Team HEAD : Yannick Hanfmann
It’s been quite a year for Yannick Hanfmann, a member of Team HEAD, the brand’s network of professional players, coaches, ambassadors and juniors. Halfway into a busy season that’s included tournament finals and big jumps in the rankings, we sat down with him to find out more about his tennis upbringing, training and goals.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to play tennis.
I grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany. Through my parents I got into tennis, so the ‘normal way’. My father has played tennis since he was little and my mother as well. My sister played a bit of tennis, too, but then stopped after a while. We have a tennis court close by, so this helped, and it was easy to go over there to hit some balls. Soccer and tennis were my first sports. I started with tennis as soon as I could hold a racquet and was hitting against the wall, so when I was little I started with tennis.
In 2017 you’ve moved up 200 places in the ATP rankings, from 300 to 125. How do you explain this huge leap in just seven months?
I haven’t done much differently but I think an explanation could be the work of two years paying off now. It was hard work in the base and of course previous to that, in college. In the end this was a jump that you could not necessarily foresee and it happened very quickly.
I’ve had some key matches this year in which I noticed that I can play with the guys up there in the rankings. Then the results started coming. It’s like a chain reaction. You feel beating one guy can mean beating another too. I’ve won a lot of matches now, and of course, it is obvious that confidence starts growing with this. I have done great work over the last two years with my coach in the tennis base and I think this is the result of good and goal-oriented work.
Last year you were playing in Kramsach and won the future. Now you’ve just been in the finals of an ATP tournament. What do you think is the biggest difference?
The one thing is that you have the belief in yourself and that you back it with results. The other thing is that you really develop your game. And to notice this is how the big players play, and then you notice that they don’t play so differently. I noticed that more and more when I started playing bigger tournaments. I noticed this is all possible. This year things changed because I was able to play more challengers and ATP tournaments. The difference is not so big, but there are differences and you get used to this level. So it became more normal for me to play against these players. Automatically, a few things change with this.
Beginning your career by playing college tennis isn’t the typical path of a European tennis professional. Why did you choose that?
I made the decision with my parents and one other coach that I was working with. We just thought that I was not ready for the pro tour. Of course I was thinking that I actually want to turn pro, but my parents said I perhaps wasn’t ready. I had some friends and people I knew who had gone to college before me and talked positively about college; so then I went to college and told myself I would go pro in a year. The decision was perfectly right for me. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect for someone else. But I am happy and thankful that I had this opportunity and these experiences and that I took this route.
Throughout the four years, did you always think you’d turn pro or that there was a chance you’d finish studying and start working?
Inside I always had the thought to turn pro. I had some phases in college in which I wasn’t feeling that well and had some injuries. for one and a half years I had problems with my patella tendon in both knees and one year in which I played really badly. So it wasn’t always that easy to have that image in mind to turn pro when I’m done. But, the longer I stayed there, everything got a bit better. In the end of my college career, in the third and fourth year, I played better and better. And then I started thinking about what I will do after and where I will go. The belief to turn pro was always inside of me, but sometimes it’s harder and sometimes easier.
In terms of practicing, how has the time at college helped your tennis?
You have to make some compromises because you also have your studies. In America, sometimes there is quantity over quality. For me it was a bit difficult when I was injured because it was hard to explain that I need to practice less. However, in the end, yeah, it all worked out for me.
What are your long and short term goals and how did the Gstaad tournament impact these?
Since Gstaad, nothing has changed in a big way besides maybe my tournament planning. After the US Open, I will play some more ATP finals. But because I’ve been in the finals now, it hasn’t changed that much for me. I’ve already had the feeling that I can beat these players. A short term goal would be to be in the top 100 by the end of the ear. I can reach this if I stay injury free and play a couple of good tournaments. Longer term goals are hard to set because we are all aware that I still have to work on a lot of things. I’ll just try to continue working well with the team. Staying injury free is, of course, important.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions as many tennis players?
Well, sometimes it happens that you shower in the hotel and sometimes on site, but in Gstaad it was always the same shower. Also, when Lars, my coach, was in the locker room, he said he has to shower in the same shower. So the coach does it a bit, too. I don’t have any real rituals that I do everywhere. It changes from tournament to tournament.
What do you associate with the brand HEAD?
I’ve been with HEAD for quite a bit of time now. With HEAD I feel like the brand is a good match for me and a good fit for my style. I don’t know exactly why I identify with this racquet brand so much. Whenever a new racquet model is released, I always think it’s been done in a cool way and looks good. I’m very happy with them.
Learn more about TEAM HEAD and how you can join today. www.head.com/en/sports/tennis/team-head/