BY INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA- When asked when they started playing tennis, husband and wife Sorin and Lena Ivancu, just laugh.
“Since we were maybe 10,” Sorin states, although it’s more of a question than an answer.
The pair are both Romanian tennis coaches who have worked with professional tennis players such as: Horia Tecau and Simona Halep.
Lena has done much of her coaching at a high school that specializes in tennis. Sorin works at a private tennis club and coaches players of all ages and levels.
However, they’ve worked with the Romanian Tennis Federation for many years and have coached in Sweden and in Italy.
On Thursday, August 11, they taught a clinic at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center for kids ranging from ages five to thirteen.
“In every country, it is different,” Sorin said of his international coaching experiences.
In Sweden, they noticed that coaches tended to give their players a bit more time to have fun with tennis. However, in Romania, coaches typically drill their players on technique and don’t focus as much on the ‘fun side’ of the game.
The couple’s coaching style has changed over their years of working with students and traveling to other countries.
Sorin said that when he works with students now, he tries to put less pressure on the younger boys and girls.
Although the couple have only coached in the United States very rarely, they’ve noticed a few differences between Romanian tennis and American tennis.
“Tennis is much more expensive in Romania. Here, you have more opportunity,” Sorin said of what he has noticed about tennis in the United States.
From their perspective, the main reason for this variance is the huge gap in the cost of equipment.
“In Romania, a good racquet will cost you at least 200 dollars,” Sorin said.
But while the Ivancu’s believe it’s cheaper for young players to get involved in tennis here, they worry that there isn’t enough of a focus on the sport in the United States.
“Where is the interest? I see here no one is interested in tennis,” Sorin said with a shake of his head.
That’s one of the reasons why they held the clinic at the Schenectady JCC. They wanted to bring their love for the game to students who may not have been introduced to it yet.
Sorin worked with the younger novices on the basics of holding the racquet and serving the ball. Lena worked with the older players in the group to develop their technique and to help them be able to rally with another more consistently.
Although some of the students had trouble learning the technique at first, Sorin and Lena focused on making the clinic fun.
“First we play then we focus on tennis,” said Sorin.