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Short questions with Dana Perino for Nicolas Yannicelli

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For a number of months now, I’ve enjoyed checking in with some of your favorite Fox personalities to learn more about who they are behind the scenes.  But as you may recall, I did promise to throw in some surprise appearances here and there! This week I wanted to do a curtain raiser on the US Open’s men’s final match taking place in New York City this weekend.  I talked with the tennis coach forced to spend time with me on the court as I try to learn this new hobby.  I’m excited for you to meet my coach and friend, Nico Yannicelli! He’s not just a tennis coach, though — he’s an actor and an entrepreneur as well. While spending half of the year in the U.S., he also runs Perspectiva Producciones, a production company in Argentina. He describes himself this way: “I’m a dreamer, a person who believes that everything can be achieved, that every dream is achievable, that every thought can become a reality. Thus, the engine of my life, my true and only passion, are challenges.” Read on to learn more about him and his terrific insights into tennis, television, patience — and people! Q: How old were you when your passion for tennis began? Did you have any family members that also played tennis? NY: My passion for tennis began very early; I was around six years old when my father started teaching me.  He would take me to the club and play with me. He was my greatest inspiration, introducing me to tennis. His idols were Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. He would tell stories about them.  Soon, he began having me play with his buddies from the club. So, there I was, a 10-year-old, playing with 35-year-old players.  Q: You coach for hours a day every day in the summer. What are your tips for enduring the heat and humidity? NY: I coach for about 1,000 hours every summer here in the States. It’s a short but very intense season.  There are a few things to keep in mind to cope with the heat and humidity of the summer. Q: What do you love the most about spending half of the year in the U.S.? NY: Without a doubt, it’s the people. I always say it: They are the reason I spend six months away from my family.  Respect and unconditional love are things that I truly appreciate; they make me feel at home.  But again, it’s the people I see every day who are the reason for my willingness to be away.  Q: How do you not lose your cool with people who take lesson after lesson and keep making the same mistakes? (I’m talking about me, Nico!) NY: Ha ha ha … You’re doing great, Dana! You’ve really improved over these past two years!  Tennis is not an easy sport. Learning it is a process, which means it requires time and effort.  You first have to understand it, then feel it, next embed it in your muscle memory, and finally try to perform during a match. It’s quite a journey.  We recognize how challenging this is, so our role is to make the learning experience as easy as possible.  We understand that we must be patient with every student; each one learns in their own unique way and at their own pace.  Q: In addition to being an amazing tennis pro, you are also an actor and an entrepreneur. What got you into acting?  NY: When I was a kid, I loved watching movies. I believe my passion started there. In school, from the age of 6, I was drawn to the stage. From then on, I’ve always been involved in acting. I also believe that art and sport share many similarities.  The tennis court is much like a stage for actors. Both are spaces where individuals must deliver peak performances under mental pressure.  An audience is crucial for both a tennis match and a theatrical performance. The atmosphere they create intensifies the experience. The absence of an audience, as seen during COVID, changes the dynamics entirely.  The presence of an audience or external viewers amplifies pressure. This pressure increases stress, heightens emotions, and pushes individuals to confront their inner selves, impacting their performance.  Behind every player or actor is a team. In tennis, this includes coaches, physical therapists, sponsors and more, just as actors have directors, producers and sound engineers. Each individual relies on this support network.  True focus means being in the present moment. For tennis players, it’s about the current point, devoid of external distractions. For actors, it’s about immersing in the scene and reacting genuinely. Both must be in the “here and now” for peak performance.  Tennis players, like actors, adopt a “character” for their performances. This involves differentiating between their everyday self and their performing self. Rafael Nadal, for instance, contrasts his calm off-court persona with the fierce competitor he becomes on court.  Q: What do you find more nerve-wracking, a challenging tennis match or a demanding acting role? NY: Tennis is a challenging sport where anything can happen. The match isn’t over until it’s over. It requires significant mental energy. You can’t predict the outcome of a tennis match, and situations can change in an instant.  