Athina Pitta: One of the most promising talents of the Rafa Nadal Academy


Greek Australian Athina Pitta, daughter of Melbourne-born Yiannis Pittas, began playing tennis at a very young age and immediately fell in love with the sport.

Her talent, evident by the number of titles she won against kids of her age, led her to look at the sport from a more professional angle and join academies with qualified instructors who could help put her on the path to success.

At the age of 14, young Athina moved to Spain where she joined the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, completing a two-year training program with flying colours. She spoke to The Greek Herald about her experiences from Mallorca, her love for the sport, but also her years playing tennis in Melbourne.

TGH: When did you start playing tennis? What made you choose that sport?

My parents wanted both my brother and me to be involved with athletics from very early on. I tried many sports, but tennis was the one that ‘stuck’. It’s a great sport that pulled me in from the get-go. I was good at it, so I continued playing and a few years ago we decided that we wanted to look at it a little more seriously. I started playing when I was four (years-old) at the ‘Ifitos Stavroupolis’ academy in Thessaloniki.

Athina with Rafa Nadal (left) in Mallorca. Source: Supplied

TGH: You’ve already been able to distinguish yourself among your peers, which gave you the opportunity to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy

Yes, I spent two wonderful years at Nadal’s Academy in Mallorca. My former coach, Babis Anesiadis, was the one that helped me get in. He took me to the Rafa Nadal Tennis Center in Chalkidiki and the instructors there recommended that I send my CV to the Academy, which was eventually accepted.

TGH: And now that you’ve returned to Greece, you continue your training at the Phivos Michalopoulos academy in Larissa

I’d like to take the next step in my career and raise my level. Furthermore, unfortunately in Greece it’s very difficult for athletes to find sponsors who are willing to help, despite my family’s many efforts. In my case, I was lucky since Mr. Michalopoulos and his team really know how to prepare an athlete for the professional world of tennis. Which is why I chose that specific academy and I am very happy with my decision.

TGH:Who would you call role models for a 16-year-old athlete who is just starting their career in the world of tennis?

Stefanos (Tsitsipas) and Maria (Sakkari) are two very important role models for me. They’ve proven that if you try hard enough and work day and night, you can make your way into the worldwide rankings. Beyond that, I’d have to say that (Rafael) Nadal is also someone I can look up to. He gives everything he’s got even during training!

Young Athina has high aspirations for her career in tennis. Source: Supplied

TGH: Would you describe this as a ‘golden age’ for Greece in tennis?

For sure! The accomplishments of both Stefanos and Maria have put us on the map of tennis worldwide and the great thing about this is that there are many athletes coming up behind them. Nowadays there are more kids who want to play tennis (in Greece) compared to even a few years ago. Additionally, the facilities are slowly becoming better and are beginning to reach the standards that can be found abroad. The one thing missing from Greece, to complete the package of this ‘golden era’ as you described it, is a professional tournament. There are efforts being made in this regard, like the Futures series held by the Lyttos Beach in Crete, yet in my opinion we require one or two grand competitions so that we can become a key player of the world tennis scene.

TGH: Besides Greece, you have some family in Australia as well.

Yes. My grandfather, Nikos Pittas who was originally from Sindos in Thessaloniki and my grandmother, Athena Telli who was from Kos island, lived in Australia for many years. That’s where my father Yiannis was born and I still have a lot of family there.

In fact, I was there back in 2017 and I trained at the Kooyong Academy with Glen Busby as my coach, where I participated in a couple of tournaments, winning the first and finishing in the runner-up position in the other. I really enjoy the atmosphere of Australia and there are people there who have helped me a lot!

Athina says her main goal right now is to climb the ranks of the junior divisions and eventually have the opportunity to play in a Grand Slam. But, looking further ahead into the future, she wants to have a spot within the professional tours and make a living out of doing what she loves best.

READ MORE: The new wonderkid of Greek tennis, Michaela Laki, puts no limits on her dreams




By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Latest News

Michael Christofas named finalist in prestigious Percival Photographic Portrait Prize

Michael Christofas has been named finalist in North Queensland's prestigious Percival Photographic Portrait Prize.

Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens Clubs of Victoria elect new executive

The Board of Directors of the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizen Clubs of Melbourne & Victoria voted on its new seven-member board.

SEKA Victoria objects to formation of Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group

SEKA Victoria have today expressed concern that some MPs are considering the establishment of a Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group.

Pan-Laconian Association of NSW “The Spartans” celebrate taverna night

The Pan-Laconian Association of NSW "The Spartans" celebrated a highly successful taverna night at Zarax House on June 15.

Sydney doctor Peter Alexakis wins appeal to keep patient’s $24 million estate

Dr Peter Alexakis was victorious in the NSW Court of Appeal which ruled he had not convinced a patient to leave him most of his $24m estate.

You May Also Like

Australian Hellenic Medical Charity raises funds to support Ikaria Hospital in Greece

The Australian Hellenic Medical Charity Inc (AHMCI) has raised $120,000 to purchase medical equipment for Ikaria Hospital in Greece.

Certificate of Attainment in Greek Language exams to be held at Macquarie University

Exams for the Certificate of Attainment in the Greek language in Sydney will take place at Macquarie University.

Joanne Stogiannis to lead new GMSV Australia division following closure of Holden

Joanne Stogiannis will lead the new General Motors Specialty Vehicle (GMSV) branch in Australia and New Zealand.