Monday, 11 December 2017

'HOLIDAY SEASON'

Yes folks it's that time of year again, holiday season, time for taking a break from everything you do in life, however for some it's 'Business as Usual'.
Just ask the many 'Tennis Coaches' out there who couldn't possibly shut up shop for a week or two due to the 'easiness' of gaining an income while they put their feet up.
I have seen and heard of many rather funny stories over the years regarding 'Assistant Coaches' running programs and clinics while the 'Guru' is away and one thing is for certain, it is not regulated by Tennis Australia. 
In other words, as I state many times on this site and I will once again, it is a FREE FOR ALL.
Anyone can do anything in this Country in tennis which I have proven to be true particularly when I stated that Tennis Australia 'Certified Tennis Coaches' were also aligned to the ATPCA ( Australian Tennis Professional Coaches Association ).
Nothing wrong with it ?
Depends which way you look at it.
If you are receiving funding from TA to manage your programs then why are you also a paid up member of the ATPCA who have nothing to do with TA and in fact write some rather nasty things about each other from time to time ?
You don't do anything that the ATPCA suggests yet you pay around $200 per year to them just so it looks good on your resume.
Bit silly isn't it ?
Anyhow let's get back to the headline.
The 'Assistant Coach' has been around from the beginning of time and some are actually worth their weight in gold, others are simply 'ball hitters', people who can play tennis yet have very little understanding on how to teach the sport yet can get paid around $25 - $30 per hour for simply hitting balls. 
Remember most assistants get paid a flat rate while the 'Head Coach' gets the other half of the lesson cost while he or she does something else with their time.
Nothing wrong with it ?
Depends which way you look at it.
What it does is take the piss out of the Industry itself as the unsuspecting consumer can part with as much as $60 - $80 hard earned for an hour of bullshit from someone who has no idea on how to correct shot deficiencies.
Example.
I met up with some holiday makers around this time last year, friends of friends, which is rather funny when you think about it as I don't have many friends. Anyhow this is what transpired.
We hit some balls.
One parent says to me " What did you just do " ?
What do you mean ?
" You just picked up that 'Tommy' was hitting his backhand with the wrong grip".
Your point is ?
"Well last time we had a holiday coaching session we likened it to a hit up ".
Join the long queue buddy, happens all the time. 
Don't tell me, you got some young guy or girl with all the gear on who looked a million bucks but delivered around $60 - $80 worth of 'brilliance' that had you and your wife scratching your heads about the 'value' of what just happened ?
So the 'Head Coach' was away but young 'Rafael' was recommended by the Head Coach as someone who used to be ranked highly, hits a great tennis ball and 'your child will be in safe hands'.....
Hmmmmmm.
Whether you think I am full of sh.. or not it's like this, it is the biggest problem with tennis in our Country and no one does anything about it. The game is being 'taught' minimally by 'Head Coaches' and extensively by assistant ball hitters who know nothing about tennis.
Head Coaches can only see a certain amount of students per term. In fact I have heard that some kids DO NOT SEE THE HEAD COACH AT ALL during a term and their parents pay the same amount as some who see the 'Zen Master' regularly.
Tennis Coaching is a money making Industry that is so far out of control that no one knows what is the right or wrong thing as far as acceptable tuition and hourly pricing is concerned as there is no blueprint to follow. 
Anything goes now.
If I was to go to ten tennis clubs over the State of Western Australia I may pay 5 different prices and get taught 5 different things on ONE SHOT. 
Who am I being taught by ?
A TA 'Zen Master' or an ATPCA 'Guru' ?
What is the correct way to hit a two handed backhand and why will a 63 year old Coach of 43 years teach me how to hit a ball a certain way and charge me $45 per hour where a 21 year old 'Coach' ( or is that a ball hitter ? ) with fancy clothes who has been in the game '5' minutes will teach me something completely different and charge me up to $80 for the hour ?
Anyone for regulation ?
Fair dinkum comedy routine........


Friday, 8 December 2017

'JUST BRIEFLY'

And once again I reiterate, ( as I do quite often on this site) , I do not believe I am being too hard on Roger Rasheed over my lashing of the pricing of his tennis clinic coming up over the holiday break.
Quite frankly I think it is a disgrace.
Tennis Australia what do you think ?
The price of $50 per student per hour is around the same cost that many tennis coaches charge for a ONE ON ONE lesson for an hour which I suppose is one of the cheaper hourly rates now days. 
The problem with that price I believe is this, it's over priced for group coaching. For a one on one, well that's actually great value now days.
If a tennis coach offers a five hour coaching clinic I believe most parents would expect to pay around $20 to $25 per hour or $125 maximum for the entire 5 hours. If a coach charges that price per student per hour in a group of say 4-6 students, you do the sums on that , nice pay day if you can get it.
$50 per hour, or $250 for the 5 hours is taking the piss, it's unrealistic and it's unaffordable for most.
Remember though with Mr Rasheed, it's TWO DAYS, that's $500.
So what is it with tennis coaching ? Is it the rare chance that a kid may break through the thousands of hopefuls and become a tennis professional ? 
Or is it just simply the fact that there are many coaches out there who believe that their ways of teaching are worth an exorbitant hourly rate which will make them sleep easier at night due to the 'brilliance' they have shared that day ?

Tennis is a sport that requires a rare mind to win consistently at any age , at any level. Forget technical expertise, that's not even half the issue with tennis.
Jimmy connors once stated that tennis is "90 percent mental".
Jimmy would know, he owns a record not even Federer will beat, 109 tennis tournament victories on the World tour. Jimbo was a rarity, a genius at the mind game and far from technically brilliant.
Now there's a guy who could charge $50 per hour in a group lesson.......   
The following is an example of where the game is at now days and if you believe the literature that is dished up then I suppose you will be happy to part with your hard earned $$.

"Greatness is found under extreme pressures. A cornerstone of my coaching is to help you realize how to be at your best, engaging confidence and positivity in these stressful environments. Within the context of sustainability and stability, we work together to create a vision, mapping a pathway to success which includes daily performance milestones in an effort to achieve the desired future outcome."
Roger Rasheed
That's just part of a spiel from the Roger Rasheed website.
Heard it all before ?
I have.
Typical tennis, over priced, self- absorption at it's very best.......

