Palmanova, Spain, ITF World Tennis Tour, W15 Palmanova, clay, outdoor: 1R, Anna Siskova (CZE) - Vicky Van De Peer (BEL) 26 64 63, 2R: Celia Cervino Ruiz (ESP) 57 63 61, QF: Maria Gutierrez Carrasco (ESP) 16 64 63, SF: Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers (ESP) 62 46 62, F:  Alba REY GARCIA (ESP) 6-3 6-1 TITLE!!!!

Palmanova, Spain, ITF World Tennis Tour, W15 Palmanova, clay, outdoor: 1R, Anna Siskova (CZE) - Vicky Van De Peer (BEL) 26 64 63, 2R: Celia Cervino Ruiz (ESP) 57 63 61, QF: Maria Gutierrez Carrasco (ESP) 16 64 63, SF: Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers (ESP) 62 46 62, F:  Alba REY GARCIA (ESP) 6-3 6-1 TITLE!!!!

Head coach Vladimir Platenik is working on the next phase of the development for Academy in Trnava

Vladimir Platenik, head coach at Trnava Academy, has good reason to smile. Together with his colleagues he teamed up solid squad consist of really successful players at 2017 season. Ukrainian Elina Svitolina has won five WTA tournaments this year, her compatriot Kateryna Kozlova jumped back to the first Top 100 and Tunisian player Ons Jabeur set her personal best in this season. Czech Lucia Safarova together with Swiss Belinda Bencic are the new faces of the team. Also we need to admire the way how Bencic was able to return to Top 100 after injury after her preparation in EMPIRE Tennis Academy.

The Trnava Academy was set up in 2014. How is club's reputation right now?

"Let's have a look back the last three year. We proved to build really good team. Of course, we want to be still more professional, but I see there is a huge interest of academy players. I feel, we are going the right way. We have got offers not just from the players, but also coaches, who want to cooperate with us. These offers are not only from Slovakia or Czech coaches. Some of them came also from abroad. I am glad, we have already stabilized the children's category due to coach Jaroslav Kormys. This moment is very important for me. That is the point, we should start, have a professional concept from this age. We are still growing, having more and more members. I am looking forward also for the building of academy, it will be completed in a few months. Now according to agreement with Mr. Miroslav Hlavna, we would launch the second phase of the Academy development. We are getting ready for it, and now I'm going to be a bit more involved with management, I want to be more active in this."

Where do you see the main positives of the Academy in the last period?

"Svitolina, Kozlova and Jabeur made the international success, Kasatkina maintained her position, Bencic successfully returned to the tournaments. Elina had a perfect season and this really surprise me. But the biggest breakthrough came with Jabeur as she was able to move from the end of the place about 200th to 83rd. But I am also glad that Kateryna Kozlova with the coach Jaroslav Levinsky made Top 100 ranking. They deserve it very much, because they worked for the changes. I think we were very successful in the women's category. "

And what about men?

"Andrej Martin has found a new coach at the end of the season. During the year, he remained in the Top 200. Igor Zelenay had a good double results, but he needs to find more stable partner for the games. He needs to play grandslam or ATP tournaments to have a chance reaching more points. He has potential acquire more points, he is a solid guy. In my opinion cooperation between Japanese Onishi and Miloslav Grolmus brings also some progress. They had some good results at Futures tournaments. Karol Beck and Artem Dubrivnyy also try to go up. They have to go through the Futures tournaments together, I know it's hard. "

How do you see Ons Jabeur move up in the ranking?

"It is the merit of Mislav Hizak, who works with Ons. He is the man I had spoken a year ago at US Open in New York. I have a chance to see how much enthusiasm he is giving to his work. He has experiences, he is a good tennis player, an educated man. He really knows how to help players around No. 200 in the ranking. He knows they can not afford his own coach, but despite this fact, he provided Ons with interesting package of services. He made a great job.”

How do you like cooperation between Kozlova and Czech coach Jaroslav Levinsky?

