Thursday, 31 December 2015

'ONE WITH A DIFFERENCE'

 While going through some old chapters I came across this one that I believe has merit but then again I am a little biased. As much as I love tennis I think that the rules could do with a tweak here and there even if it were a one off tournament. I will leave you with the following chapter as I bid you farewell to 2015 and wish you all the best in 2016.

I am a little different but I wouldn't have me any other way. Being me is a challenge and one that I am taking to a new level in 2016 as I attempt to put a book together on this silly sport. It will probably be a flop but at least I am giving it a go just as I still play the game at nearly 47 while others rest on their past achievements.

Tennis is a sport that you can look back on or look ahead to but just as my good buddy Brett Patten told me " Thommo it aint how good you were mate, it's how good you can still become".

Whether I win another match or not I will have a victory when my book is published as it will be an achievement, a look at tennis on paper that took 33 years to complete. After it's published I may just write another. It's like a first win in tennis apparently, it leaves you wanting more......

Happy New Year

Regards GT

Thursday, 9 April 2015


'A FLAWED SYSTEM'

I don't begrudge anyone who has a personal dig at tennis because even though it has been my main sport for over 30 years I see flaws in the way it is presented. For a sport that is so well known for it's technical expertise there is an obvious flaw in the book of rules that I would love to see changed, if not just for a novelty tournament. Roger Federer is possibly the greatest technically correct player there has ever been, he is quite frankly a genius, he has even proven it off court.
There is a rather well played video of him serving a ball at an empty can of coke that was sitting on someone's head in a studio, it was a dare more than anything, Roger obliged, the can was sent flying. I don't care who you are and how close you are to someone set up like the 'William Tell' famous bow and arrow effort, the precision it took to knock that can off that person's head was nothing short of brilliant.
So why is it that tennis is a sport that requires two serves to start a point if everyone at the professional level is so technically sound ? What if golf followed the same lead as tennis ? Damn I hit it crooked, oh well I have another shot at it, grab me another ball thanks Mr Caddy, that first shot was a 'free swing' anyhow. Can you imagine it ? Every golfer would go for broke on the first shot, what would they have to lose except a ball that would be replaced within the allotted time between shots ?
So what is it with tennis that allows a player two chances to put the ball into play ? I am no expert at sports such as Table Tennis, Badminton or Squash but I have had a crack at all of them and from memory I only received one first serve, correct me if I am wrong. As good as a server perhaps is at those above mentioned sports I doubt very much whether a match would be dominated by a good server due largely to pace or perhaps lack of it.
I have documented on more than one occasion my favourite tennis player Mats Wilander from Sweden and his rather incredible 97 per cent first service effort against Henri Leconte in the final of the French Open in 1988. In more simple terms Mats hit 73 of 75 first serves in, he basically started each of his serves with a delivery that wouldn't wake up a radar gun. He opted for a slow spinning serve that cleared the net with plenty of margin. For the record Mats won the match with ease.
So what of this tactic ? Well the Swede did his homework and realized that he was not going to win too many free points on his serve so he decided to conserve the energy for the rest of his game, a great tactic it turned out to be. The thing I liked so much about this particular match was that the return came back 99 per cent of the time, it was a spectacle, it came down to tactics, not brute strength.
If we fast forward to today's tennis it seems that serves are getting bigger as equipment becomes more advanced but how does a player keep up with this technology as far as their eyes are concerned ? Your guess is as good as mine but returning a serve of Ivo Karlovic's surely will become even harder in the future as equipment becomes more advanced. How does a player see a serve of say 240 kms per hour let alone play it back into court ? It becomes almost a guessing game as to where it is going.
So what if guys like Karlovic and John Isner, another prolific server were told that they no longer had the luxury of two serves and were asked to develop a game more like the great Swede Mats Wilander ? Would that be more of a spectacle to a crowd of avid tennis fans wanting to witness a rally or two rather than them having to give the obligatory hand clap after another unplayable bomb that can send even the most seasoned spectator off to sleep ?
My answer is obvious and I believe that a tournament should be on the professional calendar that asks the ultimate question of each player 'are you only as good as your second serve'? How good would it be to see a lack of aces hit, just about every return put back into court and the game of tennis being transformed back to a spectacle that saw a first serve as a 50/50 ball and not a raffle ticket ?
Now there is a game of tennis I would love to witness, a match that was full of rallies, a match that we could enjoy as a thought fest as opposed to a slug fest and one that would ask Ivo and Jonny to bring with them a plan B and C rather than just their usual plan A.
Could the powers of modern day tennis break from tradition and do what Jimmy Connors was asked to do in his Battle of The Sexes match with Martina Navratilova in 1992 and that was serve just one ball ? It was brilliant. Perhaps what made it more entertaining to watch now days is the admission that Jimmy had a million dollars riding on not only the result but the score as well, fascinating.
I am all for tennis changing it's current format and I don't believe 'Fast 4' tennis even gets close to spicing the game up as 20/20 cricket does with it's new innovative format. I find today's format a little on the 'ho hum' side, it's a flawed scoring system that can take victory from a player who wins more points than his opposition.
I reckon it's time for a change, just a thought.......

Monday, 28 December 2015

'NOT DAUNTING AT ALL'

I thought that writing a book may be way too daunting a task to even contemplate however all that was required was a train of thought not unlike a game plan for a tennis match. Over the past two weeks I have put through 22 new chapters that flowed as freely as a topspin forehand.
They are not huge chapters, just to the point type of chapters that discuss a topic as best I can. No one ever said that a book chapter has to be an epic, just one with substance. Like a tennis lesson, an hour is plenty if constructed properly, two hours of crap can drag on.
My book idea is in full swing and I am loving every minute of it as it's something that I will look back on and be proud of before I became too senile to do it. Tennis is an art form, like a surfer who is after that one wave, the one to hang his hat on, the one he can be forever proud of that he conquered.
My book will be done in 2016, sometime, trust me, I hope you take the time to read it. Even those who don't like me may even be a little curious and take a peek of it, I hope so, it will have some substance on the game and I promise I haven't bagged anyone.
Not yet anyhow......

Thursday, 24 December 2015

'CONFUSION' ( AND MERRY XMAS )

I wrote the following post Xmas eve afternoon after I heard a news report regarding the Davis Cup tie in Australia next year. I had a few beers in the late afternoon and I was told to never post a chapter after a drink, just in case it makes no sense.
Makes sense, though a lot of what I write could be likened to someone is constantly drunk. So the following chapter is one of those things that I find rather amusing about tennis in this country and when I find something amusing well quite simply I write about it.....

