Thursday, 28 April 2016

'WELL DONE MR McCAW'

I take a look at this guy's site around once a month. Usually I don't like what he says but this little gem I find ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT ! I am not sure how many times I have mentioned the term 'WALK THE WALK as well as TALK THE TALK' on my site but it seems that even the guru McCaw sees it as important.
Some walk it, most talk it yet the public is none the wiser. Find someone to teach you a sport who isn't afraid of failure themselves. It's no disgrace to lose, it's weak as piss to not even try.....( Glenn Thompson )
Walking the Talk as a Coach or Trainer:
Something I strongly believe in is that if you are working in the sport, health or fitness industry, you should walk the talk.
As a coach or Trainer, you cannot look out of shape and exhausted half the time if you are seeking respect from your clients and athletes. The best example is our own. This doesn’t mean we need to sign up for an Ironman or marathon, but simply make concerted efforts to keeping in shape and walking the talk.
No...
w, this is by no means an attack or judgment on others, but let me ask you this: Would you go to a dentist with bad teeth? Or how about going to a mechanic whose own car is always breaking down?
We are in the ‘health and energy’ business. We need to live it, promote it, drive it, be it.
‪#‎mccawmethodbook

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

'THE C and S DEBACLE' ( Part 5 )

My days of playing at C and S included sets against my School Teachers which always made for a bit of light banter either during or before a timed set on a Saturday afternoon. 'Hey Glenn if you want that A in Maths'......
That tennis club was so busy with players on a Saturday that it was not unusual to play a set against your local Doctor, Accountant, Vet or anyone else who owned a title of esteem in the Community. The Country and Suburban Tennis Club was THE place to play tennis in Albany, WA.
It's not to say that there weren't other tennis clubs in town but if you wanted a great hit then you wouldn't look any further than the Albany Highway facility. 'Hit and giggle' tennis was not on the agenda at C and S, it was a case of pride as the Senior set play from 1 pm onwards was your chance to make a statement amongst the elite of Albany's tennis community.
The club was fortunate to have Mark Leuba as a member, an outrageously talented kid who was in fact coached by his Dad. Bill Leuba took Mark to the top of the State rankings for the 12's and 14's training him at C and S three or four times a week. Mark would also play the senior club sets on Saturday afternoon but he was way too good for the junior club.
One of my first experiences playing Mark was in the afternoon tea break hit for the keen juniors who would never go and have a coffee with the 'oldies', it was a chance for that little bit of extra court time.
I thought I would try my luck and asked Mark for a few games, he obliged, nice kid was Mark. It was another one of those early tennis 'educations'. It only took him around 15 minutes to beat me 5-1, ( I never forget a score) with the afternoon tea bell ringing to save me from total humiliation. I knew I would have to get close to Mark's standard if I wanted to make an impression in Perth but at least I had that bench mark ( pardon the pun ) of ability etched in my mind. 
How lucky was I ? Fair dinkum I had the best Tennis Coach this town has ever seen and one of the State's best ever Country juniors both playing and coaching at my tennis club. Spoilt rotten no doubt about it when I first commenced the journey into my chosen sport. It took around six months of coaching with Peter to become competitive enough to play sets with Mark but I recall telling Peter that I wanted to get to Mark's standard and we worked hard.
Mark and I would hit regularly once I became good enough to play him and I regularly won sets from him both at C and S and the indoor facility where we hit throughout winter. In an old chapter I wrote of the devastation of losing to Mark perhaps a year later at the State Schoolboys Championships in Perth at Trinity College. I lead Mark 7-5, 4-3 and won just ONE more game which I put down to my mind seeing the finish line way too soon yet I remained philosophical. I knew I was heading in the right direction as Mark lost in the final to David Culley in the 16's that year so my standard was thereabouts but I lacked the polish that guys like Mark owned.
The C and S Tennis Club was a place to forge your game against some talented players no doubt about it and the hallmarks were all there to raise your standard if you used your brains as far as training was concerned. By that I mean it was up to you how well you took your opportunities as far as junior club, senior club, hits with the better players when the chance arose and taking a lesson from Peter was concerned.
It was as though you were a kid in a candy store at the courts on the highway with an abundance of sweets to treat yourself with. If you had the inclination and the desire to get better it was all out there at C and S yet one thing has stayed in my mind from those days more than anything else and it was the amount of POINT PLAY that we did.
We learned drills from Peter and worked on technique in those sessions however I firmly believe that it was the hours and hours of point play throughout the whole of Saturday's matches that was the deciding factor in our improvement.
Point play is 'KING' when working towards tennis success because when you play points you develop a sense of knowing what to do and when at different stages in a match.
Players who train too much without point play lack that vital ingredient that is required to win at tennis.
It's the one thing that separates a good hitter from a good player, court intelligence. Plenty of great hitters out there, not as many great tennis players.......

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

'THE C and S DEBACLE' ( PART 4 )

