Interview with ATA HKFC Head Coach - Toby Clark
Interview with ATA HKFC Head Coach - Toby Clark08 Oct 2021
This month I decided to interview Toby Clark. Coming all the way from the UK, Coach Toby has been coaching with ATA for 12 years. Find out about his intriguing stories and experiences.
When did you start playing tennis?
“I started when I was 5 years old, playing short tennis with a plastic racquet and sponge balls - the equivalent of mini tennis that is played now.”
What influenced you to play tennis?
“My parents were a big influence and very supportive of my brothers and I trying lots of different sports. My mum, who played county level tennis in the UK, introduced me to the game and my first coach at our local club. It wasn’t long before I was dragging her down to the courts to play every day possible.”
When did you first become a coach?
“I first worked as a 'hitter’ with various players at the academy where I trained. When I was 16 years old, I started obtaining coaching qualifications, so I could assist with classes around my training to earn money to fund my tournaments.”
What is your biggest strength as a tennis player?
“My serve and my forehand. It used to be my movement too, but with an older body and a few injuries later, that isn’t the case anymore!”
What are your weaknesses as a tennis player?
“I’m not telling anyone… they will have to work it out themselves on the court ”
What is the most difficult moment during your tennis journey that you have overcome?
“Injuries are always tough to overcome; I had a few injuries before a big National or International tournament as a junior. I've also had to come off court for long periods of time during my coaching career from operations due to a snake bite in Africa, or a couple of years ago a hip resurfacing.”
Do you have any superstitions?
“Not really. I try not to walk on lines between points but that, along with playing with strings, is more about keeping focused and staying present.”
What is your routine before you serve?
“Step to baseline, 2 bounces of ball, exhale, plan my serve and first shot then execute.”
What is a piece of advice that you wish you got before you started playing matches?
“I have been lucky to be surrounded by supportive parents and great coaches and have always been given good advice. For those that compete, I would say ‘play with a plan', whether that's a couple of technical goals that help you with your level of play in matches or specific tactics to help you try and beat your opponent. Always be positive, keep trying to find solutions, and above all enjoy yourself!”
Lastly, who is your all-time favourite tennis player?
“Roger Federer - I was lucky enough to meet him when I worked at Wimbledon after his first win at SW19. He is a true class act, both on and off court!”