Friday, 28 October 2016

'THANKS FOR TUNING IN'

As always I send out a big thank you to those who read this site and in particular for those of you who have taken the time to read my book 'Delusions of Grandeur'.
The book is dear to me as it retraces most of the steps that I have taken in tennis from a 12 year old kid to a 47 year old who still gets a kick out of playing occasionally but who focuses more time on teaching the game now days. 
Like the old adage goes, 'you are a long time retired', so I suppose I drained every ounce out of my ageing legs and played every local tournament I could while I was fit and willing. There's plenty of time to coach, not so much time to play, fact of life.
In case I have forgotten to say thanks to an old mate of mine I will do so now. To Pete Rundle who partnered me in the Albany Open Mens Doubles two years ago, thanks heaps mate as it was officially my last local tournament due to a buggered wrist and a knee that simply doesn't run fast enough anymore.
Legend Pete, thanks for 'carrying' me.
So to coaching, it's funny but I always preferred to play the game than coach but now that the body is no longer able to do what it used to it's a natural thing to focus more on tuition.  I can still run the young players around when we play points though as you find ways to outsmart your opponent as you age in tennis, you only get smarter in this sport, trust me.....
The Wheat belt coaching sessions are nothing short of inspiring as the breed of player in those small towns have a desire to hit a tennis ball that you don't see every day of the week, they quite simply love it and they remind me of the Tambellup kids of 2006.
My good mate and Albany Open partner of 2012 Dave Bignall and I taught a group of kids at the Tambellup Tennis Club that I swear were the best group of kids I have ever seen for two seasons. They hit balls to Dave and myself that you would swear were being hit by 16 year olds and they were just 11 and 12 years of age at the time. No fear....
Now that the body has resigned itself to just teaching the game I have been working on some tactical improvement sessions as the years have taught me one thing in particular, it's all very well to keep refining technique however that part of the game is useless unless you know how to put it into a match.
This season is a little different for me, I am no longer chasing a title, I am simply chasing the improvement in players from the regions that I am teaching the game in and I am focused on giving a player some ideas to help them think their way through a match.
My tournament play however over 35 years has put me in good stead to guide the youngsters and the 'experienced' tennis players through the difficult times in tennis and by that I simply mean the mind games that go with the sport.
Anyone can hit a tennis ball, very few actually know what to do with it, that's where us 'old blokes' fit in.
I look forward to seeing you on court this season, thanks for tuning in.......

Sunday, 23 October 2016

'WORK THIS OUT' ( YMER BROTHERS )

I have always been fond of Swedish tennis as most of you who read this site are well aware though there is a current tournament being played in Stockholm that has two rising Swedish stars defying all kinds of logic.
Two brothers by the name of Mikael and Elias Ymer have made it through to the final of the Mens Doubles event at age 18 and 20 though that's not the only thing that I find remarkable about these two players.
It has been well documented that the average age of a current successful male tennis pro is around 25-27 years of age but what I find so infectious about these two brothers is their rankings. They have a combined current World doubles ranking of over 2000.
Mikael actually does not own a current ranking in doubles though his career high is 1387 which he achieved last year. Elias is currently ranked 954 in Mens doubles so if you do the sums on all of that you should be smart enough to work out that these two really have no place in a World tour final yet they have already taken out teams that have made it inside the World top 20 and even higher.
How is that possible ? Heart. These two are playing in their home town tennis tournament and they are playing at a level that is in fact well above what their rankings suggest.
It reminds me of Rafa at 14 and 15 playing practice sets against his mentor Carlos Moya which did two things, it took Rafa to another level but it also made Moya a better player as he was well aware of a kid breathing down his neck. Does a World number 1 appreciate a teenager belting regular winners past him with almost an attitude that has arrogance written all over it ? It is well documented that Rafa and Carlos made each other better, despite their age and difference in experience.
Whether the Ymer brothers win the doubles event in Stockholm tonight is almost irrelevant, the fact that they are defying tennis logic by even winning a round let alone making it to the final is inspiring for any budding tennis professional.
For the record, Elias has earned just shy of 100 grand so far this year but Mikael, well, he has pocketed what most council rubbish truck drivers take home in a month, 4 grand. Maybe that's before tax.
Silly sport tennis, it keeps dishing up stories that keep guys like myself scratching their heads in bewilderment at just what makes sense and what doesn't. It's a sport that can defy logic or it can have us 'experts' saying things like 'yeah that was always going to happen'........

