*** Larry is an international coaching consultant specializing in coach, player, and program development. He works with National Governing Bodies, Private Organizations and players supporting them in all of these areas. As the Head of Coach Education and Performance Manager for the Lawn Tennis Association he led the restructuring and development of their coach education program and tutor workforce. He also worked very closely with the UK’s top academies supporting their coaches and players on and off the court. Larry has served as a member of the ITF Coach Education Task force and worked closely with Tennis Canada in redeveloping and delivering their performance coach education. Larry has vast experience in program development, in addition to consulting the UKs top programs he founded the largest must successful tennis academy in Ireland developing multiple Davis Cup players and National Champions and restructured one of the largest clubs in Canada elevating it to Tennis Canada’s highest rating of junior program. On court Larry has experience with everything from leading the Tennis Canada National Training Centre U10 program in Toronto, to developing players that have won dozens of national championships, to being the personal coach of multiple Davis Cup and tour players. Larry is a dynamic speaker and has presented at International, National, and Regional conferences and workshops in 10 countries on 3 continents. He has worked with organizations such as the ITF, LTA, Tennis Canada, USPTA, RPT, Tennis Slovenia and more. ***
ONcourt: Larry, you’ve had the chance to work with a lot of players – Chinese players, you’ve been all over. Now you’re responsible for Sharon Fichman who as always is a great potential. She has also been a mercurial personality. What do you feel you bring to the equation that makes it special?
Larry Jurovich: That’s a great question, I don’t know if there’s necessarily anything special that I bring, it’s just a matter of having some consistency for her. I think that’s been the most important part. It seemed like for a few years she was bouncing around a lot with different people and constantly getting different messages and it seemed like she lost a bit of the vision for how she needed to play. I think the most important thing is when we met she was in a place where she was really looking for something, she was really motivated to improve the parts of her game she thought were challenging her. It’s been very straightforward, mostly driven from her, I just try to bring some consistency and stable messages. When things are consistent and simple she seems to perform very well.
ONcourt: Her game style was much more of a defensive game style or under pressure. I’m sure that must be something that you’ve addressed. How have you gone about doing so and how has she responded to that?
LJ: She’s responded really well as like I said, she knew she needed to improve that by the time she came to me. Just like anything there’s been some technical work to do, a few little technical changes. I make it so she can feel more comfortable when she does attack. Some tactical changes so that she understands how to construct the point properly and get the ball that she’s looking for. Definitely the most important has been just the mental part. She now, quite often as you know, when people are very defensive it comes from the fact that they can’t handle making mistakes and they end up playing safe to make sure they avoid those. She now has a better appreciation for what the game is supposed to be and she can handle making some mistakes and coming back and trying again. It’s been about adjusting the mentality towards the way she plays along with a couple little technical and tactical changes.
ONcourt: What you’re describing of course is a situation which is quite normal and you see it in a lot of players. How did you go about being able to sell her the idea that it was okay to make mistakes, not be perfect, because Sharon over the years – is very intelligent, as you say very articulate – but she does not take mistakes very kindly. How were you able to convince her it was okay to be more aggressive, to be able to take some chances and impose herself?
LJ: I think the most important thing is that I video all, or the vast majority of her matches. When I show her it back on video so many points that potentially she lost by not taking an opportunity to finish it so that four, five, six shots later her opponent can hit a winner or the mistake comes in, in the end we had to just start doing the math and realize that if you make seven out of ten of your shots, and all seven of those are winners then you’re still going to win the match. So it’s just about understanding that the give and take of errors versus winners and how you construct matches as a whole. I’m not sure she had a really good sense of that until she started seeing herself on video all the time.
ONcourt: Fantastic. Very quickly, for a change of subject. You: how many weeks are you on the road?
LJ: Totally? This year’s been a little better. The last couple years it’s been close to 30. This year it’s been more like 23 I think, 25 maybe.
ONcourt: And how is that going with your family? I know it’s very difficult for everybody.
LJ: Yeah, it is, but that being said we’ve found a nice balance. Obviously you know as well as anybody as my job would be very similar to the type of thing that you do in the past. When you’re running academies and these types of things it’s a seven day a week job and twelve hours a day. Even when you’re home you don’t always have so much time with the family. Now I’m away a lot but when I’m home I pick up my kids from school, I drop them off, I go to their sporting events so it’s a little more of a full-on, full-off type thing and it’s a trade off but I think we’ve learned to enjoy that. I take lot’s of time off to balance the time on the road.
ONcourt: Last question, your dream has always been to have your own club. I know you’ve been working on it for a long time. Can you give us a very quick update on where you are, where you see it happening?
LJ: I’m very excited at this stage. It took a lot longer than I thought but that’s a nice learning process to go through. But we got to this stage after about three years of negotiating where we’ve come to an agreement with the city. After that it was all about raising the capital. I’ve got about everything I need in place now, hopefully if everything comes through that’s in the pipeline now by Christmas time we’ll have all the financing in place and look to start building in March. Very very excited at the possibility of being open in September.
ONcourt: How big?
LJ: The idea, we’ve got a lot of land so hopefully we can develop over time but the idea is to start with six indoor courts and six outdoor courts.
ONcourt: Congratulations, good luck, the best of everything.
LJ: Thank you.