Melbourne, Australia, 17 September 2022 | Tennis Australia

Marisa Gianotti, a Women’s Scholarship Coach recipient, says stepping outside of your comfort zone is a key lesson for playing tennis – and one she also relied on when making the transition to coaching.

As she reflects on her tennis journey the former WTA player, who first began coaching as junior assistant, explains how she loves to giving back to the sport that has provided her with so much opportunity.

Tell us about your own start in the game?

My tennis journey started when I was nine years old. My neighbour’s backyard had a tennis court and every afternoon my brother and I would go over and play on the court. Soon after, my parents enrolled me in weekly tennis lessons. From there my love and passion for tennis grew, from competing and training, to learning and creating life experiences.

What are some highlights of your time in tennis?

It has provided me with incredible experiences and opportunities. Some of my highlights include travelling the world to train and compete, where I was able to obtain a WTA singles and double ranking. Growing up in Western Australia, one of my goals was to win the prestigious WA Open. I achieved this goal when I won both the singles and doubles titles. As tennis is such an individual sport, it was always an honour to represent my state as both an athlete and a coach in a team environment.

What does becoming a Scholarship Coach as part of the Women and Girls Strategy mean for you?

I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work in a role and in a sport that I have so much passion for, and that has given me so much. Women coaching scholarships are a fantastic way to increase the volume of quality female coaches around the country in the high-performance environment, which is imperative to supporting aspiring athletes. To be able to give back and share my knowledge and experiences from my own journey, as well as learn from some of the best coaches in the country, is incredibly meaningful to me.

Why is coaching a great career?

Coaching can be a really rewarding career. People are placing their trust in you to help them develop, learn, and achieve their goals and aspirations. It’s an opportunity to make a positive difference and see the impact you can have on other peoples’ lives. It also gives you the chance to use your experiences to give something back to other people.

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

As an Australian coach, Nicole Pratt is a role model. Her leadership, clarity and actions have translated to enormous benefits in our sport. Nicole continues to actively promote females in tennis with a focused approach to our development.

What is some advice you’d give to other women considering a career in coaching?

If you are passionate about helping people, back yourself and give it a go. Female role models and mentors are so important!

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

As an athlete and a coach, we are faced with adversity on a daily basis. As an athlete, I had to learn how to be resilient and deal with emotions. As a coach, every environment presents its challenges due to dealing with numerous stakeholders. It teaches you how to achieve the best possible outcome for the athlete. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve faced in both these areas, as each one has shaped me into a more resilient, empowered and understanding athlete, coach, and person—and has deepened my connection to the sport.

What’s a great day at work as a Scholarship Coach?

I love the passionate and energetic team I work alongside and learn from every day. Each day brings new challenges, discussions, and learnings, which is so rewarding. I also have the opportunity to jump on court every day with some of Australia’s up and coming juniors, which excites me. I’m fortunate enough to be a part of their tennis journey and help them develop as athletes and people.

Your coaching philosophy?

My coaching philosophy is constantly evolving; however, I endeavour to create a holistic environment where I consider building the character of the person to be just as important as developing the skills of the player.

What’s your most used phrase when coaching?

“Back yourself.” I want people to believe in themselves and their game.

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

A phrase that really resonates with me is ‘your zone of courage is just outside your comfort zone.’ A lesson I try to encourage is for athletes to be brave; to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.

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?

Tennis is such a significant part of my life and has provided me with so much more than just tennis skills. I love the life skills tennis has taught me as well as the way it connects people. I have met so many friends, mentors, and role models throughout my tennis journey.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Looking ahead, I am most excited for new experiences, new opportunities, and new learnings. I’ve already been fortunate enough to gain a new mentor in Nicole Pratt who is so understanding and is doing an outstanding job at promoting and encouraging females in tennis.

Read more from our TA Insider archives:

> Embrace a ‘yes’ attitude says Genevieve Lorbergs

> Coach Emily Burns thriving with opportunity

> A new career focus for Jessica Moore

> Nicole Pratt: “The vision is to create equality”