Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Had a look at the French Open results tonight on the net, nothing out of the ordinary. Lleyton lost to a European , much younger with way more clay court ability, and a more glamorous name, Carlos, you should always be concerned playing a 'Carlos' on clay. 
Matty Ebden lost to even more of a European name in Pablo Cuevas and only managed 6 games in three sets, a clay court lesson for another Aussie. Bernard , well he was simply 'Bernie', as always , asleep for the first two sets before a brief wakey, wakey moment. He clawed his way to 5 games all in the third set against the top ranked Frenchman Gasquet , or 'Reeshard' as they like to call him over there. Two games later , all over Bernie, go hit a nightclub.
Now I have my theories, as always, but surely the Aussies aren't training on the right surface to be able to take it up to the Carlos's and Pablo's of the tennis World, Tennis Australia's fault?  You do the sums.
Now the other Aussie with the real okker name Marinko Matosevic, now here's a player who impresses me, a guy who has won basically nothing but has an attitude that goes with his name. Marinko had never won a Grand Slam singles match , until now , however at the Oz Open he went close , losing in 5 tough sets to Nishikori, the next top tenner, without a doubt. At the end of that match Marinko accused people of not cheering loudly enough for him and in particular his coach Mark Woodforde, an Aussie legend, interesting way of passing the blame Marinko. 
Meanwhile in Paris  Marinko finally received a kind draw and he beat his lower ranked opponent Dustin Brown , a man with more dread locks than Bob Marley , but good tennis player all the same, in 4 tight sets . This apparently was the Aussie's first win in a big 4 tournament , boy did he celebrate. Now i am all for celebrating achievements however Marinko kept Dustin waiting after he had achieved victory with a rather unusual 'body roll'. As if to bury some demons from his past and just as Jim Courier had jumped into the Yarra River 2 minutes after defeating Edberg in the Oz Open final in the 90's , Marinko wanted to savor the moment. 
A full body roll , almost from the baseline to the net, the sort of roll that you taught yourself as a kid when you tackled a hill at the local park , tuck the arms in , away you go. All this while Dustin was waiting to shake hands , but I think this is karma. At Wimbledon last year Dustin did something i am sure he will forever regret after beating Lleyton Hewitt in the second round. Rather than soak up the atmosphere and take it all in at the most famous tournament in the World he simply ignored the fans , didn't sign an autograph and simply left the stadium. There surely would be many more chances to experience this right? Wrong. Dustin has won very little, in fact his win against Hewitt was possibly only his second ever victory in a Grand Slam Tournament, but I could be wrong , doubt it though.
Anyhow, if I was Dustin , well i would've made the time to sign some 'new fan's' autographs, but that's just me.
 In other matches the Bulgarian 'future great' Grigor Dimitrov lost to a guy with the World's biggest serve, Ivo Karlovic, which typified Mats Wilander's assessment of him last year "He has his mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court",  smart guy is Mats. A guy of Dimitrov's ability should simply not lose to a player like Karlovic , he should have way too many shots for a predominantly big server . 
Was Stan Wawrinka's loss a surprise ? No, he lost to Garcia- Lopez, a scary name in World tennis on clay courts, a bad draw and Stan isn't yet an accomplished player on the dirt. Murray lost a set , to be expected, he also has no real form on the clay in Paris , not consistently anyhow. He pushed Rafa in Rome though, he may be learning the art .
Love this tournament, brings out the best and worst...... 

