Thursday, 26 December 2013


Even as a Coach of the game of Tennis I don't give false hope to any of my students , that would be rather rude to people who pay to learn a game that really has a success rate of around 1 in a .......
So the European trip in 1991 with Brett Patten and Pete Gerrans was what I would call a trip of a lifetime , one to experience the other side of the World in an environment that I would call 'educational', in a sport that one on one would have to be considered one of the hardest to master. When i played at the 'Coops' Tennis Centre in Brisbane i trained with two guys who in my eyes 'made it' as Tennis Professionals, one by the name of Andrew Kratzmann and the other Peter Trammachi , two guys who i beat , albeit , in training. Pete made it to World number 45 in Doubles and Andrew , who i never lost to in challenge matches, in 2000 lost in the Australian Open Doubles Final  and made it to World number 13 in Doubles. What made these guys a living on the tour, and myself , simply a journey through the game at a less intense level , yet a book full of experiences that i believe shaped me as a Coach of the game ? A Desire to 'Live The Dream'........
How many people can honestly say that when they get up and go to work each day they enjoy what they do and get paid accordingly? Not many, and not too many will argue with that. 
I looked through Andrew's and Peter's World Tennis profiles and despite their obvious outlay on expenses , their paydays were rather enjoyable . Regular winnings of anywhere from 3 grand up to 52 grand , as was Kratz's Australian Open final appearance in 2000 would surely make the whole process of being a Tennis Professional  very appealing , but the body must stay fit . Guys like Agassi , Connors and Laver were remarkable in the way that they kept themselves going physically for 20 or so years on the Tennis Tour , I would call that 'Inspirational'. Back to my initial statement; Yes it is a one in a million to take a kid from junior to a life time of stardom on the World Tennis Circuit , but think about it and put it into perspective . I often mention my buddy Brett Patten , here is a man who still inspires me to play the game , he just recently was chosen to play the World Tennis Championships for his age group in Florida. So why not look at the game realistically ? What's wrong with setting yourself a realistic goal and that is ; Reach your true potential before your time is out . Guys like my old training partners Peter and Andrew did well out of the game but still need a regular job now days , Tennis didn't pay for their retirement, but they were sensational Tennis players , they simply weren't 'brilliant' , that secures an early retirement. 
Just because you don't make it as a World beater as a teenager doesn't mean you can't still travel the Country or the World for that matter playing a game that will make you friends wherever you go and experience a different culture or two, and it's where the Coach has a role to play .Be honest to the pupil and the parent , it's a game that requires integrity , sure it's nice to receive 3 times as much per hour as 'real jobs' but don't deceive the people who invariably keep us Coaches on court . Tennis Coaching should be like any other job , if what you deliver as a Coach is working then the  hourly rate can be justified , but don't simply charge a price to make the public believe you are a 'Guru of the Game', after all , as a Coach , you are only as good as your pupil's results........

Sunday, 22 December 2013


What's wrong with looping a tennis ball over the net with lack of pace yet deep into the court with a heap of spin on it that will invariably keep your opponent behind the baseline so they cannot dictate play? It aint cool , that's why kids like to skim the net and put it straight back into their opponent's hitting zone only to get it hit straight back just as hard as it had no chance whatsoever of bothering the opposition . Flat tennis went out of vogue with the retirement of the great man Jimmy Connors and i mean that in all due respect , Jimmy hit it better than any , Bjorn was the 'loop King'. I read once that an opponent of Borg's said that unless he tried to take the Swede's shot on the rise it would bounce over his head , that's a lot of spin , much in the same mould as what Rafa does , the net is taken out of the equation . 
Sometimes i wonder if it's the era i grew up in , Borg , Wilander , Vilas and their ability to hit the ball in with ease and quite simply to not hit the net that gave me my focus as a Coach on net clearance. This 'philosophy' is not unique , the game is played at a quicker pace now days so it is deceiving. However if you watched from a side on view you would see that a ball hit by Rafa off his famous forehand side clears the net with ridiculous ease and if allowed to take it's full spin by his opponent it would bounce at a height that to most onlookers would seem rather uncomfortable to try and return. 
Kids in my town do not own a comfortable net clearance as they are not being taught to hit it , they are net skimmers because it is considered the 'macho' way of hitting a tennis ball , but there are a few exceptions . I hit with some kids who i have had some influence on over the years and they mainly hit long if they miss , their follow through's are high and their racket preparation low , enabling the racket to come through on an angle that will generate a high amount of topspin . The way i teach the game i would consider to be a 'safe' way of playing , not a risky or 'macho' way and i would be willing to take this way of teaching to any experienced and knowledgeable Coach in Australia or beyond and be surprised if it is not how they also teach it . 
A ball that is hit with a loop on it that carries it deep into court is a ball that cannot be attacked regularly or consistently , it's a ball that asks the opponent the question 'what have you got ?' . At a junior level i would be more than surprised if a high bouncing ball can be hit back regularly with any real conviction , it's physical demands are too high . 
I will continue to teach the loop ball , not a moon ball , but a ball that takes the opponent out of their hitting zone that i believe will eventually wear most opponents out , both physically and mentally, call it old fashioned if you wish , i call it Smart Tennis.......

Friday, 13 December 2013


The game of tennis brings out some personalities , some real characters and some 'wannabees', but it has a way of defining character in people, after all it is a mind game , the mind defines who we are . Some players , not just Coaches have a bad habit of talking about their past form and wins, sort of like an obituary at a funeral , 'yeah he was a great bloke, blah , blah....'. I would like to think that from a personal point of view i can still 'walk the walk' , some Coaches are happy just to 'talk the talk' . Let's look at this; I had a session this week with a dozen players of all ages , i call it the 'Generation Challenge' and it's where all ages and standards , A to B mix and try to get the best out of each other , i personally like the format , the feed back has been positive. I don't just feed balls in this session , this is my day to belt the ball as well as i know how , even if the opposition is a little younger or older for that matter , it's where the generations meet and 'compare' . 
This particular session has left an impression on me that i think will stay with me for quite some time , for reasons that mean everything to a coach . Firstly I hit with a kid who's father i played many times in local Tournaments and his son is 'a chip off the old block', but he hits it harder than his old man , maybe simply a 'Generation thing'. His dad doesn't play much now days , a shame , yet he has his reasons and they are to be respected , he has other interests , fair enough , but for the record , he was a 'technician' of the game and one that i respected greatly. I also did some drills with two players who's father i played the Albany Open with one year , we didn't win it but we went close , his kids have similar ability and their on court demeanor and intensity can be credited to their Dad. This particular gentleman would go down in local Tennis folklore as not only a great Tennis Player but a guy who you wouldn't care if you lost to , he was and still is simply an inspiration. To now be hitting with the next generation and in particular my old playing partner's kids' is something that I am proud of. It means that I have kept a desire to play and kept the old legs in some sort of shape to be able to keep up with legs that don't understand the meaning of fatigue.
 My buddy Brett Patten who hit World Number 1 for 35-40 years just recently said it all when he told me 'It's not how good you were, it's how good you can still become'. I love that philosophy and let's face it , if you want some real inspiration from the game , watch the highlights of the 'old boys' playing the Legends Tour , Mcenroe , Borg , Wilander , Leconte, these guys are truly a credit to the game . Why do you think they still play ? They love to prove not only to the public but to themselves that they can still deliver the goods as they go through their years that most 'retirees' are travelling in camper vans and visiting various bowling clubs.
Never 'hang your hat' on past victories, it's a fickle game Tennis , it can make you a 'Hero' one day and a 'Chump' the next , but one thing is for certain; play it while you can and test yourself to the true extent of your ability , you are a long time retired , while the passion and desire still remains , test yourself , what have you got to lose ?

