Friday, 24 February 2017

'DRIVE FOR SHOW, PUTT FOR DOUGH'

The old golf adage 'Drive for show, putt for dough' has been around for as long as I can remember and I am only 48 so it's fair to say that the terminology is rather old to say the least. So is it true ? Well according to new statistics the game may just be changing with the leaps and bounds in technology so perhaps by hitting a ball an extra 30 foot with the new and improved drivers it may just get a golfer to within birdie range a bit more often.
The rather well worn saying however will probably not disappear over night, particularly when it's the local club golfer we are talking about who more often than not will pick up a few dollars from his playing buddies if he chips and putts a little more precisely than those who simply belt a drive and hope for the best.
Is there merit in perhaps slowing it down, hitting it straight, staying out of the rough and then using the short game to finish the job ? I am not much of a golfer though that is exactly what I do more often than not on the odd occasion that I have a round of golf. Most golfers can hit a long ball off the drive but what separates an average golfer from one who goes around under par ? The art of finishing the job, anyone can start it.
Look at a tennis player, most can rally, it's the way you first start the game as a kid, you try to out rally the opposition and it's what makes it fun. Rallying brings out the excitement in a player, the adrenalin of being in a battle and there is nothing more satisfying than winning a rally because you had more patience or precision than your opponent.
So what of the other side of the coin in tennis ? You can't keep rallying forever as you get older because you simply will run out of steam so you need to be more precise with how you finish a point. You have to find small windows of opportunity that to the quiet observer may not even exist but in your mind you are playing a game of chess and you can see things that others can't. In a nutshell you will look for a way to get to 'the green' safely, with a minimum of fuss, close enough to the flag to sink the final putt. 
You are looking for par or better every time you play tennis, a bogey will simply not cut the mustard.
So how do you get within 'birdie range' when you play tennis ? You play the percentages, you don't expend any more energy than you have to and when you see an opportunity, well, it's simple really, you take your pitching wedge and you set yourself up for the most simplest of 'putts' or in a tennis player's vocabulary, a volley. So is it that simple ?
I believe that rallying in tennis is a young man's game, perhaps something that will stroke your own ego if you do it for a set against a young fellow and grind out a win however in the end that set may just have drained you of enough energy to finish the match and losing 2 and 2 in the final two sets will do nothing for your self esteem. You need to pace yourself as you age in tennis, play smarter and spend less time in points, more time inside your opponents head.
I often say to students of all ages that you need to find a way to finish a point because 30 shot rallies don't do anyone any favours, in the end it will wear you down. It's not to say you look at 'suicide' missions to the net but you can't tell me that in a 30 shot rally your opponent won't give you ONE shot that you can take advantage of. It all depends on your perception of the game and how you see a point unfolding, the net trajectory of your opponent's shots or the speed of your opponent's swing. There are ways to end a point, it just depends on whether you own the balls so to speak to play that precision chip and whether it will present for you a birdie putt or simply a par that may just be good enough.
Tennis is a sport that can be played pro actively or reactively but it all depends on you and what sort of person you are, how you are built, how fit you are, how old you are or how patient you may be but you have to decide fairly early in a match on just what role you are going to adopt.
Personally I can't drive too far any more so I work on my short game and try to finish things with precision rather than try to out hit the opponent. It may be good in the short term and fuel the ego to try to match it with a big hitter but it will wear most players out in the process.
There's more than one way to win a tennis match, get to the green without overplaying and make the putt........