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Remember that game of golf you played when you shot one of the best rounds of your life ? Was it after a break of a few weeks, even months ? Why did you play so well? No expectation , no fear. Make sense?
My dad was the best golfer in town for years, he won the local championship when i was 9, he regularly could go round in par , even under, he once hit 32 on the back 9 at Albany, possibly still a record. We played  in Perth at the Wembley Golf Club one year, 9 holes , I simply was happy to get within 9 shots, I was going to call it a 'moral victory' if i did. The par was 35, a shorter 9 holes , the greatest round of golf I have ever played . Usually i would shoot a bogey a hole or perhaps 5 over was my best, but this particular day something happened with my golf that i have never revisited.
We both shot 35, I expected that from Dad because he was a brilliant golfer, but me , well I can't explain it. I am not sure whether it was no fear and no expectation or simply that I was after some respect. So what's the point? 
If you play a game of tennis with no expectations then what have you got to lose? It's amazing how many players go to water when they look at the draw and see a number that is next to their name that is a number that apparently gives them a chance to win the tournament. If a player is seeded, there is expectation , not just from the player , but from friends, family, players and the tournament committee , there is pressure.
What happens though in a round robin event where seeds are not as intimidating as if you draw one in a knockout comp and a player adopts a mind set of 'no expectation, no fear'? 
Well that's easy to answer, that's when a player will play his best , they will play with flair and perhaps even reckless abandon  because that's how they can actually play when they practice. I have not only played my best golf when i wasn't placing any expectations on myself but I have played my best tennis after a long lay off .  
So what is it with tennis, golf and a body and mind that is as loose as a bloke that has been to a pub and has had 4 pints of the finest ale? 
Whether you have either not played for a while or are playing the number one seed in the first round , ask yourself "where is the pressure"? If you don't place any on yourself then surely you can swing as free as that bloke who just drank 4 pints. In fact , have you ever played tennis after a few ales? No fear whatsoever......
At 2 sets to love and 4 all 40 love on his own serve in the 2004 French Open final Guillermo Coria had already written his speech in his head, the rest is history. His opponent Gaston Gaudio had about as much to lose as a broke gambler at a casino, why not roll the dice?
The best golf game you will ever play is the one where you just go for broke and hit it like you simply don't care what your score is going to be. The guy trying to protect his handicap is the guy you will beat easily.
The best game of tennis you have played or perhaps will play in the future is the one where you will just turn up , keep swinging and most importantly not be thinking about the winner's speech at the end. This game isn't that hard really, our minds are the problem , not our shots.......
Gaston Gaudio , French Open Champion 2004- a man who decided to loosen up when the match was seemingly out of his grasp. No fear, no expectation, took him nearly 3 sets to work it out.......

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Yes, yes i know you have a 'coach' that tells you how to hit a tennis ball, the World is full of 'em, dime a dozen I call 'em, they all do the same old stuff. 
Drill this , drill that, sprint here, sprint there, it will all benefit a budding tennis player, sure it will. Have you ever watched a Pro's Coach in 'action' at the back of the court while his player is hitting up ? What does he do ? You are right, he does nothing except the following;
He watches intently, he lets his player get grooved, he says the occasional thing, he always has a racket and a ball or two in his hand , but above all , he doesn't do much. Why is this ? 
His player knows how to hit a tennis ball , probably has done for 15 or 20 years , the Coach isn't interested in the way he hits the ball because he knows he does it almost to perfection, what he wants is the thought process to be active. He wants his player to be able to construct a point, pretty simple stuff hey? So why don't kids get taught to construct a point? The 'coach' is too busy with his head up his own arse , that's why.
I have often talked fondly of Brad Gilbert, not everyone's favorite tennis player for one reason or another but it may have had more to do with the fact that he was simply a genius. How anyone could beat the best in the World on more than one occasion with the shots he owned was testimony to the fact that he was a clever tennis player.
So what is a Pro Coach doing on the side of the court looking cool with those sunnie's on and looking more like a part of his player's entourage than anything or anyone else? He's just looking for one thing, one thing to say to his player when he gets off court or when he goes for a drink of water. He is looking for that one thing to say that will make a difference because he is quite simply his player's brains. He is the guy who is a dictionary of all the smart things in the World regarding the game of tennis and no matter what his player does or says , well, he has an answer for it, and a smart answer at that. 
He wants his player to think about how he can utilize his strengths and to hide his weaknesses as best he can and he wants his player to win a match by forcing his opponent to lose it.
Constructing enough points in tennis to win a match is an art, it's why most 'coaches' will never ever take a player to a level that is required to win consistently, it's why his best kids will burn out before they are 16.
There's a lot to the game of tennis , much more than saying 'great shot buddy, you the man', it's a game that requires a smart mind to play it but more importantly to teach it. The next time you see that Coach wearing the sunglasses, looking cool and simply watching what his player is doing without really offering too much well think again, he's processing data...........

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Paris in the Spring , time for the French open , my favorite Grand Slam. Only the fittest and smartest win this event, hence the pic of Rafa, a modern day gladiator. Not too many players can do what he does physically, that's why quite simply , he wins. More to the game than just hitting a ball......
  This year however, barring injury will be the year of the Serb, he is all over Rafa mentally, he should've won it last year, can't see him making the same mistake twice.......