Sunday, 8 December 2013


The John Newcombe medal , awarded to Australia's best performed Tennis player of 2013 was awarded to Lleyton Hewitt just recently , not sure why , what did he do ? He won nothing , sure his ranking rose , so did Nick Kyrgios , but only around 700 places , this obviously wasn't good enough to sway the judging panel though . What about a tie between Australia's best performed Women's Doubles team of Casey Dellacqua and Ash Bartey or weren't their efforts of reaching 3 of the 4 Grand Slam finals quite enough either ? Apparently Hewitt's 'outstanding' year was in fact more 'outstanding than the others though , his ranking went up around 23 places and he beat World number 6 Juan Martin Del Potro at The US Open and World number 8 Stanislav Wawrinka at Wimbledon . Do these wins however constitute  what the John Newcombe Medal is all about and that is once again 'Australia's Best Performed Tennis Player'? The answer is simple , no, it's laughable that Lleyton Hewitt's year was the best of any Australian Tennis Player , an embarrassment to the whole Award and the Great Man himself Mr Newcombe should feel rather silly that it was won by a Man who had an 'average' year, compared to others.
I wonder what this decision has done to the morale in Australian Tennis and surely Dellacqua and Barty would be wondering what on earth they needed to do to both receive the medal this year , these two were a 'standout' team. Surely young Nick Kyrgios with his 700 odd places up the ladder was just as impressive if not as impressive as the girls efforts , so getting back to morale.
Lleyton with his rather over the top court antics and arrogant demeanour hasn't put himself in everyone's favorite Tennis player basket since he first burst onto the scene as a 15 year old kid , in Australia or else where for that matter. This Award victory for him will do nothing to endear himself to anyone , and anyone who knows anything about the game will be having a quiet chuckle at this latest accolade , a reward for Mediocrity of the biggest kind . Surely Hewitt himself will be feeling a little guilty at the whole thing and deep down he knows that there were better performed players from Oz. To give just a small example of lleyton's popularity in the World of Tennis , the veteran American Michael Russell didn't hold back after he himself made the Semi Finals of a Tournament in the US that Hewitt made the final of . Hewitt had the audacity to say that he 'had the tougher draw' than guys on the other half , that's just plain stupid , even if it's true you don't say it , it's disrespecting your fellow Pro's ability.
Russell didn't miss him , calling Lleyton a 'dousch bag' and a 'racist' , referring to another not so smart comment that fell out of Hewitt's mouth at The US Open one year when playing black American former top ten player James Blake.
Personally I am not a fan of Hewitt's , I am not alone either , quite obviously as others have voiced their opinions regarding his arrogant ways . Hopefully next year common sense will prevail at the John Newcombe Medal awards night and Mediocrity will not be rewarded , Tennis doesn't work like that , it only rewards consistent results and Hewitt's year in no way resembled this.......

Saturday, 7 December 2013


Would've been a long match , that's stating the obvious . I recall a rally between Borg and Guillermo Vilas at the French Open in the late 70's that lasted over 120 shots , that's just plain silly when you think about it .....
Too many Tennis players young and old actually 'beat themselves' rather than lose to their opponents . They go for shots that they don't own , most of the time because they want to get the match won sooner than later , a lack of patience, or a lack of fitness. So how do you win against an opponent if you both have a consistent game and mind that that is prepared to go the distance? What happened if you were feeling a little impatient when playing Borg in the 70's and you didn't own an approach shot and volley ? Shaking hands before you started may have been your best option . The French Open Final in 1978 was between the best two clay courters in the World , Borg and Vilas  , the Swede won 6-1,6-1,6-3 , let's put this scoreline into perspective . Vilas was the defending champion , just 12 months earlier he had beaten World number 5 Brian Gottfried , by a similar scoreline of 6-0,6-3,6-0 , a belting in any man's language.
Borg was a rather stubborn man , his mind was one that simply loved to just get two things over the net , his mind plus the ball , he didn't really own a big shot , just a determination to outlast his opponent , he had no other life commitments, he lived for Tennis. 
So what would've happened if Borg played his modern day 'clone' Rafael Nadal in a best of 5 sets in the French Open Final of whatever year was applicable? Personally I can't pick a winner , that's how good both Borg and Rafa were and still are , Borg had the greatest defence in the game , Rafa the same however owns a rather big forehand to push the pace when needed , Borg's forehand was brilliant but not big .
Mats Wilander , Borg's younger Countryman who won the French Open in 1982 that was considered 'the Borg defence' , as Borg retired without defending his 1981 Title , may have got it right when attacking Roger Federer's game plan against Rafa. Mats , who has now turned his hand to commentating openly questioned the tactics of Federer when trying to win the French Title from the Spaniard , he even said that Fed 'lacked balls', tough call but it has merit. Roger should have known his own capabilities , especially against Rafa , he knew he could never beat him from the baseline , so why try , ego?? Another Swede Robin Soderling did Roger the ultimate gesture and beat Rafa in 2009 , paving the way for Federer's sole French Open Title that gave him his personal Grand Slam , but Roger would have preferred to beat Rafa in the final , make no mistake. Wilander's comments got him into all sorts of trouble yet it was taken out of context and I believe even Federer could agree that he played Rafa 'all wrong', a tactical net attack may just have put the Spaniard off his 'groove'. Borg vs Rafa 14-12 in the fifth set , year 'What ever' , unforced errors , a hand full each , winners , not many , hard to hit one against an opponent who stays back . Pity it never took place , one for the History books , and the time keeper.......

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Just recently I got in the car and traveled to a tennis Club 40 minutes from where i live , to teach some of the 'older' generation the finer points of the game . When I teach the game now days I like to do it in small groups , four students is what I aim for , any number above this is hard work and it leaves players standing around in between drills and points . Some Coaches go for the 'wallet' , 10 on a court, 'SHOW ME THE MONEY!' Any one who can get 10 students in a group and give them their money's worth I would like to meet. A long afternoon two Sunday's ago but three groups of 4 players for 90 minutes each was well received , as was the beer fridge's contents by 5 pm , thirsty work ......
One thing hit me that day more than anything else , and I don't count the occasional stray ball that takes you by surprise , I refer to the surroundings . The Club was something out of a Robin Hood movie , it was cut out of a forest , a simply magnificent back drop to a Club that I swear i played junior pennants at when I was a kid, it seemed familiar. The wind factor was almost non existent, something that my home town Clubs could perhaps take a look at . The leafy surroundings and the leaves on court reminded me of playing as a kid , it brought back some fond memories , the simple things.... I have been involved with three Tennis Clubs in Albany , actually four , I don't count the fourth though , they are a little different and lack manners in most aspects, the other three however have one thing in common . They once had a magnificent back drop of trees and a wind break that even on a fifty knot wind would give the end courts a breather from the elements , my how the times have changed . How long does it take to sweep a few leaves off the  courts before the start of play , either at a local Tournament or at a Club day and why doesn't anyone own up to the 'vandalism' when the question is asked " who got the chain saw out"? 
I have a photo of my daughter hitting a ball at a Club in town that i swear was the greatest club i have ever seen or played at apart from the odd European Club i visited . I think the picture was taken eight years ago , it reminded me of the Club i recently traveled to , a post card , a Club that could be put on a Visitor's sight on the net to promote the game locally , sadly now though it is a distant memory of the photo on my wall.
Getting back to my Coaching , and what an absolute pleasure it was to teach some remarkably talented players of a mixture of ages and gender , the feed back was and still has been positive over the past couple of weeks , the small groups seemed to hit the right note . 
What astounded me was the lack of knowledge on how to actually hold the racket correctly as many students said the same thing 'I have never been shown' . Interesting.......
I had a couple of sessions recently with some kids who have been elsewhere for a couple of seasons and their grip on the racket reminded me of the way some people hold a golf stick with no tuition , awkward and resembling a fry pan hold when cooking snaggers . Would it be too much to ask of a Coach to spend two minutes at the start of each session and explain that even though the game is complicated at times , the way to hold the 'bat' may just be the difference between hitting the ball in the court and hitting the poor magpie sitting at the top of the fence 50 feet away who thinks he is 'safe'? 
This game of Tennis can be one of many things , a physical challenge , a mind game , an ego battle , or a test of character, but one thing is for certain .....
If you don't get taught the basics from the start , it will be an even bigger challenge as you get older , and maybe , just maybe that fry pan hold on a golf stick may be more appealing to some...... 

Friday, 29 November 2013


I heard recently that a top junior was doing everything possible to get their standard to the 'REQUIRED,' to make it count. Quite incredible the lengths some people go to and the money that changes hands to try to get to the 'standard required'. I hear it regularly now days that parents pay kids to hit with their's, so why has it got to this ? What's wrong with a weekly Round Robin singles comp at the local club or are parents just being too choosy as to who is good enough to hit with their 'prodigy'? As a 14 and 15 year old I would grab a mate and play best of 5 sets , we didn't care who won , i remember winning once 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 , so what ? we played 21 games , that's still a lot of tennis , why doesn't it happen now days ? I don't remember the last time i spoke to a parent or child that gave me the answer i really want to hear 'Hey Glenn i played best of 3 sets two days ago , it was great , it taught me that there is more to the game than you feeding me tennis balls'! Silly isn't it ? The fact that i would prefer a kid to go and 'nut the game out' than rely on a bloke with a hat and a qualification to hit them balls and say 'great shot buddy , you are on the move , keep it up'. Is it as i have eluded to many times , the sign of the times ? 'This guy is charging $70 per hour' (or in some cases , more ), 'he must be good'. Sad but a reality , litigation kicked in quite some time ago , and just as Mechanics regularly try to justify their existence, it's what the public is simply 'used to now days'. My mechanic is a guy who works part time , i trust him , so does my car , it hasn't missed a beat , he charges me $50 an hour , he is one of the most experienced mechanics in town , do i think less of him for charging less ? I respect him more , he knows he does a great job , he knows that i know , his flow of customers is constant , smart man . Do i have a point ?
Use your initiative as a consumer , a Tennis Coach only does so much , if he or she is any good he will give you some good advice , this is what i say 'I can give you 4 lessons a week if you like but it isn't going to make you a great tennis player , think outside the square. I will give you a technique lesson once a week , i will also give you a drills session but what i really want you to do is PLAY THE GAME , as best that you can for another two days of the week . The other days i want you to both rest and also do some sprinting up hills , get the legs strong , but find a day or two for a mate , live a little , after all you are playing a game that has a strike rate of success of 1 in a million' . If you are unsure of your child's potential , have a look at a kid by the name of Yovan Lambros play on You Tube , he is 12 , he is simply brilliant , he must have a fantastic program . 
The problem with being this good at this age is pretty straight forward . He devotes all his time to a sport that is quite frankly pretty tough to master , it's not like a team sport where the work load is shared . While Yovan's mates are having a bit of a blast at the training centre for basketball or footy , he is trying to beat the only other kid within 60 feet of him into a pulp . Personally, I teach the game to 'fulfill a pupil's potential' , other's teach it to drag the process on as long as they possibly can to drain their student's parent's bank account. It's a tough sport Tennis , but you don't have to pay your friend's kids to hit and play sets with your child to try to get them up to speed , you just simply have to use your initiative. There are no guarantees in the game of Tennis , let your kid develop , if they have the talent it will show , help them grab a mate , play 5 sets , nut the game out. I recently watched my son's inter school running carnival , fair dinkum some of those kids could run , the talent was amazing , how many will become the next Usain Bolt ? You do the sums .......
Let them fulfill their potential ,after that anything can happen , don't push it , most importantly though, let them live a little......

Monday, 25 November 2013


Remember the hit by legendary Australian Rock Band Skyhooks called 'Ego' ? "Ego is not a dirty word"were the lyrics to the chorus, brilliant , and after all these years of playing a game that is 'ego fuelled' , that song makes a lot of sense. Why do you think Lleyton Hewitt keeps playing ? Do you think he enjoys the pain his body goes through after each match now days against younger opponents that run him ragged ? Do you think he needs any more money ?? It's the lime light that he still craves , he loves the big stage even if he doesn't still command the same crowd that he once did when he was the best in the world , he loves the challenge , he still thinks he has 'unfinished business'. What does this mean ? Hewitt is the sort of guy who , despite his arrogant past thinks he still hasn't done something in the game that he should have done when he was younger . Why do you think Bjorn Borg made a comeback after nearly ten years of retirement from a game he was the world's best at for several years before he burnt out at the tender age of 26 ? He craved the lime light once again , the attention , the press conferences , the signing of autographs , the photo sessions , the newspaper articles , the records he was breaking . If Borg had stayed fit and kept playing he may have won the French Open more times than Nadal , after all he retired in 1981 with 6 French Open victories, he was the defending Champion in '82 but he didn't play . His younger countryman , Mats Wilander carried on the Swedish tradition and kept the flag flying at Roland Garros for the 5th straight year , Sweden 'owned' the French Open in that era .
Tennis can do many things to a player , it can bring euphoria with a win , heartbreak and mental anguish with a loss and if you hit the big time  financial reward is simply a bonus .
For those players wanting to test themselves in the competition side of Tennis , make sure you own the following 'necessities' ; A big heart (small or no hearts don't cut it ), the ability to accept defeat , the refusal to lose , the desire to win , a sense of humor , a fit body , a strong mind , technical brilliance, a bank account with plenty of zero's on the end and a lack of fear regarding opponents with reputations and higher rankings .
If you think you have all of the above as a future star of the game then this is definitely the game for you . Tennis in Australia needs you , currently the amount of successful Pro's in this Country resembles quite frankly a needle in a haystack , every now and then you find one . If Lleyton was upstaged by a dozen or so younger Aussies on a regular basis then i doubt he would still be playing , at 31 , apart from Tomic , he is this Country's best , Egotistical and with plenty of 'unfinished Business '. Hewitt knows exactly what he is doing , hanging around until he is overtaken by younger talent , a shame Borg didn't do the same , Fed's 17 Grand Slams may not have been the magic number.......

Saturday, 23 November 2013

'BORDEAUX' (Europe 1991 Part 6)

The beautiful French City of Bordeaux , population 235 ,000 plus , in South Western France  is known to many as 'The World's Wine Capital', it bottles 700 million bottles each year , didn't mean much to Brett , Pete or myself , we were there to play Tennis. Not quite sure why we went to Bordeaux but i am glad we did , for a few reasons but the night we had at The Bordeaux pub after we had all got beaten in the local Tournament was a night to remember. 
The local Bordeaux Tennis Tournament was played on clay , the setting was simply magnificent, I wished i had taken some photos, some things in life you simply take for granted , especially when you are 21. I do remember playing a Frenchman who knew how to play on the red dirt though and i received an 'education', you learn more from a loss than a win , I was a real 'student' at this Tournament. From memory Pete and Brett also lost early , so what do 3 young fellows from Oz do when they need to drown their sorrows ? You got it , find a pub. Now the watering hole we found was no ordinary pub , it had a screen on the wall large enough to be a Cinema , at the time it was playing Surfing footage , a nice feel as we walked in and ordered a round of beers . I don't recall what we ordered however it got the 'fluent French' going and it didn't take long to start 'chatting up' the local French ladies . When a French woman speaks it is a sound to behold , they have a way about them that is ever so petite and simply elegant , so much so that i do remember vividly telling one that i simply 'loved her', was it the beer talking or my heart? probably the beer. 
We were in the pub with maybe 5 other Australian Tennis players and the feel that night was that we were '10 foot tall and water proof' , something that would've come in handy as we engaged in a beer fight on the way to the outside toilets towards the end of the night. Not sure why we didn't get kicked out , but hey if we were challenged i believe that 'ignorance' may just have helped us out of trouble . We played in the same Tournament as an Australian female player named Sissy Carvin, she was 16 at the time but somehow she made it through the rather lame security check with her older brother George . Not sure what happened to Sissy , I do know she broke inside the top World 700 for Women , after that it's a mystery , that night at the Bordeaux pub though where Sissy left as though she had been in a shower , courtesy of the beer fight, may just be one of her more 'unique' experiences on the Tennis circuit.
Probably the highlight of the trip to Bordeaux was the anticipation towards the comeback of Tennis Great Bjorn Borg , a match we watched on a tv in the local Sporting Club , Brett and Pete even had a bet on it . After Borg hit the second shot of the match past his extremely younger opponent Brett upped the bet , Pete accepted , it was to be the Great Man's last hurrah and Jordi Arrese from Spain won easily , the fairy tale was not meant to be . 
Bordeaux is a beautiful French town , it is famous for wineries , if i were to visit there again i think it would be to take in more of the scenery but i would make two visits in particular, the first , the  Tennis Club that was a postcard. Secondly the Bordeaux pub , a place that if it's walls talked i am sure would reminisce about some strange Aussies who spoke 'pigeon English' , threw beer at each other and told the local girls they were 'loved' , a night to remember......

Thursday, 21 November 2013


In a game as difficult both physically and mentally demanding as tennis would it be possible to get yourself into a mindset that refuses to give in ? One of my chapters touches on World Tennis greatest comebacks and when you look at a situation like the Davis Cup final in 1996 being down 0-40 and 6-7 in the fifth set it takes a remarkable mind to turn the situation around , a 'refusal to lose'. When i was in primary school in grade 6 at the Inter school Sports  i vividly remember losing to a guy named Phil Gilbert in the 100 m , 200 m and 4 x 100 relay , then again in the final of the 100 m and 200 m , i even remember the 200 m to this day . I started in a good lane , was equal on the turn to Phil then watched him 'disappear' over the finish line with barely a whimper from myself , I didn't push it , I was 'happy' to finish second (weak as piss) . The following year something happened , the mouse was going round the treadmill in my own head , second was no longer an option , I was there to WIN. I won the 100 m , the 200 m , the 4 x 100 m relay as the anchor man and i beat Phil in the final of the 100 and 200 m , so what changed ? We were both growing at the same rate  , but the mind can be your slave or your master , I was in 'control' this time around and that final year  that i finished primary School i was officially the fastest kid in my region , nice feeling. 
In my last chapter i spoke of not wanting to play tennis at one point as my head was in another stratosphere , it was a pointless exercise to try to win at something if my head was not prepared to wage a war against the opponent . Tennis isn't just a physical game , anyone can hit a tennis ball , Jimmy Connors got it right i believe " 90 percent mental , 10 percent physical", smart man was Jimbo. 
The Champ of Champs on that particular year put my head right again , the win in the final match to give my Club the title kick started three years of some of my best Tennis , and all after hitting 40 years of age , shouldn't i be losing to kids half my age? Look at Connors , Semi finalist at the US Open at age 39 , beating guys half his age , half his experience , do you think he was in the 'Zone' mentally ? All those years of playing has to account for something , unless you are a dummy , the game will only become easier and your shot making only smarter , it's the way the game works. 
The win at the local Club vs Club Championships all those years ago got some fire in the belly , I won that year and the next , against a kid who had the audacity to call me a 'hack' just because i saw a flaw early in the match regarding his technique and i decided to use it to my advantage. I then won again against the same kid who i beat 10-5 in the deciding match tie breaker 3 years earlier. Three victories straight against kids who had rather strong reputations and games to match but lacked the 'fundamentals', the will to win and the refusal to lose . As i said earlier , Tennis is the sort of game you get smarter at as you get older , if you are getting 'dumber ,' it's time for golf......

