Young tennis players overcome their stage fright

This was their first get-together: the talented young tennis players selected by Esther Vergeer and Richard Krajicek.

It was not only an opportunity to meet the other participants in the Partner of the Future programme, but also the largest tennis tournament in the Netherlands. Ruben Spaargaren, age 15, could barely take it all in when he arrived at Ahoy. Somewhat self-consciously he entered through the players’ entrance, normally reserved for the tournament’s big names. Once at the Sports Plaza, the location of Esther Vergeer’s wheelchair tournament, his shyness quickly disappeared when he saw his coach and other familiar faces.

Ball girl

Isolde de Jong felt no stage fright at all. ‘Ahoy is familiar territory for me,’ says the native of nearby Capelle, who in the summer of 2014 became the Dutch youth champion for the Under-16s. ‘For three years I was a ball girl at this tournament – when Robin Söderling won, for example.’

A fine moment

Though the young players were a little uncomfortable with each other at first, soon they were chatting freely. Topics of conversation included tennis and recent tournaments, of course, but also their dreams of the future: playing at Grand Slams tournaments, for example, perhaps even winning. The parents who had accompanied them also enjoyed the occasion, taking pictures and recording videos of their talented children participating in ABN AMRO’s programme. The youngsters then made their way to a training court, where they were soon hitting balls around as if playing tennis in this unique setting was nothing out of the ordinary.

Find out why tennis association KNL TB is so important to the talent programme.