Monday, 19 May 2014


Know how to confuse a European tennis player? Give Brett Patten a call and get him to talk you through it. Even at age 19 'Patsy' had them continually looking over their shoulders in amazement "What the 5#&k is this guy doing"?? At least i think that's how they spell it in French.
Serve and volley , chip and charge, move to the net on anything that even resembles a short ball , give 'em the sh..s. Going to the net to put pressure on an opponent is the best way to cause panic and create errors for a baseliner.
So why isn't it taught by modern Coaches? 
Un cool.......


The sun is starting to shine, the trees are starting to leave, the flowers are starting to bloom, it's Paris in the Spring. Now i have no idea how all of this came about but let's put this trip into perspective; 
No internet, no European knowledge of dates , events, locations, language or history. Why not simply wake up one day , have a think about what perhaps has been on my mind since i was a kid, book a trip, make it up as I go along? Funny thing was , so were two guys from the City of Perth. 
I really don't know how it all started but I had decided that Paris was what I wanted to see, don't know why , maybe the history, the scenery, the beauty or even just the idea of being in a cafe drinking a French flavored beverage. I still don't know what it was , but this is what happened.
I arrived in Paris in April of 1991 carrying a tennis bag,three rackets and high hopes, but realistic all the same. I was 21, Boris Becker won Wimbledon at 17, Mats Wilander the French Open at 17, why would i bother?
Education. To know anything about the game of tennis you need to see how it is played in Europe, it's scary. I wrote a chapter on my first tournament in Saumur Paris a while back where I caught up with West Australian's Brett Patten and Peter Gerrans, my eventual touring buddies. Funny thing was we were never going to travel together, just play one tournament then catch up again down some French road somewhere that came to a fork where we would say g'day and go again. 
France however is a big place and we enjoyed our first tournament together since our junior days so we decided to travel in the transport that can only be described as a 'dinkie toy'. Another old chapter explains it all, but character building it was.
Back to my original opening paragraphs; What's the chances ?
*Paris in the Spring, one of the most famous times of the year in a place that movies and legends are common place.
*The Monaco Grand Prix on the French Riviera. I arrive In Monte Carlo and ask a policeman " Why so busy"??
* The great man Bjorn Borg makes a comeback to World tennis that we watch intently from a sports club in Bordeaux.
* I meet someone on the Riviera that needs their villa looked after for 4 nights. "You trustworthy, see you in 4 days".
* The only tournament i won was a tournament i didn't in fact enter, they had a default and needed another doubles team, we won it.
* The man i sit next to on the flight to Paris has a mate who lives in Paris originally from York West Australia, I stay with them while in Paris.
Tennis ? Well that's why I went to Europe , other things took over as way more important and some things just happened through either luck or coincidence, or both , but looking back i believe it was the luckiest trip i may ever have.
I saw some great tennis, I played a dozen tournaments , I didn't win much though except a doubles tournament with Peter just outside of Paris , but I take something from the trip.
It puts the game into perspective and not many can say they have seen it played at that level or played it in an environment that i will always describe foremost as 'intimidating'. When you play people who don't even talk your language , well that's special.......

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Righto this is right off the top of my head, we are going back many, many years but here's a story for you. Brett, Pete and myself turn up in the middle of France, in fact the middle of nowhere in 'Le Car', unshowered, hungry , in need of many things. Don't know where we were , don't know where we were headed , but this was the deal. 
It's tough to remember where it was but we found a truck stop, it had a diner , we ate, then we needed sleep.
The car had enough room for two to sleep , not three , so time to do the sums, where to sleep for one extra Aussie who needed some shut eye to get refreshed for a tennis tournament? So Pete being the man who thought outside the square came up with a great idea, sleep outside.
Hey i was not one to argue , 'Le Car' was the tardis and had plenty of room ,for two , but if Pete wanted some time with nature then who were Brett and I to argue?
Despite the cramped conditions, we got some shut eye, however when  it was time to get up , stretch , smell the French air and most importantly , to have a pee, this was an issue. Where was Pete?
Now if I had three tennis bags on my right , well why would i try to get out of that side of the 'tardis' to smell the new French day? I did what i was taught to do from a young age, look for the easiest option. Left back door handle down, open door, step out, pee, shouldn't be too hard, pardon the pun. Problem was Pete found a spot in the gutter to sleep in his sleeping bag, a place of tranquility, peace and comfort, so why didn't he tell Brett and myself of his location?? 
The car door opened, with a thud , I believe 'Le Car' was on an angle in the car park so the force of the door was compounded , ten fold. Pete wore the door fair in the head. "Thommo what the f... are you doing"? "Having a pee Pete, sorry didn't see you there". 
I believe it was the start of the end of our friendship.
It spilled out into a French bakery, Pete wanted to kill me as i said the 'wrong things', don't know what but I probably referred to my practice set win or his girlfriend's short skirt, don't remember. It was the closest that any of us got to having a full on boxing bout.
 I recall in the first week of our French tour playing and beating Pete in a practice set, but i never, ever lost a practice set, even against Brett, i was unbeatable. In fact if ever there was a job as World Tennis Practice Partner with a win, win ratio, it was my job, no risk. 
All I remember about France 1991 was that it was an eye opener to World Tennis, it's a shot of realism. It's worth the money , especially to those that think they are a walk up start to Professional tennis because they have won an obscure little tournament. No amount of money could give you this 'Education' to a sport......

