Monday, 12 October 2015

'HOPEFULLY'

I have never copied a style of writing, I simply go with what is in my head which I have often described as a tin of worms when it come to both tennis and life in general. Sometimes I just sit down and write the first thing that comes to mind, like the Andre Agassi chapter I wrote the other night.
Now there is a tennis player who had almost as much impact on me as Mats and Bjorn did but for different reasons. Quite simply I had never seen anyone hit a ball like him before, almost the complete opposite of my two Swedish heroes but I was captivated by it immediately as it was a cavalier type of style that was almost outrageous.
I hope that if there is someone out there who has written a book on tennis it is nothing like anything that I write though I did receive a rather flattering compliment a while ago. One of my mates who I used to train with in Queensland and who is still coaching over there likened some of my chapters to some of Brad Gilbert's in his 'Winning Ugly' book. I have been meaning to get a copy of that book, I hear it's a ripper, it's on my wish list.
I do not however copy a style of writing.
When I was a kid I did though copy my Swedish heroes' style of play, something I have documented on many occasions, I am not the only one. My buddy Brett Patten who reached World Number 1 for age 35-40 just a few years ago told me how he learned his game as a kid. He spoke of watching guys like Edberg hit volleys and how he wanted to emulate that type of style so he basically copied it through practice. He didn't follow a coach who told him he had to hit it a certain way, neither did I despite both of us having many coaching sessions and many theories thrown at us by numerous coaches.
When I was a teenager I had lessons and one of my coaches got me to serve and volley because he did. Dumb arse idea that was. I will never forget a tournament where I lost 2 and 3 to a guy I lost to in three tight sets a year earlier by staying back. Surely a year on I would have been getting stronger from the back wouldn't I so why would I now be playing a totally foreign style that I was completely uncomfortable with ?
Was this poor coaching or was it poor decision making by a 14 year old ? Easy one to answer. How many 14 year olds know who they really are as a tennis player ? I believe I lost a good year of playing by doing stuff on court that should have been kept as a surprise tactic, not a change of style that I totally disliked right from the outset. I believe that coach tried to steer me away from my game because he couldn't play it himself.
When a kid is learning the game as a 10 to 14 year old every shot should be taught by the coach and every shot should be practiced but it is up to the kid in the end to work out who they are on a tennis court. I was happy to just go to the net to shake hands until I was at least 16 when I gained some body strength and learned to volley so why was my coach telling me to serve and volley when he knew that wasn't my strength ?
I think in the end it was why I was just happy to learn from watching the World's best play on television.
On the weekend just gone I hit with some kids who weren't that comfortable with the volley however I gave them some approach and volley drills that simply taught them the basics of moving in. Those drills taught a kid that if they get a service line ball it's a smart move to come in rather than hit it then retreat. Now that really is an awkward thing to watch when some kids do that.
I didn't in any way though tell them that they had to come to the net after a serve or on anything that resembled a short ball. That sort of play should become a little more natural once a slice backhand or a consistent topspin forehand has been learned and the art of volleying becomes a little clearer.
A kid needs to learn from a hero more than a coach, a Rafa, a Roger, a Novak or an Andy, guys who all have a different way of going about winning a tennis match. If a kid watched all of those players consistently they would see for themselves that they can all play every shot almost to perfection yet they don't all hit them the same way or at the same time in a match. They pick their moments.
Every tennis professional can hit every shot in the book but most cannot call on them at will like the Big 4 do with seemingly ridiculous ease and outrageous timing. It's why they make more money than most.
I am certain that my theories in tennis are not alone but hopefully I am never accused of copying someone else's style of writing. Believe me I simply make it up as I go along. As far as my playing and coaching is concerned well I am guilty of copying many theories from the Swedes but I am certain that I will not be sued for plagiarism in that respect.
I am an original 'Tennis Nobody' who simply likes to write about this sport and at age 46 I am still hitting a reasonable ball and teaching a few people here and there how to improve their tennis with a minimum of fuss.
Over and out.........

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