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Pellicano joins top coach Lozano in Spain academy

Young Maltese player Helene Pellicano is looking to make more inroads in her tennis career.

Young Maltese player Helene Pellicano is looking to make more inroads in her tennis career.

Malta’s rising tennis talent Helene Pellicano has decided to pursue her sport in Spain after agreeing to enrol at the renowned Lozano-Altur Academy in Valencia.

For the past three-and-a-half years, Pellicano had been based in Sanremo, Italy, where she practised and played under the guidance of coach Fabio Lavazza.

While in Italy Pellicano established herself among the most talented players in her age group, also winning the prestigious Under-14 ITF Masters tournament in 2015 before being crowned European champion last year in her category.

Pablo Lozano is one of the most respected coaching figures on the continent and mostly known for his long association with Italy’s leading player Sara Errani.

During her 12-year working relationship with Lozano, Errani won various WTA titles and also reached the final of the 2012 French Open where she lost to Maria Sharapova.

Contacted by The Sunday Times of Malta, Pellicano, 14, felt it was the right time for her to make a change.

“This has been something that we thought about it a lot these last few weeks,” Pellicano said.

Helene is still very young but she shows promise and we think she could become a great player

“I spoke with my agent about the possibility of moving to a new academy and since my marketing agency has very good relations with Pablo Lozano, due to his association with Sara Errani, we felt that it was a perfect solution.”

Pellicano, who will pursue her academic studies online with her Italian school, has already started training under the tutelage of her new coaching team that also includes Juan Giner, David Andres and Alex Cuellar, besides Lozano.

“I’m very excited with this new move and the work I have done here so far is very encouraging,” Pellicano said.

“Coaches have their own training methods and Pablo and Juan have already brought up a number of issues in my game which we are currently working on and hopefully I can improve on that the next few weeks.”

Lozano is confident but reckons that more development work is required at this crucial stage of Pellicano’s career for the young Maltese player to start playing and make inroads in the top-tier tournaments of her age category.

“Helene is still very young but she shows promise and we think she could become a great player,” Lozano said.

“Naturally, there’s always room for improvement for players of her age and we talked about the areas where we think she needs to work on. But time is on her side and Helene is a hard worker and has a great desire to become a better player.

“This is a very delicate stage in her career but we have to be careful not to exert extra pressure on her. We have to let her enjoy her game and develop without too much expectations. If she keeps training hard she’ll become a great player for sure.”

Lozano said he wants Pellicano to visit a few top venues this year as a spectator to get a feel of the atmosphere at major tournaments.

“In May, we’re planning to visit the French Open,” Lozano said.

“Watching the world’s best players in action will be a new experience for her and, perhaps, watching them practise from a closer angle will infuse more confidence in her play.”

Meanwhile, Pellicano is also set to compete in high-level junior tournaments over the next few months.

“Soon, I will be playing in two ITF Grade One tournaments, one in Croatia and the other in Spain,” she said.

“Then, I will sit down with my coaches to decide the schedule for the rest of the season. They want me to compete in some important tournaments and I’m really looking forward to start playing.

“But first I have to keep training seriously to make sure I’m ready for the big events.”

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