I always do a Christmas message on my site and this year is no different yet perhaps the content of this one may not be the regular 'To all out there who read my site.......etc, etc. Nope this one is dedicated to Tennis Australia who have given me a countless amount of things to write about over the past year or two, or is that three ? Time flies when you are having fun...
Many people call me cynical, many call me an idiot, it's all part of the fun of having an opinion on tennis. I wish more people would call me a genius so I could give up my day job however that may just be asking for a little too much.
All I will say is that as far as light entertainment is concerned well I love writing and I can usually knock up a chapter now days within half an hour as my typing has improved over the years. My mind does not need a first copy like we used to do before the real thing so I just go in the direction that my silly mind takes me. It's not easy being me.
So to my Christmas message and it was magnificent timing to say the least when I hopped into my car and headed to work at an ungodly hour this morning, call it 'sparrow's fart'. The news just came on and when I heard the sports report well it was like an early Xmas present, an unwrapping of a 'gift' a day before the main event. I went to work with a smile on my face, my workmates wondered what I had been doing. So this is it.
Tennis Australia will play the USA in a Davis Cup tie in March 2016 at the KOOYONG TENNIS CENTRE in Melbourne on a GRASS court. Yes that appears to be a fact and Lleyton Hewitt will make the decisions as far as the team line up is concerned as he has officially been announced as the Australian Davis Cup Captain. Goodo. So what's wrong with this and why am I cynical ?
Well it's all about Tennis Australia and what they have in fact done over the last 27 years that contradicts what it set out to do.
The Kooyong Tennis Centre was ageing and on it's last legs admittedly by the time it had staged it's final Australian Open on grass in 1987, the year Edberg beat Cash in five sets in the final. I remember that match as though it was yesterday where Cash took a while to get going yet lead 5-1 in the fourth set after losing the first two.
The biggest factor in that particular match was that Pat did not secure that set easily as he should have and it gave the Swede Edberg plenty of ideas going into the last set despite dropping the fourth 5-7. He broke Cash twice from 1-5 in the fourth and that has to give a player some food for thought. Pat Cash at 5-1 in the fourth had a hand on the trophy, such is life. Back to the facts and figures.
Kooyong was closed and the Australian Open moved away from the 'traditional' grass courts of the early tennis days in this country which saw the likes of Laver, Emerson, Hoad, Newcombe, Roach etc rule the turf not only in Australia but at Wimbledon.
The Aussies it is fair to say knew how to play on grass tennis courts because they could volley, a necessity to the craft of winning on a slick surface.
So once again let's look at the news headline, I do tend to get side tracked with stats. There was a reason apparently that Tennis Australia changed their national Grand Slam from grass to hard yet this is still not totally cut and dried. Was it a cost issue of maintaining the grass or was it because grass is not a surface that can possibly be expected to help a young player develop into an all round player ? Was it both of the above ?
I would say both personally but lean toward the latter as a hard court is an 'equalizer' in tennis. If you can develop a game on hard court then you are well on your way as that requires an almost 'complete' game to be successful on.
So if the grass court tradition was perhaps put aside in favour of a surface that would help Australia's up and comer's become competitive against the baseline robots of Europe why is it that Tennis Australia keep reverting back to grass ?
If a player works on his game in Australia throughout the year then he works on two surfaces, hard and clay, that's it but then he is made to play on grass if he gets selected for Davis Cup. Confusion ??
Surely with Kooyong being put to rest it was making a statement, this country was moving ahead in a different direction in regards to player development and style. The Pat Cash style of serve and volley was no longer the way of the future. Tough to win on hard and clay courts with serve and volley yet is a proven style on grass but how many grass court events are there now days ?
So here we are in 2015, nearly 2016 and even Lleyton Hewitt surely can see that Australia's Davis Cup players are more at home on a hard court than grass due mainly to the hours put in on a hard surface. Or has Lleyton been told by the hierarchy at TA that there is no choice but to play on grass for one reason or another ?
Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when these guys get together ? I would love to know the theory behind the one track mind as far as the Davis Cup playing surface in this country is concerned.
Sure there is an argument that a week's training on a surface will get a player grooved enough to be ready for battle but in the heat of a match where will a player's thought process be ? Doesn't a professional tennis player go to the 'well' where all of their training has been over many years when looking for an answer to the many questions an opponent asks.
What if they are looking for that crucial answer at that crucial time in a match yet the surface does not permit that type of play through lack of training on it ?
We could come up with a dozen or so examples but I am already writing a book, this site is just a brief 'point of view'.
No matter how you look at it all Tennis Australia are confused because they are trying to hold onto something from the past but at the same time trying to move ahead.
I guarantee you that the grass court idea for Davis Cup has nothing to do with the players, it is not their choice, it is handed to them by Tennis Australia and they are still obsessed with an old tradition.
Grass court tennis is a once a year event at the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon and the smaller lead up tournaments to it. Apart from that how many players would use that surface to develop their game ? Do you think any ???
Merry Xmas to all, thanks for reading my site and to Tennis Australia thank you for handing me so much dialogue over the years.......
Regards Glenn 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

'JUST PLAIN SILLY'

The interview on Court Talk 91.3 with Australian doubles expert John Peers this morning was enlightening to say the least. Brett Patten asked him possibly the best question that could have been asked and that was why on earth was he not selected to play in the Davis Cup semi final against Great Britain this year.
Peers answer was diplomatic to say the least however it still left us with many questions and not enough answers in regards to the selection process regarding Davis Cup in this country.
Anyone who knows anything about tennis will say the same thing and that is this: If Australia had won the doubles against GB then they would most probably have been crowned the Davis Cup champions of 2015. The singles matches against Andy Murray were a 'write off' however they were almost irrelevant because the semi final was there to be won in the other three matches. 
Hewitt no doubt would have played the final singles match against Dan Evans and would have had way too much experience for him, no risk.
Belgium were no match for GB in the final and Australia would have been just as tough for them if the right team was selected. 
But it all came down to the doubles in the semi final in Glasgow.
Apparently the Australian Davis Cup Captain Wally Masur was happy with Groth and Hewitt after their win against Kazakhstan so Peers was not on the radar for a doubles berth. So why not ? Look at the doubles pairing of the Murray brothers, a great team but not a team who would bother too many doubles experts as they would find ways to exploit Andy's lack of doubles expertise. How often does Andy play doubles as opposed to teams who live and breathe the two on two format ?
The reason Great Britain won the doubles against Australia was because of two reasons, Jamie Murray and the lack of doubles knowledge from the opposition. Jamie has an ability to read the court as good as most doubles exponents and he was the one who was giving his brother the advice in that particular match, not the other way around.
Jamie should know what is required in doubles as he made it to the final of the US Open and Wimbledon with none other than JOHN PEERS. Shall we do the sums on that one folks ?
Who better to read the Murrays than JOHN PEERS who partnered Jamie all year and just missed out at the final hurdle of two grand slams. Are you following me on this one ? Why wasn't JOHN PEERS slotted in as the player who without a doubt would have made the difference in that semi final against Great Britain ? 
His knowledge on the opposition would have been invaluable or didn't Wally Masur think of that ? Isn't tennis all about gaining that vital edge on the opposition ? 
Did Wally not want to upset the team 'harmony' of the quarter final win against a team they should have beaten comfortably yet took until the final match to do so ? Either way it was just plain silly to not include Peers in the semi final because he knows how to play doubles, it's all he plays, he is an expert.
Hey Wal' John Peers is ranked inside the top 10 players in the World for doubles just in case you didn't know.
So who should Peers have played with ? Well if Masur was the tactician that a Davis Cup Captain needs to be then Hewitt would perhaps have got the nod over Groth because of his returning expertise as Sam does not excel in that department and the return in doubles is crucial.
It's one thing to beat a country such as Kazakhstan as Groth and Hewitt did however the Murrays in Britain are a whole different story. They feed off the home crowd but that's where John Peers had the experience in doubles that Groth did not. Hewitt has played more doubles over his career so he was the obvious choice for a spot yet he required someone who could guide him through a tough match just as Jamie did with Andy.
Tennis and Davis Cup in Australia is all about SENTIMENT and nothing else. Common sense never comes into play. Australia should have two more Davis Cup titles in the trophy cabinet, this year as well as 2001 as I suggested in a previous chapter titled 'A Monumental Blunder'.
Who is running the sport in this country ? People with common sense or Walt Disney fairy tale endings in mind ?
You do the sums.......