Thursday, 7 December 2017

'I FIND THAT INTERESTING'

I saw an article on the morning news today regarding Bernard Tomic's decision to skip the Wild Card Playoff and focus on trying to make it through the qualification rounds for the Australian Open. It wasn't really big news and it really didn't surprise me however I found the 'highlight' reel during the news article to be somewhat humorous. 
While the huge 'news' was being read there were several 'highlights' of Bernard playing.
Check this out.
In one point he was playing Andy Roddick and they only ever played once, at the US Open in 2012 where Roddick destroyed Tomic in straight. The point was a 'cat and mouse' type where there were a few silly angles played and Andy won the point. It was not overly flattering, it was a fairly ordinary point. 
But from 2012 ??
Another point showed Bernard hitting almost the net post with a shanked forehand.
Do you see where I am going with this ?
WTF was the agenda of whoever it was to post this 'great news' article on Bernard Tomic depicting him as someone who looks awkward on a tennis court ?
We all know that Bernie is struggling in the World of tennis but to actually show points of him looking silly ??
Oh please, have we really resorted to this type of garbage ?
I recall once when the great Boris Becker was making his way up the World tennis rankings as a teenager and he owned a unique celebration when he would win a point, or a tournament for that matter, a double fist pump and a shuffle of the feet.
The 'Becker Shuffle' to be more precise.
Anyhow there was a true story of a bloke taking offence to Becker's ways on court to such an extent that he in fact made a video of Becker's worst shots, true story. Would be worth a look now days wouldn't it ?
Not sure whatever became of that video however that guy who made it got it all off his chest obviously. 
No point bottling it up, we may explode one day, trust me I have done it in the past, got me into all sorts of trouble with my local Tennis Association. 
Such is life.
Anyhow back to Bernie and that fantastic news article this morning showing 'the best of Tomic'.
Whoever put that article together, good on you buddy, a fantastic piece of gutter journalism designed to show a sportsperson making mistakes. I bet it took a while to find that forehand error from 2012, well done on your CSI like investigation as you searched far and wide for something that the public would look at and say 'What a shit shot'.
Brilliant.
Personally I don't mind Bernie, he's honest, the Tennis World needs more honesty as 9 out of 10 players would play just for the money ( like Bernie says he does ) as only a select few will ever win a major. The rest just play for the obscene amount of money on offer which rewards mediocrity at the highest level.
Lose first round in a Slam and take home what Mats Wilander won in 1982 for beating 4 top 10 players on his way to winning the French Open as a 17 year old.
Let's be honest here, Bernie just stated the obvious.
As far as the 'news' goes, fair dinkum, surely we can at least find some recent shots that Bernie hit at a tennis tournament and maybe, just maybe we could find a 'good' shot that Bernie hit.
However that wouldn't make people sit up and say 'what a shit tennis player he is', would it now ??
To that 'Journalist' who put it all together today, you are a fair dinkum knob.......
Regards Glenn

Monday, 4 December 2017

'THANKS ROGER FOR INCLUDING LUNCH'

I was sent a rather funny story the other day regarding Australia's very own Roger Rasheed and a coaching clinic on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Who is Roger Rasheed ? 
Just ask him, he will explain in great detail.
RR has spent time with Lleyton Hewitt, Grigor Dimitrov, Gael Monfils and Jo Wilfrid Tsonga, a long list of tennis professionals but not quite sure what he does now days, though the following information may give us all an indication.
Roger Rasheed is conducting a two day coaching clinic at a rather obscure tennis club called 'Kawana' which most of us have never heard of however RR has decided to go there, good on him.
Now before we get into the nitty gritty of all of this I suppose we should tell you that John Tomic once sent RR a 'good will' message congratulating him on taking over as coach of Lleyton Hewitt and taking him from World number 1 to World number 19 in around 6 months of 'tuition'. 
Hey, don't blame me, John T came up with that information, very astute is Mr T.
Not quite sure how long RR spent with Jo and Gael however I don't believe it was very long, in coaching terms anyhow as it takes years to forge a strong coach/ player relationship.
Interesting, when Grigor Dimitrov switched from RR to his current coach, a bloke with a real flash name, well, his game went berserk and he just won the year ending championships in London. I believe they have been working together for around two years.
Anyhow RR apparently is so well credentialed now days that he is charging the following price for a coaching clinic to top all coaching clinics, $250 per player per day, yes that's correct. But wait there's more.
RR is offering just 5 hours for that price though there is a bonus for every player who pays up, they get lunch with that rather hefty price tag.
Now usually if a student pays $250 for that sort of tuition it will probably be with a past champion of the game or in a group of perhaps 3 to 4 players. My question is this, what if 20 players turn up Rog' ?? How can you justify $50 per hour for that many players ? 
There is also one more issue, it's a two day thing, so if you want to play for two days it will cost $500 for ten hours of tuition though if 20 players turn up how is that value ??
Not quite sure who is regulating tennis coaching pricing now days because Roger Rasheed is not really making it affordable now is he ? 
Is Tennis Australia doing everything in it's power to make the game affordable or is it simply what I called the sport a long time ago ? A 'Free For all' ? Why is this sort of thing acceptable ? 
Well that's tennis for you.
Tennis Australia employ Roger Rasheed to commentate at the Australian Open each year so RR has surely something to do with TA so how does TA allow RR to turn up at some obscure tennis club on the Sunshine Coast of Australia and charge that sort of money to working class parents for their kids to attend 10 hours of coaching ?
Why will RR's methods be better than the local club coach's theories on the game ? Did RR build those players who I mentioned or did he simply just spend time with them ? Is John Tomic correct in his assumption ? Check the rankings on when RR took over as coach of Hewitt, JT is 100 per cent correct.
Anyhow enough of all that.
The point is this, you can go armed to the teeth with all of the information that you think will be enough to build the future of the sport of tennis and charge whatever you think you are worth but the truth is this, you are just another coach with just another theory on possibly the toughest one on one sport in the World. 
You may think you are worth $50 per hour in a group session however most intelligent coaches would go with perhaps a $20 - $25 per hour price tag which is not only affordable but also has a hint of humbleness about it and not complete arrogance.
Tennis is a sport that finds success as often as a catching a Blue Marlin with a hand line. It may happen but in reality it won't, the odds are not in your favor. 
If someone offers a two day coaching clinic at those sorts of prices it does nothing to change people's minds that tennis is in fact an elitist sport where only the rich will afford to play it.
RR did in fact coach Hewitt, Tsonga, Monfils and Dimitrov but he did not build them. He no longer coaches any of them.
What are you offering for lunch Roger ?
Hope it's not a snag in a bun..........

