Tuesday, 3 February 2015


Around three years ago I watched a State League match in Perth which involved a good mate of mine, my 1991 European touring partner Brett Patten and a youngster. Old school vs the new was my first impression as Brett took his opponent's base line game apart with a constant net attack. The young fellow had some magnificent shots yet the experience of Brett and his brilliant volleying won out in two sets. Brett at the time was ranked number 1 in Western Australia at the 'tender' age of around 40.
The match reminded me of a young Jonny Mac against Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon in 1981, the differences in standard obvious to the Perth match but the styles very similar, base line vs net. In both matches the net attack prevailed, finding enough winners from the back of the court was simply too hard. 
Just last year Roger Federer took out Djokovic in straight sets in Shanghai with 48 net advances which once again put the base line hugging player under enormous pressure. I just wish Roger was still 23 and not 33, he may just have been able to single- handedly convince the current coaching system that the base line is not the only place to win from.
Old school tennis is apparent in small doses, perhaps more so in doubles now days as guys like Paes and Nestor still don't really hit too many ground strokes as they prefer the shorter points. 
The new school of doubles in fact stay back now until they hit the perfect ground stroke then follow it in to finish the point at the net. Jonny Mac would cringe at the thought.
Old school playing and new school teaching will continue to happen until the last 'dinosaur' hits their last tennis ball. 
I read somewhere once where a rather 'new' coach was talking themselves up and asking the 'powers to be' for the 'older, more experienced' coaches to make way for 'gurus' like himself. I found that interesting. Did this person find the older, more experienced coaches a threat to their future numbers ?
Students will continue to be coached by both the old and the new school of tennis, fact of life, it leads to ego battles within the industry, daily, weekly and seasonally.
It makes for some interesting banter.
I often have a 'dig' at the new breed of tennis coach as I see many doing nothing short of 'baby sitting' on a daily basis with up to 10 kids in a class. Great way to make money guys but don't forget to at some stage gain some improvement along the way. Great for future business.
As I have stated many times, tennis is now a business where the new school of coach would never have been good enough to be anything more than an assistant to the 'real coaches' of the school of old. In fact many coaches when I was a kid learning to play in this State actually had other jobs, such was the difference in hourly rates of today.
Now days all you have to do is develop a face book page, put an ad in the paper, talk up your assistants as  'former top ranked juniors' and all of you can make enough $$ in summer to have winter off in Switzerland. 
No one seems to question a thing. Some coaches can't even play properly themselves or refuse to play events as they would be shown up for who they really are, 'ball hitters' with a 'degree in incompetence'. Yet a monumental hourly rate apparently off sets this. 
If the rate is high, well hey this coach must be good ey ??
Old School vs the new, always entertaining. It will continue to amuse me and give me many things to write about. I don't mind being a 'dinosaur', at least I can play the game and I don't just go to the net to shake hands. Old School ? And proud of it.......

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