Chilean tennis greats have high hopes for next generation

Double gold medalist to coach Chile’s Davis Cup team, alongside former World No. 1 in bid to secure the country’s next ‘golden generation.’

Chile’s golden generation of tennis stars saw Olympic triumphs, domination of world rankings and high finishes in several Grand Slams. Now, though, it is time to hang up the tennis shoes and focus on the next generation of hopefuls.

At a press conference in Santiago earlier this month, Chile’s Tennis Federation announced the two new star coaches of the country’s Davis Cup team. Leading the team will be Nicolás Massú, affectionately dubbed El Vampiro, or The Vampire, by the Chilean press and former World No. 1 and Massú’s one-time teammate, Marcelo Rios.

A key figure in the so-called “Chilean golden generation”, Massú has won six singles titles and ranked in the world top ten at his peak but perhaps his greatest achievement was in 2004 when he became the only player ever to win olympic gold medals in both the singles and doubles competitions.

The record-breaking Chilean first announced his interest in the position of Davis Cup coach upon his retirement from Tennis one month earlier. Apparently the country’s sporting authorities didn’t need long to decide Massú was the right choice. Speaking to press the Chilean sports star explained his motivation for moving into coaching.

“Even though I gave up professional tennis, I have always said that I want to stay involved in the sport,” Massú said at the press conference. “I know that it will be a great challenge because I am relatively young at 33, but I like challenges. I think I can bring a lot [to the new generation] — I have played in the Davis Cup for 18 years, and am one of the most experienced players.”

Alongside his former teammate and now coaching assistant, Massú reminded press of the need for patience with upcoming players who have a lot to live up to.

“It will be a slow process, but Chilean tennis is in a transition period,” Massú declared. “It is a long-term project. We shouldn’t put too much pressure on the younger players. We have to go easy on them and support them, we should not demand [immediate results], but let them progress step by step … We will bring everything we know to the table.”

The two-time gold winner emphasised the immediate goal is to re-establish the Chilean team as a force in the Americas before the team could set their sights on a potential bid for the title.

Aside from Massú’s record-breaking olympic success, the best-known current Chilean olympian is probably gymnast Tomás González. The young vault and floor specialist is looking to build on his nine world cup medals and last year’s showing at the London 2012 games for the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics.