Wednesday, 30 April 2014


An interesting article was written recently in tennis, it was written by Wayne Bryan , coach of his two famous sons Bob and Mike who are without a doubt the greatest duo in Men's doubles in the history of the game. Wayne Bryan is a man to be respected and to be heard , he was voted the World Team Tennis Coach of the Year from 2004-2006. Wayne had some things to say that should not only get  people talking but it also strangely similar to what is and what has been happening in Australia for a long time. 
Wayne Bryan believes the following and i will quote word for word;
" Leave coaching to the private sector and not to the National Governing Body, it has never worked, it will not ever work.
Under 10 Mandate must be removed or at least tweaked. Parents and coaches across the country are saying have all the nerf ball and soft colored ball tournaments you want, just allow regular tournaments for juniors that want to play them in the Under 10's.
I do however think there is a fresh wind blowing in tennis. Club pros and college pros and high school coaches and concerned parents are getting involved and speaking out. They are no longer afraid of USTA back lash, either real or imagined".
Isn't that brilliant ? Let's simplify this; Wayne Bryan is saying exactly what Australian legends Pat Cash and Paul McNamee have been saying for quite some time . 'Let kids stay where they are getting results rather than put them all in one fish bowl with the Head Fish to be taught his way or the highway'. 
His take on the soft ball tournament scene is even better. Even i have said in the past that i think it's a load of crap . Do you think Martina Hingis would have won the French Open junior title in 1993 at age 12 if she had been confined to hitting soft colored tennis balls until the age of 10?? 
Wayne Bryan is 100 percent correct in saying that if parents and kids specify that they are not interested in playing with those balls then they should be allowed to play a REAL Tournament with REAL BALLS, great point Mr Bryan. But hang on what would happen if we did this in Australia? Total Mayhem;
If we were to go back to REAL TENNIS BALLS for juniors then Tennis Australia wouldn't be able to have such big glossy banners that are full of gimmicky , insignificant 'information' such as 'Hot Shots'. (this is another name for half court tennis, but with low pressured balls). 
God forbid if Tennis Australia also had to take away 'Cardio Tennis' from their repertoire of 'programs' that 'mesmerize' the public into thinking 'geez look at all our options here'. Cardio Tennis? Fair dinkum , a glorified terminology for doing court sprints and star jumps. Hang on did i mention that it also costs money to do these star jumps?? 
Wayne Bryan is a man who should know what is right and what is wrong with the game in his country , we also have a guy here who would've changed things for the better if he was elected but Paul McNamee had way too many brains for Tennis Australia so they over looked 'Macca'. 
As i mentioned in a previous chapter , tennis is in 'safe hands' isn't it ?? If i had to hit with soft balls when i was a kid i would've taken up golf instead, now there's a game with 'Real Balls'.......


Some people in the tennis industry like to take credit for players' success even if those players have not been with them for a long time, but let's put things into perspective. If a kid starts playing with a club coach and is taught the basics well i think it's fair to say that this coach could lay claim to the child's future success , it's on what scale however that you look into it. If as a coach you spend say the first 2-3 years with a student i think it's safe to say that providing that the kid's technique is sound then you as a coach has done a good job, pretty simple stuff.
A while back i read that someone was trying to take credit for some players who did well in a local Tennis Tournament , i kept an open mind , then did the sums. These players had not been with in fact ANY coach for a combined total of nearly TEN years, so should or could any credit be taken? 
You need to look at the history of a player, have they been going from coach to coach to try to find that one element that seems to be missing in their game? Have they had just one coach? Have they had two coaches who could perhaps share some credit? It's all in the eyes of the beholder , so to speak.
I often hear or read about coaches who are trying to claim any little piece of credit that they possibly can , due mostly to the fact that they have had very little success at all, but let's not be too harsh here. I have had numerous kids who have been poached in the past by other 'coaches' who offered the 'World' but delivered very little except some large expenses for the parents. So if the kid who was poached , either from my past programs or any one else's for that matter , goes on to gain success then who can take the credit?Tough one to answer isn't it?
What if as i mentioned earlier some students who may in fact be grown men now days have success in the sport of tennis without having anything to do with a coach for 4 or 5 years or longer ? Should their old coach or coaches be claiming credit for their accolades? Perhaps , but some know how to do it discretely, others fill the Social Media pages with 'former pupil' etc, etc, but what they aren't telling you is the length of time these guys have now been 'independent' players for.
I firmly believe that if you start a child from scratch , you are owed some credit, if you are just another in passing , i would be reluctant to accept much, but do everyone a favour please. Don't be one of these guys who sit on the veranda on a rocking chair gazing at the gathering twilight and look into the stars and think "aah yes Jonny was my boy , he won Wimbledon , i was his third coach , he had seven , but what i taught him was what gave him that edge".
It's important that as teachers of any sport we don't suffer from 'head up one's own a... syndrome', it happens a lot in my town , hopefully it doesn't in yours......


