The Beginning of a Legend: Andre Agassi
Written by his coach Gabe Jaramillo
I first met Andre when he was thirteen years old. The thing that stood out to me the most was the sound of the ball as it came off of Andre’s racket. It was a very clear sound, similar to a gunshot. I distinctly recall watching him play for the first time at that early age on Court #21 at the Academy, and it was an experience I will never forget. I had never heard a sound like that before, and I literally ran to get Nick to have him look.
We both recognized his talent instantly. His father, Mike Agassi, dropped his son’s bags at the office and left Andre in our care for the next eight years. Andre was a special boy, very different in many ways. Mike, who was a professional boxer and had represented his home country of Iran in international competition, had trained Andre since he was three years old. When I would visit Andre’s house, it was clear how he used to train as a small boy. Mike had a tennis court built in his backyard, and there he kept several ball machines, all with different speeds and elevations. Andre would come home from school and hit out of the ball machines for hours at a time, always inside the baseline and hitting the ball early and on the rise. Mike understood the importance of volume for his son when Andre was very young, which is why he had him hitting thousands of balls.
At the academy Andre was very particular about his practices. He did not like to hit against two people at the same time, but instead preferred one-on-one. He did not enjoy “closed” practices, such as crosscourt forehands and backhands, as most of the players did at the time. He greatly preferred “open” practices, where the ball he received dictated the next ball he would hit. His practices had to be fast and exciting, and I would have to change the drills to make them more challenging very often during the same workout.
The rest of this article is featured in UK Tennis Magazine Edition #42. To read please visit uktennis.co.uk
Gabe Jaramillo will be the speaking at the BTCA National Conference in December 2019. To book on please visit btca.uk.com