Friday, 15 November 2013


Some Tennis 'educations' aren't necessarily on a Tennis court , some are learnt from others simply through talking about the game , when I was 16 I vividly remember one that has stuck in my mind.
It was probably six months into my Queensland stint when I travelled to Grafton NSW to play a Tournament , a beautiful little town with a fantastic Tennis Club, clay and synthetic courts .
Just prior to leaving Western Australia I played my buddy Mark Heather , a highly ranked Perth player and he belted me 6-1,6-1 in the State Championships , he then moved to Brisbane and trained at Coops also. My mindset changed somewhat when I was drawn to play Mark on the clay , I knew the slower surface suited my playing style better than the quicker hard courts in Perth. From memory Mark was seeded fairly high at Grafton, but I had no fear on this occasion. We played in the round of 16 in the Men's Open singles and after losing a close first set 4-6 I lead 4-2 in the second and remember having a point to level at 5-5 in the second before losing 4-6 again , this was 'my' surface. The slower pace gave me all the time I needed to sit back and hit the groundstrokes , as clay does , but it's a 'young man's' surface , you need to be fit .From memory that weekend I played over 15 matches as it was possible to play as many as 4 events so I played 3 singles events plus a doubles, and I went far in each event. If the Coops training facility was on clay courts I believe my results would've been far better, some surfaces you excel on .
On the way back to Brisbane I was lucky enough to gain a lift with 'Steady'(Justin Stead) who won the Mixed Open Event and lost in the final of the Men's Open singles , Steady had a great Tournament . Now here was a guy who everyone looked up to at Coops , his work ethic on and off court (in the gym) was second to none and I for one had a lot of respect for Steady. He and his good friend Mark Heather who I mentioned earlier in fact went to the same University in the US and played College Tennis together in later years .So to my 'education'; Playing good and great players will make you lift your own standard but Steady had an 'aura' about him , when he talked , you listened, such was his knowledge and philosophical view on the game. In all reality I probably took a lot of my theories and philosophies on the game from talking to 'guru's' like Justin and used them to my advantage , in playing and Coaching. I talked in another chapter regarding Steady and the hit I had with him that I regarded as a highlight of my time at Coops, but this trip in particular was probably what really taught me what was important , not just on court but in life. Justin talked in length on his outlook on the game and his realistic evaluation of his own ability , which isn't given enough credit . While most of the guys who trained at Coops were hell bent on trying to make it onto the Pro Tour as teenagers Steady talked about waiting for his body and mind to mature before he even contemplated taking on the big guns. I recall him vividly saying that he wasn't expecting to do anything with his game until he was at least 22 or 23 , that realistic outlook has so much credibility now days . Only the one in a millions like Nadal make it as successful teenagers , in reality most Professional Tennis players don't win regularly until they are well into their twenties , the body needs time to mature .
Steady didn't quite make it on the Pro Tour yet he made it in life , he successfully runs a huge Business in London and he sent me an email just the other night . Whilst he doesn't gloat remotely about himself , he casually mentioned that he went out to dinner with a friend of his by the name of Pat Cash , Australian Tennis Legend. Steady was always going to 'make it' in life , he had that ability to get the best out of himself and others for that matter. He now mixes it with the best in his chosen profession and I expected nothing less from him . Tennis is one of those sports , if you mix with the best , on and off court , it will only make you better.......

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Men's Tennis has seen some incredible comebacks over the years , especially in Davis Cup and Grand Slam singles matches , a few have stuck in my mind , here's some stat's;
In The US Open in 1989 Boris Becker played an American by the name of Derrick Rostagno who reached a career high of 13 in 1991 , Rostagno lead 2 sets to love and held 2 match points in the fourth set tie breaker 6-4 . Becker saved the first when Rostagno missed a volley on his own serve then was a little lucky on his own serve at 5-6 when Rostagno chipped and charged his second serve . Becker hit a cross court forehand that his opponent was all over like a rash but it hit the top of the net and landed in , Boris won in 5 sets . Becker won the Championship that year , Rostagno did recover from the loss though and went on to record victories over Sampras and Connors at Wimbledon in the following years . He retired in 1996 after making close to 2 million dollars on the Tennis Circuit , but probably wonders what could've been if he had converted either of his two match points against Becker. Rostagno is now a Lawyer in the US.
In 1996 the Davis Cup Final was held in Malmo Sweden and unfortunately for Stefan Edberg who was playing his final year on the tour , he was injured in the first match against France's Cedric Pioline , he lost easily . Doubles expert Niklas Kulti was put in as a replacement and was asked to play the final and deciding match against France's Arnaud Boetsch , scores were locked at 2-2 . Kulti lead 7-6 and 0-40 on the Frenchman's serve , 3 match points for the title , he lost the game and the match , 8-10 in the 5th set , but Kulti recovered . In 1997 and 1998 he played in Sweden's winning Davis Cup sides against the USA and Italy , he partnered Jonas Bjorkman to win the pivotal Doubles matches , erasing his heartbreaking loss in 1996. He retired in 2000 with over $3 million in earnings and runs a Tennis Academy in Sweden.
Perhaps one of the all time greatest 'chokes' came in 2004 at The French Open where the then World number 3 Argentinian Guillermo Coria took on countryman Gaston Gaudio , ranked 44 , in the final . Coria won the first 8 games of the match , lead 2 sets to love then 40-0 on his own serve to go up 5-4 in the third set . He fell apart and lost the third and fourth sets but lead 5-3 in the fifth and held two Championship points , he lost them both and the title to Gaudio 6-8 in the fifth . Coria appeared to never fully recover from the loss , his ranking slipped and he won only one more title . In 2005 memories of the French Final came back to haunt him in the Rome Masters final against Rafael Nadal when he lead 3-0 in the fifth and final set and held a point for a 4-0 lead before losing. Coria struggled to close out the big matches . He retired in 2009 with nearly $6 million in earnings and apparently coaches his younger brother now days.  
Tough game is Tennis , can make or break you , sometimes only a point separates the household names from the battlers......

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Growing up I was hooked on Tennis from watching guys like Borg , McEnroe and Connors play , but it was mainly Borg who influenced me to practice for hours at a time on my brick garage wall , some days I would hit for up to 3 hours . It was by chance that my Grandpa gave my sister the Bjorn Borg book , his life story and I read it almost as much as i played , it inspired me , I was devastated when he retired at age 26. I was looking for a player to look up to after Borg called it quits and it didn't take long for me to get over Borg's retirement as his younger Countryman Mats Wilander burst onto the scene at age 17 , winning the French Open in 1982. Mats was a Borg 'clone' but I loved the fact that he volleyed more than Borg , his ground strokes were however just as sharp and his on court attitude just as intense , to me Mats was my idol and my inspiration to play . I loved the way both he and Borg were prepared to stay out on court for as long as it took to wear their opponent down , physically and mentally , their biggest weapon apart from their passing shots , their minds.
If you compare guys like Borg and Wilander to today's best , Djokovic and Nadal , their differences are huge , the two Swedes relied on spin and patience whereas today's best rely on power and consistency . If you throw Connors and McEnroe into the mix you will note the difference in net attacks , Mac in particular , but Connors got to the net whenever he could , despite not being renowned for having a great volley . 
If Novak had Mac's volleying expertise and stayed injury free I would think that he would be unbeatable for the next 5 years , such is his ability to hit an outstanding approach shot . I believe that in the years to come Djokovic will improve his volleying technique as his body will want to finish the rallies a lot earlier than he does at the moment . Jimmy Connors hit such flat approach shots with precise accuracy that he was quite often given easy volleys to put away , yet if you watch highlights of him from all those years ago his volleying technique was rather sound without being 'text book'. 
Borg rarely volleyed but like Djokovic and Nadal when he did come to the net it was usually behind a great approach which made his put away shot a lot simpler , Mats was different again. He was a player who didn't own a big shot yet he picked his moments to come in , his volleying was at times brilliant , a fact proven by his Wimbledon Doubles Title .So what does all this mean ? It all adds up to a guy who I haven't even mentioned up to this point , Roger Federer , a player who had the 'complete' game , no weaknesses and an ability to finish a point almost at will . All of the other players mentioned had strengths and weaknesses and given their time again I am sure would've worked harder on their weaker shots.
I make a point when I teach the game that no session goes by without a net play or approach shot routine , the two things that can stop you from sitting on the baseline all day , as you get older you certainly appreciate the ability to slice , approach well and have a solid volley to end a rally . Tennis is a game that unless you lack common sense you will only get smarter at , keep fit , the best is ahead of you.....

