By MITCHELL DALE
WHAT do local tennis players have in common with Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer?
A lot more than you might think, especially when it comes to training.
Eight budding tennis stars have been included in the inaugural Coffs Harbour regional squad and will work to programs designed by Tennis NSW.
Coffs Harbour coach Danny Sousa has been named regional coach and will head up an all-star team of specialists.
As well as Sousa, the coaching team includes fitness expert James Moncada, chiropractic physician and applied kinesiologist Dr Mark Borsuk and assistant coach Jenny Dimond.
The squad will also work with State coach Graeme Brimblecombe and former national assistant women's coach Ben Pyne.
"I'm sure it is the best tennis team ever formed in Coffs Harbour ... I have been super-impressed so far," Sousa enthused.
"Players will have access to top coaches and leading experts in many fields to ensure the latest and most comprehensive training from around the world is available."
The Coffs Harbour squad ? Nathan and Sarah Phee (Grafton), Bryce and Chanel Cunnigham, Andrew Jackson, Nick Yacoub and Hannah Caba (Coffs Harbour) ? will be privy to all the latest training programs and technology currently used by the world's top players.
"The players will have access to all the information, facilities and training programs that all the top players have," Sousa said.
"It is now really up to them how hard they want to work (as to how far they go), they will get everything city kids get.
"We have only been running this program for two weeks and I am already seeing improvement.
"I almost guarantee the players will improve."
A program this comprehensive has never been available to regional centres.
"It is one massive jump forward," Sousa says.
"Squads have previously been formed around NSW, but they have all worked to their own programs and have been more competitive than co-operative.
"But throughout the year, squads from Lismore and Taree will come to Coffs Harbour for training and I will be taking our kids down to Homebush to work with the State coach (Brimblecombe)."
Sousa also says that by working in close proximity with the State coach, local players will have improved chances of NSW selection.
With the assistance of the latest cutting edge computer software, the players will also be able to model their own game on those of their heroes.
"We have access software which allows us to take footage of our players and super-impose professional players like Lleyton Hewitt over the top," Sousa said.