You will have to excuse my way of writing, it stems from owning a mind that goes around at 100 miles per hour when it comes to tennis, a sport that has been good to me but a sport that has also consumed me. Axel Rose put things into perspective in one of the all time classics '.....reminds me of childhood memories where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky'.....
That song, 'Sweet child of Mine' was not only a classic hit for the 'Gunners' but a song that made you reflect on past days and past feelings about life, it was a song for the ages. My time in tennis has been around 35 years, time to know right from wrong but not enough time to work out a formula for success, no one will ever own that status.
The C and S tennis Club towards the end of it's existence in fact held a tennis tournament on those 8 courts that for some unknown reason has never been replicated at another club in the region which I find to this day both disappointing and bemusing. Around a month or so before I was married I received an entry form in the mail from the C and S Tennis Club Secretary for a tournament that went by the title of 'The Great Southern Men's Singles Championship'. The tournament was of course put together by Peter Holmes who gained sponsorship through local businesses to the tune of roughly $1000, not a bad effort.
I looked at the entry form for about 30 seconds and said to my better half  'Let's go to Albany and visit the folks next month, my old club has a competition on, haven't played there in years'.
I was 28 years old at the time and it had been probably 15 years since Peter had first coached me and quite remarkably it was maybe the only Singles Championship for the town apart from club championships since the Albany Open Junior Tournament had ceased to exist.
Sentiment drew me to enter this competition because I wanted to take a trip down memory lane where my old coach was not only the person who put the tournament together but the number one seed also. When you look at that realistically, well, that was Peter for you. I had been to Europe, taken up coaching in Perth, given up playing, fallen in love, taken up playing again, got engaged, got a real job outside of tennis, and all this time there was one bloke who kept that old tennis club of mine running in my home town, Holmsey.
So this was the plan, we go to Albany and work on the theory that I can make the final providing I am on the other half of the draw from Peter. I finish runner up to a bloke who I had the most ridiculous amount of respect for and I pick up $100 as runner up for the privilege of playing him at the club where it all started for me as a kid. Plan was 'idiot proof'.
So we get to Albany and book in to possibly the most famous beachside resort on the South Coast of WA, The Esplanade, overlooking Middleton Beach, a place I had spent many hours of my miss spent youth at drinking like a fish and chatting up young blondes. I paid $200 for two nights accommodation which when you think about it was rather cheap for a room over looking the beach that also had a spa and was about twenty five steps from the main bar. It was the type of situation that had 'rock star' written all over it. Problem was I was no rock star and I was in desperate need of at least making the semis to at least pay for one night at the 'Nard'.
Now to try and finish this chapter in a reasonable time frame I will do my best to shorten the events of that weekend in Albany Feb, 1997; Saturday, GT wins both Mens Singles matches as the number 2 seed ( not sure why I was seeded 2 but I took it as a compliment ). That night my better half and I walk into the bar to have a 'quiet ale' and a counter meal. We bump into a couple who we knew well from Perth, we get stuck into the ale and neglect the counter meal. I looked at the whole scene realistically, I was never going to beat Peter, even though I had 12 years on him in youth, he was just too tough, let's just live a little. Idiot.....
Six beers later and a burger to soak it up we get back to the room, I do the sums, my semi has to be quick against Tarkin Lockyer, a talented young fellow who would eventually become the Captain of the Collingwood Football Team, nice kid. I belt him 1 and 2, an energy saving match. Peter wins comfortably in his semi, as expected.
One hour break, then the final where Peter picks the court ! This is what he said to me, 'Let's play on court 4 and let me take you into the wall with my serve' ! You see, court 4 at C and S had a brick wall to the left of it and Peter knew that if he put enough slice on his serve it would get to the wall before his opponent. I told you he was clever....
Pete leads 4-1, 40-30, just killing me, one point away from demoralising his former student when something clicked inside my head. 'You know where this is going GT, as soon as he throws the ball up start moving to your left, nothing else has worked so far but you know what's coming, think buddy, think.
Peter throws it out wide and I was there before it got to the wall. I hit a two hander to his feet and clean up his half volley easily with a forehand. I break, 2-4, break again, 4-4, hold, 5-5, 6-6, tiebreak. I lose the first point and win the next seven straight. I take the second 6-3 by doing exactly what Peter told me to do as a kid. There are ways to beat a serve and volleyer even if he is your former coach. If you take things in as a kid, one day it may just pay dividends.
Peter won me that match and title plus the $200 that paid for the accommodation for the weekend at my favourite beachside haunt. I mean that in all due respect. 
The only way I got out of that hole I was in was from Pete's tuition, the days of coaching where we simulated match play and the days we worked on moments in matches that would prove critical to the end result. You can hit as many balls as you like in practice but if they don't have structure it is a wasted exercise.
I never told anyone I got half cut the night before that tournament out of respect for Peter but there was a reason why I drank that night and it was out of respect for my old mentor. I never gave myself a chance, I was only going for second place and a hundred bucks to help pay the expenses for the weekend. I was 28 years of age, I was over trying to make a living out of the game !
I cramped in that last game when I broke Pete's serve to win it. If it went to three, I was gone. From memory I hit a two hander down the line off Pete's serve to take it, Pete taught me how to hit that.
Nothing more memorable than beating someone who taught you how to play but one thing sticks in my mind about that match and it's called perspective.
Pete was 40, I was 28. Pete still was prepared to put it on the line against the 'young' fellas, that  typifies the sort of person Pete was. He could walk it, not just talk it..........
Chapter 5 to follow

Monday, 25 April 2016

'THE C and S DEBACLE ( Part 3 )

