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Spanish trip proves to be an eye-opener

TENNIS by Jackie Thorley

EYE ON THE BALL: Amy Ellis shapes for a backhand during Basford juniors' trip to Spain
PERFECT RETURN: Basford and Staffordshire junior Josh Eardley enjoys some clay court action in Barcelona

BASFORD'S top juniors have stepped up their training and fitness programmes after taking on board tips from a senior Spanish coach. Ten players who attended the Barcelona Tennis Academy have returned home eager to increase their workload and commitment. The youngsters, aged between 10 and 17, underwent an intensive five-day course headed by Juan Carlos Baduena. The former coach of Spanish star Sergi Bruguera introduced the Basford juniors to some of Spain's fitness and coaching methods and match play.

Staffordshire's Road to Wimbledon runner-up Amy Ellis tested her skill against an under-14 player ranked in the top 20 in Spain. The 13-year-old Newcastle-under-Lyme School pupil lost 6-4, but Basford coach Mike Armstrong claims it was a valuable experience.
"It was a fantastic opportunity for Amy to travel abroad and compete against a high-ranking player from another country.
"In fact they all loved the trip. They have seen how hard the Spaniards work. It is intense and rapid with lots of movement and ball hitting and since returning home I have noticed a big improvement in their attitude on court, with a willingness to work harder.
"They have seen what it is like to be a professional player for a week and I hope they will continue with that work ethic."

The tour was organised by Armstrong and his brother, Paul, who is also a tennis coach. The pair were so impressed that they plan to mix some Spanish drills into their coaching programmes at Basford. They also hope to set up a permanent link with the Barcelona academy, with two trips already planned for next year.

Sentinel, 04 December 2007
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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