Thursday, 15 May 2014


My favorite shot and most reliable, the back hand slice, made famous by my hero Mats Wilander in 1988 in the US Open final against Lendl. A match that Mats won in 5 sets that took him to World Number 1. Just wish more coaches would teach this shot, it can win you a match and conserve energy, a great shot. If i was ever to 'hang my hat' on a shot i learnt in 30 years of tennis this would be it. A shot to attack with , a shot to defend with , a shot to conserve energy with.

A man who perfected the sliced back hand

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Garoult France ( Scene of the crime )  In 1991 Brett Patten , Peter Gerrans and myself visited some rather unique towns to play tennis tournaments. It is unclear just what took us to Gareoult but i am glad we went as the Australian contingent cleaned up the local tournament. I was not entered in the tournament so i just went along for the ride but on reaching the tournament they needed another doubles team. Brett and Pete argued as to who should play as they could not play together , their rankings were too high , that's where i came in handy. 
One of their rankings put together with my ranking would meet the ranking criteria , so i think they tossed a coin , it was to be Pete and GT for the doubles. The singles event was dominated by Brett and Pete , all the way to the final , that's when some fun and games started. You've heard of 'match fixing' , well this match took that statement to a whole new level.This was like watching a Dad play cricket with his son, you know when he keeps leaving the stumps open or hitting the ball straight back for a catch. Brett and Pete apparently organized this match to be won by Peter but for the winners purse to go to Brett. As a spectator i nodded off on more than one occasion. Just for the record apparently Pete took an extra 100 francs spending money out of the purse before he gave it to Brett, as you do. One wanted the prize money , one wanted the title, they found a way to do both..... 
As far as the doubles was concerned Pete and I made it to the final against two players from Belgium and it was a tough game of tennis . My memory for scores is still good to this day and Pete and I took the match in 3 sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 and picked up a couple of hundred French Francs each , from memory. I believe that Brett took around a thousand francs as the 'real' winner and Pete , well he got the pride and glory.
That night we celebrated like real Aussie yobbo's and i believe the night turned into a beer fight but i believe i know why. We are all sitting around a table drinking and trying to understand the European language when a Frenchman comes out with the most ridiculous comment . "How about you and I become pen friends"? Now i aint stupid , as soon as he had said those words i knew that the mouse in Brett's head would be going around a million miles an hour , it didn't take long. "Hey Thommo how bout you and i......."
Yep brilliant Mr Frenchman you just gave my 'mates' a whole new way of giving me the shits for the rest of the tour as if their higher tennis ability was not already enough. So anyhow i blame 'Pierre' and Brett but things turned sour pretty quickly after that and beer started missing mouths and landing on heads. It turned into mayhem. At one stage Brett and i had a race up the street , come to think of it he actually may have been chasing me , but he didn't catch me , i prided myself on the foot work. 
That night i slept in the car at the club , Peter and Brett inside the tennis club house, we were not in fact allowed to stay at the house that we were originally found by the Tennis Club's members. I wonder why , all we did was ruin their 'fiesta' that night with bad language and manners , where was their sense of humor??
We all had a bit of a laugh the next morning as we changed our beer soaked shirts and packed 'Le Car' for the next tournament, 'franced up' and full of testosterone. As the tiny car rolled out of Gareoult I just knew it was only a matter of time before i heard "Hey Thommo , we be Pen Friends ".........
The headphones went on for the rest of the trip, in the back seat behind two blokes who had no respect whatsoever for their older touring buddy, character building........


