Sunday, 18 February 2018

'TROPHY HUNTING' ( THIS ONE IS FOR YOU )

The following post is dedicated to the five 'tennis players' who were more intent on playing 'down' than up all those years ago. Possibly one of the most embarrassing things I have ever been involved with in 38 years of tennis.
All for the sake of a trophy.
Someone told me a while back that certain 'people' read this site to see if they can find content to sue me. I find that amusing. Good luck with that.
This post is for YOU, yep you know who you are, you read this site often as you look for certain things that may offend your small mind. 
I am currently writing a book, don't know when it will be finished but YOU will be in it as you have given me plenty of dialogue over the years on how the game SHOULD NOT BE PLAYED.
THIS ONE IS FOR YOU.
Regards GT

TROPHY HUNTING 
If I didn't include this topic in my long list of tennis frustrations then it would be an injustice of epic proportions. 
Trophy hunting, it's rife in tennis though usually only really seen in lower level events at obscure venues, for personal fulfillment or financial gain, perhaps both. I have witnessed some unusual things over the years.
Firstly, let's look at 'Trophy Hunting' for the local Club player. Nothing wrong with it if a local 'hot shot' turns up at an event with all guns blazing in his or her's 'appropriate' grade and takes out the title with ease. 
If no one else turns up then stiff cheese, that player was THE BEST, no argument. You can't stop a player from putting their name down at a 'Back of Burke' event, it's simply the luck of the draw as to who turns up. If the field is weak then the hot shot will take home the chocolates, end of story. 
That's not really trophy hunting, that's simply being too good for the opposition.
Let's look at a different scenario.
An 'A Grade' player enters a B Grade Mens Doubles event with a 'B Grade' partner and no one really knows who the A grader is at the 'Back of Burke Open'. The title is won easily, eyebrows are raised. The Committee makes a mental note of who the A grader is and will not accept their entry the following year in B Grade.
That player is an A GRADE player, therefor should play A Grade. Agree ?
Fair enough. 
But that's trophy hunting in a nutshell, playing 'down' when you should be playing in your appropriate division, all for an ego boost and maybe a few dollars prize money. 
In any mans language, weak as piss.
In 38 years or so of playing and coaching tennis I have seen some classic examples of trophy hunting, here's one for you and admittedly I did go home with a trophy, well, not really home, out of the presentation area anyhow.
In my Region of Western Australia several years ago we were lucky enough to have some reasonably talented tennis players. We were also lucky enough to be able to compete in an event in the City where Country teams could compete against each other in a weekend of tennis competition. 
Town versus town, bragging rights a plenty up for grabs, used to be a must on the local tennis calendar when we were all a bit younger and fitter.
One particular year I believed that we had a team to go far in the event, problem however was this, only three of us thought so, the other five players didn't, so in a nutshell we were outvoted as far as what grade we wished to play.
Myself and my two mates wanted A grade, naturally, the other five players wanted B grade. The excuse we received was ' A grade is just too tough'.
Yep that was the excuse we were given, though all players who nominated had in fact played A grade local tennis tournaments in the past, so what really was the issue ? 
Perhaps finishing middle of the field as opposed to winning was not appealing, a trophy was more important obviously. Either way we were forced to play B Division or not play at all. 
A few beers were consumed in the weeks leading up to the event deadline after practice and many phone calls were made between myself and my two 'A Grade' buddies. 
'Mate we are A graders, what the fuck is their problem' ?? 
Yeah mate I know, we will talk em around, it's ok the Tournament Committee will see our names and put us in A grade anyhow, trust me.
Didn't happen, we didn't talk em around, we were put into B Grade. I considered wearing a disguise but I reckon I would have been found out eventually.
At the presentation ( we won without dropping a match, maybe not a set either for that matter ) one of the five players who refused to play A grade whispered in my ear 'It's OK Glenn we will play A grade next year'.
Yep fair dinkum, that's what they said to me. Lucky I didn't belt them over the head with my B grade trophy. I did in fact place mine in a bin on the way out of the stadium, totally embarrassed for even agreeing to play that division. 
So why did I play ?
I honestly thought that we would be promoted, we had a good team, I thought there was no way in the World that the Tournament Committee would allow us to play B grade as we had played A grade previously. I was expecting the other five players to be mouthing off on tournament day as to why we had been 'promoted' to A grade. 
I hadn't played B Grade since I was 12, fact.
The ensuing newspaper article said it all in our local paper.
It printed our names, but wait for it, the Division we won was rather conveniently described as 'THEIR DIVISION'. 
What, no B Grade guys ??! C'mon tell it like it really was.
So whoever put the details into the local paper, ( who was obviously a player from our team ) was no doubt embarrassed about the whole ridiculous situation themselves. 
How else do you describe the words used in the local rag for winning B Grade ?
'The team consisting of ( our names ) won 'THEIR DIVISION'.
Hmmmm, who wrote that ? 
A Journalist or someone hiding from the real facts who was more intent on getting their name in the paper rather than testing their ability on a tennis court ??!!
Do the sums on that one.
So let's look at it, why did we, sorry, THEY nominate for B Grade ? Simple, trophy hunting at it's absolute finest. No thought of testing themselves, just the personal requirement of getting their names put in the local newspaper and another trophy placed on the mantle piece.
The whole affair lead to a few posts on my Blog. Even Andy Roddick agrees with me, sort of......

