The Finnish number 1 player Jarkko Nieminen announced that he would be setting up a tennis academy for junior players this summer. Bearing his own name, the Jarkko Nieminen Tennis Academy will be located mainly in the Tali Tennis Centre in Helsinki, and admittance will initially be made to the top 6 to 8 junior tennis players in the country.
In a philanthropic venture, the academy will be run as a not-for-profit association and its main aims are to create possibilities and opportunities for junior tennis players in Finland to progress to a professional level. At the official announcement Nieminen explained that he has “received so much from tennis that I thought I’d give something back. From the point of view of the Finnish tennis culture, it is important to have an academy like this in the country.”
Although the academy is planning to make use of international contacts in the tennis world, such as those in Sweden, Germany and the USA, it already boasts a substantial amount of tennis knowledge and expertise. Associated names include Federico Ricci – former coach to the ATP pro Micke Kontinen – who will be the head coach at the academy, with Jarno Ahonen and Veli Paloheimo on board to provide S&C and operations support respectively. Nieminen has also arranged for two coaches from the HVS-Tennis club based in Helsinki – Olli LeppÃ¤nen and Saku Siivonen – to come on board as academy coaches.
Despite a small initial intake of a maximum of 8 students, plans are in place for expansion over the years to eventually include junior players from international countries. And even though Nieminen’s professional career is still active, he still plans to work as much with the academy directors and administrators as possible with the management of the academy and will become a practice opponent for its students.
The names of two of this summer’s intake have already been announced, Eero Vasa and Patrik Niklas-Salminen, both aged 15, will be entering the academy when it opens, having previously met each other when they faced off in the under-14’s Finnish Championship final last summer. Although students will be required to pay a third of the academy’s fees, they will receive partial funding to cover the rest. The Finnish Tennis Association have confirmed that they will support the activity of the academy by purchasing coaching and educational services, and will also provide a full scholarship for one student each year.
Having chosen not to compete at the Madrid Open this week, Nieminen will hit the courts in Rome next week for the Internazionali BNL D’Italia.