Saturday, 19 December 2015

'RELEVANCE'

Sometimes I hear rather bizarre song lyrics and I liken it to tennis, just the way in which my silly mind works. " A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle " I liken those U2 song lyrics to many players who cannot find someone to teach them what they want to know about the game. I vividly recall a kid some years ago texting me for a lesson because his coach could not give what was required in regards to knowledge. That's what he told me.
Did this mean that I was a genius ??! No, it was simply a stage in a kid's life on court that required another opinion, fact of life. I used to write about Dimitrov's association with Rasheed and I always wondered when it would end ( I suggested sooner than later for Grigor's sake ).
I always felt that Grigor needed a tennis mind and not a 'fitness guru's' opinion on something that he quite possibly knew enough of to get by but not enough of to become a champion.
The sport of tennis has many examples of players who started with some, moved to others, moved back to an original coach or some who simply gave up on coaches altogether and started thinking for themselves ( It is an option ).
Look at Borg, he did not require someone in his ear all the time, he was a genius. Bergelin simply toured the World with him and became a Manager more than anyone or anything else. He was an 'influence' rather than someone who told him what to do as is Edberg to Federer and Becker is to Novak. These champions know how to play tennis, they are simply looking for an edge from someone who has done it all before.
The opening music lyric however is typical of players who do not need much except a little advice here and there. Some coaches think they can come in and make sweeping changes just because they have a new title and think of themselves as Zen Masters of a sport that is 'owned' by no one. Smart tennis coaches will have a different view on it all and not attempt to justify their existence in the first 5 minutes.
Relevance in tennis is a big thing ( relation to the matter at hand ). A smart tennis coach will work on relevant issues of a player however the self confessed 'Zen Masters' will tear up a game as well as a player's perception of the sport and turn it into a money making venture as opposed to another view.
Guys like Dimitrov can hit a tennis ball exceptionally well however they have not found a Bergelin, Becker or Edberg just yet to give them that view that finally makes sense.
Patience Grasshopper.......

Friday, 18 December 2015

'NEVER A SURE THING'

Aussie Tennis Professional Marinko Matosevic has always been an interesting character as his nick name 'Mad Dog' suggests. I wonder if he had his time again would he say something a little different in regards to his preview of the semi final clash against James Duckworth at the Australian Open Wild card play-offs. This was what he said " I've never lost to him, I don't think I've lost a set, so I should win". That's what Marinko said.
Tennis has traditionally been full of famous quotes, bold statements and even more bizarre predictions . I remember once Yevgeny Kafelnikov who was famous for his talking came up with one for the reporters when he told them to put their money on him in a quarter final match at the Australian Open in 1996 against Becker. The German belted Yevgeny in straight. Nice tip.
Back to the Wild card play- offs in Melbourne.
Marinko has been as high as World number 39 and he has played some big matches against some big names. In fact I dedicated two chapters to Marinko in which I labelled him 'the luckiest tennis player' because he kept getting tough draws. I consider that 'lucky' because a player can go through their whole career and lose early in the big tournaments to lower ranked players who are no house hold names. Some however get to play the World's best and Marinko has faced them all including Federer at the US Open in the first round. If ever you need an idea on where your game is at why not start at the top and work your way down ??
Now Marinko is a bit of a character but saying that he 'should win' against a player such as Duckworth is just asking for trouble as the 'Duck' can play the game well. Just because his ranking is outside the top 100 in the World does not mean he is an easy beat. Do people really appreciate guys ranked 120 ? Think about it. There are a hell of a lot of tennis players in the World trying to make a living and if a guy makes it inside the top 300 well I would say hats off to you, that is an achievement but in reality that aint going to make you a living. Top 100 will do that for you but the Tax Man will take some as well as the airlines for a flight or two so maybe top 70 will allow you some extra spending money after expenses.
Back to the Wild card play-offs in Melbourne (again ).
The 'Duck' won, yep he beat the guy who said that he should win because he had never lost to that particular opponent before and had not even dropped a set. The problem is this Champ, you have been injured and your ranking has dropped dramatically because of it so therefor your opponents lately have not been the same as who you have been used to playing against. Duckworth however has a much higher ranking and has been playing against some big names himself such as Nishikori and Coric lately.
If you do the stats on Marinko then you will see some rather alarming results. If you take his last eight opponents you will notice a trend. Their combined ranking is around 6000, that's a fact, so doing the sums on that I suppose he has been playing guys with rankings way outside the top echelon of players who can test you as a person and a player. As I said earlier it is not his fault, he has been injured, fact of life in a sport such as tennis if you are playing at the highest level.
Duckworth won a tight four set match 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 and it doesn't get much tougher than that as far as working your way towards a first round entry to your home town Grand Slam. He is now one match away from achieving that goal against fellow Aussie Ben Mitchell.
Marinko is a character of World tennis no doubt about it and he has made a handy living but saying that he should win against someone who has been playing tougher matches than he has lately was quite possibly not the smartest thing to say.
Life is a learning experience, every day, every match, every moment, every opponent. Funny game is tennis.........

Thursday, 17 December 2015

'INSPIRATION'

Tough gig. Trying to write on my main Blog and at the same time working on another. Do people who write books have jobs ? Fair dinkum I reckon if I was unemployed then writing a book may be a piece of cake but I enjoy my job though I get paid peanuts. It simply gives me time to think about what I would rather be doing and not all jobs afford us that luxury.
It's interesting when I go through the 500 plus chapters that I have already written and look at the final paragraph that I could have perhaps elaborated on but I was only just trying to offer an opinion, view or statistic, not write a novel. Funny how times have changed and now that silly mind of mine is after an extended view of what I have already done.
I wonder why on earth I have even done what I already have with a minimal audience and a few I am sure who would prefer that I don't write anything at all because it simply upsets them (Long story).
I suppose that it all stems from my youth and how my heroes from Sweden would inspire me to such a point that I would ride my bike to the nearest shopping centre and grab a paper during the Grand Slams.
There was no You tube, very little on a sports report and I had to travel to the City on my school holidays to see any matches televised as down here in sleepy hollow we did not see much in the way of tennis apart from Borg and Wimbledon. Yet that was enough to get a young kid playing the game.
The year Borg did not attempt to reclaim his French Open crown of 1981 I bought a paper every day ( The Daily News of 1982) to see if a 17 year old scruffy kid by the name of Mats could keep the title in Swedish hands. I would ride the distance of around 4 kilometres after hitting on the garage wall for an hour or two before hand and pay my 40 cents (big bucks back then ) to read the results. I would open that paper in as much anticipation as a kid on Xmas morning.
If my Swedish heroes were winning ( Mats, Nystrom, Jarryd, Simonsson ) etc then all was good in the World. If they didn't then I would hit that ball even harder against the garage wall when I got home. Funny how we still remember the reasons why we played the game and the people who inspired us to play.
My book may just be a let down when it is finished as trying to replicate things that we found dear to us as kids can be tinged with disappointment when trying to describe it later in life. Was it really that exciting back then ?!
In saying that I am committed to attempting to write a book that describes tennis the way I saw it as a kid, the way I read the game and the way in which my heroes 'taught' me the game by simply playing it in front of me on television. Back then that's all we had, a hero, a wall, a racket and a desire to be like them. There were no fancy coaching programs, a computer to analyse our games or a Zen Master who knew it all, we just had a dream to be like the players who inspired us. There was just one tournament a year on television in my home town, Wimbledon and if Borg didn't win it then it was like Xmas presents being delivered by the Milkman. It just wasn't quite the same.
The years of 1976 to 1980 ( I think that's correct ) were the years that Santa had it all 100 per cent correct, he delivered and so did Borg at Wimbledon, the two went hand in hand.
If I sell a couple of copies of my future book then I will be ridiculously flattered as anyone who reads something from someone who is a 'tennis nobody' well it may just be looked upon as something like the great Paul Hogan once said. I vividly remember when 'Hoges' described his efforts of trying to sell 'Crocodile Dundee' to Hollywood as someone turning up at the Olympics and asking if they could have a run.
My dream of writing a book on tennis is well under way but for those of you who still read this site well I feel obliged to keep offering a chapter or two but it won't be as prolific as before. After all I can't keep giving my secrets away as far as the mind game of tennis is concerned. I have done around 20 chapters so far, only around 50 to go, we will get there.
Thanks for tuning in.......
Regards GT