BLOG EXTRACT, Written JULY 2017

The following is by Andy Roddick. You just have to love his honesty as far as his trophy cabinet is concerned. It seems he doesn't own one that is visible to his friends. That to me is possibly one of the most humble things I have ever read.

"Honestly, let's break it down to the simplest moment: Most people who are in my house probably know that I played tennis at some point. So I don't know that I need shiny objects to try to enforce the fact that I played tennis at some point."
ANDY RODDICK

BLOG EXTRACT, 2017 Glenn Thompson Tennis
MORE PERSPECTIVE

I am 48, I am old as far as a tennis player is concerned. I reckon that I have played perhaps 200 tennis tournaments in my time on court since I was 12 years of age. That's just a rough guess, I may have played a lot more.
I won a few, lost a lot, gained some friends, played some people who I would rather forget. I have done a lot of talking both out loud and in my mind and I have sworn on many occasions that I hate the sport.
I can understand where Andre is coming from, tennis makes you question your own intelligence whether it is on court or off it.
One thing I have never, ever done however is own a false sense of who I am. I am a tennis nobody.
When people walk into my house they see a lot of photos of my kids on the wall and above the fire place, my kids give me perspective in life.
I place just one tennis trophy with the photo frames. It is a trophy that has the words ' La Valette' engraved on it.
La Valette-du-Var is in the same Region as Gareoult, a town in the French Countryside where my touring buddy Peter Gerrans and I won a Doubles event in 1991.
It is the only trophy that I consider to be worth anything, the only trophy in 36 years of hitting tennis balls. It means something to me because it was won against opponents who could play tennis, guys who were trying to make a living from the sport. 
Over the years I have seen many trophy cabinets and mantle pieces laden with dozens of plastic and metal figurines that depict a tennis player in full flight, usually the one that resembles a server, you know the pose, the 'perfect' serve. 
That pose I have been trying to master for years but have fallen well short as mine is something that looks more like a 'frog in a blender' type of delivery.
So to those cabinets and mantle pieces full of figurines. I have often wondered why we put them out for people to see and is it to create a talking point of sorts ? Is it all about swaying the conversation towards you, the one that revolves around your sporting 'expertise' ?
Mine certainly isn't. 
I place that one trophy next to a photo I took of Monte Carlo, the ONE place I wanted so badly to visit when I was a kid all due to my hero Bjorn Borg inspiring me to play. Borg won in Monte Carlo and he lived there, I owned a dream as a kid to replicate that.
That's why I took the trip.
I came away from that tour with just one tournament win but it handed me a tennis education.
Part of me wishes I never took that trip in 1991 because it destroyed my personal view that I was a reasonably good tennis player but that's not how life works. If you go through life with that sort of attitude, the one that has you believing that you are a whole lot better than you actually are it will bite you on the arse eventually, no risk.

We are all different but self justification and self importance in tennis may just be one of the biggest issues the sport owns.
I don't begrudge anyone who wants to place a trophy in full view but be honest with yourself as to where you won it.


