ACE: When you were coming up as a junior player, who or what inspired your passion for the game?
When I was growing up I really enjoyed watching Justin- Henin and Ana Ivanovic. It was good to see two different game styles and learn from it. I also enjoy seeing how great of a competitor Sharapova is, I'm not a big fan of her personality but on the court, her fighting spirit is definitely inspiring.
ACE: You have achieved success as a player on different levels; what did it take to stay focused on the goals you set for yourself?
I think dedication and discipline, it doesn't matter how great of a player you are, if you don't do things right it gets harder to achieve your goals. My coach played a key role in keeping me focused and was a great mentor. In the end, you have to learn to be independent and know how to manage your time properly.
ACE: You have now transitioned to being a coach; working with many of ACE's young talents.How do you find your experience as a coach?
I really enjoy it, being a coach is trying to help the player at all levels. I always try to give advice to them about the game and how to perform. Hopefully they can learn from me as much as I did from my coach. What I like the most is to see the impact you can have in their lives and how they progress as players and people.
ACE: What makes a good coach? How much of your work is technical, tactical, psychological?
A good coach is a mix of all those factors, plus you need to care about your players. Caring is very important because the player will be willing to work hard if the coach is engaged and cares. I would say that I try to combine them as much as I can because one leads to the other. Most important is to build their mental game along with the tactical and technical aspects, as all of these factors are very important in becoming a good performing player.
ACE: You work with so many young kids that are being introduced to the game, and dedicated athletes, how do you see tennis influence their lives?
They love tennis, they get to play a sport of a lifetime and make friend at the same time. It keeps them in a healthy environment and that's really beneficial to their growth as human beings.