"What are your thoughts on why we can't develop top 10 players here in Western Australia" ?
That was the text message left on my mobile phone last night. Firstly I am not one of these people who demands a name, profile and basically a 'who the f... are you and what are you doing sending me texts at a quarter to midnight' type of person.
No I am a person who loves these types of questions. Whether someone is taking the piss after having a few too many beers on a Thursday night or whether this is a legitimate question I am the sort of bloke who is more than happy to offer an opinion as after all this site of mine is a 'View Point' on the sport of tennis. It is a site that gives an opinion on a sport that has many perceptions and quite often perceptions are deceiving.
Perception is the process by which stimulation of the senses is translated into meaningful experience.
Perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting and organizing sensory information. Many cognitive psychologists hold that, as we move about in the World we create a model of how the World works.... (New World Encyclopedia).
Tennis is a sport that without perception is like a famous quote from Edward de Bono....
"Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic"
The way that tennis is looked at is rather deceiving to a kid as it looks rather basic when we all watch it on television. We see players who don't miss much, are fit, club the ball pretty damn hard and then they end up with a big fat pay cheque at the end of it all as well as a really hot looking missus.
The thing we are forgetting is how that player actually came to be that good, that fit, that wealthy and that appealing to the opposite gender. It is a sport that when you look back to the beginning of that player's career you will probably find that for a start they had a really smart tennis coach who taught them how to play tennis.
By that I don't just mean a coach who taught them how to hit a ball, there is a rather large difference in that perception. That coach would also have probably taught that kid to play on a surface that developed a thinking tennis player and it was probably a clay court. Quick surfaces do not develop a player's shots and thinking anywhere near like a clay court does that offers a player time to develop both.
The big thing however is location. If a player is among others who can play the game well on a weekly basis then learning is fairly simple, you either sink or swim, there is nothing in between. By that I mean if a player has access to good training facilities with players who can push them to become a better player then all the ingredients are there for the cooking.
Look at the next level of tennis from the junior series. Where is Western Australia ? We are at the arse end of nowhere with next to no tournaments available against the best in the country that will in fact give a player an honest assessment as to where their game is at. Why do you think that the guys from the eastern States are in front of us ? Access to regular tournaments against the best opposition in Australia and quite regularly on surfaces that will develop a game from an average one to a competitive one with substance.
When I was 16 I went to Queensland and we played on clay regularly, we then travelled to New South Wales and played on the clay also. I vividly remember playing a guy by the name of Mark Heather who was ranked 1 in WA for the 16's age group and I recall a belting of 6-1, 6-1 to him in Perth.
After around eight months of regular training in Queensland on clay courts I played Mark in NSW on the clay and lost 6-4, 6-4 and should have taken the match to a third set at least as I lead him 4-2 in the second and had break point at 4 all. That type of result was typical both back then and now. If you train regularly against guys who are the best in the country on a surface that almost guarantees shot and thinking improvement then your best results are going to be within grasp.
Western Australia is a long way away from anything, fact of life however if you can find an obscure clay tennis court, a coach with a mind for teaching and a practice partner who you will probably lose to more often than beat then there are just some of your important ingredients for success.
Good luck Champ......