The issue i faced playing European Money tournaments was that i quite simply was not a strong enough tennis player to match it with the best. The first tournament i played in Saumur , Paris was a good effort though and i hit the ball well on a surface that i had not played on since my days in Queensland , but clay suited my spin. I lead 2-0 in the final set in that particular tournament , thought i was over the line then won just one more game, story of my junior days in Perth tournaments. Just couldn't find the finish line.
So after a bad loss in St Maxime i had a tournament official speak to me regarding my ranking, which was rather high , but there was a reason for it. I was told by more than one player to try to gain an edge with my international ranking as best i could , so i did.
When you first head to Europe , well back in the 90's at least, you take a trip to Roland Garros , home of the French Open and you have a seat with officialdom and you explain yourself, so i did. A French suave gentleman asked me if i had a ranking back in Australia , my answer was no, so he asked the obvious. "Who do you think you can beat"? My answer was an honest one "Well Sir i can beat Brett Patten". So he looks up Brett's ranking, pretty high it was , obviously as Brett was one of the best in the State of WA. Now i wasn't really lying as just prior to going to Europe i had asked Brett for a practice session at Observation City in Scarborough where i was coaching guests. On this particular day i was seeing the ball like a football and i belted Brett ( He may tell you different but i never forget when i have a win , practice or otherwise).
Anyhow i walked out of Roland Garros with a ranking that saw me skip qualifying matches and put me straight into the main draw, but this left me with a real issue in St Maxime.
The tournament wasn't overly strong and somehow Glenn Thompson from Western Australia ended up as the NUMBER 1 SEED !. Yep i was THE MAN on the French Riviera. Problem was i drew a kid of around 18 years of age who was absolutely red hot , didn't miss a ball and could finish a point at will , i think the score was 1 and 1, a belting. That's when the main man at The St Maxime Tennis Club sat down next to GT and asked me the obvious question . "Why is your ranking so high"? I played it pretty well , told him i was 'off my game' and had a 'bit of a niggle' in my hammy, couldn't move too well. I don't think he bought it, he sent my details to Roland Garros and my very next tournament saw me start well back in the draw. Well it was worth a try.
I spent the next couple of days taking a ferry to and from a little place called St Tropez , home of the rich and famous , a magnificent island that can only be described as 'paradise'. I will leave this post with a vision of St Tropez that really says it all . Tennis on the French Riviera was not one of my more successful times on court but hey , the scenery, well that was something to behold........

Monday, 12 May 2014


Villefranche-sur Mer
Villefranche-sur Mer harbour

Looking back on 1991 in what was the highlight of my tennis life i can't speak highly enough of the beauty of the French Riviera. The image on the left is the view from the train line at the top of the mountain at a place called Villefranche-sur Mer. From memory i had taken a train from Paris to the Riviera , approximately a 6 hour trip and around 100 French Francs as was the currency back then. $25 Australian.
Now as i had said in an old chapter this was what i was prepared to do to gain some sanity as the trip with Peter and Brett in 'Le Car' was character testing and building all rolled into one. My sense of humor however was the problem , it had disappeared altogether as the tiny section in the back seat that i shared with the tennis bags and dirty socks had felt like solitary confinement. I needed some sanity.
The train trip was another education as i shared a cabin with some Europeans who only spoke a bit of English but it made for some entertainment to fill in the time. When the trained stopped at Villefranche-sur-Mer , well that's when i knew that playing tennis in Europe was perhaps second to what was really important. Tasting a different culture was one thing but seeing places like this was something that i really didn't expect to be so magnificent. The internet back then did not exist to look up future destinations so it was like turning up on a blind date and just hoping that the 'scenery' was good.
Within 10 days of reaching the Riviera i had played at two magnificent venues as well as visiting Monte Carlo. The following photos are a night photo from a town called Cagnes Sur Mer and the Saint Maxime Tennis Club. Unfortunately i could not find a photo of the tennis club at Cagnes but the one of Saint Maxime gives it justice. It was a club about 50 metres from the shore line with views of the ocean from most courts. Most difficult to concentrate on your tennis when you play at tennis clubs like these.......

Cagnes Sur Mer
Sainte Maxime Tennis Club
 I was lucky enough to meet a School teacher in St Maxime who spoke fluent English and he phoned through my entries at  both of these venues . Without his efforts i would have struggled as he was the only person who i spoke to who had a good grasp of English. Sometimes you can be lucky.......

Monte Carlo Country Club

How could you not play good tennis here ?? The Monte Carlo Country Club . A postcard.....