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An elite tennis coach who has mentored some of the game’s biggest names believes local teen Diego Quispe-Kim has the talent to shine on the world stage.
Tennis New Zealand’s high performance director Christophe Lambert was in Ashburton this week where he worked alongside the young tennis wunderkind.
A focus on the technical nuances and game strategies were the focus during a two-hour session at the Ashburton Trust Tennis Centre on Wednesday.
Before Lambert was appointed to the high performance role earlier this year, he had been Tennis New Zealand’s national coach for two years.
The 14-year-old has been on Lambert’s radar since he first became involved with Tennis New Zealand.
“I’ve been following what Diego has been doing because he is one of our national champions,” he said.
“Diego has raw talent which makes things very interesting.”
The French expat has more than 25 years of high performance coaching experience and has schooled the likes of three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray.
He also coached current US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in 2016, only a year before the Canadian turned professional.
Quispe-Kim’s prowess on court has seen the Ashburton College pupil collect a plethora of trophies both locally and nationally.
He has received coaching from Lambert previously, however this was the first time Lambert had travelled to Mid Canterbury especially.
Lambert said the youngster had the potential to exceed not just in New Zealand, but internationally.
“He could do very well in New Zealand and could do very well on the world stage,” he said.
“The issue is we need to provide him with a good environment so he can thrive and so he can do well at the international level.”
Although Quispe-Kim was blessed with a prodigious skill, Lambert said there was still plenty of work to do around the technical and tactical elements of the sport.
“He is a young kid,” he said.
“He’s got natural talent and a good feel for the game.
“He will also need to improve his physicality too as he probably won’t be a tall player.”
He added that the mental side of the game will also be a consideration during Quispe-Kim’s development.
“At the beginning of your career, he needs to be better in every area to reach the next level.
“He’s got something which many other players don’t have and that’s the love of the game and he’s got the talent.
“That’s something you can’t teach and you can’t coach.
“Now he’s got to learn the other sides outside of that.”
By Adam Burns © The Ashburton Guardian - 27 June 2020
If you haven’t already, make note of the name Diego Quispe-Kim.
The Mid Canterbury tennis sensation has continued an inevitable ascent to the top, as he settles in to a grind of winter training on the court.
However the plaudits have not stopped flowing, with the teen named Outstanding Junior Sportsperson at the Mid Canterbury Sports Awards earlier this month.
“It felt very special because of the koru as the trophy,” he said.
It is the latest in a long list of accomplishments as the 14-year-old has emerged as the best in the country for his age.
He was a New Zealand representative at the World Junior Teams event in Malaysia and was also named in the under-17 Canterbury team.
Winning has become an infectious habit for Quispe-Kim.
Over the past year he has had several tournament wins, both in New Zealand and abroad, including standout tournament wins at the 2019 Rod Laver Championship under-14 event and the Kiwi Indoor Junior Championship.
“I only lost six games in the whole tournament (Kiwi Indoor Junior Championships),” he said.
“I didn’t drop a set.”
Over a two-week stretch in July, Quispe-Kim won both the Rod Laver under-14 singles after also clinching the lead-in event in Australia over some of the best junior players in the Asia-Pacific region.
Due to Covid-19, Quispe-Kim won’t get an opportunity to replicate his feats across the Tasman this year.
He is targeting both the under-18 National Junior Championships in December and next year’s Junior Davis Cup.
He says training alongside his father and longtime coach Juan Quispe-Chavez has equally fostered his love for playing the game alongside collecting the silverware.
It also helps being a self-described “competitive” sport-loving teenager to help drive him towards success.
Originally from Christchurch, he first tried his hand at the sport by the age of three by virtue of a family friend.
As he hones his skill set under the helm of Tennis New Zealand’s high performance department, his results indicate a lethal all-round game which has left many opponents floundering in his wake.
He feels his forehand is a key aspect of his arsenal after years of watching Spanish superstar and fellow left-hander Rafael Nadal and Argentine grand slam winner Juan Martín del Potro.
“I mostly stay on the baseline, that’s where I feel most comfortable,” he said.
“I like Juan Martin del Potro because of his big forehand, and he’s from South America like my dad.”
Quispe-Kim’s father is originally from Peru, while his mother hails from South Korea.
He acknowledges that his volleys are one area of his game where he wanted to focus on.
“I don’t practice volleys too much.
“But you need to volley a lot, especially if you want to finish points off easily in a game.
“You just have to keep training; train, train, train and stay positive.”
It is an approach which has reaped rewards for the Mid Canterbury prodigy as he climbs towards a professional tennis dream.
By Adam Burns © The Ashburton Guardian - 26 June 2020
John Morrison is refusing to let history repeat itself.
The young Mid Canterbury horseman moved to the joint lead in the New Zealand junior drivers’ premiership last weekend, drawing level with Sheree Tomlinson on 29 wins for the season, but with five weeks still remaining until the title is decided, it’s anyone’s race to win.
As the defending champion, most will expect Morrison to clear away from the pack, but it’s never quite that simple, and a key learning from 12 months ago, when in the same position is playing in the back of his mind.
“Last season, for about a month there, I became solely focused on winning the premiership,” Morrison said.
“I started driving badly, my focus just wasn’t pointing in the right direction and it took me a while to shake it off, but when I did I hit my straps and ended up winning the premiership by 19 wins.
“So right now, despite of where things are at on the tally, it’s more about just going out and driving every horse on it’s merits.
“Making sure that each horse gets the best chance they need to win and hoping that it happens.”
Having won the premiership, Morrison said the pressure was off to win it again, but if it did happen, he’d be pretty happy to have achieved it.
He would become the first driver since Dexter Dunn, who won in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008, to win back-to-back premierships.
“If it happens, it will be great – but I don’t want to lose it by one and think back and know that I over-drove one just to try and win it and got beaten.
“I can say I’ve done it once, not many get the opportunity to do that, anything else is a bonus.”
Should he go on and defend his title, Morrison will be able to look back on the support he’s received in Southland as one of the deciding factors.
Of his four winners since racing returned from lockdown, three have come from that part of the country and he’s consistently picking up a number of drives each week at Invercargill.
“I’ve had huge support down there.
“Trainers who have stuck by me and give me drives each and every week, it’s because of them that I’ve been able to have the success that I’ve had.”
Morrison and Tomlinson might be sitting on top of the premiership table right now, but there’s plenty of pressure coming behind them.
Dylan Ferguson is just two wins behind on 27 for the season, while Ben Hope (25 wins) and Morrison’s fellow Mid Canterbury driver, Sarah O’Reilly (22) are all within striking distance.
“It’s nice and competitive and everyone is driving really well so it could just take one really good weekend for someone to get on top of everyone else.”
Morrison has a busy weekend ahead with racing at Addington tonight, Invercargill on Saturday and then back to Addington on Sunday.
He pointed towards the Laurence Hanrahan-trained Rocknroll Max as a horse he was looking forward to sitting behind tonight at Addington, and suggested that Franco Huntington wouldn’t be his worst chance at Invercargill on Saturday.
By Matt Markham © The Ashburton Guardian - 26 June 2020