Kai Heinicke has an impressive resume and has been in the tennis world for over 30 years now. Born and raised in Germany, he’s had a wonderful career as both a player and a coach and is looking to now bring his expertise to the states. Kai has been the Head Tennis Coach of 5 tennis clubs in his home country and was a professional tennis coach on the WTA tour for Anna-Lena Friedsam (WTA Ranking 47) and Marlene Weingärtner (WTA #36). He was also on the pro tour circuit for 7 years and is up to date on what all the pro’s on tour are doing to get better.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, while Kai was a coach for the Bundesliga Men’s Club team he coached multiple top hundred players such as
- Jurgen Melzer (Highest Ranking #8)
- Dominic Thiem (Highest Ranking #7)
- Rainer Schuttler (Highest Ranking #5)
- Janko Tipsarevic (Highest Ranking #8)
- Benjamin Becker (Highest Ranking #35)
- Frederico Debonis (Highest Ranking #33)
- Alexander Pop (Highest Ranking #74)
- Denis Gremelmayr (Highest Ranking #59)
Interviewing Kai was an absolute pleasure and I hope you are able to get as much out of it as I was.
Q: How long have you been teaching tennis?
A: I’ve been teaching for 32 years now and playing since I was 5 years old. However, when I started playing I was only hitting on a wall because I couldn’t find any partners at this age. Around 8 or 9 I was finally able to start playing on the court and the older guys were taking me more seriously.
Q: How did you get into teaching?
A: It was always my passion to play tennis. Then after being a pro, I started to coach a little bit on the side. Then one day around 22 I started coaching more than playing. A lot of things I learned later through coaching would have been nice to know when I was playing but all of my playing has allowed me to give a lot of experience to my students.
Q: What is one thing that improved your game?
A: Really just being a hard worker. But coaching helped me improve my own game a lot as well
Q: What was one of the biggest mistakes you made in your coaching and tennis career?
A: In my tennis career. At the age of 21 I joined the Frankfurt second division team. But at this age what I really needed was to play against better players. It would have been better if I had switched to the Munich division where most of the better players were practicing. You can learn a lot more by getting your butt whooped then by beating players that you win against regularly. For coaching, all of my experiences have been good. Even the ones that didn’t turn out the best ended up teaching me a lot that I could give to my other students. I was coaching a player on tour and while we may have ended awkwardly it didn’t take away from all the good experiences I had with that player. But I regret nothing
Q: What is a common mistake parents make?
A: One thing is they always think that they need to play against better players. But in today’s game, you need to be an aggressive player and learn how to play offense. If they always play against better players than they only learn how to play defense. And it depends on the age and the individual player but at earlier ages, it tends to be good to sometimes play against slightly weaker players so they can learn to be aggressive. But, it really does depend on the individual.
Q: Final Advice?
A: Find a coach that you can trust. And you have to trust him no matter how the kid is playing. If they have a really good coach who is developing them, even if they lose for 6 or 7 months straight it’s important to stick with them. In the game of tennis, it is a long and hard process to develop good players.