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The Phenomenon of “Valan” Tennis Academy – Six First Places in International Tournament

Fri, Jan 18, 2013

a. Featured, b. Coaches

The Phenomenon of “Valan” Tennis Academy – Six First Places in International Tournament

Written by: Valeri Iagolnic


***In this day and age of everyone looking for the perfect way to develop players, it is refreshing to see someone who does it his way and keeps on producing results. Valeri Iagolnik has been doing this in Toronto for years. The ongoing success of his players is a reflection of the passion that he brings to his work. What we need in Canada is more Valeri Iagolniks. Congratulations to a great school and their kids.***


The players of Valan Tennis Academy recently returned from Florida, where they participated in the “Little Mo International-2012” – the prestigious tennis tournament for kids ages 8 to 12. The tournament welcomed 250 participants from 35 countries of the world. Canada was represented by 23 players from different provinces.”VALAN” Tennis Academy had eight players participating. They earned six first, five second and one fourth places. That result was earned with the help of the head coach of the academy, Valeri Iagolnik.

Valeri Iagolnik graduated from the Moscow University of Physical Education and Sports and was awarded the highest level of coaching category, “Grand”. Recently he celebrated the 40-year anniversary of his coaching career. Of eight of his students that participated in the tournament, four of them became champions. These kids came to Valeri a few years ago to learn to play tennis. None of them ever held the racquet in their hands before that. Valeri developed them as players and taught them to fight and to win.

Since the school opened in 2006, Valeri has created many good tennis players for the OTA. A lot of these kids now are the top-10 best players in Ontario.

“Little Mo International” is one of the biggest tournaments for the kids age 8-12. Every child wanted to win and become a champion. There was a group of kids from the famous Bolletteri Academy from Florida that developed one of the best players in the world: Maria Sharapova. These kids train for hours a day and also had hopes to bring home the big prize. Two of the Valan players, David Gouberg and Ariana Arsenealt, had a chance to compete against these players and managed to beat both of them. Ariana won with respectable score 6:3, 6:0.

“Little Mo” welcomed a famous guest, Anne Smith, who is a ten time Grand Slam champion. Anne Smith talked to kids before the tournament about Mental Toughness, she then held a clinic for all of the participants. She also offered sessions for interested kids to talk to each of them individually about their game. At the end of the tournament Anne Smith chose ten kids that earned, according to her, a Mental Toughness award. Two awards were given to Valan players David Gouberg and Anton Kogay.

The final matches were all very memorable. Dasha Plekhanova was playing against a top player from South African. Even though she easily took the first set 6:1, the nerves took over and she lost the second set. In the third set tiebreaker Dasha was losing 4:7, but she got her second wind and the dream to win helped her to fight to the end and win 11:9.

Alexandra Arkhipov showed amazingly powerful tennis against American Zoe Hitt. Only two mistakes in the final tiebreaker took away the first place award from Alexandra.

In a final matchs David Gouberg beat a boy from Peru that, according to his coach, trains eight hours a day. From the first points Murill was trying to attack David and find a strategy against him, but a focused David returned each ball with precision that confused Murill. It looked like he played with the wall, the balls just kept coming back. The final score was 6:1, 7:6.

Ariana Arseneault played against the American Maxi Duncan in the finals. The day before, Ariana lost twice to her in the doubles and mix-doubles. Maxi Duncan showed very powerful tennis and the game was promising to be very tough. Maxi Duncan is considered to be a very promising player in USA that already has some sponsors. Ariana raised the level of her game and she managed to show everything she learned during her long hours of practice: strong serves, attacking shots, returns and volleys. Ariana mentally broke Maxi and brought the victory home with the final score of 6:2, 6:1.

These victories are only small steps towards professional tennis. Very hard work is ahead of us for both the coaches and the players so that one day their names will be heard at the Grand Slams.

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22 Responses to “The Phenomenon of “Valan” Tennis Academy – Six First Places in International Tournament”

  1. 1
    Tennis Lover Says:

    Yes, they are good kids. However, they have no tennis future. The best player in this academy is ranked #60 in the National ranking for Canada. However, until he was 12 years old, he had potential and was a good player. It is impossible to obtain any results while training 10 players per court. For the seven years that this academy has operated, I have not heard of a single player from this academy who has obtained a decent ranking in Ontario, let alone nationally or internationally.