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

'AGAIN'

My apologies however now that I know that more than two people read this site (My Mum and myself ) I find myself writing more than an occasional apology for not writing more or taking a break from it altogether.
I have no idea who reads this site outside of Australia apart from the odd hit or two coming through on a stat counter from the US, New Zealand or Asia. Apart from that I do not know who reads my chapters so I hope that I am not offending anyone by working on another project. Every now and then someone re shares one of my chapters to another site because they believe that it has substance. Most just think I am full of shit ( Nature of the game, no offence taken ).
I have a side Blog going at the moment which I hope to have finished within a couple of months, some new material and some old stuff that I have elaborated on from earlier chapters. (No one ever made a buck from a free site.)
Call me a dreamer however I believe that my mind has enough material to write a book about tennis. I am working on something that I believe will fill enough pages to warrant it being called a book.
If I sell two copies then it will be a success. We all have dreams in life. Mine at the moment is to get all of the worms outa my head and into a book so I can eventually move on from tennis and take up golf and fishing.
I used to dream about winning Lotto however that has passed. I now dream of clearing my mind of a lifelong thought process that has revolved around tennis and the issues associated with possibly the World's most egotistical sport.
Someone told me a while back that they would buy a copy of my book because they actually think that I write some good things from time to time. That's all I need to give it a go.
I have written some things over the past few years that have landed me into hot water however I have talked my way out of it. The apologies however were not sincere  because I believe in what I write on this site. It's just like when I teach tennis, I believe in what I 'preach'.
If I don't write much in the next couple of months then I apologise once again but I have bigger fish to fry and the worms in my head need to be released.
If you know me well then you will realise what I am saying. I have a book to write, see you soon......
Regards GT

Thursday, 10 December 2015

'MY REPLY'

"What are your thoughts on why we can't develop top 10 players here in Western Australia" ?
That was the text message left on my mobile phone last night. Firstly I am not one of these people who demands a name, profile and basically a 'who the f... are you and what are you doing sending me texts at a quarter to midnight' type of person.
No I am a person who loves these types of questions. Whether someone is taking the piss after having a few too many beers on a Thursday night or whether this is a legitimate question I am the sort of bloke who is more than happy to offer an opinion as after all this site of mine is a 'View Point' on the sport of tennis. It is a site that gives an opinion on a sport that has many perceptions and quite often perceptions are deceiving.

Perception is the process by which stimulation of the senses is translated into meaningful experience.
Perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting and organizing sensory information. Many cognitive psychologists hold that, as we move about in the World we create a model of how the World works.... (New World Encyclopedia).
Tennis is a sport that without perception is like a famous quote from Edward de Bono....
"Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic"

The way that tennis is looked at is rather deceiving to a kid as it looks rather basic when we all watch it on television. We see players who don't miss much, are fit, club the ball pretty damn hard and then they end up with a big fat pay cheque at the end of it all as well as a really hot looking missus.
The thing we are forgetting is how that player actually came to be that good, that fit, that wealthy and that appealing to the opposite gender. It is a sport that when you look back to the beginning of that player's career you will probably find that for a start they had a really smart tennis coach who taught them how to play tennis.
By that I don't just mean a coach who taught them how to hit a ball, there is a rather large difference in that perception. That coach would also have probably taught that kid to play on a surface that developed a thinking tennis player and it was probably a clay court. Quick surfaces do not develop a player's shots and thinking anywhere near like a clay court does that offers a player time to develop both.
The big thing however is location. If a player is among others who can play the game well on a weekly basis then learning is fairly simple, you either sink or swim, there is nothing in between. By that I mean if a player has access to good training facilities with players who can push them to become a better player then all the ingredients are there for the cooking.
Look at the next level of tennis from the junior series. Where is Western Australia ? We are at the arse end of nowhere with next to no tournaments available against the best in the country that will in fact give a player an honest assessment as to where their game is at. Why do you think that the guys from the eastern States are in front of us ? Access to regular tournaments against the best opposition in Australia and quite regularly on surfaces that will develop a game from an average one to a competitive one with substance.
When I was 16 I went to Queensland and we played on clay regularly, we then travelled to New South Wales and played on the clay also. I vividly remember playing a guy by the name of Mark Heather who was ranked 1 in WA for the 16's age group and I recall a belting of 6-1, 6-1 to him in Perth.
After around eight months of regular training in Queensland on clay courts I played Mark in NSW on the clay and lost 6-4, 6-4 and should have taken the match to a third set at least as I lead him 4-2 in the second and had break point at 4 all. That type of result was typical both back then and now. If you train regularly against guys who are the best in the country on a surface that almost guarantees shot and thinking improvement then your best results are going to be within grasp.
Western Australia is a long way away from anything, fact of life however if you can find an obscure clay tennis court, a coach with a mind for teaching and a practice partner who you will probably lose to more often than beat then there are just some of your important ingredients for success.
Good luck Champ......
Regards Glenn

Monday, 7 December 2015

'A MONUMENTAL BLUNDER'

Here's an interesting piece of information for you regarding the Davis Cup final of 2001 played at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, 30th November- Dec 2, between Australia and France. Now you all know my views on Tennis Australia and their lack of faith in their players to win on anything but a grass court but this little chestnut is rather staggering.
It all began at Wimbledon in the same year.
A Frenchman by the name of Nicolas Escude was seeded 24 and took on Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, seeded 5 in the fourth round. Most would have tipped Hewitt to win that particular match but Escude had a rather unique style which was not unlike that of Swede Mats Wilander particularly his backhand which was a magnificently fluent shot.
Escude managed to beat Hewitt in five sets which on paper looked like an upset but anyone who knew just how talented the Frenchman was knew that this win was within his capabilities. The Frenchman went through to the quarters and won the first set off Agassi before losing in four. Let's now fast forward to the US Open of that same year.
Lleyton Hewitt survived a tough five set test in round two against James Blake before going on to beat Roddick in the quarters, again in five, then Kafelnikov in straight and then belted Sampras in straight sets also for the title. Hewitt had hard court form without a doubt. Now let's fast forward to the Davis Cup final of 2001.
The team in Australia comprised of Hewitt, Rafter, Woodbridge and Arthurs. Todd Woodbridge had won his 18th Grand Slam Doubles title with Bjorkman at the Australian Open on hard court in 2001. Todd also had hard court form. Wayne Arthurs made it to the semi finals of the 2001 Australian Open Mens doubles with Zimonjic. So it would be fair to say that Arthurs also didn't mind playing on hard courts.
Pat Rafter had already won the US Open Mens Singles title twice, in '97 and '98. His form on hard court could not be questioned. Rafter in fact won ten doubles tournaments over the course of his career though four of those were with possibly one of the greatest doubles players of all time, Swede Jonas Bjorkman. ( I reckon I may have had a chance to win at doubles with Bjorkman on my side of the net ). Jonas was a doubles genius and he did not require a fellow doubles expert on his side as he proved in a tournament win with John McEnroe in 2006 when Mac was 47.
I believe only one player in the World could have taken McEnroe out of retirement and won a doubles tournament, that was Jonas. Yes Mac was a doubles expert but he had been in retirement for around 12 years apart from the Seniors tour and that is a huge difference from the ATP Tour.
Sorry I have got off track again, as I usually do.
So the Australian Tennis 'brains trust' decided to lay a grass court over the hard court at the home of the Australian Open for reasons unbeknown to anyone but themselves. The above statistics all pointed to a hard court show down against France in that 2001 Davis Cup final. Yet it did not happen and it backfired big time. There was however another monumental blunder in that particular final that didn't get enough air play at the time yet it was the most relevant issue in the final.
Why did Rafter play doubles with Hewitt when these two were not a proven team and they had never won a title together ? Why also did the issue of Rafter's injured arm not get taken more seriously and why was he not just used as a singles player ? Were the Aussies trying to lose this final ??! Why was Woodbridge overlooked for the doubles when he had been Australia's most successful doubles player in the last 40 or so years and one of the World's all time great exponents of the two on two format ?
Wayne Arthurs was no World beater yet he was more than a handy partner for Woody and surely his semi final showing in January at the Aussie Open was more than enough to put these two together for the pivotal doubles. Apparently not.
So to the final; Escude beat Hewitt again in five sets which proved his Wimbledon win against him was no fluke. 
Rafter held his end of the bargain up with a win against Grosjean in straight sets. The little 'Maestro' as he was known Fabrice Santoro, the French doubles genius teamed with Pioline who really had no doubles form to speak of yet it was not a necessity either. Anyone could have won with Fabrice, he was as clever as Jonas on a doubles court, a genius in fact. He was the one player in that doubles match that made the difference.
The Aussies did not do their homework on this final and the amount of blunders in it were nothing short of almost comical. Hewitt did end up taking the tie to the final match with a straight sets win over Grosjean in the first reverse singles yet Rafter could not play the final match due to how bad his arm was after the doubles so Arthurs played it. Escude won that in four sets as everyone expected him to, he was a class above Arthurs who was not a proven singles player.
The whole set of circumstances did not make sense.
Surely if Rafter had issues with his arm then he shouldn't have played the doubles but John Fitgerald as the Captain should not even have looked at him for doubles as Woody was the only man who could match Santoro's genius in doubles.
It actually would have made for a great match, Woody/ Arthurs vs Pioline/ Santoro. For history's sake the French won that match in four sets, 6-1 in the fourth, totally outplaying a team in the end who were dubbed 'the Dream Team' at the start of the match. They were anything but.
This Davis Cup final will go down as one of the biggest 'cock ups' in Australian tennis history for all of the above reasons. Someone should have sent Tennis Australia a 'please explain letter' back then and asked for some answers.
Pity I didn't know how to type back then..........
  

