It’s been a tough few days for the academy. Life must go on however. Thats what Mikael would have told us and that what he told us when he got sick. He wanted to be treated the same way. We can only honour him and his family by making things great and keep having fun at the same time. Our thoughts will always be with Mikael and the Catella Arena (the name of the building where Good to Great Tennis Academy operates) was very much built with details from Mikael and with the experience in tennis that he had for so many year.
Over 10 years ago I personally started to dream about having a base where Swedish players and perhaps Scandinavian could come together and practice. Im a big believer in continuity. The long term dream was to have tennis, fitness and rehab under one roof. Futhermore a vision was also that the Swedish Tennis Federation would also use the facilities as its HQ for player development. To practice together and to compete together. And then come back to the base and practice more. I learned how to use Scatch Up and made my own models at night on how this might look like. Later I contacted a professional architecture and the rest is history. With the help of Mikael Tillström, Nicklas Kulti, Mikael Stripple, our advisory board and offcourse the investors a few of the dreams got realized. A few did not.
10 years later we have our own facilities since a year and we have a good program. I feel like the players we have on a regular basis (not just occasionally) are getting better. No matter level. That will always be the goal.
I think we have had good success with players that has been with us on a regular basis in the development years (between 13/14 years of age up until 18 years of age). ITF number nr 1, junior Wimbledon singles finals, Tennis Europe number 1, Orange Bowl wins and finals, Grand Slam main draws and the list continues. Not just the results there and then, but I feel like we have been setting up a good solid base for what’s coming later in the PRO years. We have created solid platforms from where the players can grow in all aspects of the game later.
In some projects I feel like the player has left the development base a little bit too early, despite good results. Perhaps we have felt like we were not really ready with our work and had more to contribute before flying off on the big stage. But sometimes there is also pressure from external forces that are hard to guard against. Off-course its tough to see players leave. Some players you create a special bond with. They become like your son or your daughter and its tough to go separate ways. But the next second you have to tell yourself that this is life. Its time to take the next step. Im certainly proud of the long-term relationships that I have personally had with players on both the PRO tour and the players I’ve had in the academy. It means a lot.
We will never buy players or offer money to recruit players. First of all as a private company we could not afford that and second we don’t think this is the right model for the industry. We promise to do everything we can do help our players reach their dreams. I tell you that much. Every discussion around the table is about how we can become better. But our core principle is that we simply don’t do this. We don’t offer wild cards. We don’t offer money. We offer something else. It would, for sure, have been financially good to market myself as a coach of a 3 time grand slam champion or winning ATP coach of the year. BUT for me and the academy it’s not the right thing to go about business. Its not the principles of Good to Great Tennis Academy. AND winning Grand Slam titles does not entitle me to say im the best coach working in the development years. Coaches are good at different things. I certainly don’t have those skills as the coach working with 10 year olds. I think im decent working with players from 14-15 years of age and older. IF the are motivated to learn offcourse! If not- good night with my passion!
People have also asked us why we are also not acting as a management company for players so that we can actually MAKE money later on when they start competing for price-money? To be honest its been on the table at times when we have felt like we are doing the job and someone else is reaping the reward BUT soon we have comeback to why we started the academy, and that was to help with PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. We work together with many management companies and around many projects. We want to try to focus on the training and to nurture talents. Simplicity and focus. Too many business areas would take focus away from why we started. Our core. We want to be 100% independent. We work with all management agencies and we make no difference where the player comes from. We have 1 agenda and that is to make the player better.
What about French Open then? Well I can’t say anything else then that in super impressed about what Stan did in Paris. Sure we did not go all the way. Sure it hurts a bit being up 4-3 with a break in the third set in the quarters. But I look at the big picture and can’t be anything else than satisfied. Look at where Stan was 1 year ago.
Next up is the grass court season. Cant wait to be back at the green stuff. Different movement patterns. Different rallies. Different challenges. Also love the fact the Dani Vallverdu is joining the team. Stan is always looking to improve and this is just an example oh his ambition. On top of being a great coach Dani is also a super nice guy so very much looking forward to share thoughts.
The show must go on folks. Take care of each other. Stay humble. Be positive.