A QUOTE FROM YOURS TRULY
"You can win all the local events that you like and place all of those trophies on your mantle piece for all to see and create a talking point or you can get your head outa your own arse and be honest with yourself as to who you actually beat."
Glenn T


Friday, 16 February 2018

'US OPEN 1992'( WELL DONE BUT NOT OVER COOKED )

I have always been fascinated by tennis scores, I see things in them that perhaps most 'normal' people don't. Whenever I read a tennis score I look at it rather intently, some scores tell a story, some don't give much away but most tell a story, even If I have not watched the match.
Take for instance a match that has always stuck in my mind; Nadal vs Philippoussis US Open 2006, First Round. Possibly the sport's greatest ever returner, apart from Borg, takes on a huge serve. What is the mindset ? 
If I can get the serve back I can win the match, simple. 
Or is it ?
Sometimes we watch tennis matches and it unfolds all rather 'simply', the 'best' guy wins, yet we need to look at how he wins to fully understand tennis.
Rafa in 2006 took on an Aussie Wild Card in Philippoussis who had been runner up at Wimbledon to Federer three years earlier. 'Flip' could still play the game but staying away from injury was not one of his strong points.
To cut a long story short, Rafa won this particular match 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
How did he win it ?
Just.
It looks all pretty standard but a score line like that is tough to achieve. It's a 'just' win, nothing more, nothing less, a battle of the mind. One player is superior off the ground, the other owns a serve that is hard to get a hold of. 
Three breaks will do, one each set. It is achieved. 
Only the best returners can achieve that type of result. They take the bombs, they count the aces, they wait for the slightest of opportunities, they take them. Pretty simple stuff. To the naked eye, yes. 
Like I said, I study scores, it does my head in some days as I try to see 'reason' with them.
REWIND 
US OPEN 1992
SECOND ROUND
A guy by the name of Brad Gilbert from the US, ranked World Number 22 took on Michael Stich of Germany, seeded 11, Wimbledon Mens Singles Champion of 1991. Tough match up either way you look at it in Round 2 of a Slam.
Stich was up two sets to one and lost but the thing about the scoreline is the most remarkable of statistics.
 7-0 Gilbert, fifth set tie breaker. 
A one off ?
US OPEN 1992
THIRD ROUND
Brad Gilbert took on another American Tommy Ho who reached a career high of 85 in singles in 1995 and 13 in doubles in '96. Tommy could play the game. Not a house hold name but now days a guy ranked 85 in singles would be living pretty well financially, it's simply the era difference now in tennis. 
You don't have to be top 50 to own a nice car.
Ho lead Gilbert two sets to one and lost. Here's the score in the fifth set tie breaker.
7-0 Gilbert.
Is there a pattern here ?
We all know Gilbert is a genius, love him or hate him. He was a player who won 20 ATP Titles, that commands respect. Forget the fact that Connors won 109 and Federer is trying his best in his 'old age' to hunt him down at 90 something. 
20 titles is outrageous.
BG owned a rather 'quirky' style, no technical genius but he prove that 'Winning Ugly' was not only a trade mark of his game but also a book title that maybe made him as much off court as it did on. 
Genius either way you look at it.
For the record Gilbert finally lost a tie breaker point in his fourth round against Volkov, 7-6 in the fourth, though maybe he could be forgiven for having tired legs by that stage.
The US Open Tennis Championships of 1992 were full of mind games and marathon matches but one thing I do love about New York in September is this, they agree on the same thing as I do and I liken it to an Aussie BBQ;
It should be 'well done' yet 'never over cooked'.
Mahut and Isner at Wimbledon in 2010 was the most farcical match I have ever witnessed, over 11 hours in total and over 8 hours for the final set, over 100 aces each.
That's tennis ??
That's ridiculous.
Yep, the Yanks have got it right, finish the match at 6-6 in the final set with a tie breaker, that's still a tough day at the office. 
Well done, not over cooked.
US OPEN 1992 Title.
Stefan Edberg won his quarter final against Lendl 7-6 in the fifth then his semi against Chang 6-4 in the fifth in a tick under five and a half hours. 
He then beat Sampras in 4 sets to back up his title win a year earlier which in fact only cost him two sets in his run to the title, such was his dominance.
A year later it was almost a case of 'Hey guys, do you mind ? I am trying to defend a title here'.
( Which he did.)
Stubbornness in tennis is a necessity.........

