Was a fun weekend, many kids, many adults, people who want to get better at tennis yet the location they live in does not allow them to do much except watch Youtube, get inspired, hit against a wall or tackle some mates on club day.
When I left town today I had to swerve to miss a big snake crossing the main street that was heading towards the main watering hole in town. In fact I swear that if the front door was open in the local pub that particular snake would have surprised a few of the locals who were quenching their thirst. True story.
A hot part of the World even seven weeks before Summer. I have never seen a snake cross the main street of a town before today. All that was missing in that scene were the tumbleweeds that you see in a Western movie blowing down a quiet street.
Five hours into a six hour coaching clinic one of the locals grabs the girls, fills up the car and headed to the swimming pool just down the road, a quick dip to restore some energy before a last effort to finish the day. The boys followed. Amazing what a quick swim will do for a bunch of kids who love their tennis but were at the stage of being too hot to enjoy it anymore.
Country tennis is a little different than most other places and when I say country, well I mean way, way out bush where the local farmers rely on crops and sheep to gain an income, an income that can help with sporting opportunities for their kids. In the city there are tennis clubs and coaches in most suburbs, an abundance of choice, not so where I went this weekend.
People travelled 50 kilometres for a day's tennis, some further, fascinating to hear just what some parents did for their kids who don't get many chances to learn certain sports due to location. An educational weekend, some great talent from players who have really just learned the sport through the internet and a Wimbledon telecast.
A special mention to Frank and Kingsley who own two of the best one handed backhands that I have ever seen yet they really don't get a chance to hit through it too much on club days as court etiquette requires a slice to stay in the good books when playing mixed doubles. Thanks for hitting me into a bit of form gentlemen, was an absolute pleasure to be on court with you guys who are no 'spring chickens' yet own an enthusiasm for the game which is nothing short of inspiring.
Next time around I am looking for a doubles best of three sets to finish the day however I am not interested in playing with either of you as you two would be lethal to play against. Simply find me a partner and we will do our best to deal with your Federer and Wawrinka backhands, a challenge that will be worth waiting for.
Small country towns for some reason produce red hot tennis players. I have been lucky enough to play some tournaments around the southwest of WA with some guys who simply know how to play tennis, it's in the blood. The other thing with these guys is their on court attitude which does not change off court either. It's a happy go lucky attitude with no ego involved, a rarity in tennis.
It was a great weekend, a hot weekend, a weekend I will put down as both entertaining and educational. In tennis you always learn from others, it's that kind of sport but I have always found that the players from small towns, including the kids have an appreciation for tennis like no others. It may have been real hot and the flies real friendly yet when someone turns up who can feed a few balls and rabbit on about technique and tactics the elements are forgotten.
I for one have the utmost respect for small communities who would give anything to have the opportunities that the rest of us have yet perhaps don't appreciate it quite as much. I can see a few of the local kids taking on the city hot shots in the years to come if their enthusiasm for hitting a tennis ball is anything to go by.
Still not certain about the off court rules and regulations however as far as local snakes are concerned but running one over on my way out today was perhaps bad karma for the future. Frank, Kingsley, keep an eye out in the front garden of the pub next time you are going in for a beer.........
Thanks for the weekend...