My name is Joe, and I am, amongst other things, the father of a UK-based junior tennis player called Otto Friedlein. I play tennis myself but have never competed at a high level. I do, however, have extensive experience of being a ‘tennis dad.’
Otto broke his elbow in January and was just getting back on the court when the Covid-19 nightmare started, so we have just gone through the most prolonged period of not playing tennis that I can remember. The forced lay off has allowed me to reflect on many incredible years, and I hope that it will be interesting to see the parents’ perspective of elite sport for juniors.
WHERE DID IT ALL START?
Otto has just turned 13. I think he first picked up a racquet at around five years old, so he has amassed many years of playing tennis already. To be honest, we have fallen into the tennis world rather than having any lofty ambitions at the outset. We have two sons (Otto is the elder by 12 months), and they need physical activities to burn off the calories. We live near some public tennis courts, so we tried tennis as one of several different sports.
The first few years were low key. Otto only played once a week, and we didn’t even consider tournaments. He loved it and wanted to do more, so he gradually started to do more court sessions, and we started to look at local competitions to give him something to measure his progress. Otto is hugely competitive and loved the tournaments. I think doing well helped, but he has always enjoyed the fight as much as the spoils of victory.