Saturday, 28 May 2016

'SOMETHING SPECIAL'

In 1984 at the French Open in Paris there was a gentleman by the name of Hans Gildemeister from Chile who owned a rather interesting style of playing, he hit with two hands off both sides. Hans went into Roland Garos un seeded in '84 as his ranking had dipped quite dramatically from his career high of 12 in 1980. He in fact sat outside the top 100 for his shot at the title in Paris in '84.
Gildemeister was not just a singles player however as he reached World number 5 in doubles in 1987, the year he actually retired. He won 23 doubles titles in his career, 17 of those were with 1990 French Open Mens Singles Champion Andres Gomez of Ecuador. Hans was a remarkably talented tennis player as he had to be to survive in the Borg era of the 70's and early 80's. 
He in fact played Borg in the quarter finals at Roland Garos in 1979 losing in straight sets though the final set was 7-5. Anyone who knows tennis will realise that if you managed to get to five games all against Borg on clay you were a gifted tennis player, to say the least. So back to the draw of 1984 and Gildemeister started his campaign with a straight sets win over the '79 finalist Victor Pecci and then won even more convincingly against Brad Gilbert in round two.
In the third round Hans was drawn to meet Swedish Davis Cup hero Henrik Sundstrom, the number 9 seed, a tough assignment on clay as the Swede was known for the brutal amount of spin he put on the ball. On clay that is tough to deal with. It is unclear just how Gildemeister actually did it as footage of this match is not available yet he lead Sundstrom by a score that would have any tennis die hard searching for the video for tactical ideas.
It is set in concrete that Hans Gildemeister of Chile lead Henrik Sundstrom of Sweden in the 1984 French Open, round three by the score of 6-2, 6-0, 5-1, 30-0. He then lost. Yep he LOST from there. How did that happen ??! It is uncertain what on earth went on in that match from that point that seemingly had the Chilean cruising to an easy straight sets upset victory against one of the fancies for the title in '84.
At 5-1 up in the third set Hans Gildemeister was receiving Sundstrom's serve and won the first two points then after that his whole game fell apart. There were no fewer than 12 unforced errors in a row from Gildemeister from that point on which later Sundstrom would in fact describe as a 'choke'. Not quite sure about the etiquette of players back then however can you imagine that being said now days of an opponent ? Would go down about as well as a fish milkshake.....
For history's sake the final score in that particular match was 2-6, 0-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to Sundstrom and he would go on to win his next match in straight sets before the great Jimmy Connors found a way to hit through the topspin with his flatter style of play and beat him in straight sets.
I would give anything to watch what transpired from the 5-1, 30-0 moment in this match as it may in fact be the all time greatest comeback and 'choke' in the history of tennis.
There have in fact been more high profile matches such as the Davis Cup final of 1996 where Boetsch defeated Kulti after trailing 6-7, 0-40 in the final set in the fifth and deciding match but that particular match was tight throughout. The Gildemeister/ Sundstrom match was ridiculously one sided for the first three sets yet it went the way of the player who needed an alarm clock inside his head to wake him up before posting an outrageous comeback victory.
Sometimes in tennis a player can almost pace himself to a win even when victory it seems is not even on his agenda but we as spectators are non the wiser as to what is going on in their thought process. Did Faldo's win against Norman at the Masters in Augusta in 1996 have the same type of feel to it do you think ? After all the scoring was similar if you compare them.
Norman lead by six shots going into the final round yet shot a 78 whereas Faldo shot 67, there's an eleven shot discrepancy not unlike the twelve shot 'discrepancy' from the Gildemeister/ Sundstrom match.
The match in Paris in '84 will without a doubt go down as one of the all time greatest tennis comebacks from a seemingly impossible position yet the match was not a high profile one that people still talk about as they do the Norman/ Faldo result. Coming back from those types of losses is however where the mind comes into play.
Can you imagine the devastation ? It would be a tough thing to recover from.
For history's sake again, Gildemeister recovered, he won another nine doubles tournaments. Norman won three more including a million bucks in one particular event which required a birdie on the final hole for victory. The Swede Niclas Kulti went on to win the pivotal doubles with Bjorkman in the Davis Cup finals of '97 and '98 which set Sweden up for their two titles of those years.
A tough thing is professional sport. We as spectators simply look at it and offer our thoughts, "he choked, he's got no heart" or  "he's in the zone, he's a freak show".
A professional sportsman is a genius whether he wins a match or loses because he owns a mind to compete against the World's best and that requires something special.......

