Coach Lugones On Norrie: 'He's A Completely Different Animal'
When Facundo Lugones completed his studies at Texas Christian University, he was prepared to work in the finance industry. Instead, after serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the team, he got an opportunity to travel with Cameron Norrie, who was leaving school in 2017 to turn professional.
More than four years later, the pair is still going strong and Norrie is enjoying the best season of his career. The lefty just reached a career-high No. 29 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and will try to make a deep run at the US Open, where he plays #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the first round.
Lugones recently spoke to ATPTour.com about his time as Norrie's teammate, how their relationship has developed, why Norrie is enjoying his best season yet and more.
You guys met at school. What do you remember of Cameron from when he was a freshman?
He was pretty casual, a very social kid. He got along well with everyone and was just very friendly, but pretty competitive. There was not much structure in his life, everything was kind of random. But he was really competitive, really fun to be around, a great friend. He was just like any other college kid... he was looking for fun more than anything.
In college tennis the older kids always try to help the younger kids on the team on and off the court. How much did you do that with him?
I wouldn’t say I helped, but I tried to be a good role model and set a good example for him. He didn’t like to be told, but he really liked when people did the right things and he would copy that. He would copy good examples of good actions from teammates rather than being told what to do. I think that was the way to do it with him: rather than tell him, show him.
How different is your relationship now compared to when you met him years ago in college?
It’s a little more professional and mature now. When it comes to working, setting goals, having tough conversations and getting ready for tournaments, it’s very serious. When we’re off the court at the hotel and talking about any other aspect of life, it’s like friends. It’s about knowing what role we are in and when. In tennis, it’s very serious and focused. When it’s a life chat, it’s more relaxed.
Cameron Norrie (@cam_norrie) March 9, 2018
What’s the biggest difference between him now and when he first turned professional in 2017?
Now he’s a better tennis player and physically he’s a completely different animal. Back then he had a lot of endurance and was a great competitor, but didn’t have a lot of weapons. He would outlast you, make a lot of balls and be tougher than the other guy. Today he has a better serve, he’s stronger, he looks to dictate the point a lot more. He’s more physical and a more complete player.
People often speak about his fitness. Is there a way to describe just how physical his game is?
His main asset on the physical side is his endurance. He can play not only for a couple hours, but four hours and maintain the same level of physicality. Some players can be really physical, but only for two hours. I think he has the endurance to do it for many hours and consecutive days, back to back to back. He moves very well, is explosive, but I think the main thing is his endurance.
The tennis side is something that can always be improved, but not everyone has that physical element. How key is that?
He naturally has always been a good runner from a very young age. He would run long distances with his mom, so naturally he has endurance. He doesn’t really need to work much on that. He works a lot more on being a little stronger and moving better with some movement patterns, switching directions and speed.
But we never really work on endurance or outlasting someone, because he has that. I think it’s a good plus when you don’t need to worry about that. You just have to worry about the quality and explosiveness on the physical side.
Watch Highlights Of Norrie's First Title Win In Los Cabos:
This has been a pretty good year for Cameron. How do you keep pushing for more?
You set new goals and expectations can change. But at the end of the day, his main goal is to keep getting better as a tennis player. Now at tournaments we’re not just happy with one or two wins, we want to go deep. You start setting new goals and set the bar higher and look for more. It’s about not staying satisfied. You need to enjoy the good moments quickly and get ready for the next challenge.
What are the next goals?
One of them at the beginning of the year was to finish Top 30, and we’re on track for that. Then we need to keep pushing those goals further and further. If he finishes Top 30, next year will be Top 20, Top 15 to then Top 10 and obviously No. 1. That’s the goal of every single tennis player.
What’s your favourite thing about Cameron outside of tennis?
The way he treats people all the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s Andy Murray or a friend of mine in Argentina. He will treat people the same and give them the same attention. He doesn’t care who you are, but in a good way. Also how fun he is. He’s a great guy to be around, always looking for fun, always up for anything. He’s a pretty normal guy.
Have you been able to teach him some Spanish?
I tried, but he’s not very good. That’s one thing he’s not very good at: languages. His best friend is from Chile and they lived together for three years, but he still doesn’t know much Spanish. He can order now and understand a little more, but he never really learned a lot of Spanish, which I kind of regret and I’m sure he does, too.