Junior tennis players who joined the DreamBig Gold Series Tennis Camp at Manila Polo Club, Makati on January 11 and 12, 2020 caught the eye of U.S. NCAA Division I coaches.
Ezequiel Gils of Rice University, Rob Raines of Cornell University and Jesse Frieder from Boston University were more than pleasantly surprised by the Philippine tennis landscape when they watched the tennis players participate in the extremely intensive tennis training camp.
Twenty young tennis players were given the rare opportunity to be trained by the Division I Tennis coaches and underwent extensive, hands-on training that gave them an insight on of how US colleges run their athletic programs.
“Talent is everywhere. I’ve seen a lot of players who can play at a really high level if they just commit to spending time on the court and practicing. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the Philippines in terms of tennis. It’s a place a lot of coaches are missing out on and it’s certainly a place that I’ll keep in mind as I’m recruiting,” added Cornell University Coach Rob Raines.
The coaches were impressed with the campers and their eagerness to learn, with Boston U coach, Jesse Frieder specifically praising the student-athletes for their coachability. “The players here are very coachable, which leads me to believe that if they to end up in any of our teams, we could help them reach for the sky because they’re open to learning and improving.”
The coaches were particularly impressed with several of the country’s up and coming tennis sensations including, the 16-year old son of former Olympian Bea Lucero - Sebastien Lhuillier - who participated in the camp. According to the coaches, almost all the players showed potential to play at the Division I level.
“Physicality and fitness are so important. It’s so easy to lose to somebody when they hit the ball harder than you because they’re bigger than you are. But if you consistently beat higher-ranked players while winning 3-set matches, you prove to us that you are really tough and gritty. We want to see you in more and more matches because it makes your UTR more accurate and it makes you a tougher tennis player. We want players in our team who are tough; who are not scared of pressure and not scared of the moment.” Coach Frieder said.
Overall, however, the coaches said it will take more than talent to compete at the world level. With resources becoming readily available, it will take proper mindset, grit, and support from the country for young players to dream big and achieve big.
“It’s more mindset than perhaps even resources. Having someone who is hungry as a child—and I mean hungry to learn— is crucial. We need somebody who wants to be better today than they were yesterday regardless of what their floor is, in terms of talent and athletic ability,” said Rice University Coach Ezequiel Gils
“People who work the hardest, who are disciplined, who go to the gym, who consistently practice buckets of serves, are generally the most confident. You gain confidence from preparation. The more confident the player — the more he or she is likely to win,” said Coach Jesse Frieder.
“Manila has the facilities and the weather. You can work on having good fitness. This country surely has the possibility of having a champion someday,” Rice University Coach Ezequiel Gils said.
Akshay Maliwal, Founder and CEO of DreamBig Events said DreamBig is bringing in more camps and tournaments for tennis, golf, and soccer this year, to give local junior athletes the opportunity to be discovered by Division I US universities coaches who can help them reach their personal goals and the country’s dream to have Filipino players compete at the international stage.
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