We got the chance to sit and talk with coach Steve Hill from Bolletieri Tennis Academy at St.Regis Hotel, Doha. After this short Q&A, I ended up heading to the tennis court for a game.
Steve is a skilled professional with over 30 years experience coaching, directing and managing. Coaching beginners to pros, young children to adults. Management experience ranges from rejuvenating programs to opening multimillion dollar clubs. As a manager he believes in leading by example and treating others as he would like to be treated. He began his career as one of Nick Bollettieri’s first pros. Throughout his 12 years at the Bolleteri Tennis Academy he coached many juniors that went on to play professional tennis. In recent years his coaching has produced local, sectional and national level adult competitors. His philosophy for teaching is simple; solid technical skills produce consistent improvement, resulting in real enjoyment of the game. A disciplined technician, his style of teaching uses positive reinforcement and a structured progression, with emphasis on understanding the game and developing confidence in your skills. His approach is to teach individuals within their own particular style and maximize their strengths.
A calm confident demeanor helps students respond with amazing results.
Q. Why did you choose Qatar and St/Regis specifically?
A. Nick Bollettieri was in Doha for the Qatar Open and met one of the owners, and the relationship was born.
Q. What is the age bracket of tennis students in Qatar?
A. As in most areas, the largest number of kids is in the under 12 age group. A picture of a triangle is a good way to look at this. The bottom or base is larger than the top or tip. So there are greater numbers in the younger age groups.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of the training and development monitoring?
A. There are very specific processes such as fundamentals, which can be as basic as passing and receiving, technique which allows for continuous improvement, fitness which includes proper movement, tactics which include such things as spins and shot placement and strategy meaning how to play different opponents. Documentation every step of the way such as timely reports. Goal setting for short, medium and long term. Reporting on strengths and things to improve. All of this is done in a very positive way. Positive reinforcement, self-reliance and independence to a point.
Q. How hard would it be training with a legend?
A. Nick knows how to deal with each player in order to get the most out of his abilities. He is very positive, knowledgeable and experienced at dealing with all types of personalities and styles of play.
Q. How long does it take to know how to play for someone who never played tennis before?
A. Both adults and kids can learn to be playing in 6-8 weeks. One of the keys is learning with smaller or lighter rackets and softer balls. Playing for adults is what we all know in terms of going out warming up and playing points, games or sets. For kids playing can be no more than rolling a ball back and forth using their rackets, tossing or bouncing a ball back and forth or even dropping and hitting a ball to a partner who stops the ball and then returns it back. Simple scoring of 1, 2, 3, etc is keeping score.
Q. Do you use any special techniques?
A. For adults it’s understanding how they like to hit the ball or their perception and helping them to improve within that style or perception. For kids it’s being very positive, enthusiastic, supportive, listening and showing genuine care about them. Also understanding that they may not be able to do what you do or how you do it.
Q. How do you see the tennis sport popularity among Qataris and Expatriates in Qatar?
A. From word of mouth it seems like it’s popular.
Q. Can you tell us about the tennis facilities at St. Regis.
A. The new courts are at the highest standard possible based on the surface, fencing, etc. They are the same surface as the US Open, Miami Open, and Australian Open.