Thursday, 23 February 2017

'INTERESTING THOUGHTS FROM FED'

In regards to the last post, the comments from Roger Federer were I thought interesting to say the least. 
The great man believes that if every player were to be offered a mil at every tournament it would not necessarily mean that the match fixing would go away, I am not so sure about that.
If 'Alberto- Ramolis- Santiago- Sanchez' from an obscure South American Country was earning those sorts of dollars then surely he would not be interested in taking a bribe from 'Jonny Bloggs' the con man match fixing guru who makes all of his annual salary from his filthy habit. Why Roger wouldn't it go away ?
The smaller players in the smaller events are being targeted because they make peanuts from tennis and Billy Bloggs knows that to be a fact and he will only look at higher ranked players if they are known to be a little 'dodgey' with their book keeping. Guys ranked in the top 50 make big bucks, that's a fact, everyone knows that so I would be surprised if Billy even went near them. It's the guys ranked outside the 50 that are in need of a few extra dollars, the statistics prove just that.
The problem is simple, there are only a slight percentage of tennis pros who are actually making any profit, the rest are simply turning over funds to make it to the next tournament so if Billy approaches a player who he knows is not making enough to make ends meet then why wouldn't that player consider it ? 
Ethics ? Ha, that's funny, when you are scratching around trying to find enough Euros to take a train to Milan to fight it out in the qualification event to lose first round and pick up around $250 Euros for the 'privilege' of it all, well you can stick your ethics fair up ya bum.....
Roger Federer probably has never been approached by someone asking him to throw a set or a game or two because he was a superstar almost from the beginning and since he has started playing the prize money has escalated to such an extent that the first round losers in a Slam go away with $50,000. From memory, my hero Mats Wilander picked up around $60,000 for winning the French Open in 1982. Puts it into perspective. 
Does the winner of a Slam really require nearly 4 mil ? Oh please, a win in a Slam will guarantee you double that in endorsements in a short time frame. You will have people knocking on your door at all hours just looking for your signature for some clothing brand, a car perhaps or even a kids toy that looks and sounds like you with the switch of a button. 
A win in a Slam will belittle any pay cheque you will ever get yet for some reason sponsors want to see the winner with an amount of cash that would feed 55 starving young tennis professionals battling it out in Mexico who sleep in foyers in hotels cos they can't afford a bed.
Pardon me for repeating myself but the next Novak is indeed sliding around somewhere in a clay court event in South America and he will probably never even get to that sort of status because he will either run out of money before he reaches his potential or he will get suspended for taking a bribe all because he couldn't afford to fund his dream.
The ATP does not do enough to help struggling tennis pros because it keeps making the rich even richer and is obsessed with immortalizing the already immortals.
Look after the future of the sport, for f... sake, it's not too hard to see that currently it doesn't seem to be on the list of 'things to do' for those who are supposedly in charge of World Tennis....... 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

'THE REALITY OF IT ALL'

ABC NEWS STORY JAN 20, 2016
Aspiring tennis professionals are washing their shirts in hotel baths, sleeping on sofas and relying on crowd funding to chase their grand slam dreams — a stark contrast with star players which some fear could be fuelling corruption in the sport.
Tennis was rocked on Monday following reports that authorities had failed to deal with widespread match-fixing, just as the Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of the year, kicked off in Melbourne.
Experts said tennis was ripe for corruption due to the ease of fixing a one-on-one sport, as well as the large disparity between the multi-million dollar earnings of top players and the lower rungs of professionals, where even mundane costs like laundry add up.
I filled up a bath and did 30 pieces of clothing then used anything I could to hang everything all over the place.
American professional tennis player Denis Kudla

"Hotel laundry was $US10 ($14.45) a shirt and there was no other laundry, so I hand washed everything," American pro Denis Kudla, who balked at the cost at a hotel in the South Pacific island of Noumea, told a small group of reporters.
"I filled up a bath and did 30 pieces of clothing then used anything I could to hang everything all over the place."
Kudla, now 69th in the ATP rankings, said he has never been approached about match-fixing and was surprised by the reports.
While he now makes a comfortable living from the tour, many of his colleagues do not.