In sport we hear the word 'culture', often used when talking about an AFL side such as the Sydney Swans, a team which takes that word to a whole new meaning. The way in which the Swans go about their business is inspiring and can even boast calming 'Buddie' Franklin's ego to a respectable level that now sees him play as a team man and not an individual. Culture in sport is what makes a team or an individual player disciplined  enough to carry out their 'work' with pride.
I think that with a club such as C and S there was an element of wanting to play the game not only to the best of your ability but there was also a sense of pride when you played at that tennis club. Peter Holmes would have that sort of aura surrounding him when he either played out there or when he talked about the game to you during a lesson.
In fact he was that knowledgeable on the game that at times it was just as much an education to listen to his take on the sport in general as it was for him to teach you how to hit a shot better. At less than twenty bucks an hour with Pete it was ridiculously great value.
Peter never charged much for a lesson because he got so many of them plus he wasn't full of his own self importance as many coaches are today. He knew that tennis took time to learn, a realist of the sport and he also knew that affordability was a big factor in keeping students in the game.
I would often ride my bike to C and S, possibly 15 k's from my house as a warm up, do a session with Pete then ride home, fit as a fiddle back then. What I liked so much about what Holmsey did on court was his variety. I recall one day he didn't come out with his usual basket of tennis balls, just his racket and a new tin of balls. 'Two sets Thommo, let's do this, think about what I have taught you'. He smashed me but boy it was an education of sorts. 'So this is why Pete doesn't want me to just look good in practice ey ? A dose of reality'...... ( Tough to grasp back then, easy to understand now ).
I suppose Pete instilled a type of culture at C and S that did not reward mediocrity because he did not accept mediocrity from you in a session. I believe I adopted his hard nosed approach to coaching as I am certain one day he took me home early because I cracked the shits with the game and threw a tantrum. That was just me wanting to get better and getting frustrated because it didn't happen over night.
I have many memories of C and S and they all involved Holmsey and my school buddies who lived for the sport and in particular the Saturday of each week. Once I became strong enough I would pack my lunch and play all day, perhaps 6 hours, maybe more. At afternoon tea time I would grab someone and we would play singles for 20 minutes, anything to milk the day for what it was worth.
I liken the time at C and S to what a surfer would do at a beach pumping with good waves all day as I am certain that I was looking for the perfect ride with a two handed backhand.
Holmsey was the equivalent of a surfing 'Zen Master', someone we all idolised, someone who we looked up to and strived to become as good as one day because he won everything locally, he was the bench mark of local tennis. He was the 'rock', the one who you would gauge your form against as to whether or not you should continue with it or go and find a team sport.
I loved the way Pete would teach you something and then watch as he delivered it in a tournament or pennant match exactly the way he described it to you in a session. Pete typified a tennis coach of that era who made a point of walking and not just talking, that back then was important, not so much now days.
The culture of the C and S Tennis Club in the 80's in particular could never be questioned as far as professionalism was concerned and neither could the strength of the playing groups. By that I mean the Junior Pennant teams as well as the Senior teams, both women's and men's who had a wall full of flags pinned up around the club house for all to see from their on court exploits. The argument could be said that it's not all about winning however back then it was almost a given that C and S teams would win the flag just about every season due to their programs.
Having senior pennant teams train on the courts next door to you as a kid was invaluable because it gave you a sense of what was required. At times it was a lesson in itself to just watch the best men from our club practice particularly when Pete organised the drills as they were 'reality' drills, ones that would help you in a pennant match or a tournament.
Again I never compare myself to Pete's coaching ability but I have never used a 'Walt Disney' drill that you can grab out of a Weetbix packet that looks dazzling but never really helps a player in a match.
So why was the C and S Tennis Club on Albany Highway so good ? It was like a burger with the lot, it had everything including the extra bacon, egg and sauce, it was outrageously appealing to someone wanting to take their tennis as far as they possibly could because quite frankly the club was King. Peter Holmes was a man who loved his tennis to such an extent that it oozed out of him when he either played on a Saturday arvo, a pennant match or a local tournament as well as when he fed you a ball in a drill.
He was a man who basically single- handedly kept a tennis club running and kept people coming through the gates to either join the club or experience his brilliant teaching. There was definitely an aura about that tennis club on the highway, a culture that will be difficult to replicate in this Region as the sport now is a pale shadow of it's former self.....
Chapter 4 to follow....

'THE C AND S DEBACLE' ( Part 2 )

You will often hear in many sports that a team can be built around a player depending on their level of expertise and I believe that this statement could be correct. As far as a sporting facility is concerned well I believe that if it is run correctly then people will keep coming through the gates to play. A sport can be built around a venue, you just need the right people to run it.
The C and S Tennis Club had that sort of aura surrounding it when I was a kid because it owned a vision or rather one man owned a vision for the future of the sport in Albany.
Peter Holmes ( Holmsey ) who I often write fondly of on this site had a Business mind as well as a tennis mind and he put that business brain of his to work beautifully. I don't like to compare myself to Holmsey because he was by far a better tennis coach but I think we were both on the same wave length when it came to teaching juniors the sport of tennis.
Previously I have written about the program which we ran at the Lawley Park Tennis Club 5 or 6 years ago that brought juniors through into the senior club. Well that was also how Peter ran his program because he had a vision for the future as far as the youth of the sport was concerned and he wasn't just in it to make a dollar.
The Saturday morning junior club was an integral part of the C and S Tennis Club and it made kids strive for the afternoon matches with the adults. We all treated it as almost an honour to be selected to play in the afternoons because we knew that it would make us into better players. How could it not ? Saturday morning tennis was ridiculously competitive because of what was at stake for us if we continued to get better.
Holmsey had a way with his teaching that brought the best out of a kid who showed potential and his methods were nothing short of brilliant as he urged kids to become a part of the club and not just someone who turned up for a session.
You see there is a difference, yet it is common now days for a kid to go to coaching yet not even play the senior afternoon club matches which I find bemusing to say the least. If a coach turns up at his local club at 1 pm on a Saturday along with 4 or 5 of their pupils it brings a good vibe to a tennis club, that's what Holmsey did.
You can only play so many tournaments due to what is available on the calendar so surely in between those competitions a kid of say 12 or 14 years of age needs some good hard hitting. That's where C and S was so damn good as it was a tennis club where ALL of Albany's best senior and junior tennis players competed due largely to Peter's management skills.
Peter had a way about him, a way that commanded respect and his Saturday morning junior coaching program as well as the junior club match play filled the eight courts easily week in, week out of the season. The strongest juniors would play for three hours in the morning and then stay on for the senior club matches which ultimately proved the difference in tennis club strength in the Region.
As an adult you just knew that Saturday arvo club play was going to be hard work due to the standard of players who would turn up each week. Peter's adult coaching was also brilliant because he would bring players through his program and into the club to strengthen it.
There was always an idea to bring a novice adult into the club, never a 'thanks mate see you same time next week' sort of situation that does nothing to help bring a club new members.
The club on the highway I believe was the strongest tennis club this side of Perth and I recall a competition which proved that statement to be correct.
From memory I believe that it was 1985 and Holmsey organised a City vs Country Competition where the State 16's and 14's best players came to town to play over a full weekend. It is a fact that every single player from our team was a member of the C and S Tennis Club and I was fortunate enough to be selected to play. Peter put a team together of around 10 players and we played their best 10, we won easily, our team was outrageously strong.
Putting that into perspective now I could not find more than 4 locals of any age who would even have a sniff of a chance against a team like that from Perth yet we had TEN who barely lost a match consisting of adults and juniors all operating out of one tennis club, the C and S Tennis Club.......
Part 3 to follow

Sunday, 24 April 2016

'THE C and S DEBACLE' (Part 1)

                        The C and S Tennis Club 1984 ( GT vs my Doubles partner Dale Jones
                         Final of the Boys 16's Singles, Albany Junior Open.
                            The same spot that was once home to the biggest tennis centre in Albany.


