Thursday, 15 March 2018


I wrote this in 2014 
In memory of Ken Flach who sadly passed away recently.
This one's for you Kenny......

Written June 2014 by GT
Remember the 'Get Smart' series ? Outstanding humor, Maxwell was famous for many quotes but one in particular 'missed it by that much' is rather apt for this chapter.
The 1985 US Open Men's Doubles Final saw American pair Ken Flach and Robert Seguso up against French stars Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte, best of 5 sets, as it was back then. This match was between two teams who had rather different results in major tournaments , Noah and Leconte were the 1984 French Open Doubles winners, Flach and Seguso did not own a major. This title match would cement the French as one the best teams in the world for a second year in a row or give the American's their first major.
Flach had a hairstyle not unlike the lead singer of Def Leppard, my favorite rock band of the 80's, this hairstyle would become 'infamous' by the end of the match. I remember watching Flach play in Queensland in a Challenger Tournament , he had an unusual style, very abbreviated ground strokes which he followed to the net, effective. Seguso had a huge serve, these guys were a very talented team.
Noah and Leconte had a lot of flair about the way they played , proven singles players but an accomplished doubles pairing also that sent their home crowd delirious a year earlier with a win in Paris. Huge serves , flashy ground strokes and both could volley well, the sort of team you would pick to play for you on a Nintendo computer game.
The issue with 4 big servers is the lack of rallying, a big serve and solid volley will take many sets to a tie breaker and ask for a slice of luck, as was the case in this final. The Frenchmen took the first in a breaker 7 points to 5, the Americans took the second in a breaker 7 points to 1, an unusual blow out in a set decider, the third set went to another tie break. 
Now anyone who knows anything about tennis will realize that a two sets to one lead is crucial, momentum in tennis is everything, spirits can lift with a lead , fighting back can take it's toll both physically and mentally. This third set tie breaker will go down in history for all the wrong reasons.....
At 6-4 to the Frenchmen , with 2 set points up for grabs Leconte played with his usual flair and went for a forehand drive volley, no holding back, he struck it beautifully. He unfortunately clipped the top of the net but he had a 'lifeline' as it's path was straight at the shoulder of Flach who instinctively turned to get out of the way of the ball. 
Now according to the Frenchmen the ball either hit Flach on the shoulder or brushed his flowing locks, either way they claimed the point and the set plus a two sets to one lead. Why didn't the umpire see it? Noah and Leconte accused Flach of cheating, not owning up to the 'contact' , if there was any at all, the Americans denied any wrong doing. The French put all their toys back in the toy box and went home, mentally, they lost the fourth set 0-6 without even trying.
Flach and Seguso were booed at the trophy presentation , at their first Grand Slam title that happened to be on home soil, such was the public affection for Noah and Leconte , two very World wide popular professionals. Flach and Seguso went on to win Wimbledon twice and one more US Open title, the Frenchmen didn't win another.
 The Davis Cup final of 1991 was perhaps their belated revenge.
The final held in Lyon , France saw a retired Yannick Noah as the French Davis Cup Captain with Leconte pairing up with Guy Forget, another talented left handed Frenchman. The two beat Flach and Seguso in the crucial doubles match and they went on to claim the Cup three matches to one.
Only Flach knows to this day whether or not the ball actually touched him, shoulder or hair, he will take that secret with him when he goes, one of the game's all time greatest speculations...........

Monday, 12 March 2018


This story is a classic. I recently posted an article that suggested losing in the qualifying rounds of an ATP event is not the end of the dream so to speak as 'Lucky losers' have been known to walk away with thousands.

This story beats any other story you will ever read regarding a 'battling tennis player'.

'World's worst' tennis player loses again

When Robert Dee was described as the worst professional tennis player in the world, he didn't take it lying down.

Instead the young Briton resolved to take legal action against dozens of newspapers and websites to defend his name and reputation.

