In this post, we have an interview with a talented instructor named Geza Bazula! I have been working with Geza over the past year and have learned a ton from him both as a coach and a tennis player. So I decided to sit down with him in a formal interview so I could help bring some of his knowledge to you!
Here’s a little bit about Geza
Geza Bazula is currently the Assistant Tennis Director at Mountainside Racquet Club (MRC) and has been developing the Junior Programs at the club. Before joining MRC, Geza was the head tennis professional at Dunakeszi Tennis Club, and later was the director of adult tennis at Kela Tennis Center in Mount Vernon, NY. Geza is originally from Hungary where he started playing tennis at the age of 7 and managed to reach a career high of #2 in the nation. Geza left Hungary at the age of 16 and moved to the United States to train and compete in ITF and Futures circuit tournaments.
During his collegiate career, Geza received the All-American Academic, the ITA Scholar Athlete, and the Elite 89 awards. Geza has been a professional tennis instructor for eleven years and is both USPTA P-1 and 10 & under certified.
Below are the questions, answers, and my key takeaways from the interview
Q: How long have you been teaching tennis?
A: Since I was 16 so probably like 11 years
Q: How long have you been playing?
A: Since I was 7 years old so 20 years now
Q: How did you get into teaching tennis?
A: At the beginning when I was playing as well as teaching it was good because I was working on a lot of technical stuff on my game so when I was teaching it was actually reinforcing everything and helping me understand the game a little bit better and it actually helped me a lot. Which is why I think I got so into it (Tennis).
Q: What is it that brought you to the U.S. to start teaching tennis?
A: At first ,when I was 15, I came to Dallas Texas and they believed the top players should teach the younger players. So I was able to play with ATP players but at the same time I was required to teach kids who are younger. I was enjoying it so I just kept doing it during college and after college.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between teaching here and in Hungary?
A: Teaching in Europe in general, when you teach the kids listen to every word you say like you are god. They are very disciplined, they look up to you, you have tremendous respect and basically they realize you are the only one that can help you get better. Here it’s almost like I am there to make the kid feel good about it so they keep going. Where in Europe I could just send the kid home anytime I don’t like what he does, or I can basically do anything I think would make the kid better… Kids (in Europe) are able to get that feeling that they want to suffer on the court and it’s kind of fun when you grind for 45 min and you come off the court and you just get that good feeling that you kind of survived.
Q: What are some of the more common mistakes you see parents making as you’ve been teaching throughout the years?
A: Here in the U.S. it’s overplaying. There’s this theory here playing 6, 8 hours a day is going to be great for you. In general around the world, the parent’s lack knowledge. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know what academy to send their kid to. Let’s say you have a spring break and want to send your kid to an academy, they just have no idea where to send them. They just don’t know. Like if I wanted to go to some football competition to get better, I don’t know where to go, and they [parents] just have no idea [what to do]. And obviously the coaches don’t tell them where to go because it’s business. They don’t tell them to go to bollettieri right now because bollettieri is going to be so good because then they lose business. You know maybe they say bollettieri is good but bollettieri right now is no good at all. They don’t want to lose business because some of the coaches are not on top of their game. You know, some of the coaches haven’t been on to real competition in years. When I was on tour with these 3 girls I saw the best coaches week by week. We always learned something new everyday. When I took off for 6 months and then I went back, I saw there are new things going on already. One more thing that I find very important is that at a very young age they decide to play tennis and that’s it. I see those kids do better who do tennis, soccer, and other sports. You know maybe you play tennis 3, 4 times a week and maybe another sport once or twice a week, in the long run those kids usually do better. They don’t get burned out. With all these cross court, down the lines [drills] at 15 or 16 they get burned out. These kids they come to the club and they say oh I wanna quit tennis and there’s nothing you can do.
Q: Let’s get more to the point of where to send your kid. What problems arise from that?
A: A lot of times what happens is they think about it so much they end up not sending them anywhere. You know they stay in the same place and… that’s it. You know nothing really changes. Like that’s why you need someone you can listen to. The good kids and the parents have a mentor or someone like an outside person who can tell them what to do because they have no [conflict of] interest in it. If you go to see your coach they could be like oh don’t go to florida, that’s a big academy your kid will get lost. Don’t go to a small academy because there are not enough players to play with. You know there is just always something. So it’s just very tough. So if you can I would recommend a mentor.
Key Takeaways- Again having a mentor or a knowledgeable outside party to give you and your child advice is important.
Q: Looking back at what was one of your biggest mistakes?
A: Well obviously there was a bunch. First of all at 12 it was tough. I mean my parents didn’t know anything about tennis so it’s tough and I can’t be hard on them. At 12, I was sponsored by Nike and I had the opportunity to go to Niki Pilic where Djokovic was and Dominic Thiem and we didn’t know anything about it so my parents didn’t send me. At 14 or 15 there was an opportunity to come to the US or to go to a french academy and I think the french academy would have been better so that’s it. It’s just decisions. There were a hundred decisions and those were two big decisions that didn’t go my way.
Q: So it was just the lack of knowledge then?
A: Yes it was the lack of knowledge and then even if they had the knowledge it’s the parent’s decision to see if they would send the kid at a very young age [to an academy] by himself.
Q: What was one of the smallest things you did that had a surprisingly big impact on your tennis game?
A: Just playing more doubles. I was always a singles player and I just started to play more doubles and I started to realize that my return and volleys were so good… and I just started using them in my singles too and it made a huge difference. I was finishing points earlier and it was great.
Q: Any final advice you would like to give for parents of tennis players?
A: It’s tough. You know I would say goal setting. In the U.S. there is a little bit of a problem with goal setting. The parent has a goal, the kid has a goal, the coach has a goal but there is no goal that they all talk about. You know like when we grow up everyone has a goal that they want to be number 1 in the world you know. Once you get to 14 now it’s I want to play college tennis or I want to get a full ride at a U.S. college. So that’s a goal that you work towards when everyone knows that. You know my dad thought I was going to be number 1 in the world and then I was kind of realizing that it was not going to happen and that I just want to go to college [for tennis]. Then there was a big misunderstanding there. So I think goal setting is absolutely huge so no one gets hurt.
- Teaching tennis is a great way to reinforce everything you have learned on the court. If your child is a more advanced player I would highly suggest having them give some tennis lessons over the summer. I have had the same experience with my game and my technique improved because I was teaching tennis.
- Kids in Europe have more respect for the coaches so they get a little bit more out of the lessons with them. They also find joy from feeling like they worked hard and accomplished something rather than from just having a good time. These mindsets can be very beneficial for your child
- Overplaying can hurt your child
- Lack of knowledge can lead to decisions that don’t pan out in the future. It is important to have someone on the outside who can give you advice, like a mentor, when you need it. This is because giving good advice can sometimes be a conflict of interest for the coach or sometimes the coach just doesn’t know because they have been removed from the game too long.
- Have your child play multiple sports. Not only will they improve faster in the long run, but they will be able to enjoy both sports more and they will be less likely to burn out
- Playing doubles can enhance your child’s singles game
- Goal setting and communication are incredibly important. Without them you and your child can get discouraged about their game and how they are improving. Meanwhile when everyone knows what each other’s goals are they are able to work together and improve faster.
I hope this post was helpful! Please let me know what you think in the comments below!
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