Melbourne, Australia, 24 February 2021 |

Not afraid to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, former pro Genevieve Lorbergs is thriving in her transition into coaching. One of three Scholarship Coaches as part of Tennis Australia’s Females in Tennis initiative, 30-year-old Lorbergs reflects on her biggest life lessons in our TA Insider series …

Tell us about your own start in the game?

When I was five, my Dad handed me a racquet that he had lying in the garage. He started throwing balls to the racquet and was amazed at my co-ordination to be able to rhythmically find the middle of the racquet repeatedly. Once I started being coached, I loved every minute – competing, the problem solving, sweating and crying over wins and losses. Ever since that backyard experience, tennis has been a way for me to learn about life. Through hardships and also through the emphatic wins, it has taught me to manage my emotions and thoughts from an early age.

What are some highlights of your time in tennis?

I have always believed in dreaming big, setting goals and striving for continued positive growth. My childhood dream was to play professional sport. I remember watching Wimbledon, and in particular Steffi Graf, and thinking I’d love to do that. One of my highlights included winning my first professional doubles title in my home state of South Australia. I didn’t reach Wimbledon, but one day I’d like to take one of our Aussies all the way to the top.

You recently became a Scholarship Coach as part of Tennis Australia’s Females in Tennis initiative. What does this mean for you?

The growth and evolution of tennis requires the need to represent people from all backgrounds. Diversity is vital to create stronger pathways and opportunities to lift the gaps that currently exist. Providing opportunities such as the Females in Tennis scholarship can help facilitate a more diverse and representative culture, leading to greater results for Australian tennis. It’s an understatement to say how incredibly honoured and grateful I am to be in this newly-created role and to be an influencer for the upcoming generation.

Why is coaching a great career?

Tennis coaching has taught me the art of accountability, planning, discipline, being open to new insights and healthy communication. In many ways you learn about life through this sport. Coaching provides a great way to connect with people and the community. I am indebted to tennis for its real time life lessons. I use these insights to be able develop players individually and as part of teams. Creating successful pathways for future generations as a tennis coach rewards me on a deep personal level.

Who are some of the coaches that have been influential in your career?

My US college mentors and coaches were a huge influence. I spent five years playing tennis for the University of Central Florida. They were so encouraging of my talent, in fact they also encouraged me try-out for the Varsity rowing team following my tennis scholarship. I’d never rowed before in my life, but found myself in the top Varsity eight-boat whilst also earning a Masters Degree in Exercise Science. The US culture encourages all people to pursue their dreams and I was truly embraced and inspired by this culture. I hope to pass on that encouragement and support to our Australian players in their pursuit of excellence and aspirations to fulfill their own dreams.

Who are the women who have been most inspiring in terms of tennis?

My mother believed in my abilities and gave me many opportunities to use and develop my diverse sporting skills from when I was young. Her backing and support allowed me to cultivate my confidence and self-belief which translated then into my tennis development and success.
As an Australian coach, Nicole Pratt is a role model. Her leadership, clarity and actions have translated to enormous benefits to our sport. Nicole continues to actively promote females with a focused approach to our development.

What is some advice you’d share with other women considering a career in coaching?

Believe. Develop belief in yourself. Develop belief in your abilities. Accept and celebrate your uniqueness too – because, sister, that is what sets you apart from the rest! Keeping a journal is a practical tool to develop self-belief, as patterns and experiences recorded can develop insight into the small and large experiences of your own tennis pathway. Use the professional training on offer and develop those learnings using your own understandings of the game.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome in your tennis career (both as a player and a coach)?

As a professional player or coach we are constantly working through adversity. Being an athlete you need to develop resilience, including combating the feelings of fear or physical discomfort. This is part of the human experience of tennis.
As a coach, a challenging environment is ever-changing. The player and various stakeholder needs are often at the forefront, and navigating through these can be difficult. Maintaining a ‘player-centred’ approach in these circumstances is likely to support a successful outcome.

What’s a great day look like for a Scholarship Coach?

I have the opportunity to work with the nation’s top developing juniors and professional athletes in Australia. It is, for me, appreciating that every player has their own developing skill set and their own individual influences – both personal and professional. Understanding this supports me to use my skills with encouragement and direction, so each player develops and can apply their own unique talents to the maximum benefit of their game.

How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

Compete with everything that you have – body, mind and spirit. The more a coach believes in life-long learning, personal development and staying up-to-date with tennis development, the more it complements the individual player’s development and growth.

What’s your most used phrase when coaching?

“Take the game on!” It is a phrase which can increase ownership and confidence. It means take control, tell the ball where to go and know what you want.

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

Stay open to opportunities that come your way. Say yes to life. Saying yes to ourselves is a psychological encouragement and has a positive effect on our attitudes.

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

“All we can ever do is our best.”

What do you love most about tennis?

The passion, the love, the grit, and the personal development of individuals. The travel opportunities and meeting fit, lively people. Tennis is a game for everyone and all ages.

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

How I can help facilitate the growth of tennis in Australia. I want to use my diverse experience and skill set to encourage current and future generations. Let’s pave the way for the future of the sport by ensuring the same opportunities exist for everyone.