Nelly Dvornicka has only been in Manitoba for nine months, but she’s already made a big impact as a tennis coach in the province.

Dvornicka moved to Winnipeg in September of 2015 and starting working as a coach at Taylor Tennis Club: she and Robert Kennedy coached Tennis Manitoba’s U10 developmental team at Taylor. Now Dvornicka is the new head pro at Tuxedo Tennis Club.

Her programs at Tuxedo include a Mini Tennis beginner group for kids as young as five, and Rally Tennis and Hit Tennis groups (the next steps for kids after mini tennis). Dvornicka’s High Performance Player Development program includes U8, U9 and U10 divisions.

“Most of the kids who are in the programs are the kids who were in the under 10 program that Tennis Manitoba was running at Taylor for the winter,” she said.

After playing tennis for Washington State University (2003-05) and Eastern Washington University (2005-06), Dvornicka worked as a tennis coach in BC for eight years. Among her jobs was serving as Head Coach and Program Director at Langley Tennis Centre, and High Performance Development Coach at Elite Tennis Academy in Richmond.

“My main focus is to develop players from scratch – develop them from a young age and try to teach them not just the stuff on court but off court (such as) fitness, the importance of a warm up, things like that,” Dvornicka said.

Dvornicka was born and raised in the Czech Republic. Her dad played tennis recreationally and got her into the sport.

“Dad just gave me a racquet and a ball while he was playing, and I went and hit against the wall and fell in love with it and wanted to do more and more,” Dvornicka remembered. “By (age) six he put me in a tennis school – one of those schools where you have 20 people in line and hit like two balls in the hour – but I still had fun. He would spend a lot of time playing with me.”

At age 12 Dvornicka starting travelling a lot within Europe for her tennis. She reached rankings of top 16 in junior girls’ singles and top eight in junior girls’ doubles in the Czech Republic. A memorable win for Dvornicka came at the age of 14: she beat Dinara Safina (who was 12 or 13 at the time) on clay at a tournament in Germany. Safina, the second seed in the tournament, went on to reach the top of the WTA rankings in 2009.

“I had nothing to lose,” Dvornicka said of the match against Safina. “I was just excited about the fact I was playing the No. 2 seed because I didn’t have that pressure and I really enjoyed that. I had no idea what that win meant until a few years later when she became the No. 1 (player) in the world.”

Dvornicka’s tennis idol growing up was eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi.

“I did the whole Agassi thing – I had the mullet, I had the jean shorts, I had the neon shorts underneath, a Donnay racquet. I did all of that.”

For more information on Dvornicka’s programs, please visit her website.