Interview of Jean-Luc Toulliou, Head Coach of the Hanoi Tennis Federation

Jean-Luc Toulliou – Head Coach of the Hanoi Tennis Federation

After trying out gym & soccer, Jean-Luc started to play tennis at the age of 13 at FL Lanester Tennis Club. Born in 1971 in Lorient, France, Jean-Luc was spotted by the Ligue of Bretagne after he beats the n°2 french in its category, then was first taught by Stephane Gregnier‘s father (career high n°192). At the age of 15, he moved to a bigger club and was trained by former ATP Player David Sanders (career high n°563), before getting his FFT certification in 1993.

Jean-Luc then spent over 10 years at the Marco Tennis Academy in Marbella, Spain (Daniel Marco, career high n°184) coaching ATP players from Spain, England, German… and also coached the Venezuelan Tennis Federation, Thailand Tennis Federation, Asian Tennis Center and now Hanoi Tennis Federation.

His motto: Player’s level does not matter, motivation does.

  • Describe your activity at the Hanoi Tennis Federation?

img_1169-af1ac“I arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam in April 2014, to coach a team of Junior players aged from 8 to 18 years old. They train from Monday to Saturday at My Dinh Tennis Center and study at Hanoi Sport Center. This Hanoi Sport Center gathers more than 25 activities, so all kids go to the same school (soccer, judo, karaté, basket, volley, etc.) It is managed by the government of Vietnam and players receive a monthly salary.”

 

  • How players are selected?

“Detection days” are organised yearly all around Northern Vietnam. Recruitment depends on the level and potential of the player, but can also be facilitated through parent’s network. We would like to improve this selection process because we currently welcome 2 players per year only, and we would need much more. The great aspect of this organisation is that 30% of our players come from poor rural family, outside of Hanoi, so their salary goes to their family. One example, we have 2 sisters coming from a family of 5, outside Hanoi city, and their salary is actually paying for their 2 older brothers’ studies.”

  • Their salary?

“It starts at 100$ for the youngest to 450$ for the oldest. It’s not that bad because it’s more than the average salary in Vietnam. And this salary is directly linked to their results, their performance during National and International competitions.”

  • Describe their weekly schedule?

They train around 22h of tennis and study 20h, which is quite heavy.

Monday am: study
Monday pm: tennis  (2-5 pm)

Tuesday am: tennis (8-10:30am)
Tuesday pm: tennis (2-4:30pm)
Tuesday evening: study (6-9pm)

Wednesday am: study
Wednesday pm: tennis (2-5 pm)

Thursday am: study
Thursday pm: tennis (2-5 pm)

Friday am: tennis (8-10:30am)
Friday pm: tennis (2-5 pm)

Saturday am: tennis (8-10:30am)
Saturday pm: study

  • When do they attend competition?

“They start in April with 6 National Championships. As there is a lack of competitions in Vietnam, we went 2 times in Bangkok this year, adding 8 more tournaments to their calendar, thus helping them to improve much more.”

  • What do you think of tennis in Asia… ?

“To describe tennis in Asia is not an easy thing, because if you start from Japan, it is going to be very different than here. The big issue here comes from coaches training. In Asia, anybody can train without certification. To be certified is not an issue, but being trained by “coaches” that never held a racket before leads to big technical mistakes. They use method we used 30 or 40 years ago, there is a big gap between modern trainings seen in Europe and what’s happening here. It’s not easy to improve because Federation would need to get involved ans push for more official tournaments, more coaches training programs, etc. It is going to take a lot of time and it is the same problem in Thailand and Indonesia.”

  • … And particularly in Vietnam?

“Vietnam has an interesting potential. When I compare with Thailand, there are more people playing in Vietnam than over there. What surprises me the most is when we train early in the morning, outside of Hanoi, and that all courts are taken at 6am. It’s not something that we see in France. However they only play double, in leisure mode, and show few interest to develop professionally organised tournaments, with a national system ranking, etc.”

  • Describe the typical Vietnamese player?

“He has a sincere respect for the teacher, including its parents as well. They also put a lot of effort into their training, they are able to provide and maintain intensity, I push them and they respond well. Moreover, this intensity is equally fund on a mental aspect, whether they play during an official competition or just a double between them, they show a strong will to win. I think it is deeply cultural, form a very young age they learn patriotic and fraternity values that we don’t have in Europe.

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When they are together, from 8 to 18 they are all going to help each other, I’ve never seen that before. We travel at 20, there is never an issue, you can feel good vibes. It is also directly part of their language as they call themselves “little or big brother” depending on their age. When you ask them, they are all cousins, their country is one big family so it is definitely something that strengthen ties between them. I think it is a an excellent confidence provider, when you have strong roots, a good knowledge of where you come from and feel supported by your family.

They are also natural gamblers, when they play matches they always bet something. You can just see money prizes in junior competitions, it’s something that would never be seen in Europe! Even in Thailand, they do not give money to kids, but here they do.

  • Tennis in 1 word?

Game.

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