Thursday, 15 February 2018

'TENNIS, THE FEAR OF WINNING'

I have always been fascinated by the mental side of sport because I knew my mind was never my strong point so I suppose it's a retribution of sorts if I slowly but surely now days piece together the main issue that prevented me from being confident on a tennis court.
I have heard and read about some rather amusing locker room stories that raise the eyebrows as to just how tough the sport of tennis can be even before a ball has been struck. I believe it was Andre Agassi who witnessed a naked Ivan Lendl 'parading' around the locker room prior to a match, with nothing but his tennis shoes on. 
Confident ? 
Oozing.
Imagine you are about to play a local event against 'Jonny Smith' and you entered the locker room with the idea that it's a place of almost tranquility, a place to get changed, to think about the up coming match and you are presented with a swinging lunch box. 
'Jonny Smith, and you must be' ? 
That scenario is rather intimidating when you think about it however it did happen to me in Europe in 1991. Brett, Peter and myself arrived at a tournament somewhere in the French countryside and were given accommodation by the local tennis club Committee. I got paired up with a rather untidy European player who in fact did just what Lendl did, met me with nothing but the tackle out and a handshake upon my arrival.
( I promptly used the toilet and washed my hands, thoroughly after the handshake ).
Some guys own a confidence that is tough to deal with.
In my later tennis life I have been rather fortunate to catch up with some players who I knew of in juniors though never really made acquaintance with however tennis is like that, it can bring people together.
'Gday mate, Glenn Thompson, never met you, saw your name in the draw on many occasions when I was a kid, glad I was never drawn to play you', something like that.
The thing with tennis is this, you will never forget how to hit a tennis ball, in fact you may actually get better as you get older as the sport becomes clearer in the mind but you will NEVER forget how to hit a ball. Having a hit against guys who used to play on the World tour is one of those privileges in life because personally I love to hear what they have got to say about the game.
I had a hit just recently with a guy who was travelling through the region, he played on the tour in the late 80's, early 90's, great bloke and still a great player though closer to my standard now as his fitness level is no longer in the higher echelons. 
We hit for 45 minutes, we talked for over an hour, fascinating insight.
'I know you played guys in the top 100, tell me about that'. ( I almost felt like a reporter fishing for a story )
I lost it in the locker room.
'Explain that thanks Champ'.
I took one look at him, I knew his ranking, way too high for my liking, I just tried to not get embarrassed.
'So you just tried to get a few games then' ?
Yep.
I found that to be one of the most remarkable things I had ever heard from someone who was quite possibly knocking on the door of a pro tennis career. They did not believe however that they could beat someone with a higher ranking even though they were both out there trying to do the same thing, make a living.
Does a bricklayer get intimidated by another who is right next to him ? 
'Geez, this guy is good, he is even flashier than I am on the trowel, I am not certain whether I have his measure but only time will tell. Hopefully he won't show me up'........
Of course you can't compare the two trades however it comes back to that wonderful thing that keeps getting in the way of our lives becoming easier, the fragility of the mind. We almost fear success.
"And we know that we fear to win, 
And so we end before we begin" 

( U2, Every Breaking Wave, lyrics )
As I often do in life, I compare song lyrics to my own life, my mind, the way in which I think about tennis, now days, in the past, how I will tackle my next day on a tennis court, how I will go about my every day business. I listen to songs intently.
So to the headline of this post, where are tennis matches lost ? Well from my own experiences in Europe all those years ago and from what I am told by guys who played the World's elite, it's not always lost on court, it can be well before that. A game of tennis can be lost on the way to the courts, perhaps even three days before when the draw comes out and it can definitely be lost in a locker room. 
Only an elite mind can ignore all other factors that surround a game of tennis and just concentrate on the ball and all of the technique that has been learned in the lead up to a match. If more players did that then perhaps tennis would be so ridiculously easy that 'elite' would not be a word that could be used in tennis.
I believe that a player of any level should be working more on the mind than anything else, we all know how to hit a ball however just as those U2 lyrics suggest, we fear to win........

Saturday, 10 February 2018

'NUMBER 1 IN THE WORLD'

Still not sure how this all happened but I wrote something a few years back because I felt that it wasn't getting the attention it deserved, one of the most famous quotes in tennis history. 
I also posted something along with it titled 'Connors, Agassi, Sampras, A lack of Love' as I felt it rather fitting.
So anyhow it became number 1 in the World on Google.
Every now and then in this silly sport we have a win......