****** FOR THE RECORD******
The Swedish duo won the final against Pavic and Venus by the score of 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes. What planet were those two on do you think ??
Quite remarkably the Ymer brothers came back from 6-9 in the final set super tie breaker to win it 11-9 in the first round.
Splitting around 30,000 Euros may just pay for a few expenses for a couple of battlers who have earned what Federer probably has as loose change in his car glove box.
Swedish tennis hasn't had a lot to smile about in recent years, these two lads may just be the start of something special once again.....

Saturday, 22 October 2016

'TENNIS'


What do you think goes through the mind of a 50 plus seasoned tennis addict on his way to the 'hallowed' courts that forge his reputation locally and that gives him his weekly shot of adrenalin that makes him walk tall on Monday morning after being undefeated in his 5 or 6 sets that he plays as though his life depends on it ?
What goes through the mind of a kid as he walks through the gate the first time at his local singles tournament after doing 'everything possible' in his training routine which included around three hours per week of 'high quality' training that he believed would put him in good stead to take home the title ?
What of the Challenger Circuit player who put in 33 hours training the week prior to an event which would ultimately decide whether or not he slept on the floor in a foyer of a motel or in the 'luxury' of an apartment that owned a bed with springs in it ?
What of the number 100 ranked pro in the World who may just own a two handed backhand that looks just as good as the guy ranked World number 20 yet doesn't quite own enough 'grey matter' to take home a weekly pay cheque that some people take a year to earn ?
What of guys like Jimmy Connors who won over 100 tour singles titles and now simply cannot rest at night until he makes one last great decision which may just include a coaching gig with a very loud Aussie in need of a mentor who knows the game better than he perhaps ever will ?
What is it about the sport of tennis that makes even a current World number 1 smash his racket into that many pieces it now resembles something that went through a tree lopping process plant ?
Would it be that tennis is a sport that has such an air of importance about it that it consumes that starry-eyed kid or the 50 plus club competitor, the Challenger circuit player or the guy ranked 100 in the World to such an extent that it can become that way of life that I described once as that surfer looking for that perfect wave ? Absolutely.
Tennis is indeed that type of sport because it is one that tests the mind from the moment that kid picks up that racket and starts hitting on that brick wall to the day that Jimmy Connors decides that he still has unfinished business in the game despite a record that will surely never be beaten no matter who comes along in the years ahead.
Tennis is a sport that unfortunately for some is like a drug addict who first has a hit then decides that the feeling is way too good to simply palm it off as something that he can do without. Tennis is something that is so ridiculously addictive that not playing on a Saturday afternoon in 'sleepy hollow' because the weather has not been kind drives a player insane because he is in need of that 'hit' of adrenalin that golf simply won't do for him. Why ? 
Because there is too much time spent between golf shots talking about wives, girlfriends, drinking and punting that could be spent being involved in the 'year's best club tennis rally' that draws murmurs from the crowd at the sheer magnitude of the technical brilliance put on show for all in sleepy hollow to witness.
Tennis is something that personally I have tried to forget over the years for one reason or another yet lucky for me I still own a couple of mates who still want to have the occasional hit and even though I curse them on my reply from my text I do so with a wry smile because deep down I know that I am going to still give it my best shot despite a dicky wrist and a knee that limps more now days than walks with importance.
So tomorrow morning on my drive to the local tennis club I will be in 'battle mode' as I go through the suitcase in my mind searching for shots that used to get me the occasional win here and there and the odd topspin lob that for some silly reason will still go down as my favourite shot. Why ? Because it confuses the opposition, that's why, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching two opponents in doubles looking at each other and asking the question " Wasn't that yours " ? !
That's what tennis is all about, finding a way to out think the opposition down the other end.
Every player has their own personal way of hitting a ball, their own set of tactics that will not change despite their doubles partner getting in their ear and telling them that sitting on the baseline while they go to the net really does defeat the purpose of the 'net attack' in the two on two format. 
Now that's what makes the sport so unique, we are all born with our own silly quirks that we are happy with despite whether anyone else is and it's why we keep playing and it's why Jimmy Connors wants to mentor Nick Kyrgios because it's an almighty challenge just like trying to win 5 or 6 sets on Saturday afternoon at the local.
Silly sport tennis..........