Saturday, 2 December 2017

'THE EGO OF IT ALL'

Recently I wrote a post on this site titled 'Tennis Season' and it was all about having a bit of a light hearted dig at the Industry we call 'Tennis Coaching'. 
It is an industry where some rather humorous stories emerge, time after time, season after season.
You see it's all about the ego as self importance in a sport such as tennis is apparently a necessity for success. It has to be as hourly price tags to learn a sport as 'elite' as tennis are now in line with car mechanics, fridge and freezer repairmen and plumbers.
Not sure about you but I would like a guarantee from all of the above mentioned that my house hold goods plus my car will in fact be repaired for that sort of price.
As they say however, each to their own, many believe they are worth it, many believe they are entitled to that sort of money per hour but get a grip, so to speak, it's only tennis you are 'teaching'.
Ego has been around since day 1, some of my tennis heroes owned egos bigger than most yet I loved those guys all the same, they inspired me to play.
Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi to name two.
Now these guys as we know didn't really get along too well however I always felt that Andre's description of Jimmy in his book titled 'Open' was in fact a little harsh.
'Egotist'.
That's what Andre thought of Jimmy which I felt was a bit like the terminology 'the pot calling the kettle black' as Andre once starred in a Nike commercial stating 'Image is everything'.
You have to own an ego to agree to that, no risk whatsoever.
As far as 'Jimbo' was concerned, well maybe he was an 'egotist' though if I was to rate all of my past tennis heroes I will put him in my top 5, he was brilliant. I just have trouble dealing with fellow tennis pros saying that others are, even if they are one themselves, if you get my drift.
Roger Federer was asked once about his own mortality and he came back with an answer something along the lines of 'I still believe I have these young guys under control'. Egotistical ? Absolutely.
I suppose we see these type of players talk and we read their books where we learn that their self importance tag is of epic proportions so if we are that way inclined we may just absorb a bit of their confidence.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with that but as I have stated, it's tennis guys, not boxing, it's a sport that for some players requires a wipe with a towel after EVERY point.
Get a grip.
I see and read things through the tennis coaching industry that makes me laugh so hard that I have to sit down yet it's all through ego, not who they really are as some are actually nice people.
The rest ? Well they are just egotists.
I once read that a 'Zen Master' was so 'busy' that they had a long, long waiting list for lessons so 'join the queue please, we will get to you as soon as we can'. ( Sort of like when you call Telstra regarding a fault with your phone ).
I was rather inquisitive regarding their 'busy ness' so I made a call.
'Gday I am chasing a tennis lesson, any spots available' ?
Sure what time and day ?
'How's today and tomorrow sound, can you give me some times please that you are available ' ?
So the 'Zen Master rattled off many, many times that were available in their rather 'busy program' that apparently had a waiting list as long as the local main street.
Interesting isn't it ?
Was it factual that they had a busy program or was it just the ego that believed they should be that busy and the public should be rather 'privileged' to in fact be on that 'waiting list'.
Sort of like the old chestnut 'Hurry, limited spots available'.
Bullshit, you just love the attention and the 'dollar meter' running at a pace that Usain Bolt would be proud of.
Tennis season is not even half way through and I have read some rippers already, there's plenty more to come.
Spare a thought for the boxer who gets beaten from one side of the boxing ring to the other yet can only wipe his sweat and blood off after each round when the bell goes. 
A tennis player can get aced and still ask for the towel. Funny stuff.
Tennis, ego and self importance, there may just be a common link...... 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

'WHO DO WE BUILD' ?

After two lessons today it dawned on me, who are we building as far as tennis players are concerned ?
Are we creating a 'boutique' generation of tennis players or are we building the future of the sport ?
I refer to the current coaching style that has a coach putting the ball into the 'hitting zone' to build technique over and over again, yet what are we really creating ?
My point is this.
Tennis dishes up a plethora of different situations yet when we teach the sport we really only offer one scenario, the 'perfect' ball.
A young kid who I have a regular lesson with looks like a future Wimbledon player when I put the ball into the hitting zone yet when we play points that same player would struggle to fill a local pennant team.
So what is the right thing to do as far as new students of the game are concerned ?
My first coach, my second coach and any coach who I ever had a tennis lesson with gave me variety of ball, they fed me balls that would make me stretch, they fed me balls that were in my hitting zone and they gave me balls that made me feel as though I was a future World beater.
One thing however was fairly evident in my tennis upbringing, I was not taught to be a 'boutique' tennis player, the one that could go away from a lesson thinking that the game was ridiculously easy. My coaches were rather brutal on me however I would not have had it any other way.
I recall some days as a kid coming off court and thinking 'that was tough though I didn't know I even owned some of those shots'.
I have written fondly in the past regarding the one and only session I ever had with a guy who beat both Becker and Lendl in the early 90's, Neil Borwick from Queensland.
Now I admit, I was 45 at the time but hitting with Neil was possibly one of my greatest ever tennis educations because here was a guy who had beaten the World's best. I had never played against guys of that calibre so it was as though I was a junior coming up against an adult who owned a tennis brain as opposed to a relatively 'sheltered' view on the sport.
It's one thing to own a theory or two, it's another to actually put it into play.
So Neil that day did what Neil knew best, he played to win, he hit shots I had only ever seen on television but what it did make me do was think harder, way harder than I had ever done previously. Neil Borwick reached a career high of around 110 so in a nutshell, that's a 'win' in a sport as tough as tennis.
I came off court thinking this, maybe I own shots I have never even hit before, perhaps a guy like Neil Borwick could make me a better player even at age 45 due to a far greater knowledge on the game that I will ever own.
Different spins, different shot selection, greater variety, a far superior tennis brain.
So back to my point.
If NB had felt sorry for me I suppose he would have gone easy on me, yet he didn't, possibly because I told him I want the 'Lendl, Becker treatment'. 'No favours buddy, give me your best'.
When we teach tennis we have to give some 'tough love' at times because if we keep hand feeding into the hitting zone it may just create a player who will not know what to do with a tennis ball if it goes outside of that comfort zone.
It's like anything in life, no one got anywhere in life without a test.
Creating technique is a must in tennis but creating a smart tennis player I believe is more important. Brad Gilbert won 20 titles in the late 80's and early 90's simply from being a smart tennis player, his shots were average, he would be the first to admit that.
David Goffin currently is a player that many traditionalists would say is a 'Gilbert clone', he simply makes the opposition play. No glamour, just smart tennis.
May just be the toughest thing to teach in tennis, intelligence..........

