Photo: Paul ZimmerCaptain Alex Corretja and David Ferrer (ESP)
BARCELONA, SPAIN: How do you know when a tennis event is important?
That’s easy to judge if it captivates the attention of two famous folks, who made it their business to come out to the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup on Wednesday.
Welcome Albert Costa, former Roland Garros champion and former Spanish Davis Cup captain, who now works in player development for the Spanish Tennis Federation. And hello Alex Corretja, a two-time Roland Garros finalist, who is the current Spanish Davis Cup by BNP Paribas captain, who just two weeks ago led Spain to the upcoming finals against the Czech Republic with a 3-1 win over Team USA in the semifinals.
“First of all I love tennis,” said Corretja, when asked why he came out to watch at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona. “I live here in Barcelona so it was quite easy for me to come by. I like to watch the juniors coming up from all over the world, especially the Spanish guys and girls.”
We caught up with Costa and Corretja, who were taking in the Spanish girls playing Egypt when we saw them on the grounds. Both are alumnus of playing this prestigious event when they were juniors and think the competition is essential to the development of future players.
“It’s very unique to play these competitions because it’s the closest you can feel like a professional and what it’s like to play Davis Cup,” Corretja said. “So I think it’s very good preparation for when you become pro.”
Costa also remembered how special it was to play in this very event when he was a boy: “I played in the same club here, I think it was ’91, like 21 years ago but I don’t want to think about it. It was a great experience for me.”
Corretja had important advice to offer the juniors: “When you are younger you feel like you have a chance but you have to keep on working to become professional. You can be very good at 16, 17, or 15, but nothing will secure you’re going to be a professional player. I think these are the right steps to follow.”
Costa agreed with Corretja that this type of competition for youngsters is priceless preparation for the future: “It’s a good experience and they learn to understand how to compete with a team. You are competing with the best players in the world and you (learn) which level you are...It’s one of the tournaments you always remember.”
For Alberto Barroso, Spain’s No. 1 boy at this event, it was exciting to have Costa and Corretja checking out his match, even though he lost to Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 61 61.
“It’s great for me that Albert Costa and Alex Corretja are here,” Barrosa said. “I was training with Alex a week before this competition. Today was a bad match for me, but I hope tomorrow will be better for me. For me, in Spain there are incredible tennis players, Rafa (Nadal) and David (Ferrer) now and before that Alex, Manuel Santana and Albert, so that’s been good.”