Konrad Weber (bottom right) at The Gomez Academy in Florida
Vaughn Ianiello (left) Skydiving with training partner
Genevieve now playing at Fordham University in NYC
Konrad, Vaughn, and Genevieve are 3 Barrie area tennis players who have experienced the International Tennis Academy experience. Konrad is currently at The Gomez Academy in Florida, Vaughn spent time at academies in Florida, Bahamas and Spain, while Genevieve trained in Florida academies on route to obtaining a D1 Scholarship at Fordham University.
Genevieve began playing tennis at 6, was selected to The Tennis Canada National Program at a very young age. At 11 her parents did some research and found a coach named Steve Smith with an academy near Bradenton Florida. She spent a few years there and then moved a few times before finishing her Florida experience at Johan Kriek Academy. These years allowed her the time on the court and the expert guidance and the quality hitting opponents to develop a high enough level to gain the attention of D1 Schools. Genevieve did the bulk of her schooling online, while also attending Nouvelle Alliance in Barrie.
Vaughn began in Barcelona Spain at 4Slam Academy, from there he spent time in Miami at the Canas Tennis Academy and then finished up at The Albany (with Lleyton Hewitt) in Bahamas. Konrad went to Gomez in September and is training full time for the first semester of the school year returning in February to Barrie.
These players have the exposure that is impossible to get in Barrie. At an academy players are exposed to two-a-day tennis training, advanced off-court conditioning, video analysis, tactical teaching and mental instruction. They return with a new appreciation for the sport, how long it takes to improve, and how hard you have to work. The demands of academy life are huge. It is basically a full day everyday from 6am-9pm. Players are held to a very high standard of behavior and will be asked to leave if they violate the policies and rules of the academy.
It's no walk in the park. The time management is difficult, players are responsible for getting all their work done, for keeping up with the demands of the academy and for keeping up with all the on-court work. Its hard for parents as well; to be away from their kids, the huge financial component and having to let go control over a lot of elements. But in speaking with the parents of all 3 players, they all said the experience has been good. And all 3 sets of parents would recommend it to other parents. 'The lessons that he is learning will serve him well for years to come. I look forward to 10 years from now and his comments.' says Paul Weber (Konrad's father)
The fitness may be the component that surprised parents the most. At these academies players are made to work. Compared to zero fitness conditioning in Barrie, this is a huge adjustment. 'He suffered for about a month in the fitness classes, his body ached horribly, and he was absolutely exhausted at the end of a 7 hour day (2 hours fitness, 4 hours tennis, 1-hour lunch) - to the point where he could barely stay awake to eat dinner.' says Sandi, Vaughn's mother after his start in Spain.
The price as well comes as quite a shock. You are looking at about $3500USD per month just for tennis training (Skyhawks is approximately $800 for 8 weeks). Add on to that the accommodations and other expenses and you can see why so few are able to provide this opportunity for their children. 'looking back, perhaps, surprising is how easy it was to spend the money, thousands and thousands of dollars every year, just on that dream of your child.' says Vitalika Quenville, Genevieve's mother. 'But we are very proud of her, she learned how to manage her time and live within her means. Not many kids can handle it, never mind parents. Also, competition in these academies is very tough. The child has to be an accomplished player here, in Barrie and in Ontario, first!' she adds.
These parents are happy to share more of their experiences and can be reached by contacting Johnny at the club. There is nothing like having a first-hand account from someone who has already done something you are considering doing.