Chris Zahalka is a WTA Tour Coach and was kind enough to share his story with us and tips for aspiring professional tennis athletes! He has coached incredible players from Nadia Petrova to Greg Rusedski, and for him, “tennis is his life, his love, his frustration, but most of all fun!” Highlights from our conversation with Chris are below!
Chris is from Vienna, Austria, where he began playing tennis when he was twelve years-old
Chris eventually became a professional tennis player and went on to open a private club in Southern Florida. It was during that time that Chris got asked to coach a professional player and found his passion for coaching. He explained, “The best part of coaching on tour is to be able to work with the best in the world of our sport - something I cherish, appreciate and never take for granted. It is a privilege.” While he loves to coach professionally, Chris explained that it can be hard being away from family and friends while on the road. He values investing time into his players because the more time he invests in them, the more they succeed.
Chris’s greatest tip for those hoping to pursue professional tennis is to put in the hard work to get you there! He encourages players to focus on improving everyday and “the process” of working hard over time rather than judging their improvement solely on how many wins they have. Winning happens as a result of players having correct form, sportsmanship, etc. over time, and it is all a process.
Based on his scouting experience Chris suggested the following tips for aspiring professional players to use in their next tournament:
Hit your better shot to your opponents weaker hand.
Place the ball outside of your opponent's strike zone.
Most importantly, at the professional level, everyone has talent. What will make a player stand out is “hard work, motivation, perseverance and learning to have courage under pressure.”
We loved chatting with Chris, and look forward to more tips in the future!