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........

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