Scores go round in my head sometimes , i don't think about them , they just stay there , here's a few , check them if you like; Pardon me if many are from the Swedish 80's era;
1982 French Open final Wilander def Vilas 1-6, 7-6, 6-0, 6-4
1982 Spanish Open (now Barcelona) Wilander def Vilas 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
1982 Wimbledon Final Connors def McEnroe 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 
 1980 Wimbledon Final Borg def Mcenroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18) 8-6
1983 Aust open semi  Wilander def Mcenroe 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
1982 Davis Cup Quarter Final Mcenroe def Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 ( maybe 6 hours and 30 min roughly)
1985 French Open Final Wilander def Lendl  3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
1984 French Open Final Lendl def Mc Enroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 (possibly wrong year)
1987 US Open Final Lendl def Wilander 6-7, 6-0, 7-6, 6-4
1988 US Open Final  Wilander def Lendl 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Funny isn't it how some matches and scores go around in your head , i may be wrong with the years but i swear the scores are correct. The 80's for me were not just Glam Rock , Def Leppard , Guns n Roses, Bryan Adams and Cheap Trick but it was a time when tennis players wore their hair long , had some attitude like Connors and where tennis had a cult following with guys like Borg Mac and Jimmy . It's strange but when Borg retired prematurely in 81 Sweden and the World for that matter didn't have to wait too long for a 'Swedish replica' , my hero Mats Wilander , he sort of softened the blow of the Borg retirement. 
Great era , great music , great hair , great memories , Oh won't you take me back........(Bryan Adams)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


I read somewhere on a Coaching Provider's website that he was offering many , many things because quite frankly this guy seems to own every certificate available to the game of tennis. Now the one thing that astounded me was that he is telling the public that among other things he is 'the man' to see if you want to make tennis your career as a player. Hmmm what's wrong with this statement ?? 
How does he know that he is 'the man' if none of his students have ever become a professional and what qualifications does he have to apparently achieve this goal ?? I can answer both of these questions but i will remain polite.
Why would you offer to the public a one in a million chance to make a living from a game that has a strike rate of just that ? Or perhaps this figure should be higher. If you are after facts and figures then my previous chapter titled 'Word For Word' is worth a read . This game is getting out of hand. Fair dinkum now we have people saying to the public that we are good enough to get you a playing career , hang on let me go find that needle in a haystack .....
No Mentor or Coach of any sport should be saying to the public that they are offering a program good enough to make it as a professional unless it's already been proven . Darren Cahill and Jason Stoltenberg could actually offer this however as they both had a hand in bringing Lleyton Hewitt from a 15 year old Australian Open Qualifier to World Number 1 .
So what should the public be reading ? Not offers of fairy tales for a start. A realistic program that can offer a kid a chance to fulfill his potential and a realistic assessment of the student's game on a regular basis is what both the parents and the students require . I used to give kids a week or two off if either i felt they were tired of the game or just going through the motions , the parents appreciated the honesty. That's all it takes , no fairy tales , just a bit of honesty regarding the intricacies of the game of tennis , fair dinkum......


