June Update – Tennis

By Su

Phuket kid wins tennis national championship in Bangkok

A boy from Phuket dominated his age group in both singles and doubles categories at the Annual King’s Cup in Bangkok, on 5th-15th May 2015. James Van Herzeele, who resides in Thalang, Phuket, triumphed over his fellow 12-year-old competitors at the tournament held by the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand.

Born of a Belgian father and Thai mother, James lives and studies in Phuket when he is not traveling for competitions. His main training is conducted at Thanyapura with his father, Dominique Van Herzeele, who oversees the coaching. James also receives instruction from Coach Timo Sivapruksa, the head of the prestigious Spin & Slice Tennis School in Bangkok.

“When I played the championship point I felt so happy and released I could achieve my goal to win this most important tournament of the year,” said James. “To be ready for this tournament I had very hard weeks of training session before at Thanyapura with my coach Timo from Bangkok and Ball from Thanyapura… My father told me whoever I play, never think it will be easy. Just play the best I can and see how far I can make it.”

The senior Van Herzeele is very proud of his son. He says, “He worked very hard for this and nothing is for free. Many hours of training per weeks, suffering on the court, sometimes tears during a training session or satisfaction after a good training session.” He still sees a long road ahead for James. “Tomorrow is another day and he has to be on the court again with the same motivation, passion and hunger to achieve his next goal. More and more I put James in hands of professionals with who I have a good understanding in the further development of James’ game,” said Mr. Van Herzeele.

Thanyapura’s incoming coaching team hails from Spin & Slice, which means the merging of the very best: the combination of world-class tennis facilities and outstanding high performance coaching. With 10 years of experience behind them and a coaching staff comprising of national and international players and coaches, Spin & Slice has already demonstrated the ability to produce top-ranked junior players who compete in both national and ITF tournaments.

Mattu Kamara, age 15 from Sierra Leone, was the first student to receive a tennis scholarship from Phuket International Academy and Thanyapura’s High Performance Sports Programme. PIA and Thanyapura both emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to sports and education, where training, academics, social-emotional learning, and mindfulness all play key parts in each athlete’s development. While Thanyapura trains budding athletes for success in their sporting endeavours, PIA prepares them for a successful and fulfilling life after they have concluded their careers as athletes. The World Academy of Sport has recognized and supports PIA’s philosophy, and the school was recently accredited as an official Athlete Friendly Education Centre – currently one of only 13 worldwide.

Thanyapura has also unveiled plans to expand to ten courts from its current six.

“We have added on four more tennis courts to support the increased demand in court bookings and also inquiries from tennis organizations to hold international tournaments here. Our aim is to bring tennis in Phuket and in Thailand to the next level with the new direction from Spin & Slice Academy and the expansion of the courts,” said Philipp Graf von Hardenberg, President and CEO of Thanyapura Phuket.

With these developments, Phuket is set to become the hotbed of tennis excellence. James may just be the first of many budding tennis champions to come from the pearl of the Andaman sea.

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