Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tennis: Coaching ace to mentor juniors

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Tauranga lawn tennis coach Luis Luna has been selected by Tennis New Zealand to take a national team to Fiji for an international tournament. Photo/John Borren
Tauranga lawn tennis coach Luis Luna has been selected by Tennis New Zealand to take a national team to Fiji for an international tournament. Photo/John Borren

You only need a few minutes with Luis Luna to realise how passionate he is about tennis.

The Tauranga Lawn Tennis Club and Western Bay Tennis coach has been selected to mentor some of New Zealand's top junior tennis players to compete at an ITF B2 grade event in Fiji in August.

It was one of Luna's best young prospects from Tauranga Lawn, Corban Crowther, who helped play a part in him being noticed by Tennis New Zealand.

"Tennis New Zealand had a talent camp in Auckland in March and I was invited there with Corban after former Tauranga Lawn coach Marcel Vos saw Corban play at one of the national tournaments," Luna said. "Corban is a Tennis New Zealand targeted athlete and Marcel likes him so he came down to Tauranga to see some of my players and he was impressed."

Luna ran one of the sessions in Auckland and, when he returned to Tauranga, received an invitation from Jan Shearer, head of performance at Tennis New Zealand, to travel to Fiji.

Crowther, 13, is in Europe competing with some of the best players in his age group.

"It has happened very quickly for him with big changes over the last year, year and a half.

"He is a very dedicated player. He just reached the final in doubles in a tournament in Copenhagen in Denmark."

Luna came up with a unique method to prepare Crowther for playing on clay courts in Europe.

"You have no idea how hard we have to work because we don't have clay courts here.

"So we went to Memorial Park and I put some thick socks over the wood just to get him used to running and sliding then I would throw balls so he could get used to it.

"That was the best way to do it.

"I was a bit concerned for him that first match in Europe because it is so difficult if you have never played on clay.

"But the very first match he won so that was really, really exciting."

Luna has seen tennis grow in the junior age groups in the six years he has been working at Tauranga Lawn since arriving from Mexico.

"I have been getting a lot of support from the club's presidents which makes a lot of difference when the committee is behind you and pretty much approve your programmes,' he said.

"This year was the second year I have gone to the coaches' conference at the Australian Open and the club helps with that which is very motivational for me to try and get better and better.

"The other thing is being surrounded by good coaches in the area.

"Peter Blow has made a big impact. We work together to pull the standard of the game up and we coach the Western Bay junior squads together."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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