Life on tour for tennis pros (average earnings in Australian dollars)

Top 50 in the world: $1.45 million
Players ranked 51-100: $289,000
Players ranked 101-250: $122,830
Players ranked 251-500: $23,120
Average annual tour costs: $56,069 (men), $58,063 (women)
Percentage of pros who make no money: 45
Percentage of pros who cover costs: 10

According to research conducted on behalf of governing body, the International Tennis Federation, almost 45 per cent of the 13,736 players at all professional levels of the sport earned nothing from it in 2013.
Only about 10 per cent covered their costs.
The research carried out by Kingston University in London, also found that players ranked in the top 50, on average, earn more than $US1 million ($1.45 million) a year on both the men's and women's tours.
Those ranked from 51 to 100 earn in excess of $US200,000 ($289,000), while those ranked 101-250 average around $US85,000 ($122,830).
For those players ranked from 251-500 the earnings drop away to just $US16,000 ($23,120) a year.
The average cost just from food, travel, accommodation and equipment to play professional tennis in 2013 was $US38,800 ($56,069) for men and $US40,180 ($58,063) for women, the Kingston research found.
By comparison, US secondary school teachers earn roughly $US59,000 ($85,260) a year, while journalists earn about $US45,000 ($65,000) according to US Department of Labor statistics.

Players turn to crowd-funding to pursue dream

Even the best players take on average five years to make the top 100, where they can earn a living from the sport.
During that time, the majority are supported mostly by family members, while small commercial endorsements and national federation grants help offset the costs.
New Zealand's top-ranked player Finn Tearney adopted a different approach.
The 25-year-old Tearney, now ranked 366 in the world, opened an account on a crowd-funding website to fund his 2016 campaign.
I'd say about $40,000 is a pretty accurate figure, but that doesn't includes coaching or trainers when you're back home.
New Zealand professional tennis player Finn Tierney

"It's just to cover my expenses," said Tearney, who turned professional in 2013.
"I'd say about $40,000 is a pretty accurate figure, but that doesn't includes coaching or trainers when you're back home.
"It definitely doesn't include a coach on the road with you, which all the top guys have."
While Tearney was not having to rely on the goodwill of friends to spend a week sleeping on a living room sofa, accommodation at many of the lower-level Futures tournaments was provided by local families who would billet the players.
Some of the second-tier Challenger tournaments now provided free accommodation until the player was knocked out, he said.

Push for greater prize money at lower levels

With many players struggling to make ends meet, former world number 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky used his place on the ATP Players' Council to lobby for increased prize money for players knocked out in earlier rounds.
At this year's Australian Open, a player losing in the first round will take home $38,500, up from $30,000 two years ago.
Extending the pool of money to the lower level tournaments, however, might not be the answer to the match-fixing issue, according to 17-times grand slam winner Roger Federer.
"It doesn't matter how much money you pump into the system, there's always going to be people approaching players, or people, any sport," Federer said.
"It's going to go away if you offer $1 million for every player to play at every tournament?
"It's not going to change a thing."

Monday, 20 February 2017

'EARLY 2015'

I wrote this early in 2015 in regards to Grigor Dimitrov and the way I believe he was being 'mismanaged'. He is now being taught by someone who knows more about tennis than his previous 'coach'.
Some tennis players will never reach their true potential due to bad decisions, particularly with who they employ to teach them the finer points of the game. I wasn't a fan of Grigor's back then however I think he was not in a good place mentally. I believe he is now on the right track.....
APRIL 2015 ( GT )
I didn't think much of Grigor Dimitrov's comments in his post match press conference the other day so I wasn't too disappointed with his loss to Robredo in the next round at Indian Wells. His coach Roger Rasheed can keep playing the same old tune over and over regarding his fitness expertise but it accounts for nothing if you can't teach the finer points of the game.
Take a look at Dimitrov's returning statistics, the weakest part of his game by a long way; The Bulgarian 12th seed won just 16 of 60 first service return points against a player who's serve is definitely not in the higher echelon of service statistics. And second service return points; 10 of 21. So Dimitrov is winning around 25 per cent of first service return points and 50 per cent of second service return points. Robredo did serve extremely well all the same with 74 per cent of first serves in but Dimitrov won just 26 of 81 return points for the match.
I make no apologies for my lack of respect for Roger Rasheed because he is not a tennis coach, he is a fitness expert, there is actually a difference. He can keep training his man Grigor as hard as he wishes but it's going to keep accounting for nothing if he keeps losing early in tournaments. The Bulgarian needs a coach who can see his weaknesses and improve them, not to simply make him into a fitness machine as Rasheed seems to be doing.
Someone needs to show Dimitrov how to play the service return as a 50/50 shot just as Federer does so well as he nullifies service pace, particularly from his backhand. His chip return should be in every tennis manual complete with step by step instruction on how to play it. No professional tennis player handles a service return from the backhand better than the genius from Switzerland.
The young man from Bulgaria has been likened to Federer many times as his style is similar however his tactical mind is lacking the polish of the great man. I have no doubt Dimitrov could become a great player but he will need to do some serious work on his thought processes in the future if he is to fulfil his potential.
I look at less talented players from the past such as Brad Gilbert and my favourite player Mats Wilander who's shots weren't anywhere near as glamorous as Dimitrov's. Those two players had rather simple games but their brilliant thinking found avenues to victories more often than not.
It's not that I don't like Dimitrov but I think he needs someone to show him how to play tennis before he becomes a wasted talent.
Perhaps a new coach could also teach him a thing or two regarding what to say at the press conference........