With a tenacity that has kept him going on the court - through a record-breaking run of 54 straight-set losses on the international professional circuit - he sent out a string of legal letters demanding apologies and damages.
More than 30 news outlets capitulated.
Dee duly trumpeted his successby posting their cheques for thousands of pounds of damages on his personal website.
However, he had not reckoned on The Daily Telegraph refusing to back down - despite a risk that a libel trial could cost the paper £500,000 in costs alone, at the very least.
As a result, the case went before a High Court judge who has now confirmed that the evidence supplied by the newspaper was sufficient to justify the description "world's worst".
The paper printed a short front-page story on Dee on 23 April 2008 in conjunction with a fuller article in the Sport section the same day.
The front-page, 82-word piece, began: "A Briton ranked as the worst professional tennis player in the world after 54 defeats in a row has won his first match."
It went on: "Robert Dee, 21, of Bexley, Kent, did not win a single match during his first three years on the circuit, touring at an estimated cost of £200,000.
"But his dismal run ended at the Reus tournament near Barcelona as he beat an unranked 17-year-old, Arzhang Derakshani, 6-4, 6-3. Dee lost in the second round."
Dee sued for defamation, arguing the piece exposed him to ridicule and could damage his ability to work in the tennis world in the future.
His barrister pointed out that Dee had won professional games on a Spanish domestic circuit during his 54-match losing streak on the international circuit.
But The Daily Telegraph maintained it was justified in publishing the story because the articles were not defamatory and true.
David Price, for the Telegraph, argued that just as it could not be defamatory to report that a player had lost one match, so it could not be defamatory to report accurately that he had lost a large number on the trot.
Mrs Justice Sharp ruled: "The incontestably true facts are that the Claimant [Robert Dee] did lose 54 matches in a row in straight sets in his first three years on the world ranking ITF / ATP tournaments on the international professional tennis circuit, and that this was the worst ever run."
She continued that there was "no additional obligation" on the paper to prove that Dee "is objectively the worst professional tennis player in the world, in terms of his playing skills".
That characterisation was "simply a consequence of his unprecedented record of defeats", she stated.
His wins on the Spanish national circuit did "not detract from the fact that he holds the longest record for consecutive defeats based on the offical world ranking system," she added.
She concluded that there could be "no rational conclusion" other than for the paper's case to succeed on the basis of justification - that the facts were true.
While weightier libel cases have made the news in recent months, the legal battle demonstrates how newspapers can be held to ransom by litigants spurred on by lawyers promising to work on a "no win, no fee" basis. They are known in the trade as conditional fee arrangements.
Keith Mathieson, a solicitor who was acting for Reuters when it was threatened by Dee's solicitors, told the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in 2008 that the news agency felt "it had really no option but to settle because it was faced with potential costs of trial for this comparatively unimportant libel case of £1.2 million."
Reuters was asked to pay Dee's costs of £250,000, compared with its own legal costs of £31,000.
In a later memorandum from Dee's father to the Select Committe, Alan Dee pointed out that their legal action was "only partially funded with a 50 per cent conditional fee agreement".

So there you go, sometimes it pays to be a 'loser'...........

Sunday, 11 March 2018


"Hit a kick serve, high percentage, limits the pressure of hitting a second serve. Don't hit a serve you don't own.
Don't tee off on the return, that's dumb arse tennis, make the return, take the point back to the start. 
Play tennis like you live life.
SERVE AND RETURN ( Written March 11, 2018 )
Two shots that are never practiced as much as the ground strokes, the serve and return, yet that's where most matches are won and lost, so why is it not being taught and practiced more ?
Lack of answers, FACT.
Most tennis coaches on the planet goes for the easy fix, the groundies, what's hard about teaching that ? 
Most tennis coaches in this Country and every other country teach a player how to hit a forehand and a backhand but when it comes to teaching a player how to return a serve or even serve for that matter, well we tend to go back to the basics, the forehand and backhand.
When I say 'we', well I am included.
I have coached tennis for around 30 years and played for 37 years yet the two shots I have always had trouble with both playing and teaching are the two shots that can both start a point, AND START A POINT.
Let's look at it.
A serve starts a point, so does a return. 
If a player can serve well, limit their double faults and weak deliveries then on top of that can also return consistently it leaves the part in the middle, you know, THAT PART. 
It's the part every tennis coach on the planet teaches more than anything else, the ground stroke drill.
Ho Hum.
I watched a student play their first tennis tournament today, proud as punch, runner up, doubles comp, top partner, that always helps, but I did what most tennis coaches do, I analysed it, every point, every game, added it up, crunched the data, came up with some answers.
The serve and return are not practiced anywhere near enough as much as any other shot and today I looked upon the whole day as a learning experience because after 30 years of coaching I do not have my head stuck up my arse like some, I am prepared to learn.
This time last year I won that event with a partner 24 years my junior, we got a bit lucky, yet we won it though I remember how we won it, tactically, as technically we were no better than any other team we played.
It wasn't pretty, we lobbed,( even off the return ) limited the first serve misses, made the returns, no matter how lame BUT WE MADE THE RETURNS, we made the server think about the NEXT shot because we refused to let them get too many ego boosts from the delivery. 
If you let a server get too many free points then the rest of their game raises to another level. A big server can even win from the ground if their delivery is not returned regularly.
But we all know that don't we ?
So how do we serve and how do we return ?

