The StarVie player Coki Nieto and his partner Javi Rico are considered 2019 season’s surprise in the World Padel Tour. They made history arriving to the finals in Mijas Open and to the quarter-finals in Menorca Open, being the youngest couple to arrive to a final ever.
“Hola” Coki, how are you? Nice to meet you
I’m good thanks. Nice to meet you too.
Why did you start playing padel and not other sports that likely were more popular at that time?
I used to play other sports, specifically football and tennis. In fact, I did not start playing padel after some time. In the beginning I was playing the three of them but when studies turned more demanding it became difficult to handle everything. Finally, I chose padel because Damm Foundation granted me with a scholarship for playing padel and since then this is the sport I have played.
How old are you now? When did you start playing padel? And when did you sign your first professional contract?
I am 21 years old and as I said before I used to play tennis too. When I was 10 years old I began to play padel in my spare time during my tennis lessons at the club where I used to go. It was not until I was 14 years old that I seriously started training padel. All this development stage ended when I signed up my first professional contract with StarVie last year.
In your case, during your development stage as a padel player and before being a professional one, how were your trainings? How many days a week and for how long did you use to train? Explain us a little bit more about this period.
I do think that I was very lucky. As I was saying before Damm Foundation gave me a scholarship. This grant provides exceptional conditions to improve as a padel player. Basically, Damm Foundation scholarship pays the expenses derived from padel’s practice and offers an excellent environment to help players develop their skills. Surrounded by a group of astonishing players and coaches I could improve rapidly.
We used to train 3 days a week in Collado Mediano Club (Sierra de Madrid) where we did padel for 1:30h and physical training for 1:00h. Additionally in this development stage you play many matches and tournaments all over Spain. All these things make you gain a lot of competition experience and make you improve at a competitive level.
CONSOLIDATION AS A TOP PLAYER
Since last year you have been obtaining very good results with Javi Rico. You are always in the main draw arriving mainly to round 32 and round 16 but you have also reached a final at Open Mijas, a semi-final at Outeiro Challenger and a quarter-final at Menorca Open last weekend. How did you make it to change from qualifying scenario to main draw? How did two young men begin to face superstars from the World Padel Tour? How is the training you follow mentally and physically to achieve it?
Honestly, the path from qualifying to the main draw is one of the toughest a padel player have to face. Players in qualifying have an astonishing level and everyone is fighting to get points. You regularly need to obtain some good results to reach one of the four seeds on the qualifying. At this point you usually have better draws at qualifying that gives you more chances to get more points yet.
If you can qualifyings for the main draw, you will start playing with the top couples and here it sometimes depends on the luck because here you can play the first round against couple number one or against couple number 32. In this moment you have no other choice to face the best players in the world. The first matches you play against players such as Paquito Navarro, Mati Díaz, Bela, Juan Martín Díaz, etc., they usually easily win but little by little the more you play against them the better the result is. So at the beginning they beat us for a double 6-2, after a while you arrive to a 7-5 and in the end you are also able to get 1 set.
I believe that the more you play this kind of matches the more experience you gain and in the end you are able to face them with more confidence and less nervous than before.
What are your short term and long term goals?
My short-term goals are fairly simple. I want to win as many matches as possible but knowing that it is very difficult because everyone is evenly-matched. My long-term goals would be to keep training the same way I have been doing and to climb as high as possible in the world’s ranking.
Could you talk to us a little bit about CAR StarVie? Do you think that training at this High Performance Centre helped you to achieve your current results?
I think that being surrounded every day by amazing coaches who have played in the professional circuit, who have an excellent knowledge about the competition and who have been through the same situations I am currently facing, it definitely helps me out to keep improving. Additionally, in there I am training every day with a group of great players
who are all professionals and who push you beyond your limits. This fact forces you to always train at your maximum level because otherwise you would be causing harm to them. You need a total commitment to train at CAR StarVie. This is completely different than training alone.
Coki, last year you played with Metheora Warrior, Mati Diaz racquet, but this year you changed to Basalto. Why did you choose this racket? How does it highlight the way you play? What kind of features do you look for in a racket?
To be honest I was very happy with Metheora Warrior but this year I tried Basalto in a clinic and I loved it so I decided to change it. This year’s Basalto has a new mold (tear shape) that provides me some extra power without losing control. It is also very balanced and comfortable.
I have specially got used to playing with the wrinkled area on the racket’s surface that StarVie introduced in their molds and nowadays one of the features that I look for in a racquet is this wrinkled area or rough surface. This feature helps me to give more spin and more control because ball does not slip on the racket’s face.
Coki, you have just extended your relationship with StarVie for another 3 years until 2023. Congratulations!
Thank you. It is a pleasure to have renewed with StarVie for another 3 years. I have been related to StarVie since I started playing padel, first through Damm Foundation and afterwards directly with the brand when I signed my first professional contract back in 2018. I will try my best to achive the best results I can to thank them.
Well Coki thank you very much for your time and we wish you all the best for the rest of the season and we can hopefully see you one day here in Australia!
It has been a pleasure. I would love to come and visit you guys. See you!