"It is a very respectable cooperation between them and us too. Kateryna is very nice, I want to keep people like her in the academy as long as possible. Both were able to keep our plans, which is great. Both will stay with us still.

The new face in the academy is former world Nr. 7 Belinda Bencic, who has Slovak roots. He made comeback after the surgery and started her preparation at Trnava's club. Do you expect such a great return for her?

"I do not like the expectations because expectations bind players. It needs to be more modest, when you would like to have good results. We were worrying about her, because she had an operation in May. She was not fit, tried to work with different trainers, changed some sparing partners. The only thing we could do was to meet her expectations. To give her what she was looking for. Belinda is communicative independent girl, she was able to solve many things herself. Now is important just one thing – to have good team around, which will be able to get her back to top positions. I know, it will be tough, but there is no limit as she was already at Top Ten. I believe she is able to do it again.

Why is so good for her to stay at Trnava?

"She likes our academy, her grandmother lives nearby, so she has a family background here. There is no speech barrier for her, she feels good with us, I hope. And last but not least, she has really good conditions for training at academy. I see she is happy, play tennis for herself with goal to come back to Top 10. She has a great sparring players here, a fitness trainer, a physiotherapist. We will be happy to help her return to the higher positions.”

Elina Svitolina ended the year as the World No. 4, it was her best season ever. How her performances surprised you?

"She had a great season. She is a girl who with tremendous will and is a great warrior. She really deserves her position as she worked for it very hard. She has strong will, discipline and sometimes is really enough to move up. I was surprised, but as I say, she deserves it."

Is it possible to get any other players from abroad?

"Of course. I have got also some offers, when I finished to cooperate with Kasatkina. I have decided to work with Ukraine Anhelina Kalinina. The reason is I know her little bit. And I want to train somebody who is independent, mature but is still out of elite players. In that group the players are no willing to make so many changes in their game. Kalinina was great junior player, but unfortunately she was injured after that period. She undergone shoulder operation two years ago. But I think, if she will be working for year or more here in Trnava, she will be able to reach Top 100. But I am just started my cooperation with her. We are also negotiating with other players from the Top 100, but so far it is open. For example, Mislav Hizak, former Jabeur's coach had several offers and he started to cooperate with Anna Blinkova."

The previous work with Daria Kasatkina not start very well in 2017. She had lost at Australian Open in the first round, than came another defeats but than came breakthrough with tournament victory at Charleston.

"Daria had chances for better results, but it didn't happen. She was injured at Rome, unfortunately. It was unhappy situation. After having some good trainings with Maros Molnar she started to plays better, but still, it wasn't her season. She is talented girl, but she must be able to keep discipline. She is with us for three years and she moves definitely on higher positions. She continues to work with Maros Molnar still, she stays also a member of our academy. Also her brother Alex helped her at Trnava, where she has really good conditions, great background. Everywhere else it would be more complicated for her."

What about Tereza Mihalikova or Rebecca Sramkova. How do you like their seasons?

"Big compliment for Mihalikova and her coach Stefano Vukov, who made a good job with her. She has improved her backhand, move on the court and also coordination. First half of the year was difficult for her coach, he had to help her to get rid of bad habits, but as the time go, she started to play better and better. She had some match balls with Zvonareva in Egypt and although she lost, she improved many things. Her ranking is not very good, we expect more, but she works on herself. She plays tennis like Del Potro, had solid service and also forehand. If we mention Rebecca Sramkova, she had very tough year. Got a break with her father and coach, she has health problems. It was wasted season. We want to look out the way – together with the owner of the club – how to help and support her. She is in tough position. I understand her very well as I was in the same situation during my playing years."

What will be your focus in the upcoming season?

"I want to solve the management issues related to the academy, help Slovak players including Rebecca Sramkova and Tereza Mihalikova. But I'm also open to helping kids, younger players, I will have more time for this activity since now."

Photos by: 
Brian Dally

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