Once they were little kids who only dreamed of playing tennis. Then they sweated themselves in the court training well and hard catapulting them to winning tournaments. Now, at still a young age, they stand as coaches ready to hone the skills of younger dreamers and continuing to improve themselves to serve as a role model and inspiration to others.
‘Discipline + Respect = Inspiration’ – the athletes and coaches of MAC’s CrankIt Tennis Academy (MCTA) of Australia know this by heart. Since its birth in 2012, this humble organisation has been producing world class athletes both in the Philippines and Australia, emerging victorious in most of the tournaments its players had taken part of.
SBS Filipino sat down with four of its young players and coaches who have displayed excellence not only in tennis but in their mindset, values and educational pursuit.
1. ARDEN ASILO
Age: 18 years old
Hobbies: Playing games
When did he start to play tennis: When his dad bought him Xbox and he discovered the tennis game; this influenced him.
Favourite tennis player/s: Roger Federer. For him, he is a good role model for kids and adults alike; he is well-mannered and has great respect to others on and off the court.
Strength/s: He is calm on court.
Most memorable tournament: Winning his first tournament in Melbourne in 2016 and realising that hard work really pays off.
Tips about focusing on the goal: When he is competing, he takes quick deep breaths to calm himself down. He sometimes do self-talk saying, “You can do it,” or “Don’t give up” or “Don’t let yourself down”. He also tries to be optimistic by seeing the positive side of things rather than dwelling on the problem.
How he stays committed to his goals: He remains focused and motivated because he believes that goals are there for a reason, and it has to be worked on and strive for. He says goals build structure in one’s life.
Who motivates him: Even if his parents are there to motivate him, he believes it is still him who decides whether he wants to be trained (or not) and develop as a player.
2. JOSHUA IRUDAYARAJ
Age: 15 years old
Hobbies: Basketball, listening to music, playing video games
When did he start to play tennis: His dad influenced him to play tennis when he was around 6 or 7 years old.
Favourite tennis player/s: Roger Federer and Alex de Minaur. He says both are very inspiring and Federer is a classy athlete.
Strength/s: His serving and footwork.
What to improve on: Mental strength and reassuring himself he can do it.
Most memorable tournament: Going to the Philippines to compete. For him going there with the team is a good feeling as he was able to inspire others by playing and competing. He also gained friends amongst the bodyguards who kept them safe during their trip in General Santos, Mindanao. He loves ‘pork sinigang’ and has learned the Tagalog words, “Kamusta ka?” and “Opo”.
Tips about focusing on the goal: He does self-talk and tells himself, “Push yourself” or “You can do it”. He keeps his head on the game.
How he stays committed to his goals: He repeats his goals in his head saying, “This is what I’m gonna do,” “This is what I want to achieve,” or “This is what I’m striving to do,” instead of not believing in himself. It’s important for him to make it a daily practice.
Who motivates him: His parents, coaches, team and friends; their belief and support in him gives him strength. Sometimes he thinks he can’t do it without them.
3. ANTONIO PEREDA
Age: 15 years old
Hobbies: Martial arts, basketball
When did he start to play tennis: His parents put him to tennis at the age of 4.
Favourite tennis player/s: Roger Federer. He thinks that he is a good tennis player because he can control his emotions; he is also very humble on and off the court.
Strength/s: Court coverage.
What to improve on: Controlling his emotions.
Most memorable tournament: He recalls the moment when he and Geoff Asilo made it to the finals – doubles. For him, making it to the finals with his teammate is amazing.
Tips about focusing on the goal: If nothing works for him at one point, what he does is to switch-off, refocus himself and switch back on to prepare himself for the next point.
How he stays committed to his goals: He sets small goals first saying, “I would win this match or even slower, win the next point or win the next game.” Through this, he achieves more goals and feels confident.
Who motivates him: His parents, team and coaches; his parents push him to keep on going win or lose while his team would tell him, “You can do it, we believe in you!”
4. GEOFF ASILO
Age: 15 years old
Hobbies: Playing guitar, listening to music
When did he start to play tennis: His brother, Arden, influenced him to play tennis. He admits of being in competition with his brother - following what he does.
Favourite tennis player/s: Roger Federer. He admires the player's humility and ability to control his emotions.
Strength/s: Serving and volleying.
What to improve on: Learning to control his emotions especially his anger.
Most memorable tournament: He remembers that whenever he plays doubles with Johndy, another player sponsored by MCTA in the Philippines, he feels he is at his best and at his fullest potential.
Tips about focusing on the goal: He just focuses on the goal and achieves it; one thing leads to another.
How he stays committed to his goals: He admits that he fails to achieve his goals sometimes but what he does is to learn from it, get back up, move on and set new goals.
Who motivates him: His parents, coaches and friends; though he gives credit to their support, he says it is mostly him who pushes himself more.
Listen to the full interview