Boris Becker’s new academy ‘can breed next generation of China tennis talents’
Mission Hills chairman Tenniel Chu says the sprawling resort can be key location for country’s talents
Mission Hills vice-chairman Tenniel Chu says the sprawling resort outside of Shenzhen can become the breeding ground for the next generation of Chinese tennis players after signing a deal with former world No.1 Boris Becker to launch an academy there.
The resort, better known for its many golf courses, will launch the academy in September after a pilot scheme in the summer. More details than that were vague, but Chu insists the German’s first ever tennis academy can be crucial to the development of the game in China.
“We had a mutual friend and when we had discussions instantly we both saw the spark and interest, how we could cross-synergise,” said Chu. “He was very hesitant previously not because no one approached him, many people asked him repeatedly, but he felt Mission Hills was a name.
“He’s also a keen keen golfer and knowing our commitment to recreation and the sport of tennis in China he felt this was a good partnership we can explore together. It took us less than 10 days in discussion to have the whole agreement.”
Chu said the academy would take in fee-paying students, possibly in conjunction with the international school that is also on the Mission Hills site, plus some talented youngsters on scholarships.
Its goals were three-fold, he explained.
“One part is to be a breeding ground to search for best talents in all China, and the rest of world possibly, because this is the only place you can have Boris’s instruction. The only place you can have his guidance or methodology that will be passed on.
“Another mission is to create a certification programme with different tennis associations to come up with a recognised coaching certificate. Today there is no certification in tennis recognised internationally.
“The third thing is we will be creating a Becker Cup, a series of tournaments every weekend for different age groups to help groom the next generation of tennis players.
“China currently has around 20 million tennis players but the prediction since Li Na’s success is that could easily grow to 300 million. We believe lot of potential in this part of the world.”
Becker took time to give some tips to young Hong Kong player Jonathan Zhang Zheng Qi, and the youngster said his advice paid immediate dividends in an exhibition match.
“It was a precious experience being able to be coached by [him],” said Zhang.
“I learned a lot from him. I was a bit too passive at the start of the match, Boris Becker saw my problem and told me to be more aggressive using my advantage which is my big shots.
“Thanks to Boris Becker, after coaching me, I was able to win the match I was playing when I was down 2:5”.
The Hong Kong Tennis Association’s director of player development, Mike Walker, believes that having such an academy so close to Hong Kong will be great for tennis development within the region.
“Having someone like Boris Becker putting his name and reputation on the line is a huge deal and we believe it would be an incredibly successful academy on a variety of levels,” he said.
“As the Academy is so close to the region, it could potentially lead to a range of exciting collaboration opportunities.”
Chu suggested a professional tournament might follow, or at least an exhibition match, with one name in particular obviously springing to mind.
“He says he can’t speak for him, but he’s head coach for Novak Djokovic ... if anyone can [get him here] he has the biggest chance.”