Monday, 11 November 2013

'FREEDOM OF CHOICE' (Coaching Providers)

I once read a rather amusing statement in the paper regarding Tennis Australia Coaches as opposed to 'others' , namely The ATPCA (Australian Tennis Professional Coaches Association), the Association I currently belong to . Whilst I do not have the article in front of me it read something along the lines as ; 'Tennis Australia recommend Tennis Australia 'Coaches' only for junior Tennis Programs, nation wide, etc etc. Let's put this into perspective ; Woolies recommend their food over Coles , Dan Murphy's Liquor recommend their product over other Liquor providers as does Toyota over Mazda , but they word their sales pitch's a little smarter than what was written regarding Tennis Oz vs 'others'.
It is no secret that The ATPCA and Tennis Australia do not have much time for each other so rather than me try to explain it I will simply put the Link at the bottom of the page , it's worth a read , it is fairly easy to see where the issues began . So back to the newspaper article , this was written by a 'Coach' who is aligned to Tennis Australia , so where does his point lay ? Nowhere , it is a small minded opinion and lacks any substance or credibility , it is simply a 'point of view'. It is a rather humorous way of trying to degrade other Tennis Coaching Associations but falls short of doing anything except embarrassing himself and his 'Organisation'.
Tennis is an egotistical Sport without a doubt , you have to have an ego to play it and an even bigger one to teach it , but some people know how to keep their ego's under control , others abuse their 'Authority'. I have plenty of views regarding the game of Tennis so i write about it on this site , people can choose to read it or ignore it .I do not publicly state that the ATPCA is in any way a better Organisation than Tennis Australia , I simply choose to be with these guys because i believe their direction is for the good of the game. 
Anyone who is prepared to publicly write that their Provider is better than any other's without a detailed description as to why , including the performance win / loss ratio compared to the other's , in my opinion has his or her head firmly stuck up their own ....  'Ego' may be my next chapter...... 
(I urge you to click the following Link , worth a read )

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Etiquette, Tennis etiquette to be precise, something that the World number 2 Victoria Azarenka does not own , but she is like her boyfriend , Redfoo, publicity seeker, and in her case , 'Drama Queen'. At the Australian open in January the official rules book was thrown out by Tennis Australia as they gave Victoria 'all the time she needed' to get her emotions back on track and face her rather less experienced and younger opponent Sloane Stephens in the Semi finals. This whole situation was one of the greatest 'farces' in modern day Tennis and Tennis Australia should be ashamed of themselves for letting it go to the lengths that they did , the 'twisting of the rules' was to say the least , embarrassing , if it had happened in the Men's event , well......, it wouldn't have happened. Poor Victoria after having it all her own way en route to the final , lead 6-1 and 5-4 , but this lead was not enough as her opponent was starting to find a way back into the match , so she embarked on a rather public 'soul searching' mission, albeit, in the change rooms . She claimed she had trouble breathing , this happens to all players , it's called 'choking' , but she should know how to deal with this problem , how else do you make it to the top of your class it your chosen sport? 
Anyhow it's on the net , look it up if you aren't clear on the whole ridiculous situation but next year the Australian Open should come with a 'guarantee' for all players , Men and Women as the precedent has now been set ; 'If things get tight , don't be afraid to resort to the 'tactical' side of things , fake a lung complaint , start breathing with distress , the Officials will give you a free pass and as much time as you need to regroup , after all it's a big business Tennis . If Azarenka had been forfeited she only would've picked up around $600 Grand as a losing Semi Finalist , the winner , a guaranteed 1 Million , win or lose , Victoria obviously had her sights set on the mil.....
Disappointing to say the least by Tennis Australia , it would've sent a clear message to all players if Azarenka had been forfeited as she should have been , after all whether you are feeling good or bad , when you take the court , especially at that level , you are declared 'fit and ready to go'.
So back to the headline , 'Etiquette'; Tennis is a boxing match however far away from your opponent that you are , it's a 'war' , an 'ego battle' and a mind game , if standards are similar then the strongest mind prevails . You see it regularly in junior Tournaments , the kid who is expected to win but gets challenged often resorts to 'gutter tactics' , unprofessional  line calling and 'chit chat' , trying to unsettle the 'lesser' credentialed opponent. Bjorn Borg was possibly the greatest mind in the game , he was prepared to stay out there as long as it took , after all what else was there to do , the house cleaning ?? Too many kids want to get ' the job done' as quickly as possible , way too many other things to do in your spare time , they should watch Borg vs Vilas , French Open in the late 70's , these guys weren't in a hurry to go anywhere. 
So etiquette stems from who you really are , do you want to go the distance in the game or are you just looking for a 'quick fix' ? Do you appreciate your talent and at the same time appreciate your opponent's ability as he or she is 'responsible' for your next hour or two's entertainment ? 
Tennis players generally are well behaved , look at Rafa and Roger , brilliant ambassadors for the sport , when was the last time one of these guys 'disappeared' for 10 or so minutes 'cos he couldn't close out the Championship ??
Azarenka won this year , she lost a lot of respect though , and that's what defines a player...........

Friday, 8 November 2013


When you travel to Europe to play a game as tough as Tennis , many thoughts go through your mind but being on the other side of the World and losing to Europeans who didn't speak fluent English can test your sense of humor. In saying that , it was as i have said many times , an 'Education' that set my coaching up and gave me a rather shrewd and 'down to earth' philosophy that in some instances has probably cost me money. In line with my 'Ugly Parent' post that i published just recently on my site I feel that some Parents don't want the 'truth' regarding their child's 'real' ability , they want to hear an 'inflated' version instead , good for their ego as well as their 'prodigy's'. I have always told it how i see it , I make no apologies for it either , because in the end it is a game that is not unlike golf , the similarities of the individual sports are evident. If you kick the ball out of the bush and tell your mates you 'chipped' it then who did you cheat ? And if as a Coach of the game of Tennis you tell the pupil that they are ready to take on the 'big guns' in the City when they are battling to hit 10 balls over in a row then who are you cheating ? 
In Europe after a series of first round losses in singles that i was competitive in most , my first victory actually came in the form of a Doubles win in a little town called Garoult , perhaps 100 kilometres from the city of Paris. Peter and I played together for the first time and we made it to the final against two German players and I was lucky enough to be on the same side of the net as a guy who had a great all round game , Pete didn't have too many weaknesses. We came away with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory and we partied long into the night , Peter also won the singles against Brett in the final , an 'Australian whitewash' in Paris......
The prize money wasn't life changing but enough at least to buy some food , fuel and to put a few dollars back into the pocket to keep the sense of humor in tact. How many players who have traveled to Europe can lay claim to winning a Tennis Tournament on their first outing and in the process receive a newspaper article written on them ??! I wish we had kept that paper or at least the article as it would be up in a frame on my wall for all to see , the trophy also has disappeared , probably courtesy of shifting house 15 times over the last 23 years......
The European trip and in particular the Doubles victory with Peter Gerrans will long be remembered as one of those 'life changing experiences' for one reason or another but one thing is for certain . Having an insight into the World of Tennis as opposed to a 'text book education' has defined me as a Coach and I would like to think that my current and future students will continue to learn the game with a realistic approach.I called my site Glenn Thompson Tennis Technique for a reason , forget the gimmicks and the smoke and mirror routines , get the technique right and the rest will fall into place , trust me.......

Friday, 1 November 2013


When i was a kid first starting to play Tournaments in Perth i recall watching some fellow juniors play , hoping that one day i would be good enough to match it with them . Out of all the juniors that i saw one stood out from the rest , Paul Kilderry , a kid who was taught by his Father Rob to play and a kid who's shot making was inspiring. I first saw Paul play at the East Fremantle Tennis Club during The Coca Cola Junior Tournament , at the time the State's biggest competition for juniors , the numbers for the tournament were huge . From memory Paul played up a couple of age groups as kids his own age didn't get close to him , in fact i believe at age 12 he contested the 18's , and his height was even more remarkable , four foot nothing...
There was always a huge crowd at the back of the court to see him play , such was the ability of his game at such a young age , there weren't too many shots 'Killer' couldn't do as well as the best 18 year olds in the State. This particular tournament I first saw him play i believe he lost in the Semi's against a touring Swedish player by the name of Christian Christensen , a great match with the Swede saving a couple of match points.(my memory for scores , stats and names even surprises myself sometimes ,4-6, 7-5 , 6-1 , should be in the East Fremantle Tennis Club archives somewhere).
The next time i saw Paul play was in The West Australian Open Doubles final where he teamed with Roger Grant , the State's best male player at the time and who also once had a victory over former Swedish World number 1 Stefan Edberg (2-6, 7-6, 7-6). Roger and young Paul who may have been 13 at the time took on the State's best Men's Doubles combination at the time of David Culley and Mark Leuba and this match was incredible , played at Royal Kings Park Tennis Club. From a 2-6 deficit in the third set tie breaker 'Killer and Roger reeled off 6 straight points to take the title and one thing stood out for me that match , the young fellow's 'lack of fear' against the 'big boys'. His ability to not be intimidated by guys much older and physically stronger than him was the one thing that set him aside from other juniors and his shot making under extreme pressure , especially in the final tie breaker was mesmerizing.
Paul went on to not only travel the World playing the game but he had a standout victory in Florida one year against Wimbledon Champion Richard Krajicek and he reached a career high of 138 in 1995. Paul also travelled regularly with his good mate Pat Rafter as his hitting partner and from memory again i believe he was asked to practice with legends such as Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, such was his ability.
Now days when i teach kids to play i often think back to Paul Kilderry's ability at age 12 and wonder if his standard was one of a kind , i have never seen a kid close to his ability in the last 30 years . It does however give me the 'benchmark' in my head as to what standard needs to be reached to even have a chance at making a living from the game and it also helps me teach Tennis with a 'realistic' approach.....