Saturday, 18 November 2017

'HEY JIM, THIS ONE'S FOR YOU'

In 2016 at the Australian Open a comment was made by Jim Courier regarding David Goffin and his supposed 'inflated' ranking which according to Jim occurred through Davis Cup Ties. You see Davis Cup matches can still gain ranking points for a player so apparently David Goffin should not have been ranked World number 14 at the time of his match with Roger Federer, according to Jim.
Now I took exception to those comments and wrote a lengthy post about where I questioned Courier's agenda.
Jim didn't get back to me.
Fast forward to this day.
What a great day for tennis in general and particularly David Goffin as he just defeated the player who caused those disparaging remarks to be said from a commentator who should know better because as we all know, in tennis things can turn around fairly quickly.
In fact since 2016 when David Goffin was ranked 14 at the time of the 2016 Australian Open I do not believe that his ranking has dropped below that number so if his ranking did somehow 'inflate' to number 14 surely it could not have stayed there if he was an 'imposter'.
Surely.
The 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win by Goffin over Federer in London was as much a 'stick that up ya bum' Jim Courier moment as it was a victory for the 'thinking man's tennis player'. From memory I believe that the score in Melbourne in 2016 was 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to Federer and up until today's match I believe it was Federer 6, Goffin 0.
So putting that into perspective I suppose all that had to happen in London this morning was for Fed to keep doing what he has been doing for the last six matches against the little guy from Belgium. Tennis however evolves as do players and their ability to forget past results and play the ball, not the player and the reputation or even legend that go with some of them.
For David Goffin this was a win that will help every tennis player of every standard believe in themselves as he is a player who reminds me of a light weight in a heavy weight series yet comes up with a right hook to down his more fancied opponents with alarming regularity.
His win over Rafa in the first round in London proved it even before the win over Federer and though some will say, including himself, that Rafa was injured I think you only have to look at the way Goffin played that match tactically to realise he is a thinker.
To be able to with stand that many high bouncing balls from Rafa's forehand in particular and flatten them out with interest was quite outstanding to say the least. It takes a rare talent to defend that type of hitting as in Monte Carlo this year the score line was far less flattering to Goffin as Rafa destroyed him easily.
Once again Goffin has reversed a result that would have many players overawed yet the little guy refuses to be pushed around. It's brilliant, it's inspiring.
Whether he can reverse the earlier London result against Dimitrov is almost irrelevant, just to make it to the final is nothing short of outstanding.
Hey Jim Courier, David Goffin defeated Roger Federer, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, semi finals , London, 2017, year ending Tour Finals.
How's that 'inflated' ranking looking now ey Champ ????
Regards GT........

Friday, 17 November 2017

'THE CELEBRATION'

Personally I have never played for big dollars in tennis, wasn't good enough, nowhere near it so I suppose I am stating the obvious when I say that I would not understand the feeling of winning a big tournament.
As previously stated, I have ONE tennis trophy on my mantle piece, it was won in France with my buddy from Perth, WA, Peter Gerrans who carried me through to a doubles tournament victory in 1991. It is the only trophy that means anything to me as winning your local yearly event is not something that is worth a talking point when people walk into your house.
'Albany Open 2010 Glenn ? You 'superstar'........
You know what I mean.
So in regards to my opening paragraph, I am not aware of the feeling of obvious euphoria when a player wins a major event but let's be brutally honest here, some of the winning celebrations simply go way over the top. Let's look at a few 'hits and misses' so to speak.
My first tennis hero Bjorn Borg had his own unique style of celebrating at Wimbledon as the streak from 1976 to 1980 saw him drop to his knees on most occasions in victory though he didn't stay there too long, he had Connor's, Tanner's McEnroe's and Nastase's hands to shake so up he got and met them at the net.
As the years rolled by certain players didn't even get to the net, they were way too busy celebrating to remember something as 'insignificant' as a hand shake to complete the victory.
Two come to mind in particular.
The Davis Cup final of 2000 in Spain saw Juan Carlos Fererro hit a backhand past Australia's very own 'Celebration King' Lleyton Hewitt then fall to the clay in victory as he was mobbed by his team mates. Now I have one of those silly memories and I was 100 per cent certain that no hand shake took place after that match, so I looked it up again.
Good memory GT.
Hewitt left the court amidst the celebrations though in fairness to him, well he did wait at the net for Fererro who did not find the time to actually get there to shake his hand.
How about Wimbledon 1992 ? This was possibly one of the worst acts of celebrating you will ever witness.
Andre Agassi had just squeaked by Goran Ivanisevic if five sets and fell to the ground in celebration. He stayed there 'a while' and he completely forgot about his opponent who in fact walked around the net post, met Andre at the baseline and gave him a hug, nice effort Goran. Someone had to do the right thing.
Hand shakes complete a tennis match, whether you like your opponent or not.
Rafa Nadal took celebrations to a whole new meaning as he rolled around on the ground, usually on the clay after winning an event. One springs to mind in particular. In Rome in 2005 Nadal played what some call one of the greatest ever clay court matches as he just edged Guillermo Coria 7-6 in the fifth and the tie break from memory was 8-6, absolute colossus of a match.
The celebrations by Nadal were time consuming, so much so that Coria walked to the side of the court while Nadal continued to stay on his back. They shook hands eventually.
Rafa has mellowed a little over the years as his US Open celebration this year was rather reserved to say the least compared to his past victory rolls of the past.
Roger Federer had a few years there at Wimbledon where he went with the celebration roll though it was never in the same league as Rafa's though now days Fed is just happy to raise his arms in the air in triumph, you know, the 'old fashioned way'.
There have been some absolute rippers over the years, some completely over the top, others so reserved that you would wonder whether they just won an event or a first round match. This year's London Tour Finals have made me smile at the simplicity of some of the victory celebrations. Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov have come up with two of the best I have ever witnessed.
A nod and a smile to their entourage, not even so much as arms in the air. Sure they haven't won the event but if you know anything about these two players you will realise that they have come from the clouds so to speak with their tennis over the past year or so.
To win against top ten players in consecutive matches you would think may just warrant a fist in the air at least. Not so, it's refreshing to see.
Passionate sport tennis, some get a little too passionate about things as they forget about the fact that without the player down the other end the victory celebrations would not have been possible.
Whether you dislike your opponent or not remember this, you beat them, you don't have to rub it in, they are in enough physical and emotional pain without having to wait for you while you carry on like a pork chop.........