Monday, 13 February 2017

'THE TRUTH BEHIND HEWITT'S HAND SALUTE'

 'THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, DECEMBER 22, 2007
 
'THE player who introduced the famous "vicht" salute to world tennis is outraged that Lleyton Hewitt has adopted the trademark, standing to make millions from it.
The former Wimbledon champion is understood to have pounced on the rights to the distinctive celebratory gesture after former Swedish pro Niclas Kroon inadvertently let it lapse.
Kroon, 41, and former world No1 Mats Wilander held the rights from 1988 and often used the signal when they won a point or game.
Broadly meaning "for sure", it is now widely used by athletes from other sports, including Australian swimmer Grant Hackett.
"I wish he had called me first," Kroon said from Houston, Texas.
"I don't know what to say. It's all about business and making money. I'm so sick and tired of sh-- like that.
"He's surrounded by people who are probably going to make money from this.
"The thing about using the word 'mate' in Australia ... it probably doesn't sound so good any more."
Kroon conceded the trademark may have lapsed several months ago when his father, who handled all his business affairs, died.
"My dad just passed away and I haven't got the papers here, but I'm going to check all this out in the next few days," Kroon said.

He believes Hewitt's advisers were aware the trademark due date was looming and waited to see whether it would be renewed before pouncing.
It's not the first time people have tried to claim use of the signal, which he and brother Michael first started using when playing games in the 1970s.
"We were fighting with some people in Sweden a long time ago," he said.
"But Mats and I had the patent. We were paying (the fees for the trademark) even though we weren't using it.
"I've been doing stuff with it for years, even here in the States, for a small market. It's funny that it (Hewitt's move) happened now, because I was just about to launch it here in the US and put it online within half a year."
Kroon said he had planned to launch a boutique brand of vicht clothing at a tennis and fitness club in Houston. Eventually he intended to market the brand more widely because of its popularity - similar to golfer Greg Norman's famous shark logo.
Kroon, a popular tennis journeyman who won an ATP title in Brisbane and reached a career-high ranking of 46, said he recalled Hewitt using the gesture at the 2004 Masters Cup in Houston.
"He said it was Mats Wilander who started it, but a friend I was with told him that I was the one who started it," Kroon said.
"Every time he was walking off the court during his game I'd do the vicht sign and he'd be responding. We were doing it for fun, there was no big deal."
Kroon said he would consult lawyers over his rights.
"We paid a hefty amount to get the rights years ago but back then Wilander was on top of the world, making money out his bum and not thinking about the future," Kroon said.
"Neither was I. You're living in a dream world on tour so you don't think about making money from something like that."
Hewitt's manager David Drysdale said the gesture and the accompanying "C'mon" was widely known as "doing a Lleyton".
"It's unique to him," he said.
Hewitt has already begun wearing clothing with a stylised vicht signal. It is understood to be part of a major marketing push by his team and will involve casual and sports shirts and shorts'.

