Davis' hiring a boon for tennis

With the ActiveSG tennis academy set to roll out later this year, Sport Singapore (SportSG) has hired American Robert Davis as its new technical adviser for the sport.

The Straits Times understands that he has conducted several tennis camps for young players, and is currently in town running another 10-day camp.

Davis is no stranger to the Republic. He was invited by ActiveSG, the national movement for sport run by SportSG, to conduct a two-day tennis clinic last year for players from various secondary schools. Later on in the year, he also gave pointers during a three-day coaching clinic.

The Virginia native, who is also president of the Global Professional Tennis Coach Association (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar), is a veteran coach with more than two decades of experience.

He previously served as national coach and technical director for Peru, Panama, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar, and counts Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, Toshihide Matsui of Japan and 2011 SEA Games champion Christopher Rungkat as players on the ATP Tour he has worked with.

It is believed that Davis, 46, will spearhead ActiveSG's efforts to grow tennis further in Singapore, giving more the chance to learn and play the sport.

An announcement from ActiveSG can be expected soon.

For the young players who have had the chance to work with him so far, the American is a refreshing introduction whose impact has been felt in a short span of time.

Several of the players were previously under the Singapore Tennis Association's (STA) full-time tennis programme but dropped out of the initiative over time.

Said Joshua Liu, 19: "I didn't expect much the first time I went to train with him, but I immediately liked it.

"He's very communicative and listens to the players. You can tell from the way he presents himself that he's got a lot of experience."

Players also got a chance to glean from Rungkat's experience on Tour when the Indonesian spent a few hours with them during a brief stopover in Singapore.

Others have seen their passion for the sport reignited by Davis.

Said Angela Lim, 18: "In just the short week that I spent with him at the last camp, I feel that my volleys have improved. He tweaked some of my technique and changed my forehand grip a little to make it more effective."

While finishing her studies remains the priority, the final-year Republic Polytechnic-Singapore Sports School student says she sees more possibilities now.

She said: "I'm not thinking that far ahead yet, but I've spent so much time on tennis, I'm not just going to give it up. I enjoy myself during the training, and I'll just try to improve for now."

STA deputy general manager Wilson Tay is hopeful that collaborations with the ActiveSG tennis academy, if any, will help raise the level of tennis here.

He said: "He's able to bring in some quality sparring partners and based on feedback from players, the training seems to be quite rewarding.

"The STA is supposed to promote and develop talent. If it's beneficial to the sport, we'd like to explore (partnerships)."


This article was first published on March 2, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.