The idea to write a post about my old tennis club has been going around in my head for a while because it's one of those things in life, do you drag it up or let it go ? The problem in my own head is that I own a tendency to do the former, I drag many tennis issues up however that's just me and being me aint easy, trust me.
I think the one thing that bothers me the most about the old Country and Suburban Tennis Club ( C and S ) is that it could so easily have been avoided. I refer to the closing of the club. How does a once hugely successful tennis club which saw hundreds of kids once take part in a junior open tournament in the holiday season suddenly fall apart and become a 'ghost club' almost overnight ? Tough question but as I always I look for answers.
The C and S Tennis Club was a club that had everything except a perfect location as it was on a busy highway, Albany Highway to be precise yet as a player you would get used to the constant sound of cars going by. New York has aeroplanes flying over at the US Open so a car when you think about it is not really a major distraction. As I said, you got used to it.
C and S had a huge club house, bbq area, a shed to watch matches from and above all it had EIGHT TENNIS COURTS. That was enough to hold an open tournament. Now this town only has six court clubs which do not cater for big tournaments so in a nutshell Albany does not hold big tennis tournaments. The Albany Open held at the Emu Point Tennis Club sees around 100 players hit the courts on a Saturday for Mens and Ladies A and B Grade doubles plus on the Sunday around 50 players contest the Mixed Doubles. So all in all it's not a bad effort from Emu Point to get through that many matches on six courts over a weekend.
So how easily would the C and S Tennis Club have been able to stage that same event over eight courts ? Well two extra courts do make a huge difference and the old junior event despite it's huge numbers was able to make it through Saturday and Sunday complete with best of three set matches for the finals which was the correct way to finish a tennis tournament.
Locally we now have to play on the clock or with a shortened version of scoring and tennis is not like that in the real World, just ask Mahut and Isner where they took three days to once complete a match at Wimbledon. Tennis tournaments should not be put on a clock, full stop, yet they are locally due to court availability.
So to the issues surrounding C and S and could they have been avoided and should that now defunct tennis club still be operating ? Well in my view it should be THE Albany Tennis Centre complete with lights and facilities upgraded to cater not only for 100 or more players on a Saturday ( juniors in the morning and seniors in the afternoon ) as it once did but it should be a showpiece for Great Southern tennis in general. The above photo tells another story.
Could the local town council have saved the club and resurfaced the courts, put in lights and kept it despite the droves of members who walked out on the club leaving it in disarray ? Well the club folded due to conflict within the committee and amongst members so there is your number one reason why you don't let people who are usually unsuccessful on court try to become successful in a boardroom.
I am sure that the C and S Tennis Club was not the first sporting club to be ruined by a group of people who could not get along and who couldn't make the correct decisions regarding what was in the best interests of a sport.
C and S needed to be handed to an independent group who actually had a vision for the sport in this town and should not have allowed it to be run by people with egos and personal agendas who did not have the good of tennis at the fore front of their decision making.  
The final committee at the C and S Tennis Club simply washed their hands of the whole affair and could not see that the club was the future of tennis in this town. They found it easier to walk away from it and joined other clubs in town, Lawley, Emu and Merrifield.
I am sure those clubs would have been absolutely ecstatic with the influx of members at the time yet rather bemused all the same with the folding of the town's biggest tennis club.
Part 2 to follow......

Thursday, 21 April 2016

'WORK THIS ONE OUT'

Chris Guccioni is an Australian Tennis Professional. He has been on the Pro Tour for nearly 15 years. Chris has earned just over $1.4 Million Dollars in his career which works out to be roughly $100,000 per year.
Take off tax, take off travel expenses, what would that leave him with ?
It is common knowledge that a Tennis Professional REQUIRES AT LEAST $100,000 PER YEAR JUST TO BREAK EVEN ON THE PRO TOUR. So if you look at Guccioni's career earning it looks as though he will have to get a 'real job' when he retires as he will have probably less than nothing left at the end of it all.
I am not sure if I am the only one who sees Pro Tennis players' earnings and raise my eyebrows at the viability of it all when you see certain player profiles and just how long they have been on the circuit for. Guccioni's earnings do not in fact add up to a figure that sees his incoming wages over ride his outgoing costs.
Call me cynical however I fail to see how many Tennis Professionals can in fact afford to live from week to week without hand outs from family, friends or tournament sponsors. I am all for the life of a Tennis Pro however after almost 15 years on tour and earnings after expenses that a local Taxi Driver would be comfortably making I find it hard to believe Chris's job is viable.
Chris is 30 years of age and he needs some big wins ASAP if he is to remain on tour and be able to afford to travel the World doing what he loves. Chris Guccioni's story is a typical tennis story but is not heard and seen as much as it should be as the glamorous life of a Tennis Professional is portrayed to the public as the 'norm'.
If a player is to be coached professionally by someone who really does know the intricacies of the game and I don't mean by a 'Walt Disney Tennis Coach' then they would have to be coming up with at least a grand each week to just cover their costs alone. Realistically they would in fact need two grand to cover a 'REAL' coach's costs per week on tour including flights and expenses.
The best players or rather the most successful players enlist an experienced coach to help them week in, week out and I would doubt that any player inside the top 50 does not have a full time coach. If they don't I would call them a 'Freak Show' as knowing all there is to know about tennis and being ranked inside the best 50 players in the World without a mentor would be nothing short of outrageous. 
If nothing else a player who wishes to become successful in tennis needs a BIG WIN, one that sees sponsors chip in and one that affords the luxury of being able to hire a coach even if it is in the short term. If that big win does not happen then most players will scratch around the tour just as Chris Guccioni has done for nearly 15 hard years and perhaps just break even in the process.
Tough sport Tennis, not for the poor or the faint hearted.......

