Erika Abraham Nilsen has only just turned 14, but this young lady is both driven and skilled and still has her feet firmly planted on the ground - or the pitch, shall we say.
Erika was born in Norway, but moved with her family to Spain when she was five. She attended a Spanish primary school, took a year at Den Norske Skolen to improve her written Norwegian, and then transferred to The American School in Spain. In the autumn, she starts American High School in Marbella. “The American school system is very sports-oriented, so they are very open when I go to tournaments and I can do everything online. The teachers just say Good Luck, and I'm happy about that."
When did you start playing tennis?
I've probably been hitting the ball since I was five years old and became a member of the Don Carlos tennis club in Elviria when I was 6-7 years old, but I didn't play every day back then. I have always loved sports – all sports. Furthermore, I also thought swimming was great fun, especially Butterfly. I probably did it seriously until I was 10-11 years old, but then I had to choose between swimming and tennis, and I thought it was a bit more fun not to be under the water.
What is so special about tennis?
It's great fun to play. The sport is varied because you have several types of track surfaces – gravel, hard track, or even grass. That's why you have to change your playing style a bit, and that really gives me the opportunity to do better. In other sports, you may reach a limit, but in tennis, there is always something you can improve. If you can't get it done, you have yourself to work on. You are of course playing against another person, but it is you that you really have to compete against.
What skills are required to become a perfect tennis player?
You must aim to become the best tennis player you can be, while it is important to do your 'homework'. If you just do like everyone else, you can't get much better than them. You have to step up, train more and learn more tactics and such. The more balls you hit, the better you get. Some players may have innate talent, and it can be a bit annoying for others who have to work hard for every single point, but then you just have to train more. There are tennis players who are two meters tall and others who are 1.70, so size does not have much to do with the matter. It depends more on the person. Tennis is also a very mental game. Where you want to pass the next ball, where you will serve, what the other person is good at and what is their weakness? You must learn not to show too much emotion, not to show your plan, and not to show your tactics. At the same time, you have to try not to think too much and just play your game and do the best you can. If you think too much, it won't go well!
A tennis player's everyday life
On weekdays, Erika gets up at 6.40 am. She eats breakfast and practices techniques for 1.5 hours on the track before school. In the afternoon, she trains again from 16.30 to 19.30. "I am very lucky because the tennis court is within walking distance of the school. We play in groups with two coaches, which is social and fun. Finally, I have an hour of strength training. In total, it's probably four or five hours a day, maybe five days a week."
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