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Kyrgios tenure shaped me: Rea

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016

Simon Rea reckons coaching Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios has set him up perfectly to be Tennis New Zealand's new high performance director.

A former professional and Kiwi Davis Cup representative, Rea is best known for taking a teenage Kyrgios to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2014, a run which included a 7-6 5-7 7-6 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal.

That was the high point of an 18-month relationship which Rea says was the most valuable of his 10 years in tennis coaching.

"We certainly had some ups and downs over that journey and shed a few tears but also had some incredible highs," he said.

"I'll always reflect fondly on that time.

"It was an enormous period of growth and development for me in a professional sense and a personal sense also. Hopefully Nick was able to get something from it as well."

Rea, 34, has been part of the Tennis Australia coaching system but says the TNZ offer came at the right time, at a juncture in his life.

He hadn't intended to return home but recognises there is Kiwi talent not fulfilling its potential because of the set-up.

He points to New Zealand's international over-achievement in other sports, which belie a lack of resources, and reckons tennis can do the same.

New Zealand's only top-flight male success currently comes in doubles, where three players are ranked in the top 100.

Marina Erakovic has forged a lone trail as a competitive Kiwi singles player for the last decade.

"The culture of tennis in this country needs to change and improve," Rea said.

"We have to become more performance-focused, believe that anything is possible and develop a culture which is progressive and robust and is reflected in the athletes."

Rea will help develop TNZ's 2017-2022 high performance strategy.

He will work closely with coaches and be available to advise professional players.

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