Monday, 18 April 2016

'SOMETIMES'

Tipping tennis is hard work but I think sometimes you have to look at a draw realistically and work out who matches up the best against certain opponents.
As soon as Novak got beaten early in Monte Carlo it was almost a race to the finish line but only the fittest and smartest was going to get there. Rafa has been waiting to get his hands on the Monte Carlo trophy since he last won it in 2012 against Novak in the final.
Andy doesn't hit with enough spin on the clay and Stan's form at present is up and down hence my prediction last Friday that Rafa would take the title even before their match.
Rafa loves Monte Carlo, I loved Monte Carlo in 1991, EVERYONE LOVES MONTE CARLO, the place where Walt Disney movies have been made since I was kid and even well before that.
Rafa just loves it a little bit more because quite frankly he 'owns' Monte Carlo.......

Friday, 15 April 2016

'RAFA, A CERTAINTY'

Not sure how long it's been since Rafa has ruled the clay in Europe, maybe two years or so where injuries and lack of confidence has kept him from dominating the dirt as he did for ten years or so. It's funny how the Tennis World finds a way to give a champion another chance just as it did with Federer after all those beltings at the French Open by Rafa.
All that had to happen for Roger to gain tennis immortality was for Rafa to have a day against a challenger that didn't go according to plan and that's exactly what happened in 2009 when Soderling stunned the Spaniard in the Fourth Round.
To prove it wasn't a fluke Soderling also beat Roger in 2010 in the quarters at the same event. Back to 2009.
Roger took that unexpected loss to Rafa as a catalyst to put his name in the record books as maybe the greatest ever tennis player on the planet. It was almost all or nothing because if Roger didn't make the most of that opportunity then he quite possibly would never have won it. I am probably stating the obvious here.
This year in Monte Carlo Novak Djokovic got beaten rather early for his lofty standards and even though he was a 'local' he played like a tourist, perhaps more interested in the surrounds than the tennis. Monte Carlo is like that, trust me I have been there, the scenery is distracting. Maybe Novak thought that as a resident of one of the most magnificent places in the World to play tennis at he could simply turn up on his home turf and claim the title. Tennis aint like that.
So back to this year.
I put Rafa in now as a certainty to win the event because the pressure is off. No one has to play Novak in the final so there is no tightness, no concern over who is going to finish second to the World number 1 and no thought of a press conference asking why Novak can't be beaten. It's party time in Monte Carlo.
Rafa will take this opportunity to show the rest of the World that he isn't quite finished just yet and when he wins this year in Monte Carlo he may just put some doubt in the mind of Novak going into the French Open because that's all Novak requires to join Rafa and Roger as all time legends of the game.
You need to win all 4, Novak knows it but now he may be doubting it but best of 3 is a little different than best of 5, tactics change and so does the mind set.
If Rafa loses in Monte Carlo he can kiss his chances goodbye of winning another title on the dirt of any significance because Novak won't lose too many unless he is injured from now on. I think he simply turned up this year at the home of Bjorn Borg's last ever tournament match with the wrong attitude, he will fix it I am sure.
I am tipping Rafa to get through to the final in Monte Carlo and to win it comfortably to put him back on the clay court tennis map. He has won it eight times, I think his ninth is only a few days away. Not many champions let an opportunity like this go by just as Roger did in Paris in 2009 when Rafa went out early.
They sense a moment, I think Rafa already senses his.....

Thursday, 14 April 2016

'YES, SAME OLD LINE'

" I was playing really, really bad ". That's what Novak Djokovic said after his match where he lost in the second round at Monte Carlo. Then he said that his opponent played well. I reckon once again that's a 'bet each way'. Now if a player says that their opponent simply outplayed them well that to me is the best answer because if you do get beaten at any level well you must give some credit to your opponent. But not secondly, it must be firstly.
Sure we have all lost matches to people we either dislike or have beaten in the past but when it really comes down to it we have days we would rather forget on a tennis court. Personally I have had many but I am sure that I am not alone there. I have always thought however that it was my head that lost me a tennis match and not my shots, I am sure most would agree.
Novak got beaten by Jiri Vesely, a player who can hit a ball extremely well but should not be smart enough to outsmart a player of Novak's ability, yet it happened, Novak is human after all. Novak may have played 'really, really bad' as he described his performance but that's tennis for you as your game only needs to be off a little to get beaten by someone who's game is on. Nature of the sport.
Novak needs to clean up his press conference dialogue as it's typical tennis banter that has arrogance written all over it. A loss is a loss, a fact of life on a tennis court that will usually happen more than a win due to the impossibility of regular victories in a sport that requires a genius and nothing less to keep winning.
I hate press conferences because it's the same old 'crap' as Gulbis said quite some time ago. Ernest was correct and he would know, he loses more than he wins and he does not provide cliché's as answers like many do.
You got beaten by a better player on the day Novak, fact of life in tennis............

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

'THE FACEBOOK TENNIS COACH'

