Perth, Western Australia, 4 November 2020 | Vivienne Christie

While a love for tennis was instilled early for Tom George, so too was the value of hard work. After a coaching career that’s already seen him guide many of Australia’s top young players, Tom is now combining his passion and work ethic as the WA National Development Squad coach.

Tell us about your own start in tennis?

As a young kid I would pick up tennis balls for my mum at the local club when we lived in Fiji. The coach would then give me a five-minute hit at the end of my mum’s lesson as a reward. I instantly loved the game and would spend hours hitting on the garage wall at home and begging my parents to take me to the club. Tennis is a huge part of our family life, as we all love the game.

What inspired you to become a tennis coach?

I have always loved the game and have been fortunate to have had great coaches myself. Helping young, aspiring professionals fulfil their potential and achieve their goals is incredibly satisfying.

What are some highlights of your coaching career?

(Being) Team Captain at the boys World Junior Teams in 2018 was a huge honour. The boys qualified through the Asian qualifying in Thailand and we finished in the top eight at the World Championships in Prostejov, Czech Republic.

When I took the 14/u Australian boys’ team on the European tour they won the Duno Air Fair Play Award at the Category 1 Windmill Cup in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands, acknowledging outstanding sportsmanship on and off court. The team and I were most proud of this award.

Being the coach/manager of the 14/u WA Girls Team that won back-to-back national titles at the Australian Teams Championships in Melbourne and the Gold Coast was another high point.

Working with Australia’s top juniors and professionals is also a real highlight each and every day. Working with players such as Matthew Ebden is a real buzz.

Describe your role as a National Development Squad coach?

The role is responsible for delivering a holistic High Performance Tennis Program in WA. I am working hard to positively impact athlete and coach development through communication, education, integration and support. The position is responsible for the selection and development of players aged eight to 18 through the implementation and management of Zone and National Development Squad programs.

Aligned and professional working relationships with private coaches is paramount. We are working with private coaches to understand the development plans of National Development Squad players and to integrate individual player development plans as much as practicable into squad sessions.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

To consistently ensure great depth year after year. WA has some of the best players in the country and we need to ensure those players keep pushing each other. The base also needs to be strong to ensure that tournaments and leagues in WA have good depth and that the next generation pushes the older age groups.

What is the most rewarding part of your role ?

Seeing WA players thrive nationally and internationally. Seeing the hard work pay off and seeing the athletes reach their goals.

What’s a great day at the office?

We have a vibrant, hardworking team in WA, so a great day at the office is seeing everyone happy and working hard. Seeing all the courts full, with lots of energy, noise and great atmosphere brings a smile to our face each day.

Describe your coaching philosophy.

My coaching philosophy is based on the foundation of hard work. Outworking the competition and combining some fun along the way. Providing an environment that allows the athlete to maximise their potential.

It is also to evaluate the unique strengths and weaknesses of each athlete and build a game plan around that individual. Looking at physical attributes, their movement, technique, game style and then construct a plan. First and foremost, the athlete needs to be technically sound.

My coaching philosophy is to build a game around a player’s weapons. It is important to have a complete game with a focus on an aggressive brand of tennis, building an athlete who is physically and mentally strong and ready for the tour. Building a strong physical base both on and off court, allows the athlete to play this physically demanding brand of tennis day in, day out.

Last of all, I would like the athlete to have great self-belief. The environment I provide needs to be positive, nurturing, encouraging and motivating for the athlete to reach their potential. The athlete needs to believe they can achieve anything, with a strong emphasis on the wellbeing of the environment and the athlete.

What’s your most-used phrase when coaching?

Work hard and have fun.

If you could name one most important lesson, what would it be?

Never give up, give 100 per cent effort and chase your dreams. Anything is possible.

As a player, what was the best advice you ever received from a coach?

Train so hard that playing a tournament is your rest period.

What do you love most about tennis?

The relationships formed through tennis stretch right around the world and you are friends for life.

Who is a professional player you love watching?

Lleyton Hewitt. A player that always gave his best effort and wore his heart on his sleeve. I have a great amount of respect for what Lleyton has done for Australian tennis and the example he set for young Australian players to chase every ball and to outwork the competition. A true legend of the game.

What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?

We have a number of metro and regional camps planned in WA. It is always exciting to see the next wave of talent coming through. I am also looking forward to working closely with Paul Vassallo and the rest of the Talent team on some great new initiatives and ensuring our young Aussies have a world-class pathway to maximise their ability.

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