Acting requires a lot of preparation. But once you truly understand your character, you know your role. This understanding provides a peace of mind that enables you to perform.  Q: Do you have any routines or rituals for either your tennis matches or before you get onto set for a big role? NY: Of course! For acting, I must prepare to share my body with the character.  I start by feeling what they’re feeling. I have a routine where I sit in a chair, relax my body, regulate my breathing and begin to immerse myself in what my character is experiencing in that moment. Where is he? Is he cold? Sad? Nervous? What is he undergoing emotionally at that instant?  In a tennis match, you need to warm up your body, get in sync with the ball and emotionally prepare for the contest. I approach this step by step. I take my time, doing everything deliberately. Then, I try to focus on every individual point.  Q: What do you think of the state of the television and film industry today? NY: In Latin America, the entertainment industry is growing exponentially. Platforms, for better or worse, have transformed the landscape. People have become accustomed to watching movies or series from the comfort of their homes daily.  Sometimes they binge-watch an entire series in just two or three days, even though that series might have taken more than a year to produce. As a result, there’s a continuous demand leading to nonstop production.  Of course, we need to gain a better understanding of how to ensure this growth benefits everyone involved. I believe that is the significant challenge for the upcoming years.  Q: While acting, do you prefer playing the good guy or the bad guy? NY: Both roles present challenges, but I believe playing the bad guys often requires more preparation. This is primarily because these characters are frequently far removed from our true selves. As actors, we need to understand them, think like them, and confront and accept their inner demons.  Q: You’re going to the men’s finals. What’s that like from the point of view of someone who has had tennis running through his veins his entire life? NY: It’s a DREAM COME TRUE. I’ve never witnessed a Grand Slam final, so being there is something I’ve dreamed of my entire life.  I’m very excited to be part of that moment. Having played tennis all my life and competed at the professional level, I fully grasp the magnitude of this event.  The adrenaline, the bond with the players, the climax of the final point – it’s simply amazing.  After watching these matches on TV all my life, experiencing it in person for the first time is truly special.  Q: Did you have a tennis idol growing up? NY: I have a few favorites. My first was Stefan Edberg, followed by Pete Sampras and, of course, Roger Federer.  However, Rafael Nadal both on and off the court epitomizes what I consider to be a top-quality athlete.  Q: The US Open has been known for its exciting New York crowd. How does the energy impact player’s game? NY: You need to create the right bond with the crowd. New York is loud, so you have to harness that energy. It’s important to learn how to use it at the right moments and try to tune out the crowd at other times. It’s part of the immense challenge that the US Open presents. That’s what makes it so exciting. Q: Final question! Who is most improved this summer: my husband Peter or me? NY: Peter did very well this year, but your tennis really rocked this summer!  You won the master award for WATCHING THE BALL.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER To read all of Dana Perino’s earlier “Short Questions” interviews for Fox News Digital, check out this (long) list! For her interview with Abby Hornacek, click here.  For her interview with Elise Bitter, click here.  For her interview with Brian Kilmeade, click here. For her interview with Kennedy, click here.  For her interview with John Roberts, click here.  For her interview with Janice Dean, click here.  For her interview with Charles Payne, click here.  For her interview with Trey Gowdy, click here.  For her interview with Johnny “Joey” Jones, click here.  For her interview with Bill Melugin, click here.  For her interview with Jimmy Failla, click here.  For her interview with Tyrus, click here.  For her interview with Ainsley Earhardt, click here.  For her interview with Lawrence Jones, click here.  For her interview with Dr. Arash Akhavan, click here.  For her interview with Martha MacCallum, click here.  For her interview with Bret Baier, click here.  For her interview with Kayleigh McEnany, click here. For her interview with Harold Ford Jr., click here.  For her interview with Shannon Bream, click here.  For her interview with Jessica Tarlov, click here. For her interview with Leo Terrell, click here. For her interview with Geraldo Rivera, click here.  For her interview with Clay Travis, click here. For her interview with Bill Hemmer, click here.  For her interview with Greg Gutfeld, click here.  For her interview with Benjamin Hall, click here.  For her interview with Judge Jeanine Pirro, click here. For her interview with Jesse Watters, click here.