Whilst I have been busy writing lately on another site and putting together some factual information about the sport of tennis I took the time to stop and think about the game and how it is now portrayed and perceived. The one thing that I kept getting back to was the lack of credibility that is now required for someone to become a 'successful tennis coach'.
Now you will have to excuse my lack of respect for today's 'gurus' of tennis but it is becoming rather farcical as to just how little success you in fact require to be known as a 'Coaching Guru' of the game. Gone are the days of having to even know how to play the game, this is definitely not even on the radar, you just have to know how to talk yourself up. Showing a student that you own intestinal fortitude is way gone, like the woolly mammoth. You no longer need to play a local tennis tournament to prove you know how to hit a tennis ball. It used to be a NECESSITY. After all, don't you have to know how to play a sport to be able to teach a sport ?
When I was a lad this was my choice of a tennis coach; I had a local bloke by the name of Holmsey who had such an aura about him that if you in fact won a game off him in practice it was the stuff 'legends' were made of and you made it front page news at school the next day. The other option for a tennis coach was well beyond your means and affordability but a lesson with a guy named Rob Casey from Perth was what you strived for because Rob actually told you how you were going, not how you thought you were going.
The Facebook Tennis Coach arrived at the height of the Social Media storm, like the tech stocks of the 90's with 'hype' written all over them yet those stocks disappeared without so much as a whimper. So what of the new breed of tennis 'coach' ? Well it's a known fact now that these guys and girls only require a very bright Social Media page to have people knocking on their door at all hours of the night to be involved in a program that has glamour written all over it. On further inspection it seems that Walt Disney characters have more credibility.
While writing a book currently on my travels in tennis and how it took me to Europe to see just how tough the sport really was I shake my head in disillusionment on how the sport currently rewards people who look and sound great yet deliver nothing. Most deliver absolutely zero as far as results are concerned.
Yet it is all accepted now days as 'part of the journey'. Most Social Media Tennis Coaches will tell their adoring fans and the like that 'winning is not the goal, it's just a bonus as the journey itself is what's important' as they pocket another $90 for the hour or a few hundred for another road trip.
Yet when the student has a win then it is the stuff that legends are made of and the ensuing media stories are front and back page performances that are also accompanied with the obligatory quotes, : Jimmy has been a student of mine for quite some time now and he is now achieving the results we expected'...... You know the write up I am talking about.
Guys like Rob Casey are no longer sought after because their pages are not bright enough and their shoes lack the Xmas tinsel that have people lining up at the door for the privilege of being able to unwrap a parcel that delivers a Pro Tennis career through the expensiveness of the Zen Master's footwear alone ( Isn't that what makes a champion now days ?? )
The Facebook Tennis 'Coach' is here to stay for the moment folks but we can only hope that the tech wreck is something that 'real' tennis coaches can perhaps take heart from and hope that common sense and an honest evaluation from parents on just how the student is going despite the ludicrous amounts of money being spent to 'learn' the sport is eventually taken into account.
It is no longer a requirement to gain a result in tennis from certain programs, more so a requirement to be part of the in crowd as the song goes 'I'm in with the in crowd, I go where the in crowd goes'.
Yes I am showing my age as far as that song is concerned I know but it typifies the Industry that is now being run by people who know nothing, deliver nothing and CAN'T EVEN PLAY THE GAME.
I know some that disappear altogether when tournaments are on yet swear by their own technique and their philosophies that sound great yet are never even shown to the public through being found out for what they really are; ALL HYPE, NO SUBSTANCE, PLENTY OF DOLLARS TO 'LEARN' WITH, INJURY PRONE WHEN THE 'REPUTATION' IS ON THE LINE.
Sound familiar ? The sport owns plenty of 'em, you quite possibly have one 'working' at your local Tennis Club......

Saturday, 9 April 2016

'NEVER A LOT IN IT'

American Tennis Pro Denis Kudla had a rather frustrating week at the 'office' in this week's Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas. Kudla is a battler on the circuit though he is now at an all time high ranking of 59 in singles so he is at last making some good dollars. He has in fact made US $1.2 million in his six years on the tour, but let's put that into perspective.
Two hundred thousand a year before tax and after expenses does not leave a pro tennis player a whole lot at the end of the year but it isn't a bad way to tour the World either. The frustrating thing about Kudla's week in Texas was that he was a whisker away from some much needed dollars but in particular some ranking points that would have eliminated the requirement for him to qualify for the smaller 64 man events. Currently he is right on the edge.
Kudla lost in the Round of 16 to big serving American John Isner by the typical Isner match score line of 7-6, 7-6 but his heart break didn't end there. Now Kudla is not really a doubles exponent as his current ranking of 600 plus suggests but he and fellow Countryman Don Young lost 9-11 in the third set super tie breaker to the greatest team of all time in Men's Doubles, the Bryan Brothers.
Kudla picked up almost $9,000 US for the singles effort and whilst I don't have the Doubles Prize money in front of me the smaller tournaments offer around $2,000 US for an early loss to each player, so it was a lucrative week none the less for Denis. If he had managed the tie breakers a little better against Isner he would have been guaranteed an extra $6,000 US plus double what he went home with if luck had been kind to them against the Bryans.
Yet that's Men's Pro Tennis for you, never a lot in it and usually it's a couple of points here and there that decide a match.
Denis Kudla picked up 20 ranking points for making the last 16 in the Men's Singles which has given his number a small boost on the rankings list. His 600 plus doubles ranking will probably stay the same. For the record Kudla scraped into the second round by a score line of 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 against a guy by the name of Mischa Zverev of Germany who is currently ranked 164 in singles. I suppose we could say the same thing about Zverev as we have about Kudla in regards to a close match and a score line which suggests it could have gone either way.
Look at how many games Zverev won ( 18 ) and look at how many Kudla won ( 17 ) and you tell me whether or not it seems totally unfair that a player goes out of a tennis tournament as the 'loser' sometimes. Tennis, tough sport to make a living out of. A sport of small margins and a sport of close line calls that may turn a match result if a linesman gets it wrong and Hawkeye is not at that particular smaller event.
Hats off to the Pros who make a living from a sport that requires some to hire a psychologist as well as a coach just to help them think better.......

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

'FACEBOOK CONFUSION'

For those looking for Glenn Thompson Tennis on Facebook well there has been some confusion as I have another Facebook Page titled Glenn Thompson.
For those looking to find my Tennis page here is the Ref Number 943043965813836
Hope that helps.
Regards Glenn

'THE IDEA'