A HAIRCUT AND A FOREHAND
30/09/2014
Glenn Thompson Tennis

If ever there was a famous quote in World Tennis it had to be the one from Czech Champion Ivan Lendl in 1987 when asked at a press conference what he thought of a young Andre Agassi.
 The Stratton Mountain Tournament in the US played in August of '87 saw the emergence of a 17 year old kid who wore denim tennis shorts and wore his hair rather long. The kid would go on to win every Grand Slam available and became the World's best player in 1995.
Andre Agassi entered Stratton Mountain as a player ranked 90 in a field of 64 players so naturally he had to receive a bit of a helping hand by the tournament committee, a Wild Card was granted.
 In the first round he faced American Luke Jensen , a player ranked number 415 but who could serve with both his left and right arms , now that's clever.
Andre struggled past Jensen in three sets then set up a second round meeting with '87 Wimbledon Champion, Aussie Pat Cash. On paper this match looked rather one sided however Agassi found a way to sneak past Cash in two breakers , people were starting to take notice.
The round of 16 saw Andre take out American Chip Hooper in three, then a quarter final win against countryman Joey Rive in straight had him up against World number 1 Ivan Lendl. Now this match was entertaining however I have only seen extended highlights of it , would love to watch the entire match one day.
This match saw Andre running around his backhand at any given opportunity to belt his already huge forehand back at Lendl who at times looked rather confused at the kid's ability. The big Czech eventually won the match in three sets , 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 but not before being given a huge fright by a skinny 17 year old with flash shorts.
The press conference after the match was one that produced this chapter's title as Lendl gave his opinion on the new kid on the block. Looking back I suppose Andre could've taken it as a compliment as it was rather obvious that Ivan rated the forehand highly, perhaps not so much the haircut.
A year earlier at the same tournament John McEnroe beat Andre at the quarter final stage in straight sets but paid him a huge compliment. Whilst I do not have the transcript in front of me he told a press conference that a winner by Agassi from his forehand was the hardest shot he had ever had hit against him. Fair endorsement for a 16 year old. 
Some people knock Agassi because he admitted taking drugs but they obviously haven't read all the detail.
 I don't remember the last time a recreational drug has been proven to enhance any sportsman's performance, Andre included. At the time that he tried it he stated he wasn't enjoying the game and his ranking had dropped. I believe everyone is entitled to a little 'time out'.
Andre Agassi didn't have to tell anyone yet he was big enough to admit he took something, I think that shows integrity........

“It's no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it's all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest. It's our choice.”
― 
Andre AgassiOpen


CONNORS, AGASSI, SAMPRAS, A LACK OF LOVE
Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras  have one thing in common with each other, there is tension between them and Andre Agassi, for different reasons. As far as I know there is no tension between Sampras and Connors and these two are definitely not members of the Andre Agassi fan club. Here's why.
The tension between Andre and Jimmy started way back when a young Andre was apparently 'snubbed' by Jimmy when all the young fellow wanted was a friendly chat and as Andre put it in his book, 'some love'. Andre's father used to string Jimmy's rackets so there should've been a starting point for a conversation however it didn't really eventuate. Rather than me try to explain it have a read of the Agassi book , a great read and it explains it in detail. 
Andre Agassi had to wait possibly another 10 years until he got some pay back on Connors for the way he was apparently spoken to as a kid, a 1988 US Open Quarter Final. This match was no real classic but it gave the tennis public a glimpse of the talent of an 18 year old kid with long hair and a very big forehand.
 At the conclusion of the match in an interview Agassi apparently told reporters that he had a dream he would win the match 3, 3 and 3. A loss of just 9 games against a man who won 109 tournaments, a big ask. He actually won 6-2, 7-6, 6-1 so his prediction of a win with the loss of just 9 games proved to be correct, just around the wrong way, near enough.
Connors was rather peeved at the way Andre spoke of the dream as reporters relayed the Agassi prediction. 'Jimbo' was notorious for his 'Jimbo quotes' and this was his post match reaction to Agassi's comment. "I enjoy playing guys who could be my children. Maybe he's one of them. I spent a lot of time in Vegas".   
The 1989 US Open Quarter Final between these two was a different story, in fact Connors took the third set 6-0 and came back from 1-5 all the way to 4-5 in the fifth set to just lose in a thriller. In Agassi's book he writes about a comment he made to his brother in the crowd  "I'm going to take him to five sets and give him some pain". I suppose if you lose a set in around 20 minutes with 19 unforced errors then you have something planned.
Andre was not happy again with Connors when he had played his last match of his career against Benjamin Becker at the 2006 US Open in round 3. Connors did not applaud Agassi in the locker room as everyone else apparently did and Agassi felt offended.

