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 '.......

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


The game of Tennis throws up some funny situations at times, none more so than when inexperienced Assistants are asked by their Boss to do a one on one lesson and actually charge the equivalent of what an experienced Tradesman asks for his expertise. ( These guys usually offer a guarantee with their work, this is never the case with Tennis.)
When it comes to teaching the game of Tennis the consumer needs to be aware of many things including how many years experience, both playing and teaching that the Coach has behind them and during the lesson it is most important that the parent observes the following;
Just because the student gets the ball over the net it is not necessarily a 'great shot' as many Coaches will say (there is so much more to a ball in play than meets the eye in Tennis). 
Does the Coach make a habit of correcting errors or does he or she in fact ignore the technique deficiencies and look to the next ball that makes it over the net and simply goes with the same 'great shot' routine?
It is no secret that many Coaches of the game are getting 'ball hitters' to make them money ($50 - $70 for private lessons with an inexperienced Assistant who knows very little about the game who is actually only receiving $30 for the hour, his Boss gets the rest.
This is a dead give away as to what the qualified Coach actually thinks of his Assistant's ability to teach the game, however the consumer is none the wiser. If a real Teacher of the game has any pride in his work then he will advertise it for what it really is; A discounted session to give the Assistant some experience, nothing more, nothing less. If the Assistant 'makes the grade' then the Coach will make a truckload of money through his Assistant's ability to teach.
It's a funny game Tennis and it is also a big Business, but to the consumer it can become expensive however I would offer the following free advice.
Give your child a time frame to improve and a realistic evaluation on a very technical and potentially expensive sport. Give the Coach a personal evaluation while you are at it. Is the correct advice being given or is the student simply hitting a lot of balls with no structure to it ?
Improvement in Tennis is not just the Coach's job however it may just save you a lot of money in the future if certain things are taken into perspective.......

Saturday, 5 October 2013


The amount of Tennis balls hit in a one hour one on one session compared to an hour group session with 6 to 8 students would possibly be around 600 to 200. That's a huge difference.
I recently held a session with a junior and we concentrated on less pace with more spin, this was after 30 minutes of technique drills with the focus being on perfecting the swing and follow through.
I asked the student to simply 'get it in ', yet this appears to be a huge problem for most students as they seem to be more obsessed with hitting winners. The first rally we had lasted 85 shots, not bad for a kid who used to count to 4 then if he hadn't missed then it was time to hit that winner. The second rally lasted 96 shots, getting better, the third just 55 shots, still we were getting the required result, then the longest rally I have ever had with a student.
After going through 100 shots I thought the focus would wear off but this kid was really in the 'Zone', we got to 210 before he missed, the technique was outstanding and the desire to not miss was also evident.
Keep the ball in play and give yourself a chance.......
One of my touring buddies from our 1991 European Tour, Brett Patten who became World Number 1 two years ago for 35-40's hit the nail on the head when he reiterated a statement from Brad Gilbert, 'It's better to win ugly than to lose pretty'.
This refers to the player who is simply prepared to get the ball in play instead of playing 'flashy Tennis' which focuses more on a glamorous style and a desire to hit winners.
The most successful coaches are the ones who think outside the square with their routines and who make the game affordable to learn. If we keep it affordable then students keep coming back, simple.....