There is no shortage of high-quality tennis coaches on Long Island, and the area has helped grow some of the best players in the country. But few of those coaches carry the type of background and experience brought to the table by Andrea Retolaza.
“Andrea has the combination of a professional background and the technical aspects involved with tennis,” said Mitch Zeifman, Owner of Christopher Morley Tennis. “She’s beyond important to our program.”
Retolaza comes from Spain where she began training as a junior player at the famous Sanchez-Casal Academy, and her tennis game flourished. She then was a WTA ranked player before playing Division I tennis in the United States.
“I was formed there,” Retolaza said of the Sanchez-Casal Academy. “That’s where everything started for me.”
But Andrea suffered injuries during her playing career, which began her desire to learn more about injury prevention.
“I had a lot of injuries myself, and I was always prone to getting extremely sore,” said Retolaza. “When I was working with my physio and fitness coach, I was always the annoying girl who asked a lot of questions. I was curious and I liked the science behind it.”
She carried that interest in injury prevention to Wake Forest University, where she studied exercise physiology anatomy, while playing for the women’s tennis team.
“I realized I wanted to be tied to the sport I love, incorporating what I was studying into the sport of tennis,” said Retolaza. “That’s what I’m combining here in the United States. I bring my health and exercise science knowledge to Christopher Morley as well as to elite tennis players from the juniors to the pros. Tennis is a very demanding sport, so it’s important to pay great attention to detail and the smaller things, which if gone unnoticed, can become big things.”
At Christopher Morley Tennis, Retolaza works with the program’s top junior players, including nationally-ranked Rachel Arbitman. Retolaza does extensive work with the biomechanics of the player’s strokes to not only gain strength, but to also avoid injuries.
Andrea Retolaza has been integral in the growth of top junior players including Rachel Arbitman.
“Andrea always knows what I need,” said Arbitman, who is currently ranked 20th in the nation in her class. “I feel much healthier and recovered from my shoulder injury after working with her. She knows how to push me within the limits, and now I am a much stronger and consistent player.”
Retolaza has experience working with a wide range of players, from the junior level all the way through to the professionals. She played a large role in helping former world number four and recently retired Daniela Hantuchova come back from injuries, focusing on her recovery routines, nutrition and compensation exercises. She is also part of the coaching staff of pro players, including Julia Glushko, Arantxa Parra and Lara Arruabarrena.
Because of her knowledge and experience playing on the team, Retolaza has consulted with the Wake Forest team at the request of Head Coach Jeffrey Wyshner.
“I worked with the fitness coach there to enhance the player’s recovery routines, as they suffered a lot of big injuries this past year,” Retolaza said. “I am focusing my work with them in preventing injuries, better recovery, as well as the strengthening of muscles and tendons in the shoulders, wrists and ankles. A lot of people don’t pay attention to things like proper sleep and hydration. I made those mistakes too. But if you want to fix what you’re doing wrong, you have to have an active recovery program.”
And that is the message Retolaza tries to pass along to the junior players she works with: Learn from the mistakes she and others have made. Her background helps reinforce her message, as her routines have worked for top college players and some of the world’s top professional players.
“It’s not just me saying it,” said Retolaza. “If I tell you this has worked for a professional player, then a junior player is more prone to listen to it.”
Retolaza’s knowledge of not only tennis but the anatomy and biology behind what makes a sustainable player makes her one of the more dynamic coaches in our area.
With her innovative instruction, she is helping create the next crop of successful tennis players on Long Island … the ones who will walk away from her with an understanding on how not only to rip a forehand, but also how to properly take care of one’s body so they can become a better, more consistent player while avoiding injuries.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org