We do it with a minimum of fuss.
No one says you have to stand on the baseline to return a serve and no one says that you have to serve a bomb as a first serve yet if you do both consistently then surely it takes the point back to a 50/50 and that's what tennis is all about, getting to a 50/50.
I can't help still using Nadal and Borg as the best examples of both the serve and return.
Nothing big on the serve and a consistent return from well behind the baseline which gives the returner TIME. With 27 Grand Slams between them I believe the tactic has merit.

Serve and return, that's what would have helped me as a junior, as a young adult, as an 'older' tennis player in local events.
When I was 22, a year after I returned from Europe I was not good enough to play WA State Grade, the pinnacle  of WA Tennis, I only ever made it to Division 1, a grade down. My first match I still remember the score, I lost 6-4, 3-6 7-6 and I had two match points. 
Here's the thing, I broke serve SIX TIMES, fact, I should of won in straight, instead I lost. 
I always practiced the groundies, never the serve, it cost me a few sleepless nights and many matches, that's tennis, we all lack something at any level.
Tennis coaching is a tough gig but I honestly believe that as a coach we need to look at the start of a point because tennis now days is all to do with that word 'ho hum'. 
You know the drill. 
Serve, step in, hit the forehand, set up the point, the 'one, two punch' as they say.
Yet we don't teach it enough, we develop the groundies, spend a third as much time on the serve, forget the volley, and the return ?? 
Isn't that something that you get from winning a tennis match ???

Hit a kick serve, high percentage, limits the pressure of hitting a second serve. Don't hit a serve you don't own.
Don't tee off on the return, that's dumb arse tennis, make the return, take the point back to the start. 
Play tennis like you live life.

Friday, 9 March 2018


Wrote this a while back, three people read it, however that's pretty typical of this site of mine as I simply write, think, think and write about tennis. Few read it, it's just a way that I get things off my chest and out of my head. 
I was speaking to a buddy of mine just recently and the topic was 'The thought process of tennis'. We talked a long time, came up with the usual blanks. Tennis is like that, you can talk til you are blue in the face, you simply have to experiment with tennis, think like a Professor, work on the deficiencies, strengthen the strengths, pretty simple......
'The thought process'
( Written a year ago )
When you are a kid you don't think too much when you play tennis, you simply hit 'em as best you can, rely on what ability you own at the time and what your coach tells you to do. Whether or not you employ the tactics that your coach recommends to you is your choice.
I once read a transcript from a boxing coach who admitted after the fight that his pupil actually did nothing that he suggested to him before the fight ! Interesting isn't it ? Would it be that our brains are wired a certain way and we simply cannot rewire them when someone else suggests an idea that may in fact be a better idea ?
When it comes to sport, in particularly an individual sport I firmly believe that being a coach quite possibly is like being in a raffle. Your numbers may come up and if they do, well you can shout to the roof tops that you are a genius, it's a needle in a haystack as far as odds go but you may just find the gold at the end of the rainbow if all of your cards fall into place.
Magnus Norman openly lauded the former coaches of Stan Wawrinka when his 'student' won the French Open in 2015 against Novak because he knew he was not the person who taught Stan how to hit a tennis ball, he merely offered his thoughts on what Stan should do with the ball.
Let's face it, Stan knows how to hit a tennis ball 'reasonably' well, he simply required an opinion on what he should do with it.
The thought process in tennis is not one that can easily be refined, it's something that requires hours of sifting through ideas and implementing things that may help the game to be understood a little more clearly than when you first picked up a racket.
Thoughts go through the mind of a tennis player no matter what standard they are playing, if it didn't happen then I doubt they would be human. If you haven't read Andre Agassi's book then I suggest maybe you do, it places tennis at the highest standard into perspective.
Andre's thoughts during a match were refreshingly 'human' even though we all looked at him as someone who was 'out of this world' as far as tennis ability was concerned. Every tennis player has an ability to hit a ball however only a select few really know just how to play the game and it all comes down to how we think.
If there was a person out there who could teach every tennis player in the World how to think before they hit then that person would have a bank balance that would put an Arabian Oil Sheik to shame, no risk at all.
Is the thought process in tennis a gift that only a handful of players own or something that can perhaps be taught by someone who has a degree in 'genius' ?
You can quite possibly do the routine 'Ten Thousand Hours' of practice that many 'gurus' swear by and still end up a 'dummy' or you can take those hours of practice and turn them into something that gives you an edge.
Problem with tennis is simple, you are relying on an opponent to put the ball where you want it, where you have been trained to hit it but an opponent is not your ball feeder in practice, they aren't interested in your hitting zone.
A smart opponent will always take you out of your comfort zone as soon as the warm up is done and they have worked out what you like and what you dislike.
Do I have a theory on all of this ? Yeah sure I do, work on a plan B, C and D because the chances of your plan A working every time you step onto a tennis court is probably going to be as successful as your Lotto numbers coming up on a weekly basis.......
Silly game tennis........

