“Hola” Coki, how are you? Nice to meet you
I’m good thanks. Nice to meet you too.
Kouki is a common name in Japan and it is pronounced in the same way than in Spanish. Where does it come from Coki’s nickname?
Well, in Spain is very common to have a nickname. My real name is Jorge and many people call the name of Jorge as Coque. I guess that in order to change a little bit my friends started calling me Coki.
Why did you start playing padel and not other sports that likely were more popular at that time?
I used to play other sports, specifically football and tennis. In fact, I did not start playing padel after some time. In the beginning I was playing the three of them but when studies turned more demanding it became difficult to handle everything. Finally, I chose padel because Damm Foundation
granted me with a scholarship for playing padel and since then this is the sport I have played.
How old are you now? When did you start playing padel? And when did you sign your first professional contract?
I am 20 years old and as I said before I used to play tennis too. When I was 10 years old I began to play padel in my spare time during my tennis lessons at the club where I used to go. It was not until I was 14 years old that I seriously started training padel. All this development stage ended when I signed up my first professional contract with StarVie last year.
In your case, during your development stage as a padel player and before being a professional one, how were your trainings? How many days a week and for how long did you use to train? Explain us a little bit more about this period.
I do think that I was very lucky. As I was saying before Damm Foundation gave me a scholarship. This grant provides exceptional conditions to improve as a padel player. Basically, Damm Foundation scholarship pays the expenses derived from padel’s practice and offers an excellent environment to help players develop their skills. Surrounded by a group of astonishing players and coaches I could improve rapidly.
We used to train 3 days a week in Collado Mediano Club (Sierra de Madrid) where we did padel for 1:30h and physical training for 1:00h. Additionally in this development stage you play many matches and tournaments all over Spain. All these things make you gain a lot of competition experience and make you improve at a competitive level.
CONSOLIDATION AS A TOP PLAYER
Since last year you have been obtaining very good results with Javi Rico. You are always in the main draw arriving mainly to round 32 and round 16 but you have also reached a final at Open Mijas, a semi-final at Outeiro Challenger and a quarter-final at Menorca Open last weekend. How did you make it to change from qualifying scenario to main draw? How did two young men begin to face superstars from the World Padel Tour? How is the training you follow mentally and physically to achieve it?
To be honest, the path from qualifying to the main draw is one of the toughest a padel player have to face. Players in qualifying have an astonishing level and everyone is fighting to get points. You regularly need to obtain some good results to reach one of the four seeds on the qualifying. At this point you usually have better draws at qualifying that gives you more chances to get more points yet.
If you can qualify for the main draw, you will start playing with the top couples and here it sometimes depends on the luck because here you can play the first round against couple number one or against couple number 32. In this moment you have no other choice to face the best players in the world. The first matches you play against players such as Paquito Navarro, Mati Díaz, Bela, Juan Martín Díaz, etc., they usually easily win but little by little the more you play against them the better the result is. So at the beginning they beat us for a double 6-2, after a while you arrive to a 7-5 and in the end you are also able to get 1 set.
I believe that the more you play this kind of matches the more experience you gain and in the end you are able to face them with more confidence and less nervous than before.
What are your short term and long term goals?
My short-term goals are fairly simple. I want to win as many matches as possible but knowing that it is very difficult because everyone is evenly-matched. My long-term goals would be to keep training the same way I have been doing and to climb as high as possible in the world’s ranking.
Could you talk to us a little bit about CAR StarVie? Do you think that training at this High Performance Centre helped you to achieve your current results?
I think that being surrounded every day by amazing coaches who have played in the professional circuit, who have an excellent knowledge about the
competition and who have been through the same situations I am currently facing, it definitely helps me out to keep improving. Additionally, in there I am training every day with a group of great players who are all professionals and who push you beyond your limits. This fact forces you to always train at your maximum level because otherwise you would be causing harm to them. You need a total commitment to train at CAR StarVie. This is completely different than training alone.
There have been appeared lots of new young promises and most of them are from Spain, like you are. Why do you think this is happening? Why do you think padel epicentre has moved from Argentine to Spain?
When I talk to older players they explain me that before junior Argentinian players were very strong. Nowadays it is true that junior Spanish teams are very strong and young professional players are obtaining very good results in the World Padel Tour. I think that one of the reasons is that the professional circuit is mainly played in Spain and in the end Spain is the country that has more padel players worldwide. In addition, I believe that other countries do not have the same resources that we have to play padel that’s why I do think padel epicentre has moved to Spain.
Here in Japan, padel started not long ago (2014) but there are already some players who dream to become professionals. In addition, it looks like that padel, as a sport, will become an Olympic sport in the near future; this thing makes even more motivating for them the wish to improve. What would you recommend them? In your opinion how we can raise the padel’s level in a country without a lot of tradition?
I am not very good at giving tips but I would say that they should train, play and enjoy as much as possible because if they like what they do and they are doing it well, it is possible to reach any challenge they think.
Well, padel is very young in Japan so I think it will become more and more popular. I do believe that when there is more fans, more courts and more people playing the level is going to rise.
METHEORA WARRIOR: YOUR RACKET
Coki, you play with Metheora Warrior, Mati Diaz racket. Why did you choose this racket? How does it highlight the way you play? What kind of features do you look for in a racket?
To be honest I am very happy with Metheora Warrior. Last year I played with it but it was from the previous collection and this year I chose it again because it provides me a lot of control, but at the same time it also gives me the power I need for shots such as smash.
I have specially got used to playing with the wrinkled area on the racket’s face that StarVie introduced in their molds and nowadays one of the features that I look for in a racket is this wrinkled area. This feature helps me to give more spin and more control because ball does not slip on the racket’s face.
And finally, would you dare to predict who will be the couple number 1 at the end of this season in the World Padel Tour? Will we see Coki Nieto and Javi Rico in the Barcelona Master Final?
I think that Galán and Lima will finish as a couple number ones in the ranking. They are playing very well and I see them very strong and in an excellent moment nowadays, even though the 3 couples fighting for this position are very close one to another.
Despite we have reached a final, a semi-final and a quarter-final, it is going to be very difficult to be in Barcelona Master Final. To do that, we should have been in quarter-finals zone during the whole season and this is not our case unfortunately.
Well Coki thank you very much for your time and we wish you all the best for the rest of the season and we hope to see you one day here in Japan!
It has been a pleasure. I would love to come and visit you guys. See you!