Monday, 10 August 2015


Monday, 22 June 2015


Jimmy Connors once said "Experience is a great advantage. The problem is that when you get the experience , you're too damn old to do anything about it".
When I was a kid and invariably lost way more than I won my Dad would always say " Well it's all good experience". I didn't think that when I lost it was anything except poor form or lack of ability. I just wanted to win.
Playing against guys like Peter Trammachi and Andrew Kratzmann in Queensland when I was 17 years old was an experience I will never forget. Peter went on to become a World top 50 ranked doubles player and Andrew made it inside the top 15 for the same two on two format of the sport. 'Kratz' also made it all the way to the final of the 2000 Australian Open where he and his partner lost a marathon match in 5 sets.
I also vaguely remember hitting against Pat Rafter who was in another squad at the time but our squads would occasionally mix together for some variety. We all know what happened with Pat's tennis and the success he had.
The mindset I took with me to Europe was simple, I could match it with those guys, in fact I never lost to Kratz in any of our squad matches and I took several sets off Pete ( Nackers ) in many practice sessions.
Once again I apologise for comparing myself to any legend of the game but I couldn't help but think about Borg who had ten years off. I had only had a three year break due to finally joining the work force through lack of success at tennis so I thought the obvious thoughts.
"Righto Thommo you used to be up there with guys who now make a living out of the game, let's give this whole European idea a red hot go". Something like that anyhow. At the time that I travelled to Europe I believe Nackers and Kratz were just starting to have some wins on the Challenger Circuit so I thought that I was an outside chance of doing ok overseas. It may have been silly but unless you put faith in your own ability I guess it would be a total waste of time in trying anything like a European tournament circuit.
Tennis at any age is like riding a bike, it just depends on what age you are and what experience you have had as to how well you can ride that bike, so to speak. Having experience in tennis is something that is invaluable and it's a rare thing to find many teenagers now days winning against the more seasoned campaigners. 
I played several European players in 1991 who were older than me and it showed in their ability to work out my strengths and weaknesses by the end of a game or two. Some players took a set to do the same, they were generally the younger more inexperienced guys who were still learning. With experience and invariably 'older age' there was an ever increasing need for the fitness level of a player to be as high as his younger opponent.
I watched Pete play a much older clay court master who took three sets to get over the line but it was both enjoyable and fascinating to watch despite Pete's loss. Watching the court craft of the European was almost like being in a class room and being taught by a Professor of Sport.
I vividly recall Pete talking after the match about his opponent's physique and the way in which he compared both of his own legs and the European's was rather humorous. In a nutshell there was a big difference.
Experience in tennis is without a doubt what Jimmy Connors described it as, you definitely could have used it when you were younger but that's what makes the sport so unique. Some of the matches I witnessed and played in Europe all those years ago will go down in my memory bank as some of the greatest lessons I ever learned in tennis.

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