He wrote words to that effect in his book. Connors said it wasn't his style to applaud other players . It seems that this was the case especially with Agassi, a long history that started some 25 years earlier.
As far as Agassi and Pistol Pete were concerned well this was all rather silly. The Hit For Haiti in 2010 was a charity event and a Mens doubles match between Federer and Sampras against Rafa and Andre was a ripper. Andre however thought Pete should loosen up a little as he felt he was taking it too seriously so he told him "You always have to go and get serious don't you Pete "? That brought on an impersonation of Andre by Pete so Andre returned the favour, then it got rather uncomfortable, worth a look on the net.
Sampras did however get his revenge against Andre , a 6-4, 7-5 victory in New York early in 2011. Usually though an exhibition match is a 'friendly' match, this one however wasn't as Pistol fired down ace after ace plus many non returnable serves that had Andre scrambling left, right and centre for. Andre was in no physical shape to belt them back as he so often used to.

A phone call to Pistol later that night did not go down too well as Andre asked Pete to 'lighten up' as it was only an exhibition match. This was a quote from Andre regarding the matter: "Pete certainly is more capable than me on the court these days and the quality of that entertainment was solely in his hands". 
The following exhibition matches scheduled in Argentina did not take place, they in fact flew in replacement opponents, Mardy Fish and Marat Safin. Is the common denominator in all of this one man by the name of Andre or is it just me ? Three players, several incidents, yet one man's name keeps coming up.
Egotistical sport is tennis, always has been , always will be........



