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......