Esther Vergeer and Richard Krajicek take stock
Six months into ABN AMRO’s Partner of the Future programme, the time has come for the mentors to take stock.
Have the encounter with Andy Murray and the sessions at Ajax, the instruction about finances, the special clay court training and all the other activities yielded the desired results? Richard Krajicek comments, ‘It’s difficult to point out just now what the effect has been, because that will only become clear over time. So it’s a good thing that the programme will last for three years. But I have noticed that the kids are more aware of things like planning their seasons, media attention and structuring their training.’
Esther Vergeer is pleased with her role in the programme. ‘I’ve put more time into it than I thought, but Richard and I are both passionate about working with the kids. It’s wonderful to have this opportunity.’ With a world champion and a silver medallist on the team, the on-court results have been good. Yet although Richard and she both want very much to win, winning does not come first, Esther argues. ‘Of course it’s great that Diede and Ruben are doing so well, but based on our role, right now to me it’s more important that the kids experience a broad development.’
To the Orange Bowl
Richard’s young players will be competing in a major championship tournament at the end of the year. ‘I’ll be taking almost the whole group to the Orange Bowl, a kind of Junior Tennis World Cup in the US. It’s great that we have the opportunity to go there and to organise a training camp. These are valuable moments for the kids. And of course I’m secretly hoping that one of “my” group will claim a title.’
Both the mentors are feeling positive about the first six months. At the moment many of the young players are spending much of their time on the road, playing tournaments. ABN AMRO’s programme will pick up where it left off after the summer. Esther is eagerly looking forward to the next steps in her protégés’ development. ‘At the moment they’re playing a lot of tournaments, and after that it will be important to take stock,’ she explains. ‘We want to see what they need, for example handling the pressure of matches. At the minimum we’ll be organising a nutrition workshop for the kids and their parents. They’re not looking forward to it, but it will help them make the transition from talented amateurs to pros.’
Find out how Kim Clijsters is turning Judith van Kessel into a star player.