Netherlands needs to reach Top10

Tennis association KNLTB prepares the best and brightest young players for a professional career. The association’s lofty ambitions match the plans of Richard Krajicek, Esther Vergeer and ABN AMRO.

KNLTB Director Erik Poel explains, ‘Children are the future. Based on that premise, in 2013 we decided to update KNLTB’s youth academy BJO. The old structure of district, association and selection training sessions had been around for decades, but the world of tennis has changed dramatically. Compared with ten years ago, for example, twice as many men are competing on the ATP tour. The international youth rankings now include twice as many players too. This makes the road to the top longer and more difficult than ever, with Dutch players competing with athletes from over 130 countries.’

Netherlands to reach the Top 10

Nevertheless, KNLTB wants the Netherlands to become a regular in the Top 10 of tennis-playing countries. The talent programme supports this ambition, and KNLTB’s vision to involve more former tennis stars in the training of talented youngsters. Sports Director Jan Siemerink explains, ‘We’re very enthusiastic about this initiative by ABN AMRO, Esther Vergeer and Richard Krajicek. The talent programme represents a wonderful impulse for youth tennis in the Netherlands. We’re on the right track and more and more often we’re working with the “very best” in the market, for example tennis academies and former stars. We’ll be adding new partnerships this year and working more closely with our partners.’

Mindset of a top-flight athlete

Siemerink believes that talented young players should develop more than just their technique, tactics and fitness. ‘Mental growth is also very important, as is developing a mindset appropriate to a top-flight athlete. Former stars know better than anyone what it takes to evolve from an emerging talent into a successful pro. As history shows, talent begets talent.’

Find out how Marcella Mesker teaches the young players to talk to the media.