Thursday, 16 November 2017

'NICE WORK GRIGOR'

I recall some time ago when Grigor Dimitrov was being coached by Australia's very own resident 'Fitness King' Roger Rasheed. You could see that Grigor was fit, the problem was not however his fitness, he didn't know how to play tennis, plain and simple.
Nowdays with his new coach, Daniel Vallverdu,                  Grigor Dimitrov is playing a brand of tennis that is quite sensational to say the least. Yes he is fit, he has always been fit but he now knows how to use his fitness. He once reminded me of that 'boutique' tennis player who I have written about on many occasions on this site, you know, the one who looks great in practice but has never been taught HOW TO ACTUALLY PLAY TENNIS.
Grigor Dimitrov has at last been taught, thank goodness.
Now I will not drag this post on, I will get to the point. 
Grigor just defeated Dominic Thiem ranked World Number 5, to reach the semi finals in London, 7-5 in the third, great match. This was his reaction.
He looked to the side of the court, no doubt to his entourage, he did not even raise his arms in triumph, nodded his head, walked to the net, shook hands with Dominic, pretty simple stuff, no histrionics.

Lleyton Hewitt Australian Open First Round 2016 playing James Duckworth, ranked World number 129 at the time.
Match point Hewitt.
Lob, winner. 
Lleyton Hewitt falls onto his back, hands in the air, euphoria.
Who did you beat Lleyton ? 
What was his ranking ?
Way too many people in the Land of Oz have always praised Lleyton Hewitt for his fighting qualities on court, I agree, he was a fighter. As far as winning with a humbleness that can be accredited to past and present champions of the game ? No where near the mark Lleyton.
Grigor Dimitrov just showed us all how to show respect to a vanquished opponent without getting in their face and rubbing the result in.
Well played Grigor.
Hope Lleyton was watching.......

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

'GOTTA LOVE IT'

The current year ending Championships in London have proven beyond doubt that there is only a 'whisker' separating a win from a loss amongst the best players in the World.
The 'easiest' match so far has been a 6-4, 7-6 win to Roger Federer over Jack Sock who is currently playing a brand of tennis that can only be described as 'cavalier'.
There has been a total of six matches played in the singles and five of them have gone to three sets. Of the six doubles matches played three have gone the distance, two of them 10-8 in the third set super tie breaker and another 10-5. The other scores have been 4 and 6, 6 and 4 plus a 6 and 6 result that took a rather amazing 12 match points to close the deal.
I recall these same championships several years ago and it was a fizzer of epic proportions, many one sided matches and it didn't really make sense.
It was as though the 'apprentices' were completely overawed by the masters of the game.
The times have changed.
Jack Sock is the standout.
I recall something that the American said after winning in Paris just recently and I found it to be rather fascinating. 
Sock said that he was playing with 'House Money'. Anyone who knows anything about gambling will tell you that if you have a win then you relax, trust me, I used to punt, I know the feeling well.
'House Money' is the terminology that many use when they scrape through a tight one, so to speak, a match that gives you a feeling of freedom when you play your next match because in all reality you quite possibly shouldn't be there.
In Paris, Sock came back from 1-5 in the third against Kyle Edmund in the second round and his game loosened up to such a degree that he won the tournament and secured the final position in the elite eight man field in London.
A 6-4, 7-6 loss to Roger Federer is nothing to be ashamed of as that was a match that many would be totally overawed by, not so with Jack Sock.
He is still playing with 'house money', as free as a bird, nothing to lose, everything to gain. Perhaps we should all play with that same feeling of freedom, after all do we really have anything to lose when we play tennis apart from maybe an ego deflation ?
I love some of the terminologies that tennis professionals come up with but this one by Jack Sock would have to be right up there with the best of them.
I remember once a player saying 'I didn't lose, he beat me'. 
Put those two sayings into perspective.
Tennis, a thinking mans game.........