Saturday, 5 December 2015

'BRILLIANT'

The win by Andy Murray in the Davis Cup final against Goffin was one of those victories for the smart players of World tennis. Just a week earlier Andy had played and lost a tight two set match to Wawrinka at the World Tour finals in London but did Andy really play to his full potential ? Let's look at it in all seriousness.
The match against Stan was one to put either player into the semi finals against a red hot Federer who is still that hungry for success that it is outrageously silly given his age and record that has ticked all boxes on more than one occasion. Could Andy have beaten Federer ? Perhaps, but could he have beaten Novak ? You do the sums on that one, no one on the planet can beat Novak at the moment in a big final that means dollars and ranking points as well as prestige.
So to the match between Andy and Stan. Yes it was tight however did Andy really need to win it ? If he had won he would have earned the right to play Federer and the Fed just loves playing baseliners at the moment. His penchant for upsetting the robotic style from the baseline is becoming more and more famous by the weeks, months and years.
My theory on the match between Andy and Stan is simple. Andy didn't really care too much about it as he had bigger fish to fry in Belgium a week later. You can't tell me that Murray didn't know he was a red hot chance to win both singles matches and that all he had to do was combine with his little bother Jamie to win the doubles and the title was going back to the Brits for the first time in 79 years.
If Andy had beaten Stan he had a minimal chance of beating Roger and he had no chance of beating Novak though he is no Robinson Crusoe there. So is there an issue here ? Let's do the sums ( once again ).
Apparently the ITF ( International Tennis Federation) run the Davis Cup and the ATP ( Association of Tennis Professionals) run most other tournaments so there are two governing bodies at war here on dates for tournaments including the Davis Cup. So why was the Davis Cup final scheduled just a week after the Tour Finals ? Incompetence may be the word we are looking for here.
Why these two can't work together is beyond me but I find it laughable that the winner of the Tour Finals may have less than a week to recover  physically from playing the Top 10 in the World. They then have around five days to practice on a totally different surface in preparation for the Davis Cup final. Correct me if I am wrong.
In this instance however I am sure that 'common sense' took place and that Andy Murray did the sums on it all and his training plus 'foresight' all played a role. If Andy had made the semi finals in London I believe he was in all sorts of physical danger of not being labelled a National hero once again for putting his country back on the map with a Davis Cup victory.
Andy is a genius in my eyes as he did what he could in London then gave himself enough time to get ready in Belgium. If you know anything about tennis you may just agree with me. If you don't well you may just find me a little bit cynical. Either way I am sticking with my story and I am sure that Andy is sticking with his........

Friday, 4 December 2015

'INSPIRING'

Watching my favourite rock band of all time Def Leppard perform in Perth recently gives people like myself an inspiration in life to soldier on despite the grey hair, the slower walk and other factors that are associated with 45 plus syndrome.
What I do take from a concert like that however is a sense of inspiration that I liken to my junior days on court locally when I should have been at school. I have mentioned in an earlier chapter that I used to 'convince' another local player from my school that we were wasting our time at school and that we should focus on tennis (brilliant idea Thommo).
So off we went at lunchtime and played tennis for three hours until the school bell rang. I would then ride the ten kilometres back to my house.
 'How was your day '? Yeah great thanks Mum, was a tough day but I learned a lot, that was the main thing. Lying little prick. I learned a lot from a few tennis drills, that was about it.
My main inspiration back then to hit a ball was the music on the side of the court from my 'ghetto blaster'. Def Leppard 'Hysteria' was possibly one of the most remarkable changes in music from an already established rock band in the history of music. They have always inspired me because they have embraced the times, the environment and have made the changes to accommodate the climate.
Def Leppard could in fact be likened to a baseliner embracing a net game as the years became more challenging and the industry started asking more questions of the player.
I have often written about my love of Glam Rock and how it has motivated me to keep playing, keep fit, keep soldiering on in life despite numerous setbacks and new challenges that at times seem a little hard to overcome. My favourite bands are Def Leppard, Cheap Trick and Bryan Adams among others and the thing you will notice about these bands are that they are still going. Call it longevity.
So why are they still going ? Because they have something of substance to offer.
I have previously written about days gone by and the odd win here and there however anyone who knows a sport like tennis will realise this. If you are still going into your late 40's then perhaps you may just own a desire to keep bettering yourself as opposed to continually looking back on what you did in the game. 'Could I have done it better' ?? 
I am not sure if it is an original comment or not however I was sent a message from a buddy a while back that said ' Thommo  remember buddy it aint how good you were, it's how good you can still become. If you are still fit, still able to hit a ball and still have the desire then what is to stop you from continually improving at a sport that many give up on way too early' ? 
Remember only a pinch of salt reaches their potential at a young age and unfortunately if that potential is not reached by the time it is 'expected' then tennis is given up for good. That's a shame as there are many other options in the sport of tennis once the elite level is not reached.
I am someone who is still inspired by old rock bands who still have the desire to get up in the morning and believe in what they do, what they write or how they perform. The old rockers of the World inspire me to keep on keeping on.
As far as this blog site is concerned, well I am still doing it though I am working on something else on another site currently that I believe in and that I hope will be something positive.
I am still playing tennis, I am still fit , I am still coaching and I am still an argumentative bastard who believes in what he does despite numerous comments I receive on this site that beg to differ.
I am happy to be an individual in life and in a sport such as tennis that is stereotyped in more ways than one. I like the idea of not playing follow the leader and having my own views. I enjoy teaching my way on a private tennis court and charging an hourly rate that does not have head up one's own arse syndrome and self importance written all over the invoice.
We are all inspired in life by different people and different things. Call me old fashioned with my sliced backhand, loopy forehand and love of Glam Rock however it is a mix I am happy with.
Bring back the 80's.........