Monday, 28 October 2013

TENNIS COACHING (Social outing or Money maker?)

Location has a lot to do with how a Tennis Coaching lesson goes , personally I have been gifted in the Clubs that I have 'stumbled' across over the years to teach the game of Tennis . When I was looking for a Club to teach at as a 21 year old after my European stint I received not just one , but two locations to further my skills as a future Coach of the game .
The Cottesloe Tennis Club overlooking the beach was a dream come true and I was in the right place at the right time when Club pro Alan Hartley was looking for an assistant, as was the Observation City Resort in Scarborough . One of Perth's biggest resorts did not have a Resident Tennis Coach and I was lucky enough again to teach Hotel guests regularly. From memory $25 an hour but some 'high flyers' would tip me an extra $25 , it was a 'bargain' I was told by many as they would pay $50 plus 'back home in the States'.
So for three or so years I was living the high life myself as I hit tennis balls to both kids and adults at two of the most sort after Tennis locations in Perth , but it was the 'learning process' that left a lasting impression on me .
Any Coach of the game who has not learnt under the experience of a 'Mentor' and claims to be a 'guru' of the game in my opinion is full of themselves . I once went to Kings Park and observed a Gentleman who I would consider to be the greatest ever Tennis Coach I have seen , Rob Casey do a one on one lesson with a Perth Businessman .
I can't speak highly enough of the tuition process of Rob's lesson , it was one of my greatest tennis educations'. If you watch and observe the 'best' , you can't help but learn. So to my point.....
Some Coaches teach the game to earn a living , some do it for a bit of 'pocket money', personally I don't do it for either, I have a full time job. I teach Tennis because I believe I do it well , some of the kids I have taught over the years I hit against on a weekly basis , this to me is a 'big win' , any way you look at it .
If you teach a kid properly from the start , the natural process of the growth of body and mind plus desire and dedication spells one thing , progression . If a 14, 15 or 16 year old kid can hit a ball back to you consistently without you holding back then you have achieved something great as a Coach of the game of Tennis........

Saturday, 26 October 2013


When the three of us travelled to Europe Glam rock was a 'way of life' as was long hair , Brett and i had different hairstyles but ours was long , shoulder length , Pete had a different one , short at the back but with a sweeping fringe , one that i warmly referred to as 'having fringe benefits'. Probably the 'small car syndrome' thing again but we found ways to amuse ourselves , Pete also grew a beard , he thought it looked 'cool' . Brett had a habit of wearing a bandanna to keep his hair out of his eyes where my trick was to wear sunglasses on my head , to hold back the locks , even at night in pubs , strange lot we were....
Brett and i were obsessed with the finer points of music (Glam) whereas Peter had his obsession with Darryl Braithwaite (you can see why i wanted to simply kill him) , yet we found a common ground , still don't remember what that was though . We all had walkman head sets (Cliff Richard Wired For Sound style) and one day i leant my tape to Pete to listen to , to 'educate' him . It didn't take him long to stuff this opportunity of 'male bonding' up as it got caught in his player and jammed . He knew this tape was my 'lifeline' to sanity so he came up with a pathetic excuse that he needed to stop at 'the next possible opportunity ' as he had a ' bad guts'. After at least 15 minutes in a public toilet you would think that i would've clicked that something was up , but no , the mouse had obviously stopped running around on it's treadmill . From memory he had cut the tape , opened it up , re aligned it and got it working again with me none the wiser until both of them told me that night over a beer . This tape of mine from memory again had the' best of the best ' on it as far as i was concerned , Def Leppard ,Cheap Trick , Kiss , Skid Row , Bon Jovi and other Glam Rock bands that were as much a part of our lifestyle back then as the hair styles and the way we dressed on a daily basis . Tennis was the reason we were all there , yet other factors took over , we were developing some 'different' friendships with each other as well as with the European players and their families and friends . What disappointed me was that while we were over there we had a chance to see White Lion in concert in Paris , a glam rock band with hairstyles and guitar riffs to die for , that would've capped off the trip , such is life....
I recall wagging school regularly at age 16 and heading to my local Tennis Club with a stereo in my bag along with my racket and training for hours with a buddy to the sounds of Def Leppard 'Hysteria' , great for motivation and inspiration . Five years on here i was in another country playing Tennis Tournaments , eating spaghetti bolognese , speaking 'pigeon' English and still listening to my all time favorite Rock band 'The Leps' for inspiration . At age 44 the long locks have been cut shorter but Tennis and Glam Rock for me still go hand in hand......


When you travel around Europe with 2 mates in a very small car the sense of humor wears thin , that's when you call on your 'other self' for ideas on how to create some 'sanity'. My idea of leaving one of our touring party at a truck stop was i admit rather harsh to say the least , my next idea turned out to be possibly the greatest idea of my life . I don't quite remember the ins and outs of our conversation that day but all i know is that my idea to leave Brett and Peter and go look at The French Riviera was a 'master stroke'. 'See you guys in ten days' were my last words as i hopped on a train bound for Monte Carlo (I started at the top as far as destinations were concerned) and i enjoyed every minute of 8 hours or so of 'silence' . No singing , no threatening to kill anyone , no arguments regarding who had the worst haircut , just peace and quiet , i found 'my happy place'. When i hopped off at the train station all i heard was noise , this was Monte Carlo ? Fair dinkum i was expecting the sounds of birds singing and waves rolling into the harbor , so what the hell was this ? 'Eskoo voo parlay ongley'(Do you speak English?) 'Wee Bonjour', Goodo mate what's the noise ? 'Grand Prix' What Grand Prix? 'Monaco Grand Prix' Fair Dinkum ? I jagged the one weekend of my first ever trip to Europe and in particular Monte Carlo and the Monaco Grand Prix was on ? Now you are talking. I stayed at a Youth Hostel , drank fosters beer and watched The Monaco Grand Prix , practice one day , the real gig the next , just like that Mid strength beer ad on Tv 'What are the chances ??' I lived it up with fellow tourists at just $35 Australian dollars per night in a hostel that i had to share a room with 7 other blokes , ok it wasn't luxury but affordable on my budget. 
I looked up a local Tennis Tournament , in a place called St Maxime , 15 minutes away on a ferry from St Tropez ( home of the rich and famous ) , i played , got beat first match , but by this stage i was just happy to be on The French Riviera , life was good....
No one spoke English at St Maxime until I met a school teacher who told me i could not only stay at his villa overlooking the harbor but would i mind if he went away for 3 days on 'business' and would i please look after his villa??? Fair Dinkum again??? (trusting people these French) . If i had a mobile phone back then i would've sent both Brett and Pete a text with every obscenity imaginable , plus a picture of ' my new premises', such a shame that technology was a few years away . Tennis for me was now second on the list as i experienced just what The Riviera had to offer a 21 year old male who had conveniently 'lost' his touring mates to gain some sanity , as i said before 'A Master stroke'..........