Monday, 13 November 2017

'INSPIRING'

Over the past few weeks I have seen and heard some pretty inspiring things in the Wheat belt of Western Australia as I take a look at what works and why it works and it all comes down to the 'effort meter'.
The effort that people put in to make tennis work in the Wheat belt is nothing short of inspiring but it's not just one person who makes it work, it's plenty. The non paid work that goes on if one day was measured by the minute and paid by the dollar would run into the thousands, yet that's how they do it.
It reminds me of my junior tennis days in Albany, ( 'Sleepy Hollow' as I like to call it on this site ).
My old coach Peter ( Holmsey) was often disliked for how good he was as a tennis player because quite frankly he 'owned' tennis in Albany, not only with his coaching but his ability to organise AND win every tennis tournament on the local calendar.
'Bloody Pete won another tennis tournament'.
So what, he wins every tennis tournament.
That was the usual conversation piece when I was a kid in regards to tennis in Albany, it was a big sport however it was basically run by a bloke who was selfless in many ways. Some would say that Pete organised tennis tournaments just to win them. I would say so what ? At least he organised them. 
Pete organised junior pennant competitions as well as senior pennants where he would also play and usually win the flag, it's just how it was.
At least he organised them.
In the Wheat belt of WA tennis is organised so ridiculously well so even when they don't have a coach to teach them the finer points of the sport they still have parents running around throwing balls to kids on a regular basis.
Those organised time slots have kids of all ages hitting tennis balls because those kids will one day be the future of the club, no risk at all.
Restocking the shelves so to speak.
When my buddy Justin and I counted up the 'loose change' at the end of a season several years ago we worked out that we both cleared around $10 per hour for every hour we put in at our local tennis club. Looking back on it I would call that rather silly though as I have documented in the past on this site I took one particular figure away from that season more than anything else.
( We didn't take much money away ).
We counted the kids one Saturday afternoon at social tennis and we had around ten players who were a product of our junior coaching program who also played Saturday morning junior tennis, organised competitive matches, a necessity for a budding junior tennis player.
So in a nutshell those kids would have a midweek coaching session, junior match play Saturday morning and then matches in the afternoon against the adults. It's why that tennis club was head and shoulders above any other club in our region, it rocked, and it culminated one year in the local Champ of Champs Tournament where it was crowned 'Champion Club'.
Our tennis club restocked the 'shelves'. 
In the Wheat belt that's what happens, it's like watching something from the past from that club in Sleepy Hollow and one thing is for certain, tennis rocks in the Wheat belt. I haven't met one 'ego' yet, no place for egos when you are trying to both maintain and build the sport in the bush.
How about this, a weekly pennant tie in the bush quite often requires a 300 kilometre round trip. Two sets of singles, two of doubles, two of mixed. That to me is worth the trip.
Tennis in the Wheat belt of WA is inspiring, did I mention that ?
I have seen kids of age 5 roll out 'wheelie bins' full of tennis balls and play 4 on 4 or sometimes 6 on 6, like a game of volley ball while Mums and Dads kick back with an ale after playing a few sets in 35 degree heat.
It gets hot in the Wheat belt.
I would not be at all surprised to one day find a future champion of the sport out here in the Wheat belt of WA. The desire to play at a young age is second to none and the generosity of the parents who often partner up with kids of age 8, 9 and 10 to simply help them along with their progress as a tennis player is humbling to watch.
A kid in the Wheat belt does not have the opportunities of a kid in the City, that's stating the obvious yet they will make up for their lack of technical expertise with a desire to play that at times is quite remarkable to observe.
I played a 'first to ten' with a young fellow who at one stage did the 'splits' to retrieve a ball that most adults would have given up on. These kids don't know the meaning of 'too hard'.
I was lucky as a kid in 'Sleepy Hollow' growing up playing tennis because it didn't cost a fortune to play. I would play both junior club on a Saturday morning and Senior Club with the adults in the afternoon, maybe eight hours of tennis in a day, it's how I improved. Maybe cost me $5.
Now days I see kids have a 30 minute session for the week in a group of 6, 8 or 10 kids and the parents wonder why little to no improvement is made.
Think outside the square grasshopper. The Wheat belt mob do.
Even a weekly one on one with a coach at $50 - $100 an hour depending on 'expertise' or 'self importance' will not create a good tennis player. You don't have to be a scholar to work that one out.
So if I can leave you with my take on the whole tennis scene;
It's a sport that has minimal success as far as results are concerned because the technical side of it is too great a hurdle to overcome for many junior players.
The self destroying nature of a junior tennis tournament where the knockout system only rewards the 'gifted' or those who can afford regular coaching will not keep kids in the game.
Tennis is a business now days, nothing is done for nothing, it's too expensive to learn.
Not enough thinking outside the square as the 'Wheat belt folk' are forced to do on a regular basis to keep their tennis clubs alive.
Not enough guys like Pete ( Holmsey) left in the sport who not only knew how to coach the sport but knew how to maintain it.
Tennis folk in the Wheat belt, they think outside the square, it's inspiring......

Thursday, 9 November 2017

David Nalbandian Backhands Slow Motion




I often wonder why the new breed of tennis coach complicates tennis.
I have witnessed the new 'loop' backswing of the two hander, 'Sharapova' style and quite frankly I think it's a joke.
This swing of Nalbandian's is simple, effective and it was one of the greatest of all time, no risk.
Rather easy to teach, rather easy to implement......

Monday, 6 November 2017

'PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE' ( FROM 2013 )

In 1991 the Great Jimmy Connors made the Semi's of The US Open , if you know anything about the game of Tennis , this feat is rather remarkable , it will probably never be repeated , Jimmy was 39.
That same year another all time great Martina Navratilova lost in the final of the Women's event , aged 34 , another performance that may never  be seen again , after all , Tennis is a 'young' person's sport isn't it ?  In 1992 Connors finished the year ranked number 84 , not bad for an 'old' bloke, Navratilova number 5.
So it was in some Promoter's wildest dream that these two should play each other in a battle of the sexes singles match , but with a slight twist in the rules . Martina would receive half a Double's alley extra for her shots , this is a fair bit of extra room for your opponent to cover , especially if they are 39 years of age .
Connors was still confident that he would win , despite the extra room that he had to cover, so much so that he waged 1 million dollars on himself to win with the loss of no more than 8 games , pressure was on .....
The highlights of this match are on 'You Tube' , it really is a great match , some of the points are brilliant , Connors however came away with a win and a few dollars extra in his pocket , as well as of course the match prize money . Jimmy cut it fine though on his punt with a bookie , he lost 7 games , no pressure at all , he had a game up his sleeve to cash in his million dollar bet.
This on the other side of the coin was a chance for female tennis players to try and prove that they were up with the standard of the men , but Event Organizers knew for a fact that an even playing field between a man and woman would not in fact be even at all .
Even at age 39 Connors would've had way too much power and all round ability for Martina on a normal sized court .
It is not unrealistic to think that the guy ranked 1000 in the world would have too much fire power for any woman in the World's Top 10 .
In fact if you set up a practice session between the guy ranked 1000 and any Top 10 male player you wouldn't see too much of a difference in technique ability , until they commenced point play , then the differences would become evident. The difference between men and women tennis players however is enormous , it's why more battle of the sexes matches aren't played , it's a foregone conclusion that the man would win .
It's not a sexist comment by any means , but a factual look at the difference in how hard the ball is hit , take this example . One of the State's best male player's was once asked to hit with a top 5 women's professional for the Hopman Cup in Perth .
This guy didn't even have a World ranking , if he did it may have been somewhere around 2000 if he was lucky . He not only matched it with her in the drills but also won their practice set comfortably . 
Just a few more facts and figures that should be taken into perspective when considering just how good professional Tennis players are to keep winning , day in , day out.....

