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 ?