Colonial Sun – Belgrade – Dejan Vukojcic
Dejan Vukojicic is currently the Director of the Junior Tennis Program for Colonial Sun in Serbia.
Can you tell us how you started playing tennis, and a little bit about your career as a coach?
My mother was a tennis player and, following in her footsteps, I started playing at 8. I had also tried football but realised that I was more passionate about tennis. I decided to make a career out of it, and at 19 began coaching. I worked for the Association of Tennis Professionals in Yugoslavia, travelling as their marketing representative, before beginning at Colonial Sun 15 years ago. Throughout my career I have always worked with juniors and many of my players go on to win awards in all divisions.
Explain a bit about your facility and the number of coaches and players in the program.
The program that I am in charge of is specifically geared towards juniors, and there are currently about 90 players enrolled. In the club, we have six coaches and five tennis courts, two of which are used for the juniors. From April – November we are able to play outdoors but the courts have to be covered during the winter.
What is the program’s core goal?
The main focus of our program is to create quality junior tennis players, who will be successful in tournaments. We usually work with players who have the potential to compete at a professional level. During the past 10 years, most of the best players in Serbia have spent some time training at my club.
What are the activities that a child gets when signing up?
At Colonial Sun we only train the players in tennis skills, both in individual and group settings. For fitness training they are required to go to other clubs in the city.
How would a child describe their time training at Colonial Sun?
This depends on the child’s age as there are specific hours that each group has on the courts. We offer both individual and group lessons. In Serbia, most people don’t play tennis for the fun of it. The focus is on being serious in pursuing it as a career. We are not a very rich country and parents see sports as an opportunity for children to improve their quality of life by becoming professional players. Only 3% of the children in Serbia are involved in playing any sport at all and this is not just a Saturday afternoon hobby for them; it becomes their way of life.
What do you consider to be unique about your program?
The standard of our program is very high and the level of training we provide is of the best quality. The most successful group we have is the 10-14 years old. Many of our players go on to play on the national team representing the country in international tournaments.
What have been the major challenges and evolutions for the club in the last two years?
Overall the last two years have been a very enterprising period for the club. The only area of weakness has been the under 10s program. As a result of the collaboration with evolve9 and Mike Barrell’s guidance, we are in the process of making plans to improve and expand this area in the coming year.
What are the major developments that you are planning, or focused on, in the next 12 months?
Over the next year all the coaches will become certified in the evolution program. There will be more focus on marketing, especially to attract younger children and start instilling the foundational skills necessary as early as possible. As mentioned before, the under 10s program will be improved significantly. We are also considering the possibility of expanding to include 3 additional locations within the city.
What do you think will be the next ‘big thing’ in kids’ tennis in the upcoming years?
I am not really sure. I’m very interested to see what Mike has planned in terms of Gamification. I think this will be a big step in the evolution of kids’ tennis.
|Check out the evolution Serbia webpage and the great work that Dejan is doing with evolution as the Official U10 Program of Serbia.|
|Dejan is now the Director of Evolution Kids Tennis Program for the Serbian Tennis Federation. He has already trained over 400 coaches in the program and continues to work at all levels of tennis as a coach, including working with the 2015 winner of the Orange Bowl.In his role as the National Director of evolution, he will continue to promote the program throughout the country, with numerous presentations over the next four years, working closely alongside the team at evolve9.|
Find out more about the evolution program and it’s roll out in the US at the evolution Junior Director’s Conference