Coach in the Spotlight - John-Laffnie de Jager
As part of our regular 'Coach In The Spotlight' feature, we are holding a series of short interviews with prominent GPTCA members sharing their coaching success story. We have put John-Laffnie de Jager, our A* level coach and the GPTCA National President of South Africa, in the hot seat and asked some quick fire questions.
1. What is your current work in progress?
I am the Director of coaching at the JL's Tennis academy in South Africa, Davis Cup Captain for South Africa and I coach Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski on the ATP Tour.
2. How did you begin coaching pro players? How long have you been coaching?
I played on the tour for 15 years and then when I retired I started coaching some juniors in South Africa. After becoming Davis Cup Captain I started to travel to the Grand Slam events and had some success with Moodie/Coetzee. I coached Aspelin/Perry for a while and then worked with Erlich/Ram for 18 months before I started to work with the Polish due in the beginning of 2013.
3. What keeps you motivated to come to work each day and keep coaching through the years?
I just love my job and love helping people get better and help to chance their lives.
4. What skills/characteristics do you look for in your players?
The most important things I look for is the players attitude, work ethic and ability to listen and learn.
5. What is the biggest challenge you've had as a coach and how did you overcome it?
Coaching in South Africa is challenging because we don't have lots of sponsorship for the High performance players. We have to find ways to raise money and create opportunities for the players. I have started the Matchpoint Foundation that is the vehile for all ex players and tennis supporters to help raise money to give young players the opportunity to live their dream.
6. What is your most successful coaching moment so far?
I was coaching Wesley Moodie when he and Stephan Huss went through the qualifying event at Wimbledon and won the doubles title beating 5 seeded teams on their way to the title.
7. What advice would you give to new coaches?
You need to bring energy to the court, be very positive and honest with your players and be open to learn from other people.
8. What inspires your work?
I was very fortunate that I had a successful career as a player and live my dream, I would now love to help other people reach the same goals and live their dreams.
9. What is your next coaching goal?
I would like to challenge myself to become the best coach I can be. To everyday try and learn something new.
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