This is my second interview with Christo van Rensburg (the first is below), the 1985 Australian Open doubles champion, and the tournament director for the new WTA 250 ATX Open.
We talk about what to expect from the inaugural ATX Open, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and return strategy for doubles.
In this conversation, Christo shares:
- What has gone into putting together the ATX Open up to this point.
- A new way to think about going down-the-line on returns in doubles.
- A player he is coaching who has the potential to make tennis popular in Mexico.
You will hear Christo’s experiences as a tournament director, his personal strategy tips, and how you can attend or volunteer at the 2023 ATX Open.
Interview Notes from this Podcast
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- Follow ATX Open: Twitter | Instagram
- Buy tickets, volunteer, or find more information about the tournament at ATXOpen.com
- 2023 ATX Open Details
- The tournament will be played in Austin at the Westwood Country Club from February 27 – March 5.
- Christo spent time directing ITF and UTR tournaments to learn and develop before finally taking the step to become a WTA tournament director.
- This tournament will be a good option for players before Indian Wells and already features Danielle Collins, Sloane Stephens, and Peyton Stearns among others.
- Leading up to the tournament, Christo and his staff have spent a lot of time finding experts for different tasks, drawing in excellent food and drink businesses, and working on the stadium and schedule.
- So far, ticket sales have gone incredibly well and Christo could not be happier.
- Doubles Strategy
- Before you can be a good returner, you need to determine if you have the skill to hit good returns down-the-line on both the forehand and backhand sides.
- Once you’ve done that, it’s important to have a plan before returning and stick to it.
- You don’t need to hit a winner when you return down-the-line and it’s okay to miss.
- If you’re the returner’s partner, you must know where your partner is going to be successful.
- If there is a bad volleyer at the net, don’t give them a target at the net, but rather move back and make them make a good volley.
- It’s also important to play with different partners and watch lots of tennis to improve.
- The Future of Doubles and Women’s Tennis
- Christo has been working with Fernanda Contreras Gomez and he believes that she has the skill to succeed in both singles and doubles and make tennis popular in Mexico.
- He has also spent time with Raven Klaasen during Davis Cup events and they have shared lots of knowledge.
- Christo believes that the women’s tour should receive more support and that companies and sponsors ought to lean into the growing women’s side of tennis.
Christo van Rensburg Interview: Former World #1 & ’85 AO Doubles Champion
This was our first interview with Christo in 2021.
In this episode, I speak with Christo van Rensburg. He was a part of the #1 doubles team in the world with Paul Annacone and won the 1985 Australian Open Doubles title. Here are a few other accomplishments.
- 20 career doubles titles.
- Olympic athlete for South Africa.
- Top 20 in the world in singles.
- Wins over McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Becker, Rafter, & one of only two players to beat Pete Sampras in straight sets at Wimbledon.
- Current Davis Cup Captain for South Africa.
Christo now lives in Austin, Texas, where he coaches. In this conversation, we dive deep into Christo’s story including two moments that changed his life. I also ask him how doubles in the ’80s and ’90s compares to today. After that, we talk a lot about communication on the doubles court between partners, as well as how coaches should be communicating with their students.
We also talk about doubles strategy. Christo makes an argument for the better player to return from the deuce court. I ask him the biggest mistakes he sees club level players making in doubles, and a lot more.
Interview Notes from this Podcast
- Taylor Townsend reminds Christo of his own game style.
- Christo was coached by Peter Fishbach.
- He won his first pro tournament in Cleveland with doubles partner Mike Myburg.
- For most of his career, his doubles partner was Paul Annacone. They won the 1985 Australian Open Doubles Title.
- Trivia Question: What is happening in the picture below that we will never see again in professional tennis?
- He coaches at Omni Barton Creek in Austin.
- The Continuum Method (Muscle Activation Technique).
- Dropshot LLC professional tennis tournaments in Austin TX.
- Risk vs reward – blog post on What Poker Can Teach You About Tennis.
- Christo is now the Davis Cup Captain for South Africa.
- Read more about Christo on his website F-ACE.net