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

'THE BOOK'

Even though I would not call it a conventional 'book', the previous 76 published posts on this site are the culmination of 35 years of tennis and around three years of writing. My head has been a tin of worms for as long as I can remember, still is, but I have finally put together a personal story that has somewhat relieved the tension.
I will continue to write on this site, I will continue to piss people off who do not agree with me however it is simply a point of view, a view point, hence the name of this site. Tennis is like that and for those who have been out of their back yards to experience Paris in the Spring and a tournament or two against European clay court gurus you will perhaps understand both my book and me a little better than most.
I am proud of my 'book', not everyone has written one and perhaps one day when I can afford to I will put it all on paper and send it to all my tennis buddies who I grew up playing the game with. One day........

P.s  Call me superstitious if you like but my book has 76 published posts and was finished on October 18. My hero Borg won his first Grand Slam in Paris as an 18 year old and won his first Wimbledon in '76.
Told you my head was like a tin of worms...... 

Friday, 7 October 2016

'CHRISTIAN SEGNI' ( 41 )




Monday, 28 April 2014

'CHRISTIAN SEGNI'

Firstly , an apology, to a player from Argentina named Christian Segni. Last October I wrote a post on this site and  referred to Christian as 'Guillermo', however I can be excused for this. Guillermo is one of those Argentinian names that is not unlike John or Bill in Australia so I may have just assumed this guy's first name was Guillermo, anyhow back to the story. I made reference to Segni in a chapter from my memory of Saumur , a beautiful French City and where Peter, Brett and myself played our first European Tournament in 1991. The tennis centre at Saumur was magnificent , from memory 16 indoor clay courts , all under lights and all in brilliant condition, a real eye opener for us Aussies.
After a day of practice we sat back and watched the international players train , there were some brilliant tennis players entered in the Saumur Tournament from all around Europe. We tried to fit in with some occasional pidgin English but we were always caught short when it came to having a conversation with a French player. 'Ok mate we will have to leave it there'...... or words to that effect anyhow.
I still vividly remember watching the player who is in fact named Christian ,( not Guillermo) Segni  both in practice and in his first round match , he was entertainment plus. Christian had one of those forehands that you would give anything to have had footage of so you could show your pupils back home, it was in a word , brilliant. It was lethal, it had spin, depth, power and consistency all rolled into one magnificent shot.
It was a shot had his opponents trying to not only run it down but to return it  back into court to his backhand side which wasn't as strong. He hit slice from that side, a good slice, not unlike many European clay courters, steady, reliable but not brilliant by any means. It was not like Federer's backhand slice that could set a point up for a winning volley.
The first round match that Segni played in Saumur was a challenge for him, there weren't any easy matches so we got to see plenty of Christian's forehands. The Argentine also had a funny habit, he would look to the stands after each point that he won. He would stare up at his mates who were cheering him on, he was after some acknowledgement, he received it, he deserved it.
Of all the players I observed in Europe on that 1991 tour Christian Segni stood out from the rest as his play was exhilarating and he was fit, he had to be to keep running around his backhand to hit that magnificent forehand. I often wondered how Christian went with his tennis.
The internet is a wonderful way of finding out past results and I did some research into Christian Segni, this is what I found out about him.
He in fact recently reached World Number 1 for his age group 40's , not surprisingly either if he's still hitting that forehand like he did in 91.
Christian Segni is a typical example of a player who didn't quite make it as a professional player but still had the desire to get to the top in his sport. Segni is in the same mould as Brett who also reached the pinnacle in the world for his age recently.
I wondered how Christian faired in that first tournament we saw him play , if he didn't win it I would be surprised , it would've taken a great player to beat him.
Christian , if ever you read this firstly I apologize for calling you Guillermo and secondly thank you for leaving such an impression on both myself and my Aussie mates all those years ago in Saumur , France .Well done on reaching World Number 1 for your age and keep hitting those forehands like you did in 1991, absolutely inspirational.........