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Those between Thursday and Friday were an intense 24 hours for Franco Agamenone and his coach Andrea Throne. After the defeat against Kolar in the third and decisive qualifying round at the Roland Garros main draw, they were ready to return to Italy for the Vicenza Challenger. As Throne says, however, “life also takes a little luck”And the sacrifices of the Italian-Argentine player made him deserve it. Franco was in fact fished out as lucky loser and tomorrow will make its debut in main draw of a Grand Slam: a goal, but also a new starting point, which comes a year and a half away from a difficult decision – to move permanently to Italy, to Lecce – which turned into the decisive turning point for his tennis life.
It all started with one joke, or rather two. The joke, in the sense of service, of Agamenone and the ironic one of Throne: “I was watching him try his serve and only hit the kick despite being 1.90m tall and then I told him ‘so you will never see the network’ “. There was the trigger of a collaboration that has already given several fruits: three Futures, three Challengers, best ranking at position 151 and now the qualification in Paris. Exclusively at Ubitennis, Andrea Trono talked about this journey, also talking about Franco’s characteristics and the next goals.
D: Main draw in a Grand Slam on the second attempt (after the elimination in the Australian Open qualifiers). What value does this result have for Franco and for you?
Throne: It is an incredible achievement. For Franco it is the crowning of a dream, after so many years of sacrifices that have now been repaid. He is a hard worker and he deserves to have reached this milestone in the Grand Slam he loves most, having grown up on clay. It was his goal from an early age. For me too it is a huge emotion: when we started working together a year and a half ago it was far from these levels. We’ve done the whole tournament process and we’ve come this far. It is a goal that is also good for my club, the CT Mario Stasi of Lecce, for my structure, the Salento Tennis Center, and for all the Salento tennis movement.
D: Is it the greatest satisfaction in your life in the world of tennis?
Throne: It is certainly the most prestigious result I have achieved. It was exciting to see the top 10 around the fields: it is a reality that until yesterday I only saw on television. But I am also enthusiastic when I take my students around Puglia in the regional youth championships and I see them grow.
D: While last year the results have always been on the rise, before his victory three weeks ago in the Challenger in Rome Franco was from a complicated period between February and April. Does this mean that he is not only able to take advantage of the positive moments but also to put the negative ones behind him?
Throne: This is exactly what we have been working on in recent months. Franco has had a very fast exponential growth and once he has reached a certain level it is physiological to suffer a little dizziness. He probably realized where he had come from, but in Rome he demonstrated that he knows how to overcome difficult times: it was a great demonstration of strength, tennis and mental.
D: Looking at the first round match against McDonald, is it a match within your reach? How are you after the leg problem accused in the first and third qualifying matches?
Throne: He’s fine and Monday will be 100%. It was not so much the problem in the leg that determined the defeat against Kolar: there was a bit of tension, but we must give due credit to the opponent. McDonald’s is a fast-paced specialist: certainly we have fished well but it is still a number 50 in the world. In any case, on this surface Franco can play it.
D: Going back, how your collaboration began?
Throne: Franco first arrived in Lecce three years ago to play the team championship, at the time of Serie B. Between us there was the classic relationship that exists between a Captain and a player: from the bench I gave him just a few indications for the matches he was playing. After the lockdown one day, after joking about his service, he asked me what could be done to improve it and for a few days he let himself be guided.. Then he went to play two 15,000 Futures and made two finals: he hadn’t had certain results for years. So after a trial period he asked me to be his coach.
D: Despite not being very young, his growth has been impressive. What did you work on?
Throne: Right from the start I tried to change his game. I wanted him to become much more active and aggressive and so I forced him to go and play for six weeks on hard courts in Monastir in March last year. They were the first tournaments of his life on the fast and represented a turning point. We worked a lot on aspects such as cutting the pitch, territoriality, support. Franco trusted blindly and became a chameleonic player, an excellent counter-attacker. He has a big head and if he continues to believe in it he can go even further.
D: What will be the next steps after Paris and the goals between now and the end of the season?
Throne: We will do all the Challenger tournaments in Italy on clay, then we will go to Wimbledon for the qualifiers despite the lack of points. At the beginning of the year Franco asked me what my goal was for him and I told him ‘to join the 150 by May’: thanks to Rome we are practically there (151, ed). By the end of the season we will try to get into the 100.
We then had the opportunity to exchange a few words with Agamenone himself: “When I was fished out I tried one indescribable happiness: I felt I deserved another opportunity“. Finally, about how it is at Lecce: “It’s a fantastic city, so many people love me. Training there makes me live better every day and makes things easier. I am a huge football fan (supports River Plate, ed) And I also started following the city team which this year returned to Serie A“.