Tuesday, 6 February 2018

FEARED US TENNIS VOID NOW A REALITY

An oldy but a goody, a great read, courtesy of FOX SPORTS. From 2012.
Jack Sock is going ok 6 years later but the 'ISMAN' is still struggling to return serve.
The last paragraph sounds rather similar to what happened at this year's Australian Open, the Yanks went home early. So 6 years on, has anything improved ????
FOX SPORTS ARTICLE 2012
And, poof, just like that, American tennis is gone. No, not just from the Australian Open, where the last American man standing, John Isner, lost before the first weekend of the year’s first major. US tennis is gone from the world map, too.
The top players have faded, and the bottom ones aren’t good enough. This is the moment US tennis has been nervous about for years:
Not one American man is good enough even to contend for a major championship. Forget Wimbledon. Forget the US Open. And only one woman, Serena Williams, is good enough. She will hide the problems in women’s tennis in the United States for a little while longer.
But the men? They are a vacuum.
It has been coming for years. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors passed the baton to Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who passed it to Andy Roddick, who managed to win just one major. But still, he was a top player. And now? Roddick has crossed the finish line and put the baton on the ground somewhere. No one will take it. You want it? It’s yours.
Isner, famous for his marathon at Wimbledon two years ago, won another marathon in Australia and then lost one on Friday to noted choke-artist Feliciano Lopez. And for the first time since 1973, not one American man is in the fourth round in Australia. Keep in mind, in 1973, most players didn’t care about the Australian Open. No American men came that year.
Whether you care about tennis or not, this shows, yet again, that no matter what Americans believe about the order of the sports world, the US cannot expect to dominate everything anymore. We have gotten plenty of examples of that by now. In the US, we think of sports success as birthright. Also, if we give something an effort, we will be best.
But tennis has seen this coming, and the United States Tennis Association has tried to stop it, pouring money into programs in the US, having a fallout with its top prodigy, even buying a kid’s nationality from Argentina. The USTA has fumbled and bumbled so much, and it is a study in a bureaucracy attempting to accomplish something.
A few years ago, the USTA turned its player development program over to Patrick McEnroe, John’s brother. He walked into a disastrous program that was unable to identify juniors with potential and was loaded with coaches who didn’t know how to teach the modern game.
McEnroe made major changes, hiring foreign coaches, putting an emphasis on getting kids to train on clay courts the way they do it in Spain, and setting up national training centers and regional ones.
The thing is, while he still needs a few more years before being fairly judged, it seems that the system has a knack for developing players who can reach only the top 50 or so.
We still can’t tell if the right players are being identified or developed. There seems to be a bad habit of teaching everyone one style, as if champions can be built from a mold. One coach that the USTA uses told me that the regional centers seem to be part-time get-togethers of top players. And the clay McEnroe used is American green clay, which plays nothing like the slow red clay that Spaniards use to learn how to develop and build points.
Super phenom Donald Young and his parents have had such a bad relationship with the USTA and McEnroe that last year, Young tweeted “Fu—USTA!!’’
And a little less than two years ago, the USTA essentially bought top Argentinian 18-year-old Andrea Collarini, who was born in New York, but moved out when he was 3 and grew up overseas. He learned how to play in Argentina, but the USTA offered him a better deal than anything Argentina could afford, and suddenly Collarini was playing as an American.
“We were shocked,’’ Argentina’s Davis Cup captain at the time, Modesto Vazquez, told me at Wimbledon in 2010. “It’s unfair. You are a big country. We have invested in him since he was 14. He was one of the chosen ones.’’
Collarini, now ranked No. 487, has not developed quickly. And the USTA’s record of not developing any champions is intact.
But maybe that’s unfair. Maybe a champion cannot be developed by a governing body or a system at all, even one that brings in huge revenues in a country that holds one of the world’s four major championships.
It’s possible that champions just come on their own, and that a governing body just needs to promote the sport to as many kids as possible and then help along the talented ones who need help.
Well, as you look through the up-and-coming US men, you find that every last one of them has a major flaw.
Roddick, now 29, couldn’t finish his second-round match after he reinjured his hamstring. As his body starts to fall apart, he has fallen out of the top 10, probably for good. He is now ranked No. 16.
“I don’t think it’s coincidental that all of a sudden in the last year and a half or two years that I’m getting hurt more,” he said in Melbourne. “It’s just frustrating because you can do all the right things and it might not matter.”
Last year, approaching the age of 30, Mardy Fish lost weight, got into shape, surpassed Roddick and climbed into the top 10. Apparently, he was just a seat-warmer, as he seems to have reached his ceiling.
The best American player now, though not the highest ranked, is Isner. He’s the marathon man, famous for that three-day match in 2010 at Wimbledon.
But he also is the marathon man because his serve is unreturnable and he can’t return serve. So no one can beat him, but he can’t beat good players, either. And his matches go on forever.
It’s impressive that hasn’t gotten to him. His passion, and definitely his guts, win him those matches. He just doesn’t have the backhand. Or the footwork. Or speed.
Young is finally a top-50 player, but he still hasn’t grown up enough and he mopes when he’s losing. Sam Querrey can do most anything, but he has no fire.
The best hope is 19-year-old Ryan Harrison, now ranked No. 77. He took a set off No. 4 Andy Murray in Australia. Harrison has power and touch and smarts. He also has fire and passion. Maybe too much, as he was fined last year for throwing his racket in a tree at the French Open, and for taking a divot out of the grass courts at Wimbledon.
Nineteen-year old Jack Sock, ranked No. 380, also offers hope.
On the women’s side, a bunch of players are in the top 100, but no one is ready. The only US woman left in the draw other than Williams is 22-year-old Vania King, who is talented but seriously handicapped at 5-foot-5 in an era of tall, power players.
“When (the Williams sisters) stop playing tennis, there’ll be someone else to take their spot . . .,” Sloane Stephens, an 18-year-old ranked No. 95, said in Melbourne. “There’s a lot of us, so who knows who could break through.’’
That’s always the theory. But no one was there for the men. The Williams sisters still have a couple of years left, which can buy time for an American woman to develop. On the men’s side, time is up.
The USTA is trying, and studies show that American kids are taking up the game more and more. But everyone has gone home from Australia. That baton for the next American tennis star is still waiting there, on the ground. Sooner or later, someone is bound to pick it up. Right?