  2. 2
    The Bear Says:

    The best player I have coached in the last ten years was a product of Veleri’s coaching, Katy Shulaeva. The problem the Valan academy has is a lack of courts.

    There is many positive young players coming from this Academy.

    Alexandra Arkhipov, 11 years old is one of the best under 12 and just won the U 12 selection.

  3. 3
    tennis parent Says:

    The kids in Valan’s team always had high provincial ranking (some of them were always at least in first 10), Alexandra Arhipova is currently #2 in Canada, so the comment of Tennis Lover is not an accurate statement. As for their tennis future, it really depends on the whole system of players training in Ontario and Canada, in general. In the current system – true, they don’t have a lot of chances. However, it is no different for absolutely any other Canadian junior tennis player, in any other private Canadian tennis club.

  4. 4
    TL Says:

    Aleksandra Arhipova is currently #2 in Canada That all U12
    What happened after???? Sklyarov Arseniy (ON) U16 # 57.

  5. 5
    LANA Says:

    Arseniy just started his U16-category. That is not bad result for him. Let’s talk about him in two years…

  6. 6
    NN Says:

    “Valan” is very good academy. That’s true. But they have one problem. They can’t keep the good players. As soon as Valan’s players get some results they leave the academy by any reasons. Sometimes it is decision of the coach to let them go. Why??? Who will be next?

  7. 7
    Tennis Lover Says:

    If you have 10 players in the training court, who wants to stay

  8. 8
    NN Says:

    Dear TL. They don’t have 10 players in the training court. They have 6-8 players. Not more. Sometimes even 4-6. You have to check your information. :)

  9. 9
    Tennis Parent Says:

    NN: the good kids leave Valan, when they are lured by the promise of “better” coaches and “guaranteed” results. And where are those kids now?

  10. 10
    Tennis Lover Says:

    Katherine Sebov – under 14 National Champion

  11. 11
    Tennis Parent at Valan Says:

    Tennis Lover, it seems that you have been disgruntled. You are pretty negative and most of your information is incorrect. As one of the comments above that you never heard about any good players from Valan (and then mention Sebov), you have to know your stuff in order to judge. There are a bunch of players that are not only competing in Canada on high level, but on international level that you have no idea or information about (and winning those tournaments).
    In terms of your comment:
    Aleksandra Arhipova is currently #2 in Canada That all U12 (BTW now #1 and provincial champion)
    What happened after???? Sklyarov Arseniy (ON) U16 # 57. (it takes 10 years to raise a top player, Arseny has been in tennis for about 5 years, he has shown high results previously and be assured will continue fighting to the top. What about other 350 boys behind him?)

    I ve never heard about Tennis Canada Miracles, where they took a player from poor ranking and made a number one player. They had to be created as a player and then to be top player for Tennis Canada to look at them. Hence Sebov. She was with Valan (with Valeri)from 0. From 8 years old to 12. When he let her go she was number 1 in Canada, so there is no questions about Valans (particularly Valeri Iagolnik’s) ability to build a top tennis player.

    It would do you good to maybe get more informed about this academy, rather than spread rumors and gossips. As a parent there I am more than satisfied with the level of coaching and encouragement my child receives and environment he is in. Maybe you should come by and see for yourself.

  12. 12
    tennismom Says:

    I have a lot of respect for what Valan is doing.
    They have a big pool of kids of recreational level. They give them a chance to learn some tennis skills, kids are in a friendly environment, out of the street. Groups make it affordable for the parents.

    As to the college and pro level,of course ,Valeri has experience to bring a player up if he is given enough time and financial support.
    His focus on mental skills and playing a lot makes it possible for players with different game styles and techniques to reach a very good level and be successful at the early age. Look at his best, they are all good fighters. Valeri has an eye for it.

    Yes, there are strong national and provincials results at this academy!

    To became #1 in Canada U12 is an achievement to be proud of but let’s wait and see what happens around 18 when the game is tested, its efficiency along with mental and physical abilities.

    To build a great game with strong weapons requires a LOT of hours of individual work. I am sorry, here I disagree and don’t believe in a group lessons.

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