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

EVEN MORE FASCINATING

The following chapter I found on a website earlier this year. I still find it hard to believe that they went after Lindahl as opposed to these to the two 'gangsters'. I believe also that it wasn't the first time they had a rather 'interesting' match.

Start at the top and work your way down Tennis Officialdom, not the other way around as was the case in this situation. Lindahl made 'peanuts' out of tennis as do most players on the Challenger Circuit yet they targeted the 'peanut earners' as opposed to the big money earners.

Like my headline suggests. WEAK AS PISS....

Friday, 6 March 2015

'FASCINATING STORY'

* The following information is from a website titled 'SPORTSPUNTER.COM. This particular chapter I found when looking for information regarding 'tanking' in tennis, a deliberate loss by a player not interested in winning a particular match. The following match was played in February 2011.
A casual tennis observer may not realise that a game is being tanked, but for a gambler it is as glaring as possible, and there is no more glaring example than the most recent Chela vs Schwank match held this week.  In case you didn’t know, both players are Argentinian, which Chela ranked 31 in the world compared to Schwank’s 104.
Chela has been in impressive form on the red clay up until this stage, only just losing the final of the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires the week before in three sets. For this round one match Chela started understandably favourite at 1.46 with Schwank at 2.93.
But these odds were remarkably different come start time. Chela has moved into a rank outsider at 3.50 before a ball has been served and bookmakers took the game off the market. PinnacleSports for example, took the game off the market when Chela’s price has only reached 2.24, and from then it continued to drift.
Was something afoot? Was Chela sporting an injury that made him unlikely to win the match? It seems not. Chela won the first set reasonably easily 6-3, claiming 60% of the points played. However despite winning the first set, his price was at 2.80 at betfair. It had come in from 3.50 before the start of play, but why should Chela, the higher ranked player, the player in form showing no signs of injury who has just won the first set still be seen as the rank outsider?
It didn’t stop there. Chela continued to dominate in the second set, winning a healthy 5-1 advantage. When serving for the set, Chela’s odds were only 1.90. What this means is despite Chela being up 6-3 5-1 and serving for the match, according to the odds, the game was a near 50-50 chance for either player.
Chela then saw a doctor and retired from the match citing injury. All bets on Schwank won.
It would have to be one of the most dubious matches in sport history, and whilst one can say that the match wasn’t tanked by Chela, one can easily say that there were many people out there who knew that Chela was not going to win the match. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been bet on Schwank and large profits made.
But it’s not the first time that such tanking has occurred in tennis. From my own betting, I believe there to be at least 5 matches a year where players lose on purpose. In April last year, Chela played Schwank and Schwank was fined US$1,000 for erratic and unusual play. Schwank said a back problem cause him to play a more than normal amount of drop shots and lobs. He even served a foot fault on match point.
It’s clear to me, although hard to prove, that these two Argentinians have one over the ATP Tour.
Tanking occurs when the amount of money that one can gain via betting outweighs the potential gain from prize money for the tournament. Hence it more often occurs in early rounds in small tournaments out of the way of most of the worlds media.
A blight on the game it is indeed, and whilst the ATP has said that players could receive three year bans and then lifetime bans on repeat occurrence, their own anti-corruption rules, to this date, have only handed out petty small fines of which players and affiliates could well have already paid off by losing on purpose.

REPOSTED

 My apologies once again however I am working on a side project and writing this blog is not paying the bills !! I am however hoping to sell 'a dozen' copies of a book I am working on for release next year that will cover every aspect of the game as this blog has.

My last reposted chapter actually received some positive feed back from the US so here's another just in case you missed it the first time.

Friday, 13 March 2015


'WEAK AS PISS'

The recent arrest of former Pro Tennis player Nick Lindahl from Australia for apparent match fixing seems a little over the top especially if you read one of my recent chapters (Fascinating Story).
Lindahl, formerly of Sweden has been made an example of by the sport of tennis, albeit at the much lower Futures level of tournament play.
What about the chapter I wrote regarding Chela and Schwank and what became of that rather 'obvious' match fixing episode ?? Why wasn't as much put into that farcical match as far as investigations were concerned and why are they targeting the 'small boys' compared to the 'big boys' ?
Easy answer; They want to make an example of the up and comers as opposed to bringing to light what is obviously happening on the professional tour itself, I reckon that's weak as piss. Why not make an example of the two Argentine players who were obviously 'having a lend' of everyone around them including the sport itself. All too hard ATP ?
Whoever set the dogs onto Lindahl needs to take a long hard look at themselves because making an example of him is missing the point as the real issue is obviously at the higher level, it's just not 'cool' to admit it. Why is this ?
It would bring the game of tennis into disrepute, no question.
Sure what Lindahl did was wrong but at the Futures level it seems way over the top as far as 'Organised Crime Investigations' are concerned. The ATP needs to tackle the problem at the top and work it's way down, not the other way around.
Start with the 'big boys', surely that will set the precedent for the rest of the players on either the big stage or the not so glamorous smaller stage that is the breeding ground of future professional tennis players.
Like the title suggests of this chapter............

THANKS FOR COMMENT

I agree with this write, Glenn Thompson. On top of this, to change the subject, but stay with what is good for tennis, I also believe we could do a lot to improve the image of tennis umpires, most people just don't truest them to make a good call. I was once a Certified USTA Chair Umpire and wanted to take some of the HUGE prize money, hire and train line umpires, but, for some reason, the USTA insist on using volunteers and that is why we have such bad line calling. One last thing; Upon becoming a Chair Umpire and gained access to the 'inner circle,' I learned that many of the chair umpires are drunk when doing a match. Remember Frank Hammond and Lee Jackson, umpires of the 70's and 80's? Both were alcoholics...


Thanks for comment 'baatman74'. I believe Mr Bryan has hit the nail on the head. I posted this a while back but re read it the other day and it deserved another mention. The information you sent is fascinating regarding umpiring. Thankyou very much for tuning in......
regards GT

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

'WORTH ANOTHER READ (IT'S FASCINATING )

