A Brisbane dad, Ray Wood, is determined to turn his two daughters into the next female tennis champions.
8-year-old Livinnia Wood spends about 10 hours per week on the court practicing her tennis with coach Josh Barrenechea. The work has so far paid off. She has won several championships, many of them against much older children.
Her sister, Paloma, now three years old, spends a few hours per week on the court but hasn’t begun training yet. When she does begin training, at four years old, the sessions will be fun and playful. Paloma is naturally right-handed, but Ray plans to train her to be a left-handed player.
Ray believes that champions are made, not born. However, Martina Navratilova, who has won 18 Grand Slam titles, disagrees. She worries that this father is putting too much pressure on his girls. She believes champions are born, and that the right environment helps them get first place. “If everything goes really well, one of them might get into the top 10 but getting to number one? You might as well buy a lottery ticket,” says Navratilova.
The family spends anywhere from $400-$500 per week to support Livinnia’s training. That amount is expected to increase significantly as she grows older, and as her sister begins training as well.
Ray understands the strain that this level of training can put on the parent-child relationship, so he is happy to sit back and watch as Josh prepares Livinnia to take over the tennis world.
Livinnia’s father, Ray, wants her to be exposed to more tournaments and opportunities. They plan to move from Australia to Spain in 2019 to place the girls in a more competitive environment.