If I had only ever lost ten bucks on my very regular trips to the punting shop all those years ago when my life was not going so well then I would have looked upon each trip as a 'win' of epic proportions. You can't beat 'the house', but when you are looking at ways to give your life a boost then it seemed worth a shot.
Now if each time you walked out onto a tennis court to teach juniors the finer points of the game and you only lost ten bucks then to most tennis coaches this would be depressing, not so for myself. In fact because of what had happened at my old tennis club and all of the politics that went with it I was more than happy to lose ten bucks as long as the session went well.
I had given up well and truly on making any money from coaching quite some time earlier so all I was really looking for was that boost that improvement from youngsters could give you. If it cost me ten bucks or made me ten I really couldn't have cared, it was just an outlet for me, a hobby that gave me a positive vibe.
I have spoken openly about the game that I only ever made $50 from once and $40 from twice, the rest of the time I made peanuts on one hour private sessions, my lack of business sense evident. The $50 session I had was with a high flying US Businessman by the name of John Ford who asked for a lesson at the Observation City Resort in Scarborough where I was coaching in the early 90's. He in fact tipped me $25, I was only charging $25 for the hour. Many people told me to put up the price, I wasn't interested, $25 was good money back then as I think my 'real job' delivering bakery goods was paying me around $15 an hour.
The other two lessons where I made some good money were the two I had with the lead actress of a mini series filmed here in Albany, Briony Williams who played 'Lockie Leonard's' mother in the series of that name. Lockie Leonard has developed a cult following here in Albany, or 'Angelus' as our town is called in the series. Many scenes were shot around town that stopped traffic and pedestrians, all well received by the locals.
The tennis scene in the series was overseen by my good self and I still felt bad a long time afterwards that I charged that much to show Briony how to play, it was my pleasure to do it. In fact I only charged that much because I was prompted by someone 'in the know' to charge that figure as apparently the surfing coaching was being charged at $50 per hour, just a rumour.
So it was of no surprise that when I shifted my coaching to another local tennis club I did the sums as I always have done and came up with a 'bright' idea. Let's get some good local juniors to act as hitting partners for our better kids on one given day of the week and pay them for their services at a rate that was a lot better than Hungry Jacks could offer as a burger maker.
Now their job was not to teach a kid the game because I was aware of teenagers trying to impart knowledge, it doesn't really work well, they simply do not own the knowledge. Their job was simply to keep the ball in play, I asked for consistency, not flair and definitely no showing off, they were to be 'brick walls', nothing more, nothing less.
This idea worked beautifully for a while and as I explained I was only losing around ten bucks a session after court hire and wages so I was pretty happy with the whole scene. It folded when a letter was sent to the local Tennis Association that apparently complained about my 'workshops' because of Insurance issues etc plus the usual politics that go along with someone using their initiative.
The same thing happened when I offered cut price sessions at a private venue in 'Angelus' and my local town council got in touch with me and gave me the 'once over'. For someone who wasn't making any money out of tennis I sure was high on the list of people who were targeted for something that I am still not sure to this day what to describe as.
I would like to call it initiative but others would call it 'cutting their turf '. Either way it was something that upset some locals.
I have been accused of many things by many people but I could never be called greedy, I simply don't know how to be greedy in tennis. I wouldn't know how to make money out of the game if it were spelled out to me by a professor wearing a white coat and an intimidating pair of spectacles.
One day I will cover every aspect of this game, I said that just recently as I felt I had covered just about everything but my mind is still like a tin of worms and little things keep the worms wriggling. I still have many chapters to go it seems, my apologies in advance.........