First of all, can you tell us something about yourself?
I’m Noemi Basiletti, I’m 17 years old, and I live and practice at Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Spain.
This will be my last year at the academy. I’ll graduate in June 2024 at Rafa Nadal International School. I was a very close and reserved person but thanks to this experience I was able to open myself a lot and grow on and off court.
How do you look back on Dutch Junior Open 2023? (The matches / the ambiance / the organization / Dutch Junior Open as an event)
I’ve said since day one that the environment and organization were pretty good, this can also influence how players might play their matches. I felt well, people were nice and kind, everything was efficiently organized, housing, courts, meals…
For me it’s never easy at tournaments about food, because I’m gluten and lactose-free, at the club they were able to make my meal every day, it was great!!
You were in a host family at the time. How did you like that and had you done this before on tour? Would you recommend this to other players? Do you still have contact with them?
It was my first time and I was actually a little scared, but I think those are experiences that make you go out of your comfort zone and grow as well, and I think it worked pretty good!
I would recommend it 100%, my family was amazing, they watched all my matches, they treated me like I was their daughter; I felt like I knew them from a lot of time! I’m still in touch with them and I’m really happy about it.
You have risen considerably in the world rankings after the Dutch Junior Open. Can you take us through what you’ve done in the second half of 2023?
Obviously after the Dutch Open I was motivated to improve and have the opportunity to maybe get to play my first junior Grand Slam in New York; at the end of July I went to Basel in Switzerland to play an itf junior j200. I reached the semis in singles and doubles as well, I was exhausted because I’ve been playing the whole summer but very happy for the level that I’ve been showing. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to reach the main draw in Us Open but it was good for me to play quali and pass quali, so I got a little used to the conditions and everything.
We also saw you training with Venus Williams at the Rafael Nadal Academy. How did this come about?
Well, it’s a fun story actually, I was going to shower because I was gonna have class soon, but then my coach called me saying ‘hey Noemi would you like to play with Venus Williams for 20 minutes?’, even if it was a short period of time, I changed again and went straight to the courts. It was something weird and special at the same time because you get to see these players on the TV and randomly at one point you start playing with them.
You are from Italy and training at the Rafael Nadal Academy. What is it like to train there and can you tell us something about your coach and how you are coached? What does an average week look like for you?
This is my fourth and last year at the academy, every year I got to change coaches except the first two… so I would say that they all have the same method of coaching, practice is hard, they try to adapt depending on how I feel in fitness as well. I’ll explain a typical day of the week; we start with the morning practices one week at 8am and one at 10:45am, after or before that, fitness starts; in the first case at 11am or at 9am. I also get a school class from 1pm to 2pm, lunch, and school again from 3pm to 6pm. After that some days I practice in the afternoon as well, depending a little bit on homework, exams… I have to say that my school really helps me in this process with everything. Also some days I go out with my friend even though the city of Manacor is pretty small… We still enjoy it a lot. Later on I go to dinner and after that I get to sleep around 10:45pm.
Where do you currently live and do you still see your family and friends regularly? / How old were you when you went to the Rafael Nadal Academy and how did this come about?
I’m currently living in the academy. My parents moved to Mallorca after my first year there, also because during Covid I saw them only once during the year, so I couldn’t travel much around. In the following years I tried to see my grandparents and friends in Italy as well for example during Christmas or whenever I had the chance to.
Many good tennis players such as Sinner, Musetti, Nardi, Berrettini, Sonego and veteran Fognini are currently coming from Italy. Do you have an explanation for this emerging new generation?
For sure Italian culture is different from the other, the coaches work a lot on technique since we are very young, which I think is a fundamental part for our sport; also we are not in a rush, which means that we go step by step without skipping the main parts of this long process. Of course by seeing Sinner, Musetti, Arnaldi, young players see that they can actually make it and this creates a good motivational environment.
What are your plans and goals for 2024? You are currently ranked 43th in the world and are already playing Grand Slams.
I would like to play only junior Grand Slams because I love the environment, you can see all the big players very close to you and learn from them, and start a little bit more to play W15/W25 as well get maybe few wild cards in W35/W50 and see how it goes.
Are you happy with a life as a professional tennis player and are there also less pleasant sides?
As I said before I love being in the Grand Slams atmosphere and playing the juniors as well. It is a hard life, you have to make sacrifices, at the same time study and I personally keep going with it, you don’t get to see your family and friends a lot but you also get to know many people from other countries and still create new good friendships. At the end you’re doing what you really like so it shouldn’t be something heavy!
What would you like to achieve? Take us into your dreams.
I don’t usually talk about my dreams, they are jealously guarded inside me! 😉 But the junior AO experience that I’m having now is one of those. However, I certainly still have to realize my best dreams and, together with my goals, they are my main driving force.
Do you have a message for young players who want to make the next step to the top?
I still have a lot in front of me, I can’t say much, but something that my parents also tell me is to focus on myself and not look at the others, just work on yourself and give it a try, if it doesn’t work you won’t regret it because you tried!