WHEN Wimbledon comes around many people fancy themselves as the next Federer or Sharapova and are inspired to brush up on their skills, writes Sarah Ann Harris.
Dominic Rice is a tennis coach based in Lammas Park, Ealing, and offers all ages and abilities the chance to improve their skills on the court.
As a sports-mad youngster, Mr Rice was talent-spotted to play for the Middlesex Junior Excellence Squad after his mother took him to Gunnersbury Triangle Club to stop him bashing a ball against the garden wall.
Now the 30-year-old coaches with Will To Win and runs one-to-one lessons, group coaching and tennis camps.
“No matter the level of skill, we coach everyone from aged three to 73,” he said.
He would love to see more sport taught in schools, as he is worried that children do not get enough chance these days.
He said: “A lot of kids are just plopped in front of a television or computer screen now. The level of basic skills and hand-eye co-ordination is not that good. We get some parents who bring a kid along and expect kids to be able to pick up tennis, one of the hardest sports to learn, easily, but they can’t even catch a ball from four feet. So there’s a lot to do.”
What about the so-called ‘pushy parenting’ associated with tennis?
“You do get a few diva-ish kids and parents who suddenly think that they’re the coach,” admitted Mr Rice.
He says that it is seeing people improve that spurs him on.
“When you have a player and you see every ball that they hit, you get to really see them progress,” he added. For example, I’ve got a junior who when he arrived could hardly catch a ball and now he’s seven and winning events in Middlesex.
“Seeing the journey he’s taken as a player is great. I’m looking forward to seeing the next few steps and helping him to fulfil his potential.”
His tip to win Wimbledon this year is Novak Djokovic.
“I really admire his hard-working approach,” he said. “I was coaching out in Dubai and he was there. He was really nice to some of the kids I was looking after. He couldn’t see them straight away but he made time to meet them, give them gifts and sign some autographs.
“He didn’t have to do that, but he went out of his way to give them an experience that they won’t ever forget.”