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

'TA, TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY'

Tennis Australia, if you think you are by no means at fault in regards to the rather public downfall of Bernard Tomic then perhaps you need to consider some facts.
Now apparently TA 'threw' around $4 million dollars at Bernie and basically said 'There you go young fella, good luck in the big wide World of tennis'. 
Something like that anyhow.
Let's look at that problem.
No pay back ? 
No responsibility ?
No sense of gratitude ?
Nothing from either side really, just a whole heap of money spent on a young tennis player who had no idea on how to either handle the 'big wide World' or his money either.
Why wasn't there a pay back system put in place ? Not just for Bernie but for others also.
Idea. 
Once a player's prize money hits a certain figure then the future earnings should be 'taxed' by Tennis Australia. I believe 25 per cent is a good starting figure so if you look at that idea TA would get back at least ONE MILLION from the money spent on Bernie in particular.
But there's nothing, absolutely nothing in place. Nothing to create a sense of pride in the 'work place' so to speak and no sense of money responsibilities to create a mature head on young shoulders.
If a player has to pay back a per cent of funding then surely that would be a step in the right direction ?
Don't worry about it, according to which tennis site you look at TA has it all under control 'apparently' with raised ticket prices at this year's Australian Open and as much as $7 for a $1 'Slushie' of the same ingredients that you can buy from Hungry Jacks.
Don't blame me for that info, it's spread across at least one Australian Tennis Facebook page from disgruntled fans.
I could go on but I won't.
Tennis Australia, take some responsibility and take some money back from the millionaires that you can then spend on the future of the game plus you may also be able to sell soft drinks at the Aussie Open for an affordable price rather than just asking the public to reimburse you for your own mistakes.
Just a thought.......


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

'THE FUN METER'

One day I would love to see some type of device fitted to either the headband or cap of a tennis professional with some way of finding out from that player just how much they are in fact enjoying their tennis match.
Let's call it 'the fun meter'.
Many other sports including cricket have players wired up as commentators fire off questions in between overs or balls, so to speak, as they fish for information that they can elaborate on. Personally I think it's a great concept in sport. The public love to hear what is going on from someone in the heat of battle as it brings them closer to their heroes and gives them an insight into tactics etc.
So what of my idea of the 'fun meter' ?
Simple, I would love to hear from a professional tennis player who has been out on court after say three hours in 35 degrees with scores locked at 4 games all in the fifth set. I would love to get an insight into just how much 'fun' a wired up player is having in that situation.
Tennis is one of those sports where you don't get a lot of laughs from a player particularly when the scores are close though you may see a smile or two from a player who comfortably leads a match and that of course may just be stating the obvious.
So how much fun is tennis ?
Roger Federer would be having a ball, literally, because he is way too old to still be winning Grand Slams, yet he still wins them. So what of the rest ?
Let's look at the Gael Monfils/ Novak Djokovic match, sorry, farce I should say in Round 2 of the Aussie Open this year. Now by all reports the temperature on Rod Laver Arena reached 69 degrees due to 'radiated heat from the stands' as one report stated.
How much fun do you reckon those two had ? 
Bucket loads ??
Would love to have seen a 'fun meter' dialogue from Monfils that day, he had a fat time, just look at the highlights from that match, sorry the lowlights from that farce.
So why did the roof close for the final ?
Anyone who plays tennis knows that indoor conditions are a whole lot different from outdoor conditions. Cilic could be seen warming up getting used to the conditions outside as he thought the match would be played outside. Let's face it the match started at 7.30 pm. 
Why would you close the roof at that hour ? 
And the roof couldn't be closed for the Monfils/Djokovic match in the heat of the day which happened to be a whole lot hotter than the conditions for the final at night ??
Work that one out.
Cilic played ALL of his matches outdoors prior to the final which then turned into a completely different playing environment for him.
I believe it took a set for him to adjust, hence the one sided opening set score. 
Anyhow back to the 'fun meter'. Roger is having the time of his life. Night matches, cool of the evening, 6 out of 7 matches this year in Melbourne. Does he deserve it ? Absolutely, though read the following from Tennis Australia in regards to the Monfils/ Djokovic match;

The Australian Open’s official Twitter account said the match was not halted because play “needed to be consistent with the outside courts so some don’t get an unfair advantage”.
( Courtesy of News.com.au )

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE ???? DID TENNIS AUSTRALIA REALLY SAY THAT ??????

Hmmmm so Roger Federer did not get looked after more than any other player at this year's Australian Open and received no 'unfair advantages' including the final which turned into an indoor final for heat issues that apparently have never been seen before in Grand Slam history for a night match ??
The 'Fun Meter' is alive and well, Roger Federer owns it.........