'WALK THE WALK' ( BUT DON'T SPREAD YOURSELF TOO THIN)
* A big congratulations to Brad Rundle of Katanning for taking out this year's Albany Open Men's A Grade Doubles championship with Stewart Witham. Brad epitomises what a seasoned tennis coach can do in regards to inspiring his pupils how to play the game. It's one thing to 'talk' it, another to 'walk' it.*
It's one thing to walk the walk as a tennis coach however winning a club championship 17 years straight is spreading yourself a little too thin. ( I heard that story from someone many years ago and it got me thinking ).
I am all for showing students of the game how to play and proving that you aren't just a talker however it can be taken a little too far.
If you have won a local championship that many times everyone knows you can play tennis, that's obvious and people will not forget how many times you won it but don't forget a very important factor. By not playing every single tournament locally it can freshen the entire tennis fraternity up and it can also bring some other players on.
When I was a kid there was only ONE person winning tennis tournaments locally and after a while it became rather predictable as it was really just down to who could pick up a runners up trophy.
When that player left the local scene it freshened things up and became almost a race to see who could get to where he was. It strengthened the local scene, not weakened it as players strived to be the new bench mark of the region.
As a tennis coach you have a certain 'requirement' to support a local or regional tennis tournament, not just turn up at tennis lessons, take the money and run, so to speak. The tennis fraternity of any region loves to see tennis coaches play as it is great for the opposition to learn from people who teach it. Let's face it, most tennis coaches should know how to play the game at a reasonably high competitive level and by a tennis coach playing a tournament it helps to raise the profile and credibility of a tennis tournament. Let's though remember one important thing.
It's not a tennis coach's 'requirement' to own the local or regional tennis scene as far as tournament results are concerned because as the chapter's title suggests, you are in danger of spreading yourself way too thin. A tennis coach in particular needs to play it smart and by that I mean that it is important for the tennis community to see a coach support a competition but not every one, in every year, in every possible location.
'Tall Poppy Syndrome' can definitely come into play in the event of someone trying to monopolise not only the coaching side of things but the tournament scene also. Predictability in local tennis tournaments is no fun for anyone just for the sake of an ego boost.
Tennis fraternities in all regions are aware of who can play tennis and who simply just 'talks a good game' so playing it smart is imperative if you are also making money from teaching it. Limit your tournaments but support them also, find a happy medium.
The big thing I believe about tennis coaches playing tournaments is that it also reinforces a coach's thought process. A coach who regularly plays is always asking the same question of themselves as they are of their students and that I believe is a huge factor in the whole teaching side of the game. Put yourself in your students' shoes.
If a tennis coach hangs up his racket for good it should be for the right reasons, perhaps age, perhaps injury but it should never be through fear of losing, that's a cop out. And the old 'I tripped over my dog and strained my hammy' routine at the start of a tennis season can wear a little too thin particularly when it happens EVERY year.
If a tennis coach is physically able to play then there is no good reason why they should not strengthen a local tournament by entering it even if it is with a 'B' Grade partner. A tennis coach is not expected to win every event but they have an obligation to bring players on and by simply playing a competition it inspires many to turn up and test their games against a teacher of the sport.
Smart tennis coaches know how to work this whole situation, there is an art to many aspects of the game, this is just another.
Play while you can, you are a long time retired. Show your students that you can play it, not just talk it........