Creating a program that concentrates on the tactical side of tennis is not easy because there are so many different perceptions of the game. Most players differ in their ways of thinking on court so what is right and what is wrong ? Good question.
I didn't play any tournaments last season, I chose to watch instead and that let me tell you was difficult. I love playing tennis tournaments as I find that the intensity of competition brings out the best in most players and I find that alone is a tough challenge. Playing against guys who bring their A game for the day is a fantastic way to improve your standard as you must lift from your practice form or rather your practice thinking.
I also firmly believe that coaches should play competition to keep the thought process active. It's all very well to keep pointing the finger and directing  traffic however by playing it reinforces what you teach.
Some players thrive on competition, others struggle to match their red hot practice form of the week leading up to the tournament, that's a mind issue no doubt at all.
I observed quite a number of things in those tournaments that perhaps aren't quite taken into account as much when I am playing so I found it rather educational to simply be a spectator. I had the idea of the tactical program quite some time ago but I wanted to gather some fresh ideas and not just take the Pro matches as examples. I needed to see first hand just where local tournament matches were won and lost, the latter it seemed was the over riding factor in just about all of them.
Three years ago I played a Perth Over 40's competition against some talented and experienced players, some who had been top ranked players as juniors, some who had travelled a long way to taste the competition side of the game. All could play the game well, some extremely well  but all could strike a ball with ease and their thought process was at times brilliant to watch and play against. 
In my last match I played a guy from South Africa and in the warm up he quite frankly scared the hell out of me as he hit the ball with a lot of pace and his technique was solid.
He simply lacked the finishing polish. Now that's by no means saying he was stupid but he just lacked a way to close out certain situations even though he set them up well. 
At the conclusion of our match he said to me 'How did you see our match' ? I was honest with him and replied 'I didn't win it, you lost it'. He agreed with me and we talked about the match in detail as it seemed to be something that had plagued his tennis since he was a kid. A typical tennis story. 
That was the biggest factor that I witnessed in this Region over the last season of tennis tournaments, most matches were not won, they were in fact lost. It all came down to shot selection which started in the thought process before the ball was even hit. It wasn't really much different from players who could hit the ball well to players who technically were not as strong, it simply was a case of bad shot selection and errors that could have been avoided.
It is not a requirement to 'win' a game of tennis, it is more a requirement to 'not lose'.
I have used some different methods over the past season with students of all ages to attempt a change in thinking and look at alternate ways of playing. There are ways to stop losing tennis matches, it starts with 'thinking like a winner'........

'A COACHING PHILOSOPHY' ( PART 1 )

If I was asked to describe my tennis coaching in two words I would say 'affordable' and 'practical' because I believe the two go hand in hand. If you keep the game within the price range of the every day student or rather the students' parents' then two things will happen. The student will book a regular lesson and if the coaching is easy enough to follow then improvement will occur, fairly simple.
I was told once by a rather astute local, "Glenn you are a good tennis coach and you have taught me a lot yet you are an ordinary Businessman". He was right though I would prefer it that way than the other way around. If you have an ability to teach a sport then it is always a little easier to eventually improve the way you manage the financial side of the game.
Basically I have never charged a 'usual' fee for a tennis lesson because I believe the sport is heading out of control in that aspect.
When I was a kid I learned the game from a gentleman by the name of Peter Homes who used to charge around $15 for an hour's lesson, one on one. It was pretty obvious what that pricing did, it had kids knocking on his door for lessons and improvement was a given. Why ? Peter was a brilliant tennis coach but he was also affordable to have a regular lesson with so if you compare that type of situation to today it is no wonder that many talented kids are leaving tennis and playing team sports instead.
Many tennis coaches now charge up to $90 for a one on one hourly session and even their assistants who may be rather fresh in their own ability to teach the game can be charging up to $70. That's big dollars to learn a sport so for people on a tight income that luxury is not even on the radar.
I had a lesson with a youngster just recently who is paying for their own lessons and I had a bit of an idea as to what they earned per hour due to their age. I was rather taken by their desire to not only get better at tennis but also their independence at paying for their own lessons. A coach needs to use their discretion when charging with this type of situation.
If a student is working then I am not going to charge the equivalent of a week's wage for them as I quite possibly won't see them again for a month, if at all.
When a parent pays for a tennis lesson in the City it quite often is anywhere up to four hours work for them, perhaps in many cases half a day's pay. If you put all of that into perspective it is an extremely expensive sport to learn. 
A one on one tennis lesson is so valuable because it can improve a student ten times quicker than a group session. This is due mainly to the volume of balls hit and the luxury to talk in detail about both the thinking and technique side of the game without the distraction of other students.
Personally I didn't do many group sessions as a kid because it was so affordable to learn one on one with Peter and it was rather obvious how quickly it took my game from junior level to senior standard in a short time frame. I went from hitting with kids my own age to hitting regularly with Peter and his mates. Most times I got beaten but it gave me a focus, a goal, a true idea of where I needed to improve to be competitive against the big boys.
That type of intensive hitting took me to Perth junior tournaments where I was more than competitive in my age group and I won a State Doubles Title shortly after I turned 15. (I didn't start until I was 12.) I felt as though I belonged with those players as opposed to that feeling of intimidation that many country players have when they play against the City kids.
Tournament play is not for every tennis player but improvement is every player's goal so for a student of the game it is imperative to find an affordable and practical way to improve.
Every tennis coach has a desire to create both a Business for themselves and a group of players who can one day be the local benchmark of the game but it starts with the price tag of learning. Keeping it within a family's budget is one of the biggest factors in a sport such as tennis because if it is given an 'exclusive' rating it will stay a sport that only a select few play.
You shouldn't have to be rich to learn tennis.......


'A COACHING PHILOSOPHY' ( PART 2 )

I often look at the way in which tennis is perceived now days particularly with the younger generation and many kids simply do not own the ability to win a game of tennis yet in practice they look like World beaters. I put that down to possibly the biggest factor in the sport itself, an old saying that speaks volumes : ANYONE CAN HIT A TENNIS BALL, NOT MANY CAN PLAY TENNIS. 
If you look carefully into that statement you will realise that it is probably the number one reason why a kid in particular will lose a tennis match.
Most kids who are new to the tournament scene in tennis think that they have to beat their opponent with winners and a flashy style yet it couldn't be further from the truth. You simply have to find a way to let the opponent beat themselves. Sounds all too simple ? Well it's actually not that hard to implement.
Most junior tennis players will come off after a loss and say 'He was just too good', yet in most cases the player who lost in fact handed the match to their opponent on a silver platter. On most occasions it was by attempting stupid shots and not understanding when to play the rally ball to keep themselves in a point.
I look at three areas on a tennis court which I liken to a traffic light.
Red is stop, green is go, amber, think carefully. This type of coaching is practical and it creates a sense of thinking from a student rather than heading on to a tennis court with no game plan. Tennis is won and lost in the mind, not necessarily from technical deficiencies though becoming technically sound can give you an edge without a doubt.
Tennis through the years I believe is a sport which has rewarded the thinkers because if you look at a budding professional who is ranked say 300 and compare their practice form to that of a player inside the top 100 who makes a handy living you won't actually see much of a difference. When those two players commence point play that's when you will see a huge difference in the thinking side of the game.
So is there a secret to tennis success at all levels of play ? I believe there is and it all gets back to what the coach is teaching a student. If only the technical side of tennis is taught how on earth is a player supposed to win a match against a player who has an extra 30 matches behind them ? A less experienced tournament player can however match it with any player if they are taught the tactical side of the game early on because often tactics will win over technical prowess.
How often have you read a junior tournament result where a kid got beaten 6-0, 6-0 ? I can guarantee you that a result such as that can quite easily be turned into a 6-2, 6-3 loss that will in fact give the student some heart to persevere rather than think of themselves as no good. Sometimes you are simply no match for certain opponents but you can still make them earn the win.
It all starts with the mind but you don't have to be a scholar to take in the information. There is more to teaching tennis than striking a tennis ball and there is more to the game than looking a million bucks on a practice court or against a ball machine. The latter doesn't own a brain, you won't play too many opponents like that in your tennis career.
Teaching tennis can be likened to helping someone think their way through a situation, like an argument and finding the best answer because that's what tennis is. The sport is an argument between two people that will only ever be resolved with a series of better answers......

