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Czech’s have recipe for success

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Originally published on: 29/06/12 00:00

The country has a population of only 10.5 million, but in the last 60 years it has produced eight Grand Slam singles champions in Martina Navratilova, Petra Kvitova, Jana Novotna, Hana Mandlikova, Jaroslav Drobny, Jan Kodes, Ivan Lendl and Petr Korda. There have been six Czech men and 18 women competing at Wimbledon this year.

Navratilova believes one of the major reasons for Czech success is the country’s club system. “You have it in France also,” Navratilova said. “You don’t see it in the States, you don’t see it in England, but I think Serbia have that as well.

“You just go to the club and hang out. You play other sports and kids are running around kicking a soccer ball, then if they can find somebody to play tennis with, they play tennis and they throw the ball against the wall. They become better athletes, much better all-round athletes and they’re active and they’re healthy and they’re doing it for fun. Then maybe they become serious when they’re like nine or 10 years old.”

Navratilova says that the quality of the coaching and playing so much tennis on clay also helps young Czech players. “Of course the coaching is good,” she said. “Then on clay you have to have an all-round game, a sound game to succeed on clay. You can’t get away with crap, you can’t get away with a lousy serve or a lousy groundstroke or bad footwork or you don’t get to the ball. So I think all of that is a recipe for success.”

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