Alex Di Minaur is the 4th male player from New South Wales in the past 5 years to reach the top 200 in the world in international Tennis, see Sydney Morning Herald article 10/1/2018. He is now ranked #167 in the world but has defeated 3 players in the top 50 this month, so he is set to become a mult-million dollar sportsman.
Nick Kygrios, although from Canberra, was born in a location that is only 3 hours from Sydney. He is currently ranked #17 in the world and has won $5,514,920 in prize-money. Tennis players easily earn more than double their prize-money in endorsement income.
Jordan Thompson who is reached #63 in the world in 2017 and is currently ranked #99, comes from Hornsby in Sydney. His father is a former NSW no 1 junior and international circuit player from Berala in Sydney who is also Jordan’s coach and mentor.
James Duckworth,who has reached #82 in the world in 2015 and is currently #107, comes from Terry Hills in Sydney. He has been ranked in the top 150 from 2013-2018
And don’t forget forget if you are a girl, that Ashleigh Barty reached #11 in the world in October 2017 and has won over a million dollars in prize-money. Barty grew up in Ipswich, the home town of Australian Tennis legend, former world #1 and Australian of the year Patrick Rafter.
I was Alex’s first Tennis coach. Alex Di Minaur grew up in Carss Park in Sydney South next to the Parkside Tennis Courts in Kogarah Bay which was the base of Tennis Blast from 2003 to 2016. At the time, Alex was 4 years old. He hit his first serve over the net at age 4 on court no. 4 at Parkside. That day, it took around an hour playing a game we call “Education” where we start at the net, and progress backwards one footstep each time the player gets hits the ball over the net with an overhead action, until you “graduate” once you get your serve over from the baseline.
My sister Cindy Dock, who reached #600 in the world in singles, coached Alex for the next 2 years and after they moved overseas in 2007, she visited them in Alicante, Spain. Cindy said that Alex has done so well, because he would do everything she asked him to do.
For all you parents who have a child with talent, and are thinking about following in the footsteps of these Aussie Tennis professionals, the short story on Alex that I know about is
- That he was very grown up at age 4. We had the police looking for him when he decided to walk a half a kilometre home from the Tennis courts all by himself one afternoon after his group lesson.
- His Spanish father Pancho showed me diagrams that he drew for Alex explaining things like trajectory and placement on the court – yes when he was still 4.
- Dad also said that Alex would practice for 2-3 hours hitting against the wall in the garage most afternoons after school.
- The Di Minaur family of Pancho, Esther, Alex and his baby brother at that time lived in Sydney for 6 months each year and Spain for the other 6 months each year.
- When Alex came back to Sydney in 2008 when Alex was 9, I had a 3 set match with him at our other courts at Bexley North, and he gave me a really hard match for a 9 year old. My only advice back then for his mother Esther, was to give Pancho a message that I thought he could improve on a few things in the training he was receiving at an academy in Spain, as my comments after almost 40 years as a coach are always based and relative to a player reaching the top 5o in the world, which is every tournament player’s dream.
Well, it looks like Alex certainly has, BUT there is still a lot to be done to reach the top 50 in the world.
Traditionally, it is maintaining the work load and constant travel for the next 3-5 years that is the most challenging for an Australian based player to make the top 50 in the world. Staying in the top 200 yearly and then spiralling up to the top 100, then 50 and finally the top 20 is the ultimate challenge.
Nick Kyrgios has achieved this mainly because of his freakish athletic talent and ball skills and also his big serve which scores him lots of cheap points due to his 193cm (6 foot 3 inch) height. Alex Di Minaur who stands 180cm, will need to model himself more on Lleyton Hewitt’s career. Hewitt was also 180cm tall and has been the man behind Di Minaur most recently. Most interesting will be if this partnership is destined to stay together and if so, reach this holy grail of Tennis over the next 3-5 years.
The reason for needing to be very excited by this month of glory, but also cautious, is that it is a steping stone to glory but also a tremndous ordeal. Once a player reaches where Alex Di Minaur now is, it means great dedicationto go from here to where Nick Kygrios now is.
Young Australian players always have an advantage over visiting players in January each year in Australia. The weather is very severe with temperatures of over 40 degrees and 68 degrees on court, with most top 50 players from overseas having a year end and Christmas break after 9 months of constant travel before the start of the new Tennis year. All up and coming Aussie players have been playing and practicing to the maximum since November and are comfortable in the heat, while the overseas players are jet lagged and also mostly focussed on getting to Melbourne to be fresh and familiar with Melbourne Park for the Australian Open Grand Slam Championships.