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........