Friday, 2 March 2018


 the times

Give tennis players a fairer share of riches

Novak Djokovic is right. Players deserve a bigger slice of the revenue of professional tennis. They should dissolve the ATP, create a new union and fight for themselves. If they fail to do so, they will only have themselves to blame for the fact that so few players make ends meet and most retire without enough money to retrain for a long retirement, let alone buy their own home.
Make no mistake: tennis is one of the toughest sports on the planet to make a decent living from. I remember going to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida a decade ago and noting tennis courts stretching to the horizon, with passionate kids on each one and determined parents watching on. “It doesn’t get tougher than this,” Bollettieri told me. “Everyone has a dream.”
Across the United States and South America, that dream is alive in thousands of young minds. In Asia teenagers devote themselves to the ambition of becoming the next Serena or Roger. In Europe tennis remains a huge sport, not least in the east, where stars from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia inspire legions of young people to devote themselves to a game with an authentically global reach.
Those who make it to senior level may be described as the lucky few, but that is an overstatement. Unless you make the top 150 or so, you are on the cusp of a dream that may never be yours. Thirty-five weeks are spent living out of a suitcase, hustling for training partners and sleeping in low grade hotels. That’s 35 weeks of battling with one’s own sanity and the doubts of loved ones in the hope of making that final step into the grand-slam events, the game’s great amphitheatres.
Dan Lobb, a close friend, devoted his childhood, his adolescence and his twenties to the game, and earned virtually nothing. Tim Patience, a fine coach at a club near where I live, who had many of the weapons needed for the very top but lacked that final ingredient, earned precious little too. Dustin Brown, who dazzled the world with his victory over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2015, economised for his first three years on tour by travelling, sleeping and cooking in a camper van.
Much of the response to Djokovic’s intervention on Monday, where he called for players to fight for a larger share of revenues, has focused on his career earnings of £80 million. How could he be so greedy as to want more, many asked. But too little of the reaction has focused on the big fat zero that so many talented players earn as they surf the tantalising line between anonymity and stardom.
It is worth remembering that Djokovic has called for more money to flow down the pyramid, with more prize money for Challenger and Futures events, the factory floor for the next generation of stars. A more enlightened system would make more of these events. It would see them not as liabilities but as assets. It would create more powerful narratives to connect those battling for a shot at glory with the public, who will watch them if they ultimately break through.
But more should go to the top players too. At present, they receive between 15 and 28 per cent of the revenue from ATP events, which is too little. Too much is going to tournament organisers, with the ATP hopelessly conflicted. The so-called union represents the players and the organisers, trying to act as fair broker, but instead is pulling itself into all manner of unsustainable contortions. Djokovic is right to imply that the very body that is supposed to act as the voice of the players is institutionally hoarse. That is why it was rather brave of him to speak up.
As for the grand-slams, the situation is even more unbalanced. According to reports, the male players receive only 7 or 8 per cent of total revenues, despite recent increases, rising to 14 to 16 per cent when you include the female players. This highlights, perhaps more than any other stat, the way that players have been played like violins.
By way of comparison, players in the NBA receive around 50 per cent of revenues generated by their league. In the Premier League, according to Deloitte, it is a similar figure. Tennis players are near the bottom of the pile and are entitled to wonder why.
It is true, of course, that a proportion of the profits from grand-slams are funnelled into grassroots tennis, but that is a second-order issue. There would be nothing to prevent players from sanctioning a proportion of new funds going to the lower echelons of the game, another possibility that Djokovic has mooted.
Indeed, this may act as a much-needed wake-up call for the governing bodies, many of which (although not all) are inefficient monopoly providers that have grown fat on the ring-fenced proceeds of grand-slams, not to mention subsidies from national governments.
On a wider point, what is the moral problem with players, who have battled through a fiercely meritocratic system, seeking a larger share of the proceeds from commercial rights whose value would be utterly worthless without them?
The players are the stars of the show, the entrepreneurs who gamble thousands of hours in pursuit of stardom. They have frighteningly short and uncertain careers. So long as they pay their taxes, we should not begrudge them. Fighting for more from owners and organisers is something that they should have done long ago.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


