Lucero’s Head Tennis PRO Andrew Sznajder talks ABOUT HIS AMAZING JOURNEY with Tennis
Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “out of adversity comes opportunity.” While we’re not sure Franklin ever played much tennis, his adage very much holds true for Canadian tennis legend Andrew Sznajder’s relationship with the game. We sat down with Andrew to talk about his new role at Lucero and his life-long love for the game.
Like most seven-year old boys, I had a lot of energy and a very hard time sitting still. To keep me occupied and out from under foot, the manager of the Howard Park Tennis Club cut down the handle of a Dunlop Fort adult tennis racquet, handed me a ball and pointed to a wall. “Go and hit over there,” he told me sternly. Neither of us could have guessed that from that humble wall, something unprecedented in Canadian tennis was beginning.
As my love for the game grew and I began playing in tournaments but I did not fare well. Every tournament I played I lost 6-0 or only won one game in each set. And while I was frustrated and didn’t understand what was happening, I never gave up. “No” and “It is impossible” were not part of my vocabulary. My failures pushed me to work harder and hit the ball even harder.
At the age of 14, I was chosen by Tennis Ontario to participate in five tournaments taking place in Europe. These next few tournaments made me understand how to actually play this wonderful game, but through our rigorous training schedule led me to offer our coach a deal: If I won the tournament, I would only have to train for two hours the following week. He laughed and said he would accept only I won both the Under 14 tournament AND the Under 16. I was nervous about what I’d got myself into but I was so determined not train the next week that I played every match to win. And that is exactly what I did. That week was pivotal in teaching me value of hard work, focus and doing the best I could for every shot.
From that moment on, I won every Canadian National Championship as a junior. But that didn’t mean I didn’t have lessons still to learn. During my last years as a junior, I had the chance be a hitting partner with Ivan Lendl when he came to visit Toronto. Wow, was I excited! After the first a few days of cooperative drills and hard paced rallies, I was beginning to be a bit more… confident. On the third day Ivan came up to the net and said, “Andrew, we now play a set. I will show you where the lines are.” And boy he showed me EVERY line on the tennis court. I did not win a single point, but I did get a lesson in what and how I needed to work in order to become a better tennis player.
During my professional career I had the privilege of training with Jimmy Connors, and believe his approach helped me reaching a career-high of No. 46 on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour. Jimmy is a player who trains as if it were a real match. During our two week training session, we would drill and workout in the mornings and play matches during the afternoon. But there was a catch. Every game lost in the set would cost the loser $100. After the two weeks, I owed Jimmy $2,800. As I got ready settle up, Jimmy asked me what I had learned. Looking down at the money in my hand I replied that I had learned to approach every practice session with the same intensity and focus as a match. Jimmy smiled and told me to keep the money.
The beautiful thing about tennis is that you are always learning and always improving, no matter what your level or how many years you’ve played. I am so excited to share that love and learning with you on Lucero’s 3 beautiful Classic Clay courts. Come join me!