Brisbane, Australia, 26 September 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Competitive play was the focus on day two of the inaugural Tennis Australia Talent Combine, which is taking place this week at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

Sixteen of the nation’s most promising junior talents aged between 13 and 15 took to the courts, playing a series of matches in front of national coaches.

John Millman was also a keen observer, after sharing words of wisdom with the Talent Combine participants ahead of their matches.

The two-time Olympian and proud Davis Cup representative reflected on his own junior experiences, telling the group his parents encouraged him to prioritise education rather than tennis in his teenage years.

“It used to frustrated me that my peers were doing full-time tennis and I felt like I was missing out, but that’s what happens when you have parents who are school teachers,” Millman related.

Yet Millman explained how this inspired him to make the most of every training session he had, instilling discipline that has served him well across his professional playing career.

“One thing I learnt with that,” explained the former world No.33, “I was really determined that every time I stepped onto the court, I had a bit of purpose and I did it at a maximum intensity.”

> READ: Inaugural Tennis Australia Talent Combine hits off in Brisbane

Millman shared how developing those positive practice habits also provided additional confidence when he started on tour.

“To get results on the tour, especially early on, you’re not going to climb the rankings by having lots of dips in form,” he explained.

“You’re not going to win every week, that’s a given. But you have to be able to bring a certain level week in, week out.

“With my ability to practice with purpose, even if it wasn’t for the longest periods of time like some of my peers were doing, I was able to build my floor.

“There were some people who just go through the motions (on the practice court) or try to be pretty cool on court, and I felt like their floor was a bit lower. Maybe their ceiling was pretty high, but I always felt like my floor was pretty good.

“Practising those good habits early on and training with purpose, I felt like that really helped when I could then do it full-time after I turned 18 and started travelling.”

Millman encouraged the junior athletes to adopt a good attitude, compete hard and try to get a little bit better each session. He also emphasised the importance of listening to coaches.

“I’ve been a victim in the past of sometimes thinking I know better than someone else, but that’s not the right attitude to have,” he said.

It is a message that has resonated well with the Talent Combine participants.

Cameron Burton, a 15-year-old from Western Australia, described Millman’s advice as “very inspirational”, while Jizelle Sibai, a 13-year-old from New South Wales, was thrilled to learn from his experiences.

“John has had a great career and had some unbelievable wins. It’s great to hear that all the sacrifices, determination and hard work pays off in the end,” Sibai said. “Because that’s the end result you want to get.”

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