Woodbridge shocked at 'bomb' proposal to revamp Davis Cup

By Luke Costin


The 'Lucky Loser' feel good stories of the ATP are about as common now days as Roger Federer winning a Slam, but spare a thought for the guys who are struggling to make ends meet, these players rely on a bit of luck for a few extra dollars.
So let's look at the 'Lucky Loser' technicalities.
If a player loses in the last round of qualification, well the highest ranked player of that last round of 'qualies' can be placed into the main draw of an ATP event, singles or doubles. If a player or players do not win two or three qualification matches all is not in fact lost because they may just get a call from the Tournament Committee if someone pulls out of the Main Draw through injury or sickness.
Now here's the thing, you imagine the mind set of a player, or players who lose in the last round of qualification then gain an entry into the main draw through a withdrawal, it would be like, 'WHOOPPEE' !!!
Show me the money.....
Take for instance the current tournament in Dubai; 
If a player loses in the last round of qualification they will take home $4,300 US Dollars, enough to fly to a couple of tournaments at least. However if a player who loses in that last round in Dubai gets a call up for the Main Draw then that figure grows to a guaranteed $19,435 US Dollars.
Big difference in any mans language.
So if a player who does lose in the last round of qualies in Dubai gets the call up what do you think the mind set would be ??
Free swinging, surely nothing but free swinging. Why would you play any other way ? Some players play for peanuts in Challenger events, maybe $400 Euros for a semi final showing in the main draw somewhere in the heart of Europe or South America. 
Qualification events on the ATP Tour however still pay reasonably well. That may be an understatement.
You know how much Bernard Tomic walked away with to lose in the last round of qualies at the Oz Open ?
Hows $30,000 sound ? Not bad ey ? Not bad to NOT make the main draw.
I did read a story a few years ago of a tennis pro who retired after losing the first set in a tie breaker in the last round of qualification to a fellow Countryman, apparently a friend. The player who retired in fact was given a spot in the Main Draw of that event.
Let's look at that.
It was Toronto, 2014. Aussie Marinko Matosevic was up against another Aussie Thanassi Kokkinakis, ( I think I spelt both of those 'common' Aussie names correctly ). It was in the final round of qualifying. The winner would go through to the Main Draw and take home a guaranteed prize of $11,110, the 'loser' $2560. Big difference.
Check this out.
Marinko forfeited after winning the first set 7-6, ( 9-7 in the tie breaker ).  Who had the highest ranking of all the qualifiers do you think ? 
Marinko Matosevic. 
So even if he lost, he won, so to speak, as he was to be elevated to the Main draw regardless as he was the number 1 seed in the qualifying at Toronto. Highest ranking goes through on a withdrawal from the real gig, the main draw.
Another twist.
Marinko was injured so he withdrew from the main draw and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia was the next best ranked player at number 114, so he went through. He even won a round. So from his initial take home pay of $2560 Jaziri in fact turned it into just over $26,000 as he lost in round two and only by a whisker, 7-6 in the third to Cilic who was seeded 15.
All confusing ?
Well the bottom line is this.
Being a 'loser' in tennis can sometimes turn you into a winner because it can change your entire way of thinking, that's rather obvious. A player who loses in the last round of qualification will naturally swing free if they get a call up to the main draw because they were on a flight out with just enough to pay for a month's rent in most households. 
A call up to the real deal will often pay the rent for 6 months, there's the difference.
Without boring you with too many details here are two examples just recently of 'losers' becoming winners.
Rotterdam, two weeks ago; Andreas Seppi of Italy made it all the way through to the semi finals where he pushed eventual winner Roger Federer all the way in a 6-3, 7-6 loss. The effort was made all the way more remarkable considering Seppi lost in the last round of qualifying and was initially going home with just over $3,000 Euros.
His take home pay for the semis ?
Just under $100,000 Euros. 
Rio, just this week; David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco took home the Mens Doubles title and shared just over $110, 000 Euros, but here's the thing. They originally lost in the last round of qualification and were going to take home enough for perhaps a carton of Corona, ( Doubles isn't quite as lucrative in qualifying as singles  ).
The moral of the story.
Sometimes being a 'loser' in tennis can change the mind set. Free swinging and free thinking can sometimes turn a 'loser' into a winner........