The following piece of literature is from a person who i must get in contact with at some stage , just looking for their address now, it's quite simply BRILLIANT, here it is , word for word from 'tennis;
'Right now there are about 14 US players on the ATP and WTA tours who are earning a net profit. They span about 17.5 years of playing on tour. That means that the US as a Country produces about 8 1/10's of one paying job per year as a pro tennis player. If you are pushing your child for that 8 1/10's of one job then you need to have your head examined. The pro tennis system is broken beyond belief. It is nothing short of a flat out Business catastrophe perpetrated against our sport .... but it is still our catastrophe. So unless you are going to start a new pro tour ..... you are looking at 80 percent of one paying job per year. 
It cracks me up that the 100's of 1000's of dollars that people spend on their kid's tennis, berating them after their losses, devoting their entire family's live's to the cause ..... only to find out that the average professional tennis player loses money as opposed to makes it. People look at Anna Dok and Maria as the norm when they should be going to Number 759 on the rankings to give that guy a call. His life is slightly different than limousine's and cheering crowds.'
There is slightly more to this fantastic article but what i have just written is the main idea, brilliant isn't it ? It goes on to say that 'Coaches' should be focusing on making sure that these kids are still playing when they are 70 as opposed to trying to make it their life until then. Now this is no set up , i promise you , I have a good buddy in Queensland who sent me that email last night , we used to play together at Coops in Brisbane when we were 16 and 17 year old's respectively. Please take the time if you haven't already to read some of my last chapters regarding burn out of kids and lining tennis 'coaches' pockets , particularly in the off season where i believe maybe a 90 minute session once a week just to keep your shot memory fresh is plenty. This 90 minute session does not of course have to be with a 'coach' who charges $70 per hour for the 'privilege' of gracing the court with him. 
I touched on a subject regarding a kid who i used to teach locally but who went through the burn out phase through aimless hitting and endless tournaments to please his 'coach' and to be used as a publicity poster for the organization burning him out . Well this kid is slowly but surely finding his way back into the game, as are two of his mates who hit with me when they get the occasional urge . We have a bit of fun with the game now days and i always tell them the following things. ' Forget the fact that you didn't make it as Pro's , percentage wise it was never going to happen , but you guys can play the game well . Look what i did 20 something years ago , the game took me to Europe and taught me the realistic side of World tennis standard , something that i would recommend to some parents who think their child is a 'World beater'.
Was i under any illusions when i went to Europe to play ? Ha! It was an education trip for me as i knew that teaching the game was where i was at , trying to make money from playing was a Walt Disney story. So back to these young players i hit with occasionally. 
I find that it's a responsibility of guys like myself to keep these young players in touch with the game despite their obvious past that had them hating the game by the time they ceased play . Now days it's for fun but just some days you can see that these players still have the fire that they once owned plus sensational double handed back hands that may just one day take them across to the other side of the World as it did with myself.  
Christian Segni and Brett Patten both reached World number 1 at different times for their 40's age group not long ago, now there's a more realistic goal......


Check this match out , this is one of those matches that you can tell your students about , it's where a serve is not even worth a mention , it was like every serve was simply a second serve. 
Mats Wilander from Sweden played France's Henri Leconte and the weight of a nation was on Henri . Mats served 97 percent of first serves in , now that must be an all time record , apparently Mats missed one first serve , made around a dozen unforced errors and hit very few winners, he simply played flawless, error free tennis. So why don't we teach the game to be played like this now days ?? 
It aint cool.......