Monday, 23 May 2016

'THE PROMISE'

A while ago I promised myself I would write a book so that's exactly what I have been doing. Apologies for not writing on this site much lately. I have posted over 500 chapters on this site over the past three years or so that upset some people who I refer to as 'uneducated'.
I have on the other hand impressed others who have seen some talent in my writing and a theory or two on how the game is played. I never set out to impress anyone on this site, it was more a down to earth take on a sport that is now being organised and taught by people who are not even qualified to stack shelves at a local Supermarket.
If any 'Tennis Coach' has ever taken offence to my writing then I would suggest that they are not in fact a Tennis Coach but more someone who has simply passed a test, not unlike a P Plater who now has a license to drive with experienced drivers on the road. ( As always I reiterate that I do not have a go at real Tennis Coaches on this site, just those who mascaraed as ones.) 
There is of course a huge difference between someone who has driven for 20 years as opposed to a newcomer who has just taken down the L Plates yet unless there is an accident the public are none the wiser. But isn't that tennis ?
There are guys and girls who have taught the sport for decades and who have also ventured out of their backyards to either play or coach tennis yet for some reason they are not rewarded by a governing body particularly in our country of Oz.
In fact I see on TA's website there is a recommended hourly 'teaching' rate of between $60 and $80 for 'qualified' coaches. Well that really is giving the average tennis player an affordable stepping stone into the game isn't it Tennis Australia ? How about you take your head outa your backside for three minutes and look at just what that hourly rate does for the sport in general. It keeps it in the hands of the rich, nothing more, nothing less. How is that a rate that can be justified ?
Why isn't there a varied hourly rate for different levels of experience rather than simply the owning of a piece of paper or would that make way too much sense Tennis Australia ? The whole system is abused by people who have passed a course and who cannot wait to join the long queue of 'tennis coaches' making squillions out of conning the public into thinking that they have a system that owns a heartbeat.
I did hear a comment some time ago in regards to a young coach fresh on the scene in the City. Apparently they told someone that 'it's just the going rate' when talking about the price of lessons. I found that to be rather disappointing because there are many levels of expertise in any coaching field yet now they all go under the same price tag when it comes to teaching tennis.
When's the last time that someone stopped to think for a minute just as to whether or not the program they are involved in has a proven formula ? Or does it just look and sound great ? I would suggest the latter would be the most common answer if someone really delved into the nuts and bolts of it all.
How many players are coming through that system at $60 to $80 an hour with results worthy of that price ? Or is it simply one of those programs that has the head honcho talking more about 'the journey' as many do when results are as rare as rocking horse sh.. ? I read that regularly.
When students are winning the papers and social media pages are full of glossy write ups complete with the obligatory quotes from the 'Zen Masters' that include famous lines such as ' We always expected Jimmy to gain these type of results as our training regime has been second to none'..... And so on.
Yet when the results do not happen then somehow that hourly rate has to be justified by talking about 'journeys' and 'the climb', not to mention 'the building of character'. You see great talkers in the sport of tennis should in fact have to cap their hourly rates at no more than $40 an hour because that's just about all that they do, talk.
So in conclusion yes this sport pisses me off because I have despised the way in which it is governed in this country for many years but I also look forward to writing about these sorts of issues in the future as it gives me a dialogue that only a journalist could dream of.
My book will include a chapter or two on just how ridiculous the whole industry is in regards to affordability and accountability that never gets a mention when trying to work out why on earth the sport has a success rate of one in a million.
My book will be a ripper, trust me........