 I DO BELIEVE THAT THE FOLLOWING STORY IS TYPICAL OF TENNIS TODAY< NOT ONLY IN THE US BUT ELSEWHERE ALSO< A GREAT READ......
Wayne Bryan (center) with sons Bob and MikeThe USTA Florida Game Changer series examines the leading tennis industry products, tips and industry insights. USTA Florida members get first access to the information, and can share using the hashtag #GameChanger. Share your insight in the comment section below.
In the spirit of dissenting opinion and the departure of former USTA head of professional development Patrick McEnroe, USTA Florida asked Wayne Bryan to share his vision on what direction USTA professional development should take.
By Wayne Bryan
What should be done with USTA Professional Development?  If it was my say, it would be time for USTA PD to go.
They have overstayed their welcome.  No results.  No accountability.  Bad feelings everywhere.  Time to try something new.  Let the private sector have a chance without USTA meddling and top-down authoritarianism.
This is America for crying out loud.  Bottom up, not top down.  I like and respect the grossly-overpaid people on the USTA PD staff, I am just against this system that has never worked and never will work.  They have spent well north of $300 million.  Where’s the results?  Try that in the private sector and see what happens.
If USTA PD is to go on?  The philosophy needs to change.
History has shown that champions come from the ground up and not the top down.  Our greatest basketball players don’t come from a National Basketball Governing Body, they come from the streets — they play and learn at their local asphalt court.
The Beatles came from Liverpool, playing in their own garage and out on the street corner, not from being taught by the National Music Academy of England.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became perhaps the greatest pianist and composer in history because he learned from his dad, who made the piano and music fun for him from age 3, and he was touring Europe playing concerts to packed royal halls at the tender age of 6.  Note that he was not brought along by the National Music Governing Body of Austria.  If he had been, the world would have never enjoyed the beautiful music of Mozart.  No doubt.
Brian Wilson the famed musical writing and arranging genius of the Beach Boys came from my Hawthorne High School.  Our musical director gave him an “F” for writing “Surfin’,” a song that the Beach Boys later recorded and it went on to sell millions of copies and led to their long and great and still-continuing musical legacy.
We cannot dictate greatness from on high.  Greatness is passionate.  It is creative.  It is enthusiastic.  It comes early.  And it is relentlessly dedicated to playing and practicing each and every day and playing tournaments every weekend and team matches every week.  Greatness learns from the past, but often does things in a new way.   Greatness does things that have never been done before.
Jimmy did not play like Stan.  John did not play like Jimmy.  Pete did not play like John.  Andre did not play like Pete.  Andy did not play like Andre.  Chrissie did not play like BJK.  Tracy did play like Chrissie.  Jennie Cap did not play like Tracy.  Martina did not play like Chrissie.  Lindsay did not play like Martina.  Venus did not play like Lindsay.  Serena did not play like Venus.  McEnroe ‘n Fleming did not play like Smith ‘n Lutz.  The Woodies did not play like Mc-Fleming.  The Bryans did not play like the Woodies.
Greatness is not cookie cutter.  It comes from Main Street, USA, not White Plains, NY.
I laugh to recall how five suits from USTA PD came out to Ventura County a while back and hosted a lunch meeting at a beautiful Westlake Village Hotel.  The speakers from New York gave us a splendiferous Powerpoint presentation with lots of graphs and pie charts about the brilliance of their new U10 Program that featured a bewildering amount of colored soft balls that would soon have hundreds of thousands — even millions — of youngsters flocking to the game.  There would be so many new juniors we were going to have to build more courts.
They told us how us hicks in SoCal had to coach and how we had to send our top players over to Carson when they became good.  They would take them from there.  White Plains was where the Wizard of Oz lived.  They knew everything.  We knew nothing.
When they wrapped up, they asked for questions from the audience.  There were some very unhappy local coaches in the audience who had some very pointed questions.
At the very end,  the coaches sorta looked over at me.  I had promised myself I would keep my mouth shut.  I couldn’t.  I had to bestir myself and I rose to my feet and thanked the suits — most of them friends of mine — for their dedication to tennis and for their mind-boggling presentation.
Then I said that 3/4ths of the United States Davis Cup Team grew up playing within 12 miles of this hotel.  “How many players on the US Davis Cup Team come from your White Plains area?  The next time you come out here, maybe you want to study what we are doing out here with our juniors and not tell us how we have to do it.  Not mandate to us.  Learn about the Junior Team Tennis program that originated here; learn about our Ventura County Junior Tennis Association which hosts some 35 incubator junior tournaments within a 50 mile radius and that said ‘Hell no’ to your Green Ball Mandate and we continue to offer regulation yellow ball tournaments to our U10s; our USTA SoCal series of tournaments and other solid junior programming; and the junior programs these hard working and dedicated and excellent coaches have at their clubs and parks and schools.”
Despite the millions upon millions the USTA spent on 10 and Under Tennis, we have fewer kids playing in the 10s than ever.  It has chilled U10 tennis in SoCal and across the country.  Would Andy Roddick have wanted to play with soft green balls?  The Bryan Brothers?  The Williams Sisters?
Parents ask me everywhere I go in my travels across the country, “Coach Bryan, my child is fired up about tennis and has been playing with yellow balls since they were six and now that they want to play tournaments as an 8 or 9 year old, should I have them go back to playing with soft Green Balls or play up in the 12s and get kicked by the bigger and older and more experienced kids?”
That is where the rubber meets the road and after all my years in junior tennis, college tennis and pro tennis, I have no answer to that Hobbesian Choice.
We have the Alice in Wonderland situation out here in SoCal now where lots of 10s are playing up in the 12s and the 12s don’t want to play the 10s so they play up in the 14s.
We have the situation where young players play with regulation balls all week in their workouts and practice matches and then when they go to their U10 Tournament on the weekend, they are forced to play with soft Green Balls.
More and more I am hearing of parents simply taking regular balls and asking the opponent if they would rather play with them.
Is this any way to run a railroad?
We have fewer men and women in the Top 100 in the world than ever.  We have fewer America kids playing college tennis than any time in our history.  USTA PD, despite huge salaries for our  execs and coaches, despite millions of dollars being spent, has been spectacularly unsuccessful.
If we’re going to move forward with USTA PD we need to:
  • Get rid of the top-down management style.  The arrogance.  The “we know better than you.”
  • We need to value and appreciate coaches all over the country.  We need to empower them.  Thank them.  Encourage them.  Same with parents.  Rather than getting rid of the influence of local parents and coaches, we need to appreciate them. Every great player in American history came from a great local coach or parent or mentor or all three.  The great players we have had all came from a good home-tennis situation.
  • We gotta have more fun and more team tennis.  Less top-down and heavy-handed coaching and more programming and exciting events.  More Jr. Team Tennis, more Zonals team play, more Intersectionals team play.  More doubles.
  • More socialization.  More social events during the tournament, BBQs, trips to amusement parks, miniature golf, bowling, movies, dances, talent shows, inner-tube rides down rivers.  More t-shirts, more bells and whistles. More fun.
  • Fix the broken USTA national tournament schedule.  USTA PD cut down all our great and long-standing “Redwood Tournaments” — the Fiesta Bowl, Copper Bowl, the Westerns, the Southerns, the Texas Open.  The 12s Nationals in San Diego was a wonderful tournament with all kinds of bells and whistles.  They ripped it out by the roots never to return.  What a massive loss to Amercan junior tennis.
  • Fix the broken rankings system.  It is no longer accurate.  No longer fair.  We need less points per round and more Star Computer System with required minimums that rewards the quality of the win or loss.
  • We need a much, much better USTA web site at both the sectionals and national level.  It has got to sing.  It has got to have bells and whistles. Lots of names and pictures and immediate results.  Immediate and accurate rankings.  Look at the ATP web site.
  • We need to give more love and support to high school and middle school tennis.  We need a High School National Championship held during the second week of the US Open.  The top team from each state.  Have some regionals and the top four teams come to the US Open.  Akin to the Little League playoffs system.  Playoffs drive all major sports.  Creates massive enthusiasm!
  • Stop messing with the college format, and return it to AMERICAN college tennis.  College tennis needs more love, more local kids taken on trips to see college matches, to get inspired.  And we have to address the elephant in the room, the fact that more international students play U.S. college tennis than Americans now.  We have lost some 400 programs over the past few decades because when athletic directors look to eliminate programs, they see tennis programs that are mostly international players.  U.S. college tennis should be for U.S. kids — why are American tax payers footing the bill for $60+ million in foreign player scholarships?
  • Spread out the courts.  The USTA is building a 100-court complex in Orlando?  Huh?  “Hey Joey — you go out to court #93 and practice.”  Ugggh. We need 10 courts built in 10 key communities.  Or five courts built in 20 key communities.  Tennis needs way more warm incubators, not some big ol’ sterile concrete laboratory.
  • More doubles tournaments for juniors.  Adults love doubles. Juniors love doubles.  Some kids just love the team thing, and it gives them a second chance at tournaments.  There are more smiles on the doubles court.  It rounds out skills. It teaches additional life lessons.  We need to run the doubles rankings up the flag pole and promote them on a much improved national WEB Site. More mixed doubles for juniors too!  Mixed is a wonderful part of our sport and tennis is one of the few sports that has an important coed part to it.  We need to cherish that and use it!!  Kids love it and it teaches a whole ‘nother set of life lessons.
  • No USTA national coaches, but more coaches conferences where regional and local coaches come together to share ideas, drills, insights.  Not to be pontificated to by national coaches. Leave coaching to the private sector. It has always worked in the past and will work again.
  • The head of USTA PD should not be paid $1.2 million, and they should not use it as a part-time job or have other jobs at the same time, and he or she should go around the country and learn from good programs and good coaches.
  • Less mandates. If someone uses red balls or green balls or purple balls or polka dot balls that is fine.  If someone wants to bring kids along with yellow balls, that should be fine too.  If one Section wants to have U10 Green Ball Tournaments and U10 Yellow Ball Tournaments side by side that is just fine.
To reiterate, governing bodies should not be involved in coaching.  The USTA should be our main frame computer.  Private coaches and parents should be our software.  Governing bodies do not create champions.  Never have, never will.  They stifle creativity and enthusiasm and all the things that are the basic DNA of champions.
In the end, I say get rid of USTA PD altogether.  After spending over $300 million on USTA PD with one regime after another and mandate after mandate and minefield after minefield with nothing to show for it, it is time to go in a completely new direction.  Like John Lennon sang, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”  All I am saying is, give the private sector a chance.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

