by Nils Palmgren
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg and Magnus Norman at the Australian Open last January (picture contributed by Joanne Cox)
Formerly the Center Court at Roland Garros was filled with Swedish tennis players. When the French Open started last Sunday not a single Swedish men's player was in the tournament. - There's something we haven't done right in Swedish tennis, says coach Magnus Norman.
PARIS. A former Swedish world number one and a former Swedish world number two will fight for the title in Paris. Not as players but as as coaches. Stefan Edberg coaches world number four Roger Federer and Magnus Norman world number three Stanislas Wawrinka.
Both are equally disappointed that there are no Swedish men's players that are candidates to play in a Grand Slam. Not even to qualify to one.
- Results-wise and ranking-wise it is so bad that you know you're pretty close to the bottom, says Stefan Edberg.
- It's so strange you almost think it's not true, says Magnus Norman about the lack of Swedes in Paris.
Both Stefan Edberg and Magnus Norman are deeply involved in Swedish tennis. Not through the Swedish Tennis Federation, but through private initiatives.
Stefan Edberg runs the Ready Play academy in Växjö along with former Davis Cup captain Carl-Axel Hageskog and former great player Magnus Larsson.
Magnus Norman runs the Good to Great Academy in Järfälla along with former great players Niklas Kulti and Mikael Tillström.
They have not had a greater cooperation with the Federation and it was only after Good to Great existed for over three years that one of the Tennis Federation officials visited the academy in Järfälla. And after all it's still one of the most promising of the several players academies in Sweden.
The Swedish Tennis Federation has its own training center in Båstad. Here are parts of the national offices, the tennis school and all the national team coaches, as Magnus Norman thinks is wrong.
- They will be there, whether you like it or not, so that every coach just looks more to their own players. Those who have chosen to train with Good to Great do not have a national team coach, so I think it's wrong for the national team captains, the coaches at the national sports school.
- I still think we have many very good players who have chosen to train with us and may feel that the Federation should support them financially through the national team, says Magnus Norman.
Through his foundation, Stefan Edberg is one of the individuals who financially support the young players coming up. Each year, he budgets half a million dollars in scholarships for players between 14 and 16 of proven international results.
- What's important for success is to create the conditions and a good environment in which to grow up. It requires good trainers and then you have to compete a lot, says Edberg and continues:
- In order to take the plunge when you're 15, it takes a lot of work and unfortunately quite a lot of financial resources and it can be tricky, says the former world number one.
- I think we have to start working much, much harder at home, says Magnus Norman about the future.
- Check a bit how other countries work and have courage to invest and train hard and find an environment where you think it's tough to train, says Magnus Norman, while he points out that he is not critical on the choise by the Federation to put up a national tennis center in Båstad.
- I think it's a good bet, although my proposal to the Federation three and a half years ago was that we would work together and that we would build a national tennis center in Stockholm.
Now, Norman's tennis academy decided to start its own tennis high school in the fall.
- We have thirteen students who will go to our school and will mostly have the teaching in the tennis center. A completely different approach than any other high school today. No summer vacation or holidays without taking from two to three hours a day of tennis, 365 days a year.
- If you are supposed to be good at tennis, there must be a lot of training and going to school four hours a day and then play tennis, is quite impossible, says Magnus Norman.
Also Stefan Edberg's academy invests in education. This fall the first students will apply for the country's first tennis university, a business where Ready Play stands for training layup.
- This means you can train and study in Sweden today and will not have to go abroad.
Swedish Tennis Federation's sporting director Johan Sjögren thinks all the initiatives that give players the opportunity to progress are good, but in terms of a formal collaboration between a private academy and the federation, it's a board issue.
- I can only look to the sporting and keep a continuous contact with all the players, whether they play in a regular club or academy, says Johan Sjögren and reveals that, as of August, no national team coach longer works in the tennis school in Båstad.
Johan Sjögren welcomes tennis academies' work:
- Initiatives that make the frame as good as possible for the players are only positive. No matter where you work today in Swedish tennis, so it's the common feeling that we're coming back, says Johan Sjögren.
While Stefan Edberg believes in Swedish men's player in Paris again:
- One must look up among the guys born in 1996. Daniel Windahl and Elias Ymer looked incredibly promising two years ago, and now Elias confirmed himself this year so maybe the others will catch on, says Stefan Edberg.
Both Windahl and Ymer belong to Good to Great Tennis Academy.
- Book on history of Swedish tennis available in English
- Edberg and Järryd defeated in Båstad doubles exhibition
- Legends shine in Båstad
- Edberg: "Swedish tennis is still behind"
- Would you have liked Stefan dressed like this?
- Edberg not interested in Tennis Federation role
- Stefan Edberg at the Wilson stand
- Stefan Edberg about his backhand in 2003
- Stefan Edberg's Rogers Cup conference call
- From Åhus to Wimbledon
- Edberg: "It's almost like a relationship"
- Stefan Edberg, the talent who crushed them all
- "I'm a dark horse"
- Our very special birthday wish to Stefan
- Stefan Edberg: Andy Murray made the right decision