Friday, 3 November 2017

'TECHNIQUE OR TACTICS' ?

Out of 30 years of coaching the sport of tennis I would take one compliment over any other, ' You taught me how to play tennis'. ( From a 17 year old student ).
So why does that make me feel as though I achieved something ? Simple.
You can teach a student of any age how to hit a tennis ball however that student needs far more than just the ability to hit a tennis ball over the net. Once you are on a tennis court it is you versus another player, another mind, another view on how the sport should be played.
So who's view is superior and where did that view come from ? Is a player born with an ability to play tennis or does it have to be taught by someone who has played for a long time at a high level ?
Does a coach have to come from a strong playing background or is it possible to teach the game without even bothering the scoreboard as a former player ?
Personally I believe that a coach of tennis perhaps just requires a philosophy, a view on how to play the game.
I have seen some 'Mickey Mouse' tennis players who have gone on to become reasonable tennis coaches however I still think that you have had to have hit a ball in the 'heat of the moment' to be able to relay your thoughts to a player who is fresh into the sport of tennis.
I look at guys like Ivan Lendl who was a fierce competitor on court yet he was able to relay his ideas to a player like Andy Murray and those ideas stuck, they worked ridiculously well to the tune of two Wimbledon crowns, despite the fact that as a player Lendl fell short, the only major he did not win.
So how does a guy like Ivan Lendl use his mind to help someone like Murray who has owned a history of falling at the last hurdle ?
The thought process in tennis is not talked about nearly enough.
I have seen some players who I refer to as 'boutique tennis players', the type who look a million bucks in practice though play like a street busker desperate for a dollar when the game was on the line in a competition. So why is this ?
Many players are taught how to hit a ball yet not how to play tennis. The guy ranked 200 in the World is quite possibly a simple train of thought away from a regular spot in a 128 man field at a Grand Slam and a guaranteed $200,000 per year yet he will probably fall in the second or third round of qualifying instead.
Why ?
A guy like Ivan Lendl is required to help him get there but the Czech legend has a rather expensive price tag so that guy ranked 200 is relying on the brain of someone who has done a lot less than Ivan to help him get to a level of consistency that pays the bills on a regular basis.
Is it luck ?
Quite possibly. 
By 'luck' I refer to a player / coach relationship that works because many players cannot find the right person to guide them through. Luck has to play a part in tennis.
There have been numerous stories of players who have been World ranked juniors who have failed to even step inside the World top 100 when things really mattered. 
Is it because they were simply not good enough or not smart enough ? 
There is a difference.
You can be a 'boutique tennis player' or you can be a smart one.
You can keep practicing technique or you can learn how to play tennis.
Find the balance............

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

'MAKE IT YOUR BEST' ( written 1/03/2014 )

I thought this post was worth another run as it is in line with my recent post titled 'Conditions'.
I wrote this a few years back, it's typical of most tennis players ,no matter what level. We all have a 'phobia' in tennis.......
( please excuse the layout of this post, I would like to think that I have improved since 2014 .)
'MAKE IT YOUR BEST'
Only a tennis player's head prevents them from making their worst shot their best , given of course that they are physically capable. How many tennis players actually cringe when a ball goes to their non preferred side which invariably makes them put back into play a shot that lacks substance ? I can lay claim to this 'phobia'.
I am unsure when things started to go wrong on my backhand side however i found that when i was doing a lot of coaching it was easier to simply slice or push the ball back to my students , as opposed to hitting through with the double hander. I also admired the way my hero Mats Wilander from Sweden nullified the heavy topspin hitting from Ivan Lendl in the 1988 US Open final by simply slicing his own backhand , keeping it low out of Lendl's hitting zone. The tactic worked however it took Mats nearly 5 hours to do it , he rarely hit his two hander which in it's day was one of the best backhands i have ever seen.
When i was a kid my two handed backhand was my best shot , i preferred it to my forehand so taking the mind back to where i used to hit it so well took me back down memory lane, an educational process.I have been tired of opponents picking on my backhand over the past few years so i decided to do what every keen tennis player does to refine a shot , wheel out the ball machine.....
I spent hours on this device just recently to see where i could make some changes , i also set up a video on a tripod and analysed it in detail , i threw my racket on a few occasions also ,( i don't think anyone was watching) , i was determined to get it right .I went to a little tournament just recently and tried a few things , my backhand on this particular day was remarkably better than my strength , the forehand , the mindset was different , i welcomed each shot to my backhand instead of cringing, all in the mind i told myself. Leading up to this tournament i played club tennis and played each set on the backhand side , sometimes even starting with a backhand grip , just hoping that it would come to that side , i was reprogramming myself to accept , not reject.
We can all fix our weaknesses , only the head will prevent us from doing it , we are usually physically capable of change , unfortunately too many times we talk ourselves out of positive play and revert to a negative mindset . At 45 i believe i am heading to a point with my game that i should have reached  many years ago but my mind was not in the right place , keeping fit is the key, a challenge when you are into your 40's but a rewarding one . The backhand is on the way up , now for the serve.......

