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Masterminds of Tennis: Weylu Chang

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Originally published on: 18/10/13 00:00

What is your role at IMG Academy?
I oversee and manage eight coaches and I oversee between morning and afternoon almost 80 students, every day. We try to stress that however good you are and whatever age, it’s still less than 1 per cent that really do something in professional tennis and we do stress that with all of our players.

How long are the kids with you?
Four hours each morning, three hours on court and one hour of strength and conditioning after that. Afternoons are when aspiring pros train. They have just started and show they have some talent and skill. Their parents are around – they are investing in their child’s professional future, they are young, they are excited, they are looking to really excel.

You were a student at the academy. Who else was training there back then?
Tommy Haas, Max Mirnyi, Anna Kournikova and Xavier Malisse were some. I definitely think that playing experience has helped me as a coach. I can tell the students here that I have been through this process and that the process works, that it has shaped my life, not just on court as a tennis player but in all areas of my life.

Have you spent time on the tour?
After college I started working with WTA players, it was a great opportunity to see level of tennis that everyone aspires to, to see the lifestyle. It’s not all glamour. Everyone thinks that being a professional athlete is awesome and amazing but it is hard work. They have to get up early and train, travel. Sometimes you are away from your family for long periods.

What is your role as a tour coach?
The tour players know their tennis, so there’s a lot of taking care of other needs so the player can focus on their tennis, on practice, so there’s a lot of organising, setting up practise, ensuring there is a hitting partner, that they have everything that they need.

You spent some time with Monica Seles…
I worked with her after her injury so a lot of it was working out how comfortable she was after her practices, how to make her feel good. She was always doubtful of her health and things like that and so I was trying to get her over that doubt and trying to comfort her fears and give her a bit of confidence, positive feedback when she was hitting, pointing out the good things and things she was close to doing well.

What qualities do you need as a coach?
Passion for what you do and at the level at which you are working. So for me, with youngsters, an eye for technical areas where they need work and then taking the time to show them how to do it. You give them a little bit here and there and you can see instant improvements.

Do you have a golden piece of advice for juniors?
A lot of times it is about getting them out of their own way. I can think of a few different students, where they are trying too hard. The kids are very dedicated and they are putting everything they have into it, and they over-analyse. Sometimes they just need to back up, take a deep breath, take a second. It’s getting them out of their way, it’s simplifying, and then the light goes on in their head.

What are your major challenges?
The fun part is finding what works for a particular student and once you find that the reward is an amazing feeling. Everyone receives information in a different way – some people are visual learners, for some people you need to take their hand and make the stroke. Some people just have to watch what is correct, some people you just have to tell them. Some people need a soft approach, some people respond to a hard approach.

How has Nick Bollettieri helped you personally?
I was fortunate enough to have a relationship with him when I was a student here. The biggest thing he used to tell me was that I was good, that I was better than I thought. So each day I tell myself I am capable of doing what I do.

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Tennishead magazine brings you the very best tennis articles, interviews with the great players, tennis gear and racket reviews, tennis coaching tips plus much more
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