Friday, 13 May 2016

'TED ADAMS' ( BIG TED )

The following is a chapter I wrote  just recently about an old mate of mine, Ted Adams. Sorry Ted I put it to a draft copy when I was tidying up this site just recently. It's now top of the page again out of respect for the man who won me a local doubles title through an act of sheer brilliance. Enjoy Big fella....

'OK, I read your blog and you are still managing to piss people off.
You were obnoxious as a 15 year old and, while I will concede you have mellowed a little with age, you still come across obnoxious and a little truculent as an adult (I use the term 'adult' loosely!)
You wouldn't play 'Pennants' for Lawley Park when you were a kid and it appears you still 'dont play well with others' now.
You broke rackets (Emrik Blitz's) like they cost you nothing! Sometimes I know they did?
You would ride your bike everywhere and sometimes you had a fat passenger on the back.
You loved to eat snickers bars but never put on weight.
You were the only serious tennis player in the Southern Hemisphere that still wore Dunlop 'Volleys'.
You went to Queensland with Kieron and when you guys came back he still couldn't take me.
And in all the years we would hit together I never did beat you.
Remember me!'
That was an email I just received from 'Big Ted', a mate of mine from way back in the 80's. I used to ride about 7 kms to Ted's house, he then sat on my seat while I dinked him down to the Lawley Park Tennis Club. The hardest part of our training session was in fact taking Ted on my bike as the big fella was just that, a big fella even in High School but boy he could serve.
It's funny but Ted and I trained a lot, as we also did with our other buddy Kieron ( as Ted mentioned ) yet we only played a couple of tournaments together as juniors. I recall Ted and I losing to two South Australian kids in the semis of the 18's Boys Doubles at the Albany Open Junior Tournament one year but we made 'em earn it.
Ted and I didn't really have any success on court together until we were around 30 years of age when we put in a late entry for the Albany Open Championship just for a bit of a laugh. In our second last match we faced match point against Max Loveridge and John Quinn and Ted did the most ridiculous thing, yet it worked a treat. 
I actually said to Ted "Just get it back mate, nothing fancy, make 'em play", so this is what Ted did. He ignored me, took Max's serve half way to the service line, chipped it on his backhand and came to the net where he hit a sublime backhand volley winner in the tram lines past John.
I remember looking at him with a rather wry smile and nodded in appreciation at his rather gutsy move but it was tough to watch. It was all up to Ted whether we won that match or not.
We saved one more match point then I served it out from memory to 15. We won our last match easily to take the title, classic day out at the Emu Point Tennis Club. I believe it was the year 2000.
Absolute legend of local tennis here in Albany was Big Ted and I am grateful for being able to play against guys like him in my junior days. Our practice matches were plentiful and most involved 4 or 5 sets where we put the friendship aside for several hours and did our best to kill each other on court. There were no niceties when Ted and I trained at Lawley Park in the 80's.
Ted won me my first ever Albany Open with a display of guts that I was simply in awe of as most players would tighten up at match point down, not Ted, he only knew one way of playing.
One day Ted when you get back to the land of Oz we will renew our rivalry down at our old tennis club but we may just cut that best of 5 sets down to best of 'one' as the old legs may struggle to do much more.
Legend you are buddy......

Monday, 2 May 2016

'WEAK AS PISS ATP'

 The following is from a newspaper report that I looked up on the net as the ATP failed to report on a match correctly. They glossed over what really happened, read on.....
 
Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov lost the Istanbul claycourt final on Sunday after a series of violent racquet-smashing tantrums resulted in a championship-ending game penalty.
Second seed Dimitrov was leading Argentina's Diego Schwartzman by a set and 5-2 before he completely lost control of himself and eventually the match.
Schwartzman, the world number 87, went on to claim a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 win for his first title.
But it was 24-year-old Dimitrov's antics that grabbed the headlines as he lost 11 of the last 12 games.
Bidding for a fifth career crown and playing in his eighth final, the Bulgarian became increasingly frustrated with his inability to close out the match, smashing racquet after racquet into the Istanbul clay.
Once he went into a third meltdown courtside at 0-5, 40-40 in the decider, it resulted in a game penalty and forfeit of the match.
"I let myself down, I let my team down, I let my family down with that behaviour," the world No. 29 told reporters.
"I started cramping at 5-2 in the second set. It was very unfortunate that I couldn?t close out the match. I have to give credit to Diego."
*************************************

That was what happened in Istanbul yet the ATP site has covered it up by instead choosing to post a chapter on the winner Schwartzman's career instead, why is this ? Usual story. If something happens that does not give the sport the Walt Disney 'fluffy duck' type of reputation then it isn't even reported on.
What happened in Istanbul was a true indication of what can happen to a player's mind who snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Don't gloss it over ATP, accept the fact that the game owns 'human beings' and not just 'robots'.....
Weak as piss once again........

Sunday, 1 May 2016

'A BREAK IN TRANSMISSION'

My apologies once again, I have been rather busy and my rather lengthy look at the debacle of the local Country and Suburban Tennis Club has stalled momentarily, I will be back. The last post was in regards to a fitness guru by the name of Allistair McCaw who I have little time for yet every now and then he publishes some brilliant things.
You will notice that I spoke highly of my old tennis coach Peter Holmes in the C and S debacle chapters and it was more than a coincidence that I posted the chapter on Mr McCaw's views at the same time. I believe in relevance. Back when substance was the key factor in teaching sport it was a necessity for a coach or mentor to not only teach it but play it to set the example for their students. Now days a facebook page is all that you need, playing a sport is no longer a pre requisite.
The thing I find so amusing about all of this is the fact that the public see certain 'gurus' strike a ball on their web sites and they are immediately in awe of them. What they fail to realise is that most of these 'gurus' don't have the balls to front up at a local competition and show the public that they do in fact know how to practice what they preach. I am not talking about playing a State Championship, I am talking about supporting regional competitions.
I have played my local championships all but one year out of the last 15. I even ask juniors to play doubles with me to help them through the process of learning. I do not expect to win every time I play however I expect to be competitive and I expect people to respect the fact that I am making the effort to support local events. That is what the last chapter was all about in regards to Allistair McCaw's statement.
The previous two years I played the local Open Championship with a cortisone to see me through a week prior to the event due to ligament damage. Did I post that on social media to gain sympathy or perhaps put forward an excuse if I did not win it ? No I did not yet many look for those opportunities to gain a vote or two. I learned from a guy who still fronted up into his 40's to play the youth of the game to set an example, to show he wasn't afraid to lose. Some learn the game from 'Princesses' who require toughening up. What chance do they have if the person they are 'learning' from never makes an effort themselves ? Weak as piss.
The country is full of people who have hung up their rackets due to their inability to in fact even play the game at a level required to set an example, not because their legs don't move anymore. There are tennis coaches in their 50's and 60's still playing competitions to further their knowledge on a game that they will never stop learning from yet some in their 30's and 40's would rather talk about 'glory days' than turn up at competition time.
Some don't like my brutally honest views and some in the past believe I target certain sections of the tennis fraternity with my criticism but that's from people who know nothing about the sport. I know 60 year old surfers who still get in the water and show the youth how it's done rather than sit on the beach and yell instructions then later talk of how good they once were. Surfers could show some tennis players a thing or two about effort and setting an example.
Tennis is a sport that even if you start slowing down physically you still should be able to counter act that issue with a smart mind particularly if you teach the sport. If you can't front up to a local doubles tournament and play on half a court with your 'wisdom' as a seasoned tennis coach I do believe you are in the wrong Industry.
Tennis is a sport which requires balls, in more ways than one. Do a self assessment next time your local sport holds a tournament. Talk it all you like but please show the public you can also walk it.
Surfers don't paddle out and back in without catching a wave no matter how old they are, they would be laughed out of the water. Man up, walk it.......