Monday, 28 April 2014


Firstly , an apology, to a player from Argentina named Christian Segni. Last October i wrote a post on this site and i referred to Christian as 'Guillermo' , however i can be excused for this. Guillermo is one of those Argentinian names that is not unlike John or Bill in Australia so i possibly may have just assumed this guy's first name was Guillermo , anyhow back to the story. I made reference to this guy Segni in a chapter from my memory of Saumur , a beautiful French City and where Peter , Brett and myself played our first European Tournament in 1991. The tennis centre at Saumur was magnificent , from memory 16 indoor clay courts , all under lights and all in brilliant condition, a real eye opener for us Aussies.
After a day of practice we sat back and watched the International players train , there were some brilliant tennis players entered in the Saumur Tournament , from all around Europe, us Aussies were a little out of place. We tried to fit in with some occasional 'pigeon English' but we were always caught short when it came to having a conversation with a French player. 'Ok mate we will have to leave it there'...... or words to that effect anyhow.
I still vividly remember watching this guy who is in fact named Christian ,( not Guillermo) Segni  both in practice and in his first round match , he was entertainment plus. Christian had one of those forehands that you would give anything to have had footage of , so you could show your pupils back home , it was in a word , brilliant. It was lethal , it had spin , depth , power and consistency all rolled into one magnificent shot that had his opponents scrambling to not only run it down but to try and get back in court to his backhand , which wasn't that strong. He hit slice from that side, a good slice , not unlike the many European clay courters , steady, reliable but not brilliant by any means , not like the Fed's backhand slice that could set a point up . 
The first round match that Segni played in Saumur was a challenge for him , there weren't any easy matches (even i took my German opponent to 3 sets first round) so we got to see plenty of Christian's forehands. The Argentine also had a funny habit , he would look to the stands after each point that he won , up at his mates who were cheering him on , he was after some acknowledgement , he certainly received it, and he deserved it. Of all the players i watched in Europe on that 1991 tour Christian Segni stood out from the rest as his play was exhilarating and he was fit, he had to be to keep running around his backhand to hit that magnificent forehand . I often wondered how Christian went with his tennis , i just looked him up on the net.
He in fact recently reached World Number 1 for his age group 40's , not surprisingly either if he's still hitting that forehand like he did in 91, a world class shot from a guy who i admired greatly.
Christian Segni is a typical example of a player who didn't quite make it as a Professional but still had the desire to get to the top in his sport , just like my buddy and Touring partner Brett Patten did , reaching the pinnacle in the world for his age recently.
I also wondered how he did in that first tournament we saw him play , if he didn't win it i would be surprised , it would've taken a great player to beat him.
Christian , if ever you read this firstly i apologize for calling you Guillermo and secondly thank you for leaving such an impression on both myself and my Aussie mates all those years ago in Saumur , France .Well done on reaching World Number 1 for your age and keep hitting those forehands like you did in 1991, absolutely inspirational.........

Saturday, 26 April 2014


You can win any Country Tennis Tournament you like but no one cares , win a City Tennis Tournament and people will take you seriously.....

'DO I EVER.......?'

Do I ever get sick of having a shot at an industry that has been rather good to me over the years ? Well in some ways I am disappointed that it has got to this stage as it's an industry that keeps me in touch with the public , keeps me fit , keeps me from sitting at home. When I was a lad I once had a tennis lesson with a guy from Perth who tore strips off my style , yet I respect him to this day , Rob Casey , a Western Australian tennis genius , both in playing and coaching ability.
It was one of those tennis lessons you look back on and think ' shit am I that bad'? But it wasn't that I didn't have some good results or near misses for that matter. I remember two matches in State Championships in the 16's age group , in the same year . I lead by a set and a break to two guys who were seeded 2 and 3 respectively , one went on to win the Tournament (Damian Hampson), the other was runner up(Mark Leuba) . I wondered what could have been if I had held my nerve , yet Rob didn't see it like this , he had other theories.(by the way look these guys up , they could play the game).
'You are good enough to push the good players but you simply aren't good enough to beat them , your game has flaws , it isn't a game that can consistently match it with the best in the State, but you are competitive'. That to me gave me heart to persevere, so I did , I was runner up in the Fremantle State Champs the same year , just not quite good enough to win , but as always and what I still pride my tennis on , I was COMPETITIVE.
I read some recent results of State Championships and did some analyzing of certain players and it's amazing how many 0 and 0 matches there are, that's not competitive. A 6-2, 6-3 loss to a seeded player means you were competitive, a big difference from a belting where you don't get a game. To me this is where guys like Rob Casey should be utilized by the game in Australia as it needs honesty , not a fictional opinion.
Despite Rob's opinion of my game I spent 18 months in Queensland and I gave it my best . I hit at the Coops training facility in Brisbane each day and I practised against Pat Rafter and Andrew Kratzmann , a Queenslander who once made it to number 13 in the World in doubles and who also lost an epic 5 set Australian Open Doubles final . I never lost to Andrew in any challenge match at Coops , but looking back I was always realistic, it wasn't tournament matches that we were playing.
So back to my take on the tennis coaching industry; If every Tennis Coach in this country had the same views on the game as Rob Casey then most of the Australian Institute Of Sport scholarship holders would not have been given the time of day as far as the game of tennis is concerned , they would be the next posties, gardeners and City council workers of the community. But Tennis Australia don't see things like this , and they don't get guys like Rob Casey to assess tennis players before they give up their lives to try and make it on the tennis circuit. Instead they prefer to justify their existence by employing 'Mickey Mouse 'tennis 'coaches' who know nothing.
I will continue my 'shot' at the tennis coaching industry until we see some results . I will do my bit to achieve these results ,realistically at a realistic rate per hour, just like any other job goes, it's called 'being accountable'.....