'A PLAYING PHILOSOPHY' ( PART 1 )

I have always felt that playing tennis can be likened to playing chess where some moves will take longer than others to make because the brain takes time to think up a way to win. Tennis is a sport that requires many, many moves until the winner has finally found a way to make it 'Checkmate'.
Many juniors will attempt to get to this point in the match far too quickly and inevitably be the 'Checkmated' one instead. Tennis is a patient sport just like chess and there have been many examples of players failing to own the ability to stay out there as long as it takes to carve out a win.
Some players you would swear have somewhere else they would rather be, it's reflected in their impatient style, maybe they do, yet that's not a smart way to play.
I quite possibly played my best tennis when I was around 40 years of age, in fact I quite often say to people that if I had played against my 18 year old former self my 40 year old game would have won the day.
That's a typical tennis story as the sport takes years to learn strategies and become technically sound but it can drive many kids crazy in the process. How many times have you heard a junior yell out in frustration "I can't believe I missed that ! " or "I can't believe I am losing to this guy" !
There is a simple way to deal with that type of attitude and it comes down to educating a player early on in their career that tennis should be respected for what it really is. It quite possibly is the World's toughest one on one sport that requires more thinking than anything else to win.
A kid needs to understand that they will lose more than they will win in their early days on court because of the fact that some of their opponents are way ahead of them  in the thinking department.
When I was 41 years of age I played a 17 year old kid from the City who owned a rather big game yet didn't like to hit 'another' ball. By that I mean that quite often he would hit a big forehand and expect it to be a winner yet I learned early in that match that by me just getting the ball back at times with height or no pace it upset his rhythm. I didn't win the match through style, I won it through thinking.
Big hitters like the ball in their hitting zone and quite often young opponents will give the big hitters exactly what they require for their ego to be enlarged. They try to outhit the big hitter rather than out think them, a recipe for disaster every time.
Guys who play big can always be beaten by giving them balls that require them to create their own pace. Most big shot players have learned to play against the ball machine which is straight up and down hitting so if you are up against someone who fits this description it is a necessity that you don't play like a machine, you need to give them variety.
So is this type of play easy to implement ? It depends on how you are taught. If a coach teaches well then they will cover every shot, not just help someone to become a 'boutique' tennis player who looks great but doesn't own a game of substance.
Many kids will only be taught how to play from the baseline with a one dimensional type of game that lacks a slice or a net approach. These type of kids are the easiest to beat because there is no variety in their game.
Variety keeps opponents guessing.......

'A PLAYING PHILOSOPHY' ( PART 2 )

The only player to have any real success against Novak Djokovic last year was the great man himself Roger Federer and despite the fact that Roger is a tennis genius there was a way in which he beat Novak and it all came down to that word again, variety.
In one particular match Federer came to the net over 40 times and to a baseliner that is hard work because that is many questions asked of you. If a player is in your face that many times and you don't find a way to win at least 50 per cent of those points then you are in all sorts of trouble.
In other words if an opponent rushes you 40 times while you are at the baseline and they win say 30 of those points chances are they will win the match. That's the type of game plan that Federer uses against the current World Number 1 and he really is the only player that bothers Novak because of the style in which he plays him.
Most guys who play Novak from the baseline don't stand a chance because he doesn't miss. Novak is not a big hitter, he is a smart hitter, he mixes up his shots and he forces the opponent to over play, to try to do more than what really is necessary to beat him.
Novak forces opponents into frustration because he knows that he can't be out rallied on a regular basis. Rafa is no real match anymore for Novak because he can't out rally him and he does not own the variety that Federer does.
Playing tennis is all about not being read too easily by your opponent or if you do play someone who has perhaps worked you out you need to find a way to change it up. In simple terms you need more than one style, a B game or even a C game.
Sometimes against a smart opponent an A game is not enough. It all starts in practice and that's where some days a different style needs to be worked on.
If you are predominantly a base line player then why not get yourself out of your comfort zone and become a net rusher for a day ? If you prefer to serve and stay back why not work on a serve and volley routine for the session ? You never know when it may come in handy particularly if you play an opponent who stands way beyond the baseline to return serve and a short volley may just be the type of tactic that throws their whole routine out.
There are numerous ways to play tennis though with juniors it is all fairly standard type of baseline stuff that only sees a few stand out from the rest. It's pretty tough to become the next Novak so why not become a player who is tough to get a read on instead ? A player who owns a full repertoire of shots will be so much harder to play than the usual baseline 'robot' and it will always keep the opponent guessing as to what is on the way next.
Tennis is a thinking person's sport, not one that is won by brute strength alone. The best tennis players in any age group quite often will be the ones who have that ability to create opportunities throughout a match that others don't see.
Good tennis players will win the 6-4, 7-5 matches because when it's tight in a match they understand what to do and when to do it and don't just wait around for something to happen.
They MAKE it happen..........