With sport in his blood, it is no surprise that SA tennis coach Todd Langman has gone on to do big things in the world of tennis.
His Mum played club level tennis and represented the state and his Dad was a handy footballer.
Whilst personally admitting he was never much of an academic, playing sport was something Todd excelled at. He played national baseball in his younger years and played tennis at a high-level including satellite tournaments and futures.
Langman decided at a young age though that he wanted to go down the tennis coaching path and this has led to a long-time friendship and very fruitful business partnership with former tennis professional Todd Ley.
Ley represented Australia and was a very promising junior tennis player growing up.
They have formed the Langman and Ley Elite Tennis Academy at the Glenlea Tennis Club in Adelaide.
Some of their players who have gone on to play at a high level including Thanasi Kokkinakis, Issy Ryles, Tayla Whitehouse, Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and Edward Winter.
Langman describes Kokkinakis as their biggest success story and after battling injuries throughout his career, he is finally starting to get his body right and the proof is in the pudding with Kokkinakis winning his first Adelaide International back in January.
Langman said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the friendship and help of Ley.
Ever since he was a young boy Langman has always been quite competitive and having played sport at a high-level he said he has now brought that same competitiveness to his coaching.
“I never really thought about my coaching philosophy until not long ago when I got asked that question,” Langman said.
“I have always been quite competitive so creating the competitor is my philosophy and it’s the same way I coach now.
“I try and push my kids to be the best competitor they can.
“Locally too many kids are looking for shortcuts and aren’t competitive enough and you can get away with it a bit more at local level but internationally you get found out.
“You look at people like your Michael Jordan’s and other overseas sports superstars and they are competitive beasts so that’s how I get those I coach to be.”
Langman said another key learning which he now uses as part of his coaching philosophy is the importance of players having weapons.
“One of the things that has stuck with me was when I was younger and Todd Ley’s Dad Max told me about weapons and how it was the key to a player winning the game and gaining an advantage over their opponent.
“I remember Max and I were watching Todd play against Juan Martin Del Potro and Todd Ley would never give much away in terms of errors but he didn’t have some of the same weapons as Del Potro.
“Even at the age of 16 Del Potro had massive weapons and when it came to developing Thanasi’s game, we increased his racquet speed and we made sure he was definitely going after the ball and that was part of my philosophy.”
Langman recalls meeting Kokkinakis and even at a young age knew he was something special.
“When I was 19, I was working with Todd Ley and Todd was doing some lessons with Pan (Thanasi’s brother),” Langman said.
“Pan’s Dad Trevor rang me and I started doing some lessons with Pan and Thanasi at the age of 7 was joining in too and having short hits.
“Even at this age he was very coordinated and I remember saying to his dad there’s a little bit here and after a few lessons with Thanasi he picked things up very quickly and we saw that he had something special.
“I went out and watched him dominate a basketball game once for Sturt and knew that team sports weren’t his thing so we picked up his training with tennis and the rest is history.
“Even today when we muck around and play basketball he still doesn’t pass!
“Back then he was a little podgy with a mop of hair and didn’t look like the same popular boy on Instagram that he is today.”
Langman said some of the players to watch out for in the future that are currently under the watchful eye of himself and Todd Ley are: Branislav and Nikola Markulin, Georgia Plunkett, Sarah Mildren and Mia Tsoukalas.
Langman does have some concerns about the tennis landscape in Australia now in particular with coaches more focused on making money than developing their players.
“I have a few gripes with some coaches at the moment but I can understand they are trying to put food on the table so it’s a tough one,” Langman said.
“The experience of some of the coaches is not quite there and I see too many coaches coaching with a certificate that aren’t up to standard.
“This is affecting the level of talent coming through and I feel as though it’s playing a big part in where Australian tennis is now.
“A lot of coaching building good businesses quite young and not really helping the kids fall in love with the sport as lining their pockets.
“It’s a really challenging one and a problem in my mind.
“The prices of some coaches are too expensive and parents can’t afford the lessons and so it’s not giving the kids the chance to develop themselves as much.”