Saturday, 2 January 2016

'A LETTER FROM PAUL McNAMEE'

The following is a letter from Paul McNamee that I found on the net. Paul is not a fan of the current system put in place by Tennis Australia that has done it's best to monopolize tennis in this country.
TA do not have a system that is a proven winner and you only have to look at guys like Tomic, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as proof. These players all learned the game from a childhood coach and were not subjected to coaching changes as McNamee outlines in this letter. 
His letter bares a striking resemblance to that of Wayne Bryan's , Father and Coach of the greatest ever doubles duo, the Bryan Brothers. ( I posted that letter just recently on this site )
Mr Bryan tells of a system in the US that is broken and how it should be changed, not unlike this one from Paul.
 McNamee's letter is spot on the money....

Last year I penned an open letter to Australian coaches. I'd like to share some of it here:
One of the common questions I get asked is, 'What happened to Australian tennis?', along with the follow-up, 'How can it be revived?'… The answer to the second question, and the key
to our renaissance as a great tennis nation, is surprisingly simple …
Most successful players can name the one person who made the difference - like Charlie Hollis for Rod Laver, or Ian Barclay for Pat Cash. Or Pete Smith for Lleyton Hewitt, the late 'Nails' Carmichael for Pat Rafter and Darren Cahill, or Barry Phillips Moore for Mark Woodforde, just to name a few.
It's fair to say that a coach may come from anywhere, and may pop up at any moment, but it's equally true that the most likely person to play that role is your coach in your formative teenage years, just like Ian Barclay was to Pat Cash. Well, at least that's how it used to be until the Tennis Australia (TA) juggernaut decided to engage in and endeavour to monopolise the coaching industry, including directly employing coaches itself and designating which talented players they work with.
At Wimbledon this year, I saw an Aussie player, part of the TA system, with the fourth coach in twelve months. I don't need to tell you that a mix of inputs like that, however knowledgeable and well meaning, is a recipe for disaster.
Systems do not produce champions, people do. As a consequence, and I'm not alone in saying this, we've pretty much lost a generation of players who have not transitioned to the tour.
Early last year, I was in discussions in relation to working with a talented Australian female player. During an unrelated discussion I was having with a senior TA official, he said to me, 'I've heard that you might be working with such player. I've spoken to our guys and we're not approving that.' Simple as that. In other words, the player's financial support package would be pulled.

Shortly after that rebuff, I was asked by Su-wei Hsieh if I could help her at Wimbledon. At twenty five years of age, her ranking at that time was so low that she didn't even get in qualifying for the singles, and she proceeded to lose first round in the doubles. I asked Australia's highest-ranked doubles player, Paul Hanley, if he would play mixed doubles with her. Paul obliged, and they went on a terrific run all the way to the Wimbledon semi-finals. That was just the boost she needed. Just over twelve months later, Su-wei Hsieh has won seven singles tournaments, including two career-first WTA titles, as well as reaching the semi-final of doubles at the 2012 US Open. In that time, her singles ranking has gone from 343 to 25. Why am I working with a Taiwanese player? Because she asked me and I was in a position to do so. It was a decision made not by a Federation but by Su-wei and myself, coach and player, without interference.
There are literally hundreds of you coaching around Australia who would walk over hot coals for your best talent. But I suspect you know from bitter experience that you will lose your player to the 'system'. After all, how can the parents turn down the inducements of heavily subsidised coaching, travel and other support.
A Melbourne coach recently said to me, 'I've got a really good kid who I love working with, but I know I'll eventually have to let him go to a better coach in the system …' I said to him, 'Stop right there I guarantee you that by the time your kid is playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon, you will have acquired all the knowledge you need. The best chance for your
kid to make it is if you guys go on the journey together.'
I say to any player (and parent), 'You ditch your personal coach at your peril. It may not be perfect but if your coach believes in you and unselfishly goes the extra yard, you're already well on your way.' So I say to you, the coaches, 'Do not give up the dream of sitting in the player box at Wimbledon.' A trusting bond between coach and player is the fundamental building block of a player making it to tour level. Our governing body sees it differently, but hopefully one
day they'll be held to account …

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