Esther Vergeer passes on the baton

Tennis star Esther Vergeer will be spending the next few years working with talented young players Diede de Groot and Ruben Spaargaren.

Under the auspices of ABN AMRO’s Partner of the Future programme, Vergeer will guide the young players along the difficult road from emerging talent to professional. ‘I’ll work with tennis association KNLTB and the players’ parents to map how I can best help Diede and Ruben. In most cases this will be as a mentor, basically listening to what they have to say, but it might be very concrete too. I can introduce them to sponsors, for example. It’s a great opportunity to pass on the baton to two incredibly ambitious kids who are willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top.’

A long road ahead

At 18, Diede de Groot is the oldest of the budding pros, while Ruben Spaargaren, aged 15, has only just started his development. ‘I didn’t deliberately select a girl and a boy. They’re the emerging talents who immediately came to my mind when I was asked to be part of the talent programme. They both have a long road ahead of them. Ruben has only been playing for a few years, and Diede is much further along. The technical side of their games is progressing very well: they’re developing rapidly and train extremely hard. My added value will lie mostly in other matters that they’ll encounter, for example advice on setting up and funding foundations, talking to the media and finding sponsors.’

Introduction to top-flight tennis

At the upcoming ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, of which Vergeer is the tournament director, Diede and Ruben will also be introduced to the world of top-flight tennis. ‘They’ll meet the best players in the world, and learn about the psychological side of tennis, match preparation and more. These lessons are so valuable to young kids that I’m sure that they’ll benefit from them for years to come.’

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