Friday, 25 October 2013


When I first went to the Coops training facility in Queensland in 1986 a few names stood out as far as ability was concerned. Neil Borwick was the best , a guy who went on to beat Boris Becker , Ivan Lendl and even had the distinction of beating one of the World's best ever doubles combinations , Paul Harhuis and Jacco Eltingh. Not many players can lay claim to having a win over the best in the World in both doubles and singles , Neil was the exception and went on to make a handy living from the game . Other names that come to mind were Justin Stead , a Queens lander with one of the best serve and volley game's i have ever seen and a kid from Perth, Mark Heather , his game not unlike Stead's .A little fellow by the name of Pat Rafter also trained at Coops each day but looking back on it , a 12 year old Pat wasn't a stand out , he was a guy who was a late bloomer . Watching these guys train on a daily basis had a lasting impression on me as a kid who was in awe of their ability and i was lucky enough to hit with Mark regularly and one hit i had with Justin stood out . I remember sitting in the Club house one afternoon after my squad had finished our session and in strolled 'Steady' with his bow legged walk and he looked straight at me and said 'I'm early want a hit?' I beat Justin to the door and recall hitting for around an hour with him , i think i missed a handful of shots that session , my standard went up to a level i didn't know i had. Unfortunately I didn't get to hit with Neil as he was a standout and only hit with the best guys but I was fortunate enough to catch up with him around 6 months ago and we hit for nearly two hours . For an ex pro , his standard was still remarkably high , he had barely played in 10 years yet hit the ball with ridiculous ease and his timing was still brilliant. Neil reached a high of World number 104 and his year of playing in 1993 was a standout , he also took the first set from Wimbledon Champion that year and all time great Pete Sampras . When you are put on court with a player who you not only admire but strive to be as good as one day , you lift , you have to lift or you will get belted , plain and simple . Looking back on my days in Queensland i was lucky to play and train against some brilliant Tennis players but it didn't happen often enough as far as i was concerned . I touched on the story of Rafa hitting regularly with former World number 1 Carlos Moya , Rafa's game went to another level , you sink or swim when you play the best that you can find , Rafa embraced the challenge , the rest is history . 
For any kid out there wishing to take his or her game to another level i suggest that they find the best that they possibly can to hit against , if kids their same age don't offer them a big enough challenge than find an adult . I would like to think that both the kids and adults that we have playing each week at our Generation Challenge are pushing each other to a level above what they are currently playing at , when striving for perfection in a sport such as Tennis start thinking outside the square........


In 1991 the Great Jimmy Connors made the Semi's of The US Open , if you know anything about the game of Tennis , this feat is rather remarkable , it will probably never be repeated , Jimmy was 39. That same year another all time great Martina Navratilova lost in the final of the Women's event , aged 34 , another performance that may never  be seen again , after all , Tennis is a 'young' person's sport isn't it ?  In 1992 Connors finished the year ranked number 84 , not bad for an 'old' bloke, Navratilova number 5.
So it was in some Promoter's wildest dream that these two should play each other in a battle of the sexes singles match , but with a slight twist in the rules . Martina would receive half a Double's alley extra for her shots , this is a fair bit of extra room for your opponent to cover , especially if they are 39 years of age . Connors was still confident that he would win , despite the extra room that he had to cover, so much so that he waged 1 million dollars on himself to win with the loss of no more than 8 games , pressure was on .....
The highlights of this match are on 'You Tube' , it really is a great match , some of the points are brilliant , Connors however came away with a win and a few dollars extra in his pocket , as well as of course the match prize money . Jimmy cut it fine though on his punt with a bookie , he lost 7 games , no pressure at all , he had a game up his sleeve to cash in his million dollar bet.
This on the other side of the coin was a chance for female tennis players to try and prove that they were up with the standard of the men , but Event Organizers knew for a fact that an even playing field between a man and woman would not in fact be even at all . Even at age 39 Connors would've had way too much power and all round ability for Martina on a normal sized court .
It is not unrealistic to think that the guy ranked 1000 in the world would have too much fire power for any woman in the World's Top 10 . In fact if you set up a practice session between the guy ranked 1000 and any Top 10 male player you wouldn't see too much of a difference in technique ability , until they commenced point play , then the differences would become evident. The difference between men and women tennis players however is enormous , it's why more battle of the sexes matches aren't played , it's a foregone conclusion that the man would win . It's not a sexist comment by any means , but a factual look at the difference in how hard the ball is hit , take this example . One of the State's best male player's was once asked to hit with a top 5 women's professional for the Hopman Cup in Perth . This guy didn't even have a World ranking , if he did it may have been somewhere around 2000 if he was lucky . He not only matched it with her in the drills but also won their practice set comfortably ........ Just a few more facts and figures that should be taken into perspective when considering just how good professional Tennis players are to keep winning , day in , day out.....

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Banana's, Orange Juice and Death Threats (Europe 1991 Part 2)

Each Tennis player no matter what age , has his or her own 'ritual' regarding diet , pre and post game routine or fitness schedule . In Europe 1991 my breakfast routine was simple , bananas and 'Oranjina' (orange juice) , very different from my touring buddies' diet , their's was coco pops . I was looking for 'that edge' as my standard was not as high as Brett and Pete , so any little advantage was going to be of benefit to me . One morning at a Formula 1 ( low budget European accommodation ) i could not locate my staple diet  , my concern was that the other two had eaten and drunk it . After spending many days and many kilometers in a car small enough to be a toy that you could place on your mantle piece , the sense of humor was not where it was when we first arrived on the other side of the World . I remember vividly threatening to 'kill' at least one of them unless my breakfast was found , can't remember what the outcome was but no one lost their life that day.....
Driving to Tournaments in a very small vehicle with 'Le Car' written on the side of it left us open to many elements , not just abuse, big trucks behind us were always a concern that we may have ended up as part of their cargo , 'Le Car' was a daily 'character builder'. I don't know why but i was always relegated to the back seat , no respect for the 'senior' tourist , but i let them know i was there. One day as Pete was off 'in fairy land' with his singing i asked a polite question 'any chance you could shut up thanks Pete ?' Darryl Braithwaite 'The Horses' was really starting to wear thin . This was Pete's favorite song , he had his headphones on and he simply played it again and again and sung it over and over. I gave him the chance but he didn't take any notice so i did what any bloke would do , leaned through from the back seat and smacked him in the ear , threatened to kill him if he didn't shut up . In a car that lacked a radio , silence for the rest of the trip was golden . 
At a truck stop Brett and i discussed the idea of leaving Pete on his own as he went to the toilet , my theory on the whole thing i felt had merit . Peter was taking up valuable room that my Tennis bag could use and in turn would free up my leg space in the backseat of a car that i was prepared to set fire to at any opportunity and look at public transport . Our concerns however  were, 'what will we tell his folks back home'? So we waited until Pete finished his 'business' and carried on in 'the Tardis' . 
When travelling in Europe i felt it necessary to speak 'European' but Pete had a bad habit of saying Town names as he read them when reading maps. One sticks in my mind in particular , a town named Mioux . I was adamant that this was to be pronounced 'Mow, as in Cow ' , Pete had other ideas , he called it Me Ox , this was the final straw . I not only threatened to kill him again unless his 'etiquette' improved but i also made a point of letting him know that his haircut was starting to get on my nerves . (Small Car Syndrome) 
At a Bakery one morning Pete actually 'lost it' with me and in fact threatened to put me 'six foot under' , from memory ,  I still don't recall what i did to upset him that day , probably the fact that i was still breathing ......
Such a pity we didn't have 'You Tube' back then , I believe our fortune wouldn't have been made on the Tennis court , but on the internet.....

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Tough subject this one but why not tackle it head on ? This is the situation in life that is rather embarrassing in junior sport yet it rears it's ugly head regularly , especially in Tennis , so why is this ? Easy one to answer ; Tennis is the game , as is golf , that Parents who didn't perhaps 'make it' either in life or their preferred sport , can finally have 'bragging rights' that has their surname written all over it .(Team Sports unless you are a standout, don't quite have the same effect) I often wonder whether the name has anything to do with sport , personally i wasn't 'gifted' in my choice of first or last names , Sweden's Joachim Johanssen was always going to be a Tennis Player , if he failed at that , racing car driving would've been his other option . Back to the Headline; There needs to be an 'Odd's Book' given to each and every parent who's child takes up the game of Tennis  with the headline 'One in A million'......
When i trained full time for  nearly two years in Queensland i saw a thing or two regarding talent and when i toured  Europe i saw it on an even bigger scale , it was outrageous , as Redfoo would say 'Ridiculous'. (He's a singer with weird lyrics). 
The art of Tennis is just that 'an Art' , maybe the toughest individual sport in the world that requires the player to be not only technically brilliant , but mentally and physically brilliant at the same time . As a coach of the sport you see many examples of 'my kid has what it takes , I want you to make her a champion' , that's a big call.It's like 'Santa Claus' , what are the chances?? Nick Bollettieri trained Andre Agassi , Brad Gilbert made Andre a Champion with his tactical mind and views on the game , Andre's Father though was the person who taught him to play . So if there is a Tennis Coach out there who can do all of these things with a budding junior talent of the game of Tennis then i would love to meet him . Each 'Coach' knows his limitations , some have a talent in certain areas of the game yet lack in others , having the talent to do all of the above is a 'gift' , Rafa's Uncle Tony may just be this Man but let's put Rafa into perspective. Carlos Moya took  a young 14-15 year old Rafa under his wing and hit with him regularly which took his game to an unbelievably high level , Uncle Tony reaped the benefits of Moya's tuition . More than one element is responsible for a future Champion of the game , 'real coaches' are aware of this fact and have a realistic view on the whole process . The other side of the coin is 'ugly parents' who sit behind the court watching their child play and offer the occasional remark to the unlucky opponent trying to upset them enough to 'give in' to their 'prodigy' . 'Come on buddy that was inside the line ' or 'if you call a close one out again , look out', or my all time favorite. This is where the 'peanut gallery' comes into the equation and we have all seen it . 'Touring Squads' from which ever town they are from have a habit of going up to the back of the fence and even push their noses through the gaps! These 'peanuts' have a habit of asking their mates' for the score and even offer 'advice' to their opponents yet the 'Touring Squad's 'Coach' turns a blind eye , he is hoping for the whole process of winning to speed up with a little help from the 'gallery' .
In reality the 'process' is a long , painful and financially debilitating one to take a kid from novice to Champion , that 'One in A million' book may just be worth that figure......