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Some players retire in matches early or some don't turn up at all to certain tournaments due to what is commonly known as an 'injury'. At 45 i am still waiting for my first 'injury'. Front up , toughen up and grit the teeth . There's no shame in losing , you lose respect by either not finishing a match for one reason or another or you use the old 'injury' line if you think the opposition are too good and you pick and choose your tournaments according to who enters. Recently i lost a doubles final locally to two young fellows who i taught to play when they were 12 years old, did i feel embarrassed by this ? No, i couldn't have been prouder for two reasons , one that i can still give kids half my age a run and two that what i taught them as kids has helped them become good players. I know my limitations and i won't go chasing 'glory' around the state , too old and slow , but in my town i like to set an example for my students , front up , have a go , set the standard , simple really. If you don't like who is playing then do things the old fashioned way , turn up and beat them , simple really........
*FOOTNOTE- Italian Tennis Professional Fabio Fognini recently retired during his second round match in Barcelona after trailing his opponent 0-6, 0-4. Would it be fair to say that Fabio , who is renowned for his up and down mental state was in fact having a bad day and went the 'injury' story to save his reputation at a possible bagel bagel??
You do the sums..... 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


What's the chances of going to Europe in the same year that the great Bjorn Borg decides to come out of retirement and start playing again ? What's the chances of visiting Monte Carlo at the same time that the Monaco Grand Prix was on ? Monte Carlo in 1991 was quite possibly the greatest experience in my life as this was the place i wanted to visit more than anywhere else due largely to Bjorn Borg. When i was a kid i read the book on Borg and how he spent many years as a resident of Monte Carlo due to the taxation breaks that the country gave sports stars earning millions. So i was curious , to say the least.
Brett , Pete and i watched Borg lose his come back match in Monte Carlo from a Sports club in the French city of Bordeaux , a wine growing region in France, we were all shattered, he was our hero. I told them that i was going to spend some time on the French Riviera and Monte Carlo was my main destination. Pete and i had just won a doubles tournament in the French town of Garoult which Pete beat Brett in the final of the singles also, but i was strangely more interested in seeing some history of the country.
My first impression of the Monte Carlo Country Club was one of awe , it is a Tennis Club that beats all other tennis clubs that i have ever seen and the back drop is nothing short of perfection , the Mediterranean Ocean, a post card . I took a photo that i still have in a frame on my wall that i will treasure forever, a photo that typifies the sort of place that Monte Carlo is , rich , beautiful and non replicated, tennis courts in the foreground and the blue waters behind. 
I would love to have had a hit on the courts at Monte Carlo however my two travelling buddies weren't with me and my French was not fluent so i was more than happy to simply take in the beauty of the place. If you look at the past winners of the tournament it has all my hero's on the winner's board , Borg , Wilander , even Joakim Nystrom , another Swedish player who i admired for his shot making and temperament. 
Of all the places i have ever visited i would put The Monte Carlo Country Club at the top of the list , a place of remarkable beauty and tranquility and a place that i believe is still the bench mark of World Tennis back drops. 
The Monaco Grand Prix was simply a bonus and i spent an afternoon watching the race from a vantage point in a cafe overlooking the harbor that  is possibly the richest playground to cruise liners and yachts that you could ever imagine.
This game of tennis never earned me any money , not life changing anyhow , but it gave me some memories that i will never forget and that have given me the outlook i now have on the game.
It's a game that can take you anywhere in the World , no matter what standard you play and it's a game that can give you some life long memories , i am one of those lucky ones.......

