Hogstedt & The South African Coaching Tour
Published November 20, 2012 12:00
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa - We often read about what the WTA stars do during the off-season, but what about their coaches? Well in this case, it's more coaching - Thomas Hogstedt, who coached Maria Sharapova to a Career Grand Slam and back to No.1 this year, did a one week coaching tour with South African juniors recently, and only had good things to say about it all.
Invited by South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith, Hogstedt held a specialized training camp for Under 10, Under 12 and Under 14 boys and girls from November 6 to 11, one of the best coaches in the world looking for the country's next wave of stars. The kids also got fitness and nutritional coaching from South Africa's own Richard Sutton, who has spent many years on the pro tour working with the likes of Li Na, Nadia Petrova and Tommy Haas.
"When I worked with Tommy Haas and Li Na they worked with Richard, so I wanted to help him in return for what he did for my players," Hogstedt said. "It was fantastic to work with these boys and girls - I've worked with players of this age who later got to the Top 10 on the WTA and ATP, and it's great to feel their energy to get better, as well as their hopes to one day be a top player."
The camp took place at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province about 50km east of Cape Town.
"It was so nice in Stellenbosch and Cape Town," Hogstedt said. "The weather was perfect, the beaches were nice and the cities had everything you would need to enjoy yourself. Where we trained the weather was just like it is in Australia, so it's a perfect place to prepare for the tournaments in Australia."
A lot of media were there to cover the week, such as CNN, Sky and CCTV.
How did coaching the youngsters differ from coaching pros like Sharapova, one of the most successful players of all time, one of only 10 women in the history of the sport to win each of the four Grand Slam tournaments at least once?
"The biggest difference between coaching juniors and coaching the top players like Li Na, Wozniacki and Maria is that with the juniors you try to teach them the basic techniques, so one day they have a chance to be a top player," he said. "With the top players you just try to make smaller adjustments and get them to understand how hard the other top players work on and off the court."
And how does he feel about Sharapova's very successful 2012 season? "This year she reached her and my goal for her, to win the French Open - so she has all four Grand Slams - and come back to No.1," he said. "Maria is a champion."
Hogstedt is now rejoining with that champion to prepare for the 2013 season.