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Polis Ioannides: Tennis is my Life
Polis Ioannides
Tennis is my Life
225
Evgeniya Kondakova-Theodorou
Author: Evgeniya Kondakova-Theodorou
Photo: Daria Saulskaia
04.10.2019

Our new guest is Polis the owner and head coach at “IOANNIDES TENNIS ACADEMY”. Let’s get acquainted…
Country: Cyprus

I am a sports coach by education, with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, specialising in “Tennis” (The University of Athens). I have 16 years of general coaching experience, including multiple successes in national tournaments and European championships. The students of my tennis school (founded in 1998) have consistently occupied high rankings in ratings and shown very strong results.

I was born in Limassol, where I had a very happy childhood: I grew up in a good family together with my two brothers. I always loved playing sport and would often swim, as well as play basketball, football and of course, Tennis. I had a talent for sport from my early years, but my family’s humble background couldn’t afford for me to do it professionally.

I was a good pupil at school and my family insisted I take up a career as a school teacher. My heart and mind, however, had already devoted itself to sport.

Because of this, I decided to further educate myself in this sphere, specialising in tennis. Being so enthralled in sport, I was able to secure a scholarship at the University of Athens while still in Cyprus. And so, by achieving high results in my exams, I was twice awarded a university diploma with distinction.

My profession isn’t a job for me, but rather my favourite hobby, overall — it’s my life! I enjoy seeing how my guys and girls, once having come here as 4-5-year-old kids, who didn’t know how to hold a racket, are several years later becoming champions in the Pancyprian championship, as well as in international tennis competitions. This is a joy to see and creates a strong impression on all of us, but it also makes us train with even more determination. Toni Nadal, for instance, is a Spanish coach who has inspired me in my own career: he is sure that you can achieve anything only if you work at it and there is always room for improvement.

On a related note, I have spent 8-9 hours on a court every day for so many years and have amassed a fair share of amusing stories… For example, we once had a group of 9-year-old girls. Soon after several coaching sessions, I set them up to play training matches agains one another and they began playing for points. I had explained to them how you calculate the score in tennis: 0-15-30-40, while then leaving to train on another court. After returning to the girls five minutes later, I asked them about the results of their games. They told me: 35-60. For a while, none of the coaches at the academy could stop laughing!

There was another time with the mother of an 18-year-old girl (she’d come over from the US). Her mother had requested I offer a full scholarship to her daughter and I replied that I would first need to assess her level, so I put her up against one of my 13-year-old girls — she beat the American girl 6-0, 6-0. I told the mother that her daughter’s level wasn’t good enough for the academy to provide her with partial sponsorship. The woman then declared: “I can see how your academy works and if my daughter starts having intensive sessions with the whole team, then in 3-4 months, I’m confident that she’ll beat Serena”. I began thinking about who she was referring to, after all, the only Serena I knew was Serena Williams, the world No.1 seed.

After deciding to clarify, I asked her: “Do you mean a friend of yours? ” and the woman replied: “No, I mean Serena Williams!” My God, I thought: is she serious?

After she’d left, I stood with another trainer who’d been on the court and we laughed non-stop for more than an hour… Even today, this story still puts a smile on our faces.

In general, aside from tennis, I’m extremely keen on football, equestrian riding and reading books about tennis.

Regarding holidays, if I have several days off, then I usually prefer to stop at the hotels in Protaras and Paphos. If I’ve just been given a day off or several hours free, then I stay in the city. I really like kicking back with a cup of coffee or driving out to have lunch on the Limassol Marina. In a nutshell: yes, I love living here! It’s a safe country where people can have a quiet life. Alongside this, you have great beaches, hotels and a large selection of places for those who love nightlife; but the main thing is the magnificent weather.

I’d like to wish everyone visiting the island a safe and comfortable stay here. I’d also advise coming to Cyprus for a long period: that way you’ll have enough time to visit the beaches of Limassol, Ayia Napa, Protaras and Akamas. If you decide to come to the island in winter, then definitely go skiing in the Troodos mountains. Our sunny weather will no doubt help to keep you in a good mood, while if you’re also a lover of tennis, you should visit our academy in Limassol.

There are times when I go abroad: I go to tournaments a lot with my athletes. I’ve visited many countries and would like to say: each one of them is good in its own way. For example, I am very fond of the Greek islands, but Prague, having said that, has become a genuinely impressive city: thanks to the river and its incredible historical buildings.

Being a Cypriot is just as easy as, let’s say, being an Italian, a Greek, Czech or Russian person… I believe that every one of us should have respect for our homeland. All countries possess their own advantages and disadvantages and one can encounter both good and bad people everywhere. So, yes, I’m a Cypriot and I’m glad of this; but I also respect those who have come from other countries. Some of my pupils: Cypriots and foreigners — speak unflatteringly of their countries because they failed to provide them with support in their careers. They don’t want to take part in national tournaments… but I always say to them: you should play for your country, to uphold its honour and to show respect to your flag.