A couple of years ago, Adrian Avanesov began taking his tennis very seriously, and started training at MatchPoint NYC in Brooklyn. That’s where he met MatchPoint Coach Azizbek Makhkamov and their player/coach relationship formed.
“I’m really thankful for his parents. They trusted me and believed in the program here,” said Makhkamov. “I told them if you allow me to train your child for a few years, he will become a totally different player. There have been many long days of hard work, but that work always pays itself back when you do it right.”
Now 12-years-old, Avanesov is beginning to see the fruits of that labor. He has become a top junior player and one of the hallmarks of the MatchPoint NYC program. He’s currently ranked 31st in New York and is inside the Top 400 in the country.
“I first got into tennis because of my grandfather, who was a professional weightlifter,” said Avanesov, who cites Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Nikoloz Basilvashvili as some of the professional players he models his game after. “He introduced me to the sport, and I enjoyed it right away.”
Adrian’s family would go around checking out different facilities, and eventually finding the right fit in MatchPoint NYC. Since joining MatchPoint NYC, his game has progressed immensely, and much of that success stems from his dedicated work ethic.
“He started with me when he was around 10-years-old,” said Makhkamov. “He’s basically only been playing competitively for two years. He’s not home-schooled like many other top juniors, but still plays serious tennis every day. We train for two hours almost every day, and he’s achieved some pretty amazing results already.”
Strength and power are at the core of Adrian’s playing style. A big, tall right-hander, he hits the ball with a lot of pace from either side of the court, both forehand and backhand, and attacks with a relentless motor.
Despite his young age, Avanesov plays up in competition because the power with which he strikes the ball. That pace can overwhelm a lot of players his age, who can be pushers and lobbers, thus Avanesov takes on the challenge of playing older players.
“He’s a striker and is still working on defending, but he attacks every single ball,” Makhkamov said. “He’s got power from both sides, the forehand and the backhand. He’s got that powerful men’s game, and I think in a couple of years, he will have a more well-rounded game.”
Integral in creating that balanced attack is having the right team around you when training. While Makhkamov is Avanesov’s primary coach, MatchPoint also has sports psychologists and physical therapists on hand to give its junior players a full training regimen. It can be difficult to find the proper regimen for a particular player, and the same goes for Avanesov. Still just 12 years of age, Avanesov is already 5’8’’ and still growing, so finding the proper way to put on muscle while he is going through a growth spurt can be challenging. The focus most recently has been on his balance and core stability.
“I do a lot of fitness, and it helps a lot,” said Avanesov. “I realize that I’ve been getting faster and have been able to get to a lot more balls. I play a very aggressive style and against older players, and the goal is if they hit 30 shots during a rally, I need to hit 31.”
And while conditioning, fitness and technique are all necessary pillars for any tennis player’s game, Avanesov has learned that winning matches sometimes requires more than just physical tools.
“What helps me during tournaments when I have to play multiple matches in a row is really mental stability and consistency,” Avanesov said. “Having mental strength was more important than anything else.”
He recently won the L1A Cross String Tennis Academy Fall Championships, and had to come back from a set down in the semifinals to advance.
“When I was playing in the semifinal, I was losing badly, but I took a break and got myself mentally-focused again,” Avanesov said. “I managed to win that match, and then to go on to win in the finals.”
Avanesov has come a long way in just his two years of tennis training, which only bodes well for the next couple years of his development. As a tall player with loads of talent, he has immense potential to become one of the top players in the country. In the short term, he says he wants to get into the Top 50 in the country in the Boys 14s Division over the next few months, and will continue to work towards his goals.
“Sometimes when players have everything, it can be hard to find motivation. But that’s not a problem for him … he is highly motivated,” said Makhkamov. “He doesn’t think anything should be handed to him. He just wants to win and compete, and that’s what makes Adrian who he is.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org