Love and camaraderie keeping Italy ahead of the pack

Italy's Billie Jean King Cup captain Tathiana Garbin knows exactly how to extract the best from her players on court

Jasmine Paolini, Sara Errani, Roland-Garros 2024©Remy Chautard / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The green, white and red of 'il Tricolore' continually pops up in the latter stages of tournaments on tour.

The conveyor belt of talent from Italy continues to defy belief within tennis circles.

For example, nine men sit within the men's singles top 100. On the women's side that tally is five. That's quite the collection.

Roland-Garros 2024 has underpinned the Italian world class production line, with Jasmine Paolini breaking through into the singles and doubles final.

The amiable 28-year-old is joined in the doubles final by compatriot and mentor Sara Errani. There is also an Italian team in the men's doubles title decider, with Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori flying the flag.

In the men's singles, soon to be crowned world No.1 Jannik Sinner pushed Carlos Alcaraz all the way over a five-set rollercoaster in Friday's semi-finals.

On top of that, Italy had a prolonged presence in the junior events too.

You can't go a few hours without hearing shouts of 'Forza' flying around Roland-Garros this summer.

The Italian federation is renowned for staging a multitude of tournaments in their homeland to help up-and-coming players hone their craft.

Tathiana Garbin (pictured below with Martina Trevisan) is right in the mix as the Italy Billie Jean King Cup captain. The former world No.22 insists that personal development is an essential facet to his continued success.

"We are very proud. We don't just have very good players here, we have good people," Garbin told

"They've grown up with us, we know what they've been through, the struggles they’ve had. They've all had big obstacles to overcome, but they've all held their values. They've fought for their goals in the right way."

Ever since hanging up her racquets in 2011, Garbin has been embedded in the Italian federation, helping to establish high standards for every generation. No turning point here, just graft and community.

Tathiana Garbin, Martina Trevisan, Billie Jean King Cup 2023©Pauline Ballet / FFT

"There hasn't been one 'click' moment, it’s a combination of things working together," added the 46-year-old, who reached the Roland-Garros fourth round in 2007.

"This has been years of work from the federation, we have great coaches across the country because we've worked a lot on the instructions for the coaches to give. We are trying to have the best men and women to work with our players to transfer their knowledge and experience to the youngsters.

"Also, we don't just work in the city centres, we try to work in all parts of Italy, that wasn't always considered. Now we try to help small children from everywhere. Until you search, you don't know if you have a talent there."

Garbin took over the reigns of the Billie Jean King Cup in 2016, where Italy's women compete to become world champions.

The group are tight-knit, clearly friends away from the confines of a tennis court and it's yielded recent success as 2023 runners up.

"Camaraderie is the word. We have known the players since they were kids," continued Garbin in Paris.

"Jasmine was 15 when I met her for the first time, around the same age as [Elisabetta] Cocciaretto, [Martina] Trevisan, [Lucia] Bronzetti. We try to communicate with them a lot, to try to build a team. Not just a tennis team, but a team of people.

"My team is very united, we have a doctor who is flying over tonight [Friday] to see the final.

"We have physios who stay with us the whole time, we are a true family, we love each other, we want the best for each other. You can see that in the results. We push each other."

That love was crystal clear back in November when Garbin revealed she required surgery for a rare type of tumour found in her stomach. Following their final defeat in the BJK Cup in Seville, the squad paid their dedicated captain a visit in hospital.

Speaking in Paris, Garbin wells up, still moved by that compassion.

"They are very good players, but they are the best people."

Garbin states she is "honoured" to guide this group of individuals, which includes the soaring Paolini.

The Italian wants the world No.15 to channel her favourite poem 'Invictus' when taking on the double defending champion Iga Swiatek on Saturday afternoon.

The William Ernest Henley piece finishes with the lines, 'I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.'

"I want her to feel empowered to play Iga without fear, that is the key," maintained Garbin. "If she is trying to do her best, hitting the ball as usual, if she's happy on court, then she has a chance."

So how do the Italians keep up this unrivalled, sustained success?

"We just have to keep working harder and harder, providing our best for the players. We need to be happy when we achieve goals, but then to look ahead," added Garbin.

"Tennis is constant, every week, you don’t have a chance to appreciate it all mentally. Sometimes you need to sit and say, 'Yes, we did a good job.' Life teaches you to enjoy this, to love the process and not too much the results.

"When you love the process then you do the right things, you are rewarded."