Monday, 21 October 2013

EUROPEAN TOUR 1991 (Part 1)

If any budding Tennis player should have an inclination to give themselves the ultimate test then I would highly recommend The European Money Tournament Circuit , in 1991 I did just that . Two highly ranked Western Australian 18 year olds by the name of Brett Patten and Peter Gerrans and I flew to Paris in the Spring of 91 to what we all commonly refer to now as 'Europe', possibly the greatest eye opener to the game of Tennis that I have ever experienced.
The standard of play in these Tournaments was unbelievably high , the first being at a little town called Samuur , not far from Paris , by memory 16 indoor clay courts . My fondest memories from this Tournament were watching a guy from France by the name of Guillermo Segni and watching Brett confuse a red hot European player by serve and volleying on the clay ('what's this guy doing ? We only go to net to shake hands').
Segni was a guy not unlike Rafa , a big , big forehand , a handy backhand slice and a bad habit of looking up at the stands to seek 'acknowledgement' from his 'fans' after each winner he hit , and there were quite a few from his thunderous forehand . From memory I reckon he only hit 3 backhands that match , his footwork was not unlike the great Rafa himself , he just had to step around his backhand . Brett on the other hand actually lost his second round match to a French baseliner in 3 sets but not before driving the guy insane with his Perth grass court tactics , Brett left an impression on the French that Tournament . I lost in 3 sets first up to a German by the name of Vanderfyfer ( I never forget names or scores ) , I lost 6-2 ,4-6, 6-3 but wasn't too upset with my first match on the European clay .
I also vividly remember watching a Yugoslavian touring team practise the day before the Tournament and watched a kid who must have only been 13 hit a ball against his older team mates . This kid I would've loved to have had video footage of , he was brilliant , a lefty not unlike the style of Goran Ivanisavic , Wimbledon Champion . I don't remember how he performed in the Tournament but it was all part of my 'Education' and what I refer back to when I teach the game .
I have certain 'benchmarks' in my head when it comes to 'reality checks' for juniors I teach and I don't get too carried away with practise form either , it's what you can bring from the practise court into a match that makes a Champion. Europe 1991 , my greatest ever Tennis Education and for any player or Coach of the game , the perfect way to see just how tough this sport really is......

Saturday, 19 October 2013


The idea behind the new concept at The Emu Point Tennis Club on Friday afternoons was developed through too many good local players sitting on the sidelines unless there was a local Tournament on offer ,(usually a Doubles Tournament) .The feedback i have received is that Doubles Tournaments are way too plentiful and Singles competitions, unless they are Club Championships basically do not exist for senior local players . When i say 'senior' players i refer to the advanced level players (both young and 'older') who still want to test themselves. Doubles is more a tactical game requiring angles whereas the game of singles is a physical and mental test .Hitting with guys that i used to teach when they were kids has taken on a whole new dimension now as these players have now stopped 'over hitting' and don't miss the easy ball anymore , makes life tough for us old blokes but i live for the challenge. No offence to Saturday afternoon Club Tennis but it does not give the stronger players the intensity that they require to both test themselves and improve. There are some up and coming young kids doing drills with the more experienced players and the mix is very exciting to see , some of the points i witnessed were unbelievable . The vision that I had quite some time ago was simple , get the kids to play 'above' themselves , hitting with each other will only take their game's so far. Girls vs ladies and boys vs men , that's what will eventually even out the gap between current standards.
The initial hour of drills was to get the shots 'grooved', in a two on one format, which gave all players a warm up into their singles points. Placing a junior on court with two senior players seems to be the right formula to bring the best out in each player . Some of the rallies were brilliant and more consistent , an indication of the shot repetition drills serving their purpose without a doubt. The Generation Challenge was long overdue i believe locally , finally a mixed age drills and point play session that will be of benefit to all those who participate........

Friday, 18 October 2013


When I first started to learn the game of Tennis in Albany as a 12 year old, I remember my Dad saying to me one day after I played Club Tennis at The C and S Tennis Club 'If you want to go anywhere with your Tennis you will have to eventually beat Peter'. This was in reference to my old Coach, Peter Holmes, both a technical and tactical genius of the game.
I recall coming home one Saturday after around 7 hours on court that included Junior Club in the morning followed by Senior Club that afternoon, with about an hour in between, and saying to my folks ' Peter Holmes is unbelievable'. Hence, the comment from my Dad which initially I laughed at, but then realised the 'factual' side of it. Within 3 years I took a set from Peter in practice, a huge jump in improvement when looked at realistically, (Peter was the Country Week Singles Champion). Sure it was only a 7-5 set win (I lost the first 1-6) but it showed me that I was getting somewhere. As I have said many times, I was improving because it was affordable for my parents to pay for my tuition, around $15 an hour, one on one.
Looking back if I had a part time job I would have had more lessons at my own cost, Peter was a genius. Between the ages of 12 and 15 I went from losing first round in the Albany Open Junior Singles (0-6) to winning my first State Championship Title at The Melville Junior Championships in Perth. My buddy Dale Jones and I beat the Number 1 State Ranked pair of Tim Burrows and Ken Mcreery 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 (Ken was also a Country Week Singles Champion)  in the semis and then won the final easily.
The same year I was unlucky to draw former Albany boy Mark Leuba in the Trinity State Hardcourt Titles in Perth in the first round (at the time he was ranked 2 in the State) yet I lead 7-5 4-3, then was outplayed in the final set. Leuba went on to make the final and lost to the current Cottesloe Tennis Club Coach David Culley who was the State's best junior for many years.
My early hitting with my former Coach Peter toughened me up, though it took until I was 28 years of age until I finally beat Peter in a singles Tournament (I did leave Albany for 12 years though). In fairness to Peter, he was 40 at the time .
Tennis has it's ups and downs especially when you are a junior, more a head game than anything else when you are a kid, but one thing sticks in my head.
My Former Coach Peter was not only a great Coach but he was a great player and never shied away from a challenge , even when he was up against kids half his age. At age 40 he could quite easily have taken on an Official's role for the day rather than put his game on the line, yet he played.
He wanted to set an example to his students, and why not? If the legs and mind are willing......
I respected Peter for his ability to not only teach the game 'without the hype' but to match his 'talk the talk' with his ability to 'walk the walk'. It is no disgrace to lose to the kids you once taught, it's disappointing if you don't give them a chance to do it......
The Region's greatest ever Tennis Coach and player was Peter Holmes, Country Week Champion and in my view a perfect example of 'Hype WITH Substance'.........

Thursday, 10 October 2013


II wrote the following chapter one night and sent it in to the ATPCA, who I am a Member of. I wrote it because it's common amongst the kids, a style that is frowned upon though very effective all the same. 
The chapter was published in their monthly journal as the Coaching Management at the ATPCA felt it had merit, as I did, of course.

I remember vividly one of my advanced students one year sending me a text asking whether I considered him to be a 'hack' . Let's look at this terminology' 'hacking, puddling, pushing, are terms described for players who just get the ball in play and wait for their opponent to miss. So what's wrong with this ?
Nothing, but it isn't 'cool'. Your mates want to see you belt the ball into submission, hit it like there's no tomorrow, but in all reality that doesn't win Tennis matches. 'Hackers', 'puddlers' and 'pushers' win more games of Tennis than their mates who try to knock the brand off the ball. 
So to the 'hack', it upsets the 'groovy' guy who wants the ball in his 'comfort zone' every time so he can keep getting the ball back as he wishes and dictate play as well as look stylish for his girlfriend sitting in the stands.
So how do you upset your opponent who has made a reputation for himself as the 'big fish in the small pond'? Slice the ball, hit it high over the net, serve and volley sometimes, hit drop shots, moon ball, take some extra time between points and in particular give your opponent a big smile when he calls you a 'hack', it means you have him 'on toast'.
It happened to me just three years ago when I played a kid who was young enough to be my son but with a reputation that anyone would be proud of. He had some big shots but lacked brains and when he looked at me after another moon ball that he didn't return and told me that basically at age 41 I had no right to be on the same court as him I simply smiled and kept on doing it. A straight sets victory made the 'old bloke' sleep well that night.......
'Hacking', yep a great tactic, and what was my reply to my student who asked me the original question?
'If it's upsetting your opponents buddy, keep doing it '.......