here.
“I really love meeting people here — very friendly, very funny. I had expected China would be very different from the United Kingdom, but the people are very similar in many ways — a lot of the same questions. They have the same sense of humor.”