Tennis 101: Erick Collas
Our weekly Tennis 101 blog series is back for another season! Enjoy weekly tips and pointers from our pros! This week we’ll familiarize you with our staff!
Biography of Erick Collas
I am part of a tennis family of tennis professionals originally from Lima, Peru. My father is Leoncio Collas, a South American tennis champion and a Davis Cup player for Peru.
During the early 1960’s, when his competitive career was winding down, my father started teaching for the John Gardner Tennis Ranch in Northern California. Since my family could not afford after school daycare at that time, the tennis court took its place. I spent hours watching my father conduct lessons. I did not realize that I was receiving an education for my future career—you could say I was a tennis pro “apprentice” at the age of seven. I have always considered my father one of the premier tennis coaches of all time. I learned a tremendous amount by watching him give his lessons, emphasizing proper mechanics.
At the age of 15, I received my first teaching job at Quail Lodge in Carmel, California. My father pulled his Achilles tendon (I will discuss stretching exercises later) and was unable to conduct his lessons, so I took over his responsibilities. I enjoyed teaching tennis from the first minute I stepped on the court.
As a junior competitor, I was not a natural player and I had to work harder than any of my siblings. In order to understand some of the principles of the game, I had to create ways to succeed and for this reason, I relate well to the average person playing tennis. When I obtained a ranking as a junior player, it allowed me to compete in national tennis tournaments. One of the benefits of play at this level is learning how to prepare for competitions.
By the age of 20, I started playing satellite tournaments and teaching throughout the United States. I played and taught in many states, including Vermont, Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, and California (northern and southern). Between the ages of 21 and 23, I had the great fortune to work under Harry Hopman, the most famous tennis coach from Australia.
Harry Hopman coached five of the number one ranked tennis players in the world, including court greats Vitas Gerulitas, Andre Gomez and Pat Cash. Mr. Hopman taught me how to work with highly accomplished players from many different countries. It was amazing to see him work and communicate with these players.
In my 30s, I had the privilege of working with Rod Laver four days a week, eight months of the year. As you may know, Rod is one of the all-time tennis greats: the only player to win two grand slams in a calendar year. His success was achieved through hard work, physical training, and mental discipline. Hitting with Rod two hours or more a day, four days a week for four years made me a better player and coach. He coached and trained me like a professional tennis player on the ATP tour, teaching and showing me that hard work is mandatory for tennis success.
These three tennis professionals had the biggest impact on my teaching career, each for a different reason: Leoncio Collas, emphasizing the mechanics; Harry Hopman, concentrating on developing world-class players; and Rod Laver, stressing hard work and discipline for success. The combination of the strengths from all three mentors is the main reason I have been successful as a tennis coach. I have coached numerous players to top national rankings in several divisions.