Nino Severino: Bianca Andreescu’s inspirational story shows that you can dream big and reach the top

Rafael Nadal won the US Open in New York. Picture: PA SPORT

Rafael Nadal won the US Open in New York. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: AP

In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses the unlikely US Open victory of teenager Bianca Andreescu, and how he can use that to inspire the talented youngsters he coaches in Ipswich.

Rafa Nadal is a legend of the sport. Picture: PA SPORT

Rafa Nadal is a legend of the sport. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: AP

This week saw the end of the US Open, the last of the four greatest tennis tournaments that are held around the world.

The first is, of course, the Australian Open in January, the second The French Open in May, the third The Wimbledon Championships starting in July and of course the fourth, the US Open in August.

When you calculate how many countries won the singles and doubles titles at the slams it comes to 18, with some countries having more than one success.

In the final Grand Slam, it was Spain and Canada that took the honours in the biggest titles, Rafael Nadal winning the men's title and Bianca Andreescu lifting the women's crown.

I took part in this Grand Slam numerous times supporting my wife Elena as she competed for Great Britain, and of course Rafa was one of the tennis stars that I had the privilege of seeing on a daily basis during my job as a coach.

Bianca Andreescu is now 19, which would have made her only 13 when I attended my last US Open as an official GB Coach. When I think of this, it makes me focus on the players that we are now supporting through The Elena Baltacha Foundation, and how quickly - if super talented - they too could be on the world tennis tour!

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As I now write my column I have just come off the courts after an early morning training session at Ipswich Sports Club, where we base all our training sessions, the players involved are boys and girls, from county to national standard.

And it's these great tournaments, such as the US Open, that they turn to for inspiration, and the fuelling of their personal hopes and dreams.

(L-R Elena Baltacha Foundation players Anya Talor, Yasmina Severino-Green and Natasha Mashonganyika

(L-R Elena Baltacha Foundation players Anya Talor, Yasmina Severino-Green and Natasha Mashonganyika with tennis icon Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon. Picture: NINO SEVERINO - Credit: Archant

Of course, it goes without saying that Rafa is one of the greatest tennis players that has ever graced the clay, the hard and the grass courts, and he is without doubt an incredible inspiration to millions across the world.

But it's also the incredible stories of players such as Bianca, the brilliant teenager, that also helps support and drive the massive hopes and dreams that all our young players cherish and protect in their thoughts.

Bianca's story is quite incredible - she started 2019 ranked the 152nd best player in the world, but she will leave the year and start the 2020 season as a Grand Slam champion, and if she can protect her current ranking, she will be in the world's top five players.

That is a jaw-dropping achievement, anyone who has operated at a high level in tennis will know this is nothing short of a miracle!

It's stories such as this that sends out a powerful message to not only our foundation players, but millions of others across the globe - you have the right to dream big and, if Bianca can do it, with massive amounts of hard work, you can too.

As a coach, this story is so valuable. I use role models such as Bianca many times throughout the week of training, at times when motivation is needed, or while explaining a particular aspect of tennis development, and of course when the early morning training sessions become tough, when it's raining, cold and the alarm goes off at 5am in the morning!

Finally, this weekend will see a film crew from an award-winning production company visiting Ipswich. They are travelling around the UK, filming individuals such as Judy Murray, as part of a documentary on my late wife Elena.

It will focus on all she achieved, on and off the court, it will capture her life, and how she inspired when she was alive, and now through her powerful legacy that continues to be part of so many young children's lives.

When they are filming, I know I will be thinking of her, all our time together, and our hopes and dreams of building a Grand Slam champion from our home town of Ipswich.

I will be watching the film crew shooting footage of some of the best players we are developing and, taking inspiration from Bianca Andreescu, I will be hoping we can achieve Bally's dream of one day taking a home-grown player all the way to the top!

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