FOOTNOTE****** The serve still resembles a frog in a blender though I don't miss many first serves, too old to hit it hard.........

Thursday, 26 October 2017

'CONDITIONS '

In 2009 I watched a remarkable display of concentration by Rafael Nadal as he took apart Andy Murray in the final of Indian Wells, 6-1, 6-2. 
The reason why it left a mark on my memory was because the conditions were in a word, atrocious. 
Wind, but it wasn't just wind, it was a howling gale, conditions better suited to sail boarding than tennis however it was almost a treat to see a player block out those conditions and simply make some adjustments.
Only a smart tennis player can do that, many put all the toys back in the toy box and go home early.
I once heard a commentator describe a comment from a player after a match on a windy day and I thought that it was either arrogance or proof that wind does not really bother a player who can adapt to anything the weather Gods dish up. 
'How did you handle the wind' ?
What wind ?
I thought that was a pretty damn good answer.
So how do you block out shitty conditions when you play tennis ? Well I suppose it's all in how you perceive them. Here's a funny one for you.
Around three years ago I caught up with an ex pro tennis player by the name of Neil Borwick. Now anyone who played tennis in Australia in the late 80's and early 90's would know who Neil is. In my eyes he was and still is a legend as I looked up to him when he trained and played in Queensland at the same tennis facility as I did, Coops, in Brisbane.
Neil could do anything with a tennis ball and in 1993 he took on the great Boris Becker at the Australian Indoor Championships in the first round. By that year Becker had already won six Grand Slam singles titles and three World Tour Finals. Neil won that match in 3 sets. Neil was ranked 104.
In 1993 Borwick also played Pete Sampras in the first round at Wimbledon, the year Sampras won the title, one of his seven titles. Neil took the first in a tie break then pushed Pistol Pete all the way in the next three before eventually going down 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
Did I mention Neil was ranked 104 ?
In 1993 at the US Open Neil took on Ivan Lendl, first round. ( Neil had some horror draws ).
Neil lead Lendl 4-6, 6-4, 3-1 before Lendl retired injured. Either way you look at it, if you are playing an average player you would battle through a bit of pain, Neil Borwick was no average player despite a ranking outside the top 100 in singles.
Lendl knew he could not get past Borwick unless 100 per cent fit, he retired instead.
Borwick also reached World number 60 in doubles in 1992.
Sorry I get side tracked at times.
Having a hit with Neil ten years after he retired from the pro tour was one of the most educational days I have ever spent on a tennis court because I learned just as much from
talking to him afterwards as I did hitting with him for a couple of hours.
Check this. I asked him many questions about his life on the tour but this one stood out from the rest. 
'What do you think was one of your strengths' ?
I loved playing in the wind.
'Why' ???
Cos everyone else hated it.
Word for word.
Most amazing answer I had ever heard.
So is playing in shitty conditions really a problem or do we simply not practice it enough ? I recall one day when I was 15 or 16 my coach Holmsey picked me up for a practice session and it was blowing a gale. 
I said 'You still want to play today Coach' ?
Yep, you have to learn to play in all conditions.
6-1, 6-2, 6-2, Holmsey.
I said afterwards, 'That was a waste of time, too shitty to play tennis'. 
Trust me, next time you play in perfect conditions you will appreciate it more.
Smart bloke Holmsey.
Even smarter was Neil Borwick to look at garbage weather days in a positive way on the pro tour against the World's best.
Is it windy or is it simply all in your mind ?
You do the sums..........

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

'LESS THAN PERFECT'

Wrote this in 2014, it got 4 views, nothing has changed on this site, not many people read it, just some who wish to sue me for the content, such is life.......

In 1991 Brad Gilbert beat his future 'student' Andre Agassi 6-1, 6-2 at the Semi Final stage of the San Jose tournament in San Francisco, absolutely belted him , a tennis lesson in any man's language. Two years later Andre asked Gilbert to be his Coach , the rest is history as Andre won six of his eight Grand Slam Titles under the guidance of a man who knew the intricacies of the game of tennis. Brad Gilbert was far from perfect technically with his own game, but a brilliant mind, Agassi was a technical genius, but lacked brains, their partnership was always going to be a winner . If you know anything about tennis in the 80's and 90's you would then have an idea on the way Gilbert played , if you don't then here's the best way to describe him , he was a 'pest'. Gilbert hit the ball so unlike any other players , almost in the Mats Wilander clay court style , slow and annoying but he did it on hard courts as well as carpet , he made the opposition make their own pace , he gave them none. Most players rely on the ball coming over the net at a reasonable pace to give them some rhythm and to almost be a spring board . If a ball is coming slow then a player has to swing through harder to force the pace , slow balls are a lot harder to deal with than harder hit balls .
Brad Gilbert had a tactical mind that Andre Agassi desperately needed as he was fast becoming a 'wasted talent' with losses to guys who he should have beaten easily with his game that was in a word 'exhilarating' , he just needed a brain. 
Tennis has seen some contrasting styles over the years ; The Borg - Mcenroe rivalry was chalk and cheese as far as their playing styles were concerned as were the Agassi - Sampras matches but they all had a mental battle to them as well. Brad Gilbert felt that because Andre was aiming for perfection on each shot and more or less going for winners at inopportune moments that all he had to do was 'reprogram' his way of thinking that would make his opponents play more balls . Of course in Andre's case most of his shots were so good that this was eventually the way that he ended up being the World's best, he simply stopped trying to be perfect on each ball, he made his opponents play more.
Tennis is like that , I wrote an article that was published in the ATPCA's monthly journal that more or less stated the Gilbert way of playing , but i put my own twist on it . I felt that the game now days is too predictable and needs a different approach to throw the opponent's rhythm out, Brad Gilbert made 40 Tournament finals with this way of playing and won 20 of them . Kids could take a leaf out of his book by looking up his style and implementing some  different tactics that can work in their favour , an unpredictable game plan.
Tennis is a thinking man's game , simply just playing to the current style of sitting on the baseline won't guarantee you a win , these players are a dime a dozen , think outside the square........