Australia, 23 March 2024 | Jackson Mansell

A strong work ethic is helping Tristan Schoolkate reach impressive heights.

The 23-year-old from Perth achieved a career-high doubles ranking of world No.144 late last year and his singles ranking peaked at No.237 in February.

Schoolkate recalls some of his favourite training sessions and important practice lessons in our Train with the Pros series.

Do you have a favourite time of day to practice?

I think sort of mid-morning is pretty good for me. I find that’s pretty regular and standard when I’m training. So, nine o’clock start or 10, something like that is pretty good. Gives me a little bit of time in the morning. I’m up early usually, but like a bit of time to have breakfast and then get going.

How many hours per week, on average, would you spend on the practice court?

I’d say probably two to three hours a day at least, maybe even four some days. Through the preseason, we’d have some pretty big sessions as well, so that can even range up to five hours, maybe even more. Just probably depends on what I’m trying to get out of it and then also what sort of training I’m doing. If it’s a bit of a block, then I’ll have some longer sessions and then some specific stuff in the afternoon. But if it’s before matches or in tournaments, it’s probably not as many hours. One to two sessions a day. I’d say three days in the week, I’d do two (sessions) and then maybe two of the days would be one longer session. Then, a bit of match play on the weekend or if I have Sunday off, then a long session on Saturday.

Do you have a favourite part of your game to work on?

I think it’s always nice to work on your strengths. You feel pretty good about yourself if you’re doing something you’re good at. I enjoy working on my volleys and net game, that’s pretty enjoyable for me. Not a lot of players have that aspect of their game which they probably work on as much as I would, and I find that it’s something a bit more unique and I enjoy it.

Do you have a least favourite part of your game to work on?

I wouldn’t say there’s any bad parts. I enjoy training, I obviously love the sport. I think some days, some parts of your game might feel a bit down in the dumps as such and then almost anything can be annoying, especially even if your strengths aren’t feeling too great, and you can’t seem to maybe serve as well or hit your forehand or even hit your backhand as well, then it can get a little bit annoying. But it’s alright, that’s what practice is for.

What advice would you give to an aspiring player to get the most out of a training session?

Above all, you want to enjoy yourself out there and make sure you’re having fun. But with that, you’ve got to work very hard and if you want to be a professional, then there’s obviously certain standards you’ve got to hold for yourself every single day. If you can get the most out of yourself even when you’re not feeling great, then that’s also a good thing.

Can you remember the first professional player you had an opportunity to practice with?

I practised with John Peers a lot in Perth. I trained there a lot when I was younger, so probably him. I also hit with Alexander Zverev at the Hopman Cup when I was a bit younger.

What do you recall from those early experiences?

I think just seeing the intensity and the level of focus that a professional has in each session. I think it’s so important to hold that standard of focus and intensity into every session. As I’ve then transitioned into being a professional tennis player, that’s something I like to focus on in every single session. Obviously, there’s a reason why they’re ranked where they are and that’s something I learned as a kid. As a kid I learned to play tennis as fun. It was a game. Now I’m starting to progress into focusing on all professional things, and I think that’s a big thing I learned.

Can you recall any training sessions you were particularly nervous for?

I trained with Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena a couple of years ago. For me, that was like ‘okay, this is obviously the best player in the world, hopefully I can hold my level for a practice session’, and it was great. It turned out to be one of the better sessions I’ve had. I thought it was fantastic to be around the best player in the world, so that was good.

Who are your favourite players to practice with?

That’s a tricky one. I train a lot with Adam Walton in Brisbane. I train a lot with James Duckworth as well, he’s quite enjoyable to train with. We get along really well and have a lot of laughs.

Are there any players on tour you would like the opportunity to practice with?

I think the likes of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz would be fantastic. I think they are young guys coming through who are showing a very high physical level and their level of tennis is phenomenal.

Which player from tennis history would you most like to practice with and why?

My favourite player growing up was Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. I know he has an academy in France, so maybe down the track I’ll have a look at doing that. Other than that, I think maybe Pat Rafter. I really enjoyed watching him over my time and I think the way he played was pretty awesome to watch. To get some tips from him would be pretty cool.

Finally, if you had five minutes remaining in a training session and could choose to do anything, what would you do?

Serving. I think that’s the most important shot in tennis. So, I think I’d take my time to finetune that and really hone in on getting it better. I’d serve at targets or have someone returning. I also enjoy playing ‘Horse’, where you’re trying to hit a spot and the next person will have to try and hit the spot too. If they miss, they go on a letter. I think something like that is pretty fun if you can make it competitive.

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

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