Friday, 11 April 2014


What motivates us to play tennis ? Is it a fight with our inner demons to win at a sport that is quite simply a mind battle as well as a physical one ? Is it a personal quest in a one on one sport because we simply aren't a team player ? Is it because we simply want to test ourselves to the maximum and with a good result comes the satisfaction of being a winner where we don't have anyone else to blame if we lose ? Risky sport tennis. If we played a team sport we have our team mates to help share the blame if we lose, tennis doesn't afford us that luxury. 
Personally i like to prove people wrong who knock me for still having a go against the youth of the game , it quite frankly inspires me to achieve. A while ago i read something negative about myself that i used to motivate me in both my coaching and playing. I began riding up hills on a daily basis , got the legs strong , lost a few kilos , went from 79 kg to 74, made some room , started thinking more when i played and also when i coached. I read that comment on a daily basis to motivate myself to get better , it's worked. I need to send that person a thank you at some stage for helping me to get fired up .
Tennis is like that , a sport that unless you get some fire in the belly you just may lack the necessities to get you over the line . I read somewhere that the great Jimmy Connors made a point of 'hating his opponents'. Now this is taking things to the extreme but hey it worked for Jimbo as he still holds the record for the most ever pro tournament victories. 
Motivation for winning at the game of tennis can come from many avenues but personally i use two main things to get myself in the right frame of mind. Credibility; Now this is a big thing for a coach of the game and as i have mentioned before , some coaches are happy to simply 'talk the talk' . Personally if i am fit enough which i now believe i am then just teaching someone how to play is not enough to satisfy me , i make an effort to also show them. I love the opportunity to 'walk the walk', especially against the young blokes as it's a way to gain respect , you can't beat that .
There's an old adage in tennis that i love to follow ; It's not how good you were , it's how good you can still become. I love this one as it is where i stand with my own ability. Sure i need to get fitter but i am working on that because i am not just someone who is happy to talk about the game , i love the challenge , physically and mentally.
Find what gets you enough inner strength to play the game and run with it . I'm just on the lookout for that next negative comment regarding my 'old legs'........

Thursday, 10 April 2014


Now Dustin Brown is no household name , Bec Hewitt probably dislikes him as he prevented her from spending another day in the player's box at Wimbledon last year when he sent her hubby Lleyton packing early. Today he beat American John Isner the World's number 9 player in the US Claycourt Championships in a thriller 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. Now this win will go down as a remarkable mindset victory for Dustin who is in fact ranked 101 as he had two match points in the second set. To put that behind him and regroup mentally in the final set particularly after a 5-1 lead in the deciding tiebreaker closed to 5-4 was nothing short of outstanding. What this victory does is rather obvious ;
What really is the gap in standard between a top ten player and a guy ranked outside the top 100 ? It's the mind , that's all . Any guy in the top 200 can hit a tennis ball , that's obvious , but it's what a player can do with a ball that defines him as a player . Just how good are guys like Novak , Rafa and Roger to be able to win each week on the Pro Tour even when they aren't perhaps at their best physically or mentally ? 
These guys are brilliant , no other word for them . If Mr Brown was to do some practice drills with Mr Federer it would be rather entertaining , Mr Brown would hold his own , he may even win more than he loses , but Mr Fed is a genius , Mr Brown is an apprentice. 
I mean that in all due respect to Dustin Brown , he is a brilliant tennis player and if his ranking were higher he would be a marketer's dream , the long dreadlocks give him an almost 'young Andre Agassi' appeal. If this guy breaks the top 50 you watch the sponsorship dollars that get thrown his way . Mr 'Dreadlock Holiday' is just a tournament win away from his biggest bank account seen since his induction into World Tennis many years ago . I hope he is able to back up his Isner victory , tennis needs Dustin , he is someone just a little different from the regular player , 101 ranking but World Class as far as entertaining. It's what the sport needs.........

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


How can you wipe the smile off the face from a bloke who can still win his local singles championship against kids who move way quicker , way better, hit the ball cleaner and pull up from games of tennis with barely a sweat ??? I am still having trouble walking , so i am riding my bike around instead just to loosen the old legs up , I think i will be ready to go again by Friday . 
As you get older in this game you don't take any of it for granted . You gain respect by still having a go . You are a long time retired , do it while you can, make every match count.
Having an early night , the legs are still tired but the mind is still thinking " I gained some respect with this win , it'll take an awful lot to upset me at the moment"...........

