In the middle of the US Open, while Diego Schwartzman disputes the tennis tournament in New York, Juan Ignacio Chela, his coach, has been working for a while and exclusively attends ESPN.com from the United States.
In 2012, Chela left tennis, tired from traveling, and with proposals on television that gave him another peace of mind, but in 2017 he decided to accept Diego Schwartzman’s invitation to join his work team and returned to the big circuit.
“When I played I told you that I did not see myself as a coach, especially in recent years that I was already exhausted from traveling,” recalls Chela, however something changed when Diego Schwartzman called him and asked him if he wanted to be his coach: “Diego called me, advised by Mariano Zabaleta and Juan Mónaco, and I started very little by little with him … at first 8 weeks a year, which were the Grand Slams, but the bug quickly caught me again“, confesses the former number 15 of the ATP ranking.
-Why did you agree to join the Peque team?
-Things went very well. We get along very well with him on a day-to-day basis, we have a personality, a similar character, and one thing led to another and now I am 100% focused on him. Nor do I do the full calendar, I do more or less half of the calendar, which I think that in this way a balance is maintained that works.
-Was it easy for you to watch the games from the outside?
-And it’s different. Much calmer, much more relaxed. When you are a player you live much more with tension, with nerves, the moments of the tournaments, the games, the points. When you are a coach, you also have everything in your head, but everything is much smoother. At first it was difficult for me, it was an adaptation, because I was used to being the protagonist and everything going through me, now it is through another person, another player, and I had to adapt as well. Everything that is the organization that surrounds the player is done by me, and in the player stage it was done by someone else.
2020 was a special year for Diego Schwartzman and his team. For the first time, in the midst of the pandemic that plagued the world, Peque reached a Masters 1000 final, made a semi-final at Roland Garros, and came to participate in the end-of-year Masters: “Last year was incredible for us, within the global mess of the pandemic, we were able to take advantage and do great tournaments, it was 8 in the world, I think that was very big and this year was a great challenge, not only in the ranking, but also to be able to handle it emotionally after such a great year in terms of results “
-What are the next goals?
-Until this year Diego was always improving in the ranking. And the objectives that we set were practically achieved by all. Now we are looking to sustain and be close to the Top 10. What tennis has is that every year you start practically from scratch. You have to keep winning and defending the points week by week, otherwise in 6 months you were able to go back many positions. Diego is super professional in every way. In food, in breaks, in training, he has a very large work team and we have been working very well for years.
Juan Ignacio Chela, was part of the so-called Argentine Legion, which by 2000 had 21 tennis players within the Top 100 of the world ranking, however, the one born in Ciudad Evita marks some differences between the time when he played tennis and the current.
“Many things changed from my time to today. Surfaces for example. Today everything is much more even. The slower courts. Surfaces such as grass where before you could not play in the background or the indoor tournaments at the end of the year, now the Surfaces are much rougher, the grass has changed a little too and now you can play much better, you can rally. The player on each surface, or each season, is not as marked as before. And also it changed a lot in the daily work of the players. The way of training changed a lot. Much work is being done on the prevention of injuries, on recovery. And that is seen in the performance of the players. I retired at 32 and was the last. And today you have players playing over the age of 35 and practicing their best tennis. They lengthened the race much more.
Diego Schwartzman has a great serve, but he is not one of the most aggressive on the circuit, on the other hand, his return is among the best, and his coach thinks he knows why: “For me the serve is very important. I try to work it longer, with objectives, to be attentive to technique, to biomechanics. Diego serves quite well, of course it is not his weapon, it is not decisive, of course that the days he serves well and has a good percentage of first serves he feels better and does more damage. But because of these characteristics, he developed a return that is of another level, in numbers he is among the best 3 in the world and also puts a lot of pressure on the rival, they know that if they do not serve well Diego is going to pressure them with the return. and it has a lot of ease. That was something necessary as he did not have a decisive serve to be at the level he is at. “