TOKYO, Japan — The inaugural run of a new Yonex project, ‘Go for the Grand Slam’ in collaboration with Women’s tennis legend Kimiko Date (JPN), took place on June 22nd at the SPORU SHINAGAWA OIMACHI Sports Complex in Tokyo. With direct supervision from Date and other former Japanese professional tennis athletes, Shinobu Asagoe, Yaoki Ishii, and Makoto Kawada (R-body project), juniors selected to participate in the project will undergo a total of eight camps over the span of two years.
Not to be confused with Yonex VAMOS J, the international program with the aim of developing junior boys and girls tennis athletes’ abilities from around world. The ‘Go for the Grand Slam’ project is a domestic only endeavor made up of only four select girls under the age of 15 who will be individually trained to reach a Junior Grand Slam.
From the very first day, the theme was decied as ‘know youself’ with an emphasis on grasping one’s strengths and weaknesses. Participants’ physical fitness was evaluated by Kawada with a focus on understanding inividual differences between their left and right sides, and tips for how to improve on-court. The on-court training included basic practice of each shot, and actual matches. The evening seminar also proved inciteful as the former professionals provided first hand accounts for how they became professional athletes and explained how the ITF tournaments had changed and reformed over the years.
The second day was focused on what problems were identified during the first day with emphasis on improving serve accuracy and shot stability. Quite a bit of time was used for serves in particular, centering on aim and overall speed as well.
Throughout the practice, Date could be heard offering advice as each junior internalized every word. “When I serve, I raise my elbow higher,” “be careful with the position of the toss,” and “use your lower body strength”.
Date, Asagoe, and Ishii hit with each junior on both days providing them with a once in a lifetime experience to return balls of professionals who have played around the world.
Following the camp, Date offered praise to the four juniors. “I was very happy to see you all working hard over the past 2 days till the very end. Let’s not forget the lessons learned over the the short time at this camp, take them with you, and think about the other things you want to improve before our next camp.”
Looking ahead to the second camp set to take place on August 1st and 2nd, we all look forward to seeing the continued growth of these juniors.