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


When you get to age 45 as a tennis coach you look at your past days on court as a player and sometimes ask the question " did I achieve anything"? We have all played the game of tennis however much of our success in the game has come from handing down our knowledge as a mentor of the game as opposed to perhaps 'glory days' as a kid.
I just played a local tennis championship and found myself up against an 18 year old kid who had every shot in the book , but not quite the knowledge to impart it on his ever improving game . Took me two hours of physical pain and mental frustration to get over the line , but I put it on the line.
It's good for students to watch their mentors and Coaches play tennis tournaments as it reinforces what they are being taught. Some of us call it 'walking the walk' as well as 'talking the talk'.
When I was 28 I played my first coach in a local tournament in singles , he was 40 , he had a great game and very smart , but I had the legs . I had a win . Did I lose respect for him ? No , I liked him more . I appreciated his effort to still play the game as his legs were starting to move a little slower.
There is no disgrace in losing as a Coach of the game , people appreciate the effort put in as teachers of any sport or profession have a go against kids young enough to be their kids , it's character building on both fronts.
I haven't walked properly for two days , but I am a proud man and Coach of the game of tennis because I followed a terminology that the company Nike told the public to do many years ago and I did just that ; JUST DO IT .........

Thursday, 3 April 2014


I never really appreciated the way in which Brad Gilbert played tennis , I wasn't alone . After reading the Jimmy Connors book it seems that Gilbert was a man who was disliked immensely by fellow players for one reason or another , Jonny Mac was one .
After a loss at the Masters one particular year McEnroe took 6 months off the game and said that if he was to lose "to jerks like that" he needed time off. I like this melt down from a legend like Mac , it meant that the guy he lost to meant nothing to him as far as respect for a fellow pro was concerned, but it gave me some ideas. I have always thought that the game of tennis was too glamorous as far as style went , Gilbert was a man who threw a lot of theories out the window.
If you look at the way Gilbert used to play you will see that it is unconventional , ugly and involves giving your opponent garbage balls , but boy it was effective. Why do you think that Andre Agassi became so good ? It's because he was the opposite of Gilbert and owned every shot in the book yet had a tennis brain that 14 year olds owned , Gilbert turned his thinking into a man's.
I had a lesson this week with a kid who quite frankly is a smart kid , every shot in the book he owned , but he didn't know how to construct a point . I paused after a while and almost imagined myself as Gilbert with a young Andre down the other end and I in fact paid him a compliment. I told him " Hey Champ what you need is someone to teach you how to play tennis , you actually know how to hit a ball well but you don't know how to play the game ".
I was genuine in my praise , he hit the ball beautifully but had no tactical mind , understandable , he's young , plenty of time to gain a knowledge. Hopefully he will be back , he is probably the best kid I have seen in years.
I think sometimes in tennis as a coach we perhaps over coach kids , we need to teach them the tactical side rather than keep teaching them how to hit a ball, they get tired of that same old routine. Brad Gilbert picked the issues with Agassi in their very first hit together and told Andre that he was simply doing "dumb things" , things that were costing him on court . Andre was beating himself , not losing to opponents.
If a kid can hit a tennis ball then we should be teaching them how to play , not how to hit , there is a difference, yet some continue to treat students as imbeciles , like beginners , it's how kids are lost to other sports .
The other day I saw some potential in a kid that I believe has not been utilised by other coaches as the shots that were being hit to me had an air of maturity in them that gets us coaches excited at the prospect of nurturing the talent .
My views on tennis at times are not text book but I believe that it is a game that should be looked upon as a game of chess or checkers . A kid who learns the moves early will find a way to the finish line a lot earlier than a kid who is kept under wraps because his coach is too scared to teach them the next step .
We should be teaching 'Check Mate' at an early age for those that can hit a ball , not leaving it until it's too late , just as Brad Gilbert did for a young Andre Agassi who without a tactical mind as his coach's would have been just another wasted talent.
Brains win tennis matches , not just a big forehand . Watch Gilbert play on You Tube , tell me of I'm wrong.....