'SORRY'

My apologies, I have spent so much time writing this 'free to air' blog that I quite possibly have neglected what I have really been wanting to do, write a book. So whether I sell 3, 5 or less copies than that I am working on a few things.
Sure I will receive the usual comments from the usual suspects however I feel that this blog has been a good starting point but not the ending point of my silly mind.
The past 500 chapters have been a great 'practice session'. The next 500 are on paper.......
Thanks for your support......
Regards GT

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

'GOOD FUN'

A big thank you to my good buddy Brett Patten for inviting me onto his radio show, 'Court Talk' 91.3. Now that was an experience let me tell you. It's interesting when you are put in front of a microphone and asked some questions about a sport that you have played all your life because it's like tennis, you don't have a lot of time to think about a reply.
By all reports it went well and I didn't say anything that I shouldn't have. I do have a habit of upsetting people however this time around I think I am in the clear. It was fascinating to listen to a fellow by the name of Glenn Busby, an absolute champion of the sport and a man who teaches at the Kooyong Tennis Centre in Melbourne. 'Buzz' is 58 years of age.
The interesting thing to note about Buzz is his take on what he expects of his assistant coaches in regards to playing the game. In the interview he spoke of the need for all active coaches to actually play the game as much as they can as it helps with the thought process which can be relayed to students. Coaches who are regularly playing the game are constantly thinking through situations themselves which can ultimately benefit their students.
My question to Buzz was fairly straight forward however it was rather well received by both Brett and Buzz. It was in regards to the emphasis that is placed on actual point play in practice and decision making as opposed to 'aimless' hitting sessions with no structure. Buzz believes that it is THE most important aspect of the game.
For those of you interested in the interview the entire show is on SPORTS TALK 91.3 and it's rather simple to look up the Podcast of COURT TALK from NOV 22 and have a listen to the show. All previous shows can be replayed. As far as my radio debut was concerned, well it went as well as I could have hoped. BP is a legend at it but I was happy to simply fill in some gaps here and there. When you know a bit about the sport it isn't too difficult.
I would encourage all tennis coaches who are fit, willing, able and who can still hit a ball to show their students whenever and where ever they can that they know how to play the game as opposed to just talking about it. Buzz is a true indication that at 58 years of age it is never too late to reach your full potential ( he is currently ranked World Number 1 for over 50's ). He is also an inspiration to the students he teaches.
Great interview, great bloke, great radio program is Court Talk. Thanks Brett Patten for the opportunity to have a say, hope to do it again.......

Thursday, 19 November 2015

'MORE SUMS'

If you haven't already done the sums on the Tour Finals matches so far here are the facts and figures for you that I find rather remarkable to say the least. So far there has only been one three set match out of eight matches and that in itself defies logic when the top eight players all possess an outrageous talent to hit a tennis ball.
The total games for all of the winners so far equals 102 which is almost double all of the players who have lost their matches to date, 54 to be exact. So putting it in simple terms the average winning score so far in the Tour Finals is 6-3, 6-3. When you look at results such as Rafa destroying Stan 3 and 2 plus the Novak romp over Nishikori of 1 and 1 it is not only surprising but rather disturbing at the same time. Don't professional tennis players of the highest calibre live for taking on the best that there is to see just where they are at or is there more going on here than meets the eye ?
What usually happens at professional tennis tournaments ? The highest seeded players usually get a couple of rounds where they have easy wins before it starts to get tougher correct me if I am wrong yet this current tournament does not afford any player that luxury. So does this tournament really cater for every player with the physical and mental brutality of it or just for some of them ? You only have to look at some players in particular to work that one out.
Who is Thomas Berdych's coach ? How can a player with that much talent get smashed on a regular basis when he plays the big boys or is he living proof that the gap between the first 4 and the next is bigger than what most think ? Last year Thomas got hammered by Stan 1 and 1 in his first match and Novak beat him 2 and 2. Was he just there to make up the numbers ? What about this year then ?
Well Thomas won the first two games against Roger then only 4 more after that but he did win a set from Nishikori which leaves him high and dry again with no chance of making the semis. Thomas does not like to play anyone above him as his score lines show.
Thomas did win in Stockholm and China this year yet he did not beat a top ten player en route to victory in either of them so are some rankings perhaps not quite correct ? Well it's all to do with consistency I suppose and guys like Berdych don't have to win big tennis tournaments to gain a high ranking. The Czech lost in the round of 16 in three Slams this year but he did make the semis of the Australian Open in January. It was at that particular tournament that he was called a 'Flash Czech F...' by Murray's then girlfriend, now wife. I wonder if she was referring to his rather flash image that sees him make a few million each year yet capitulates when an ultimate test is presented to him in the form of a match with a proven champion. Perhaps I am being too hard on Thomas because he is a World class tennis player but he is not by any means a proven champion, there is a huge difference.
A player like David Ferrer however is a guy who is always up for a challenge against the big guys and very rarely gets hammered as his two scores so far prove. Sure he lost to Murray and Stan but he has nothing to bother anyone with except a very big heart and he pushed both of those players hard. In Quatar earlier this year he in fact beat Berdych in the final. My question is this; With what ? How on earth can Ferrer beat a player such as Berdych in the final of any tournament when he gives away power, height and all round ability to play tennis ? It's simple, he has a heart that Thomas can only dream of owning one day. If I had a choice of choosing a player's technique between those two players I would choose Berdych any day yet I would always pick Ferrer to win that match. His ticker is by far supreme.
Even if Ferrer had been on the other half of the draw in the current end of year Tour Finals he would have relished the opportunity to play Roger or Novak. He lost 5-7, 5-7 to Novak earlier this year in Miami and lost a tough four setter to Murray at the French. He has no fear and he always turns up mentally. He earned his spot in the current championship without a doubt.
The sport currently still sees the top players finding a way to win against guys who are not far behind them in ability yet a long way behind in the thinking department. In some ways it is a little predictable yet in other ways it is remarkable as it is such a tough sport to consistently dominate against players who are technically brilliant.
I hope the rest of the current tournament produces some less than predictable results but if the first two rounds are anything to go by well the semis will be fairly easy to tip. So am I game ??
Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray for the final four with an upset in the semis and it may just rest with a rejuvenated Rafa who is not far off where he was two years ago.
Would love to see Roger win it though and will stick with the great man........