***** AND THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I NEVER LIKED LLEYTON HEWITT  ( Mr Original ) *****

'INSPIRING'

Victor Estrella Burgos would have to be one of the most inspiring Tennis Professionals the game has ever seen and personally I love to hear stories about guys like Victor as it is like a fairy-tale.
I first wrote about the little fellow from the Dominican Republic in August last year as I read some information about him that I thought was both fascinating and sad at the same time.
To not have enough funds to chase your sporting dream, or any dream in life is one of those things that make you appreciate success and hard work even more when someone finally breaks through with a win. 'Tennis, A Rich Person's Sport' was a post that I published again last November because it typifies the sport in general and as I mentioned in that post, Victor turned pro at the same age that Borg retired with more money than he knew what to do with.
The Ecuador Open began in 2015, Victor Estrella Burgos basically 'owns' the Tournament, no risk at all as he is the only Mens Singles winner in the three year history of it and he has done it the hard way.
In the first year of the tournament he just squeaked by Lopez 7-6 in the third set. In 2016 he came from a set down to pinch the second in a tie breaker before going away with a 6-2 win in the third against Bellucci.
Just yesterday Victor won another third set tie breaker to win the tournament, this time against Lorenzi which leads us to believe he may just be a 'big moment player' as he won 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 against the number 1 seed Karlovic in the Round of 16. The final set tie breaker finished at 10-8 to the fearless 5 foot 7" little guy who doesn't know how to give up.
I believe the reason I like Victor so much is that he teaches the older players that you can still match it with the younger players if you keep fit and you keep believing. I also love his style, not unlike my favourite player of the 80's Mats Wilander of Sweden, complete with a sliced backhand that is almost a throw back to that era.
I believe Victor hits a harder forehand than Mats ever did but as far as the rest of their games are concerned, it's strikingly similar with tenacity being the number one element in the way they both played the game.
Does it prove that a player can still win without heavy topspin off both sides on the Pro Tour ? Well it's unusual that a pro tennis player can be effective in singles with a predominantly sliced backhand because usually a player who hits big off both sides will simply overpower the player who may play a slightly more 'reactive' game.
Estrella Burgos proves that a tennis brain can make up for lack of big hitting though his forehand at times is as lethal as most top 20 players in the World and he makes it count when the opportunity arises.
He can hit an effective one handed topspin backhand though it's not his first choice, he simply uses it only when he needs it. If you aren't going to set up too many points with it, then why not vary it ?
I have read the latest on Victor on the ATP site and his prize money total for this year is just under $150,000 to add to his total of just under two million dollars, not bad for an 'old bloke' who is quite possibly setting himself up for retirement in the coming years. I believe Victor will make a small fortune when he goes back to coaching the sport in his home town where he saved his coaching money initially to fund his dream.
Some pro tennis players are happy to cruise through their careers and make a few million here and there without winning too much such is the huge amount of money on offer particularly in the Slams where you can become 'half a millionaire' by winning three or four matches.
Yet if you watch this guy play he does it as though his life depends on every point, every game, every match, he's an older version of Rafa though not quite as talented.
He earns every dollar he gets and he is still making up for lost time, inspiring.........

Sunday, 12 February 2017

'THE ROBOT FACTORY'

WRITTEN IN 2014.  ( please excuse the lack of writing expertise, I reckon I have improved since then )

Explaining to a kid who is just learning the game the importance of not being a robot on a tennis court I believe is imperative. When you first explain this terminology to someone it is greeted either with a blank look or raised eyebrows , until i explain the theory that i am sure is not just mine. 
My view on junior tennis is this ; If we had 40 of the best kids in the state all lined up over 20 courts of singles play then eventually at the end of the day a winner would emerge. However what would the winner have that the other 39 didn't and what would make him a player who actually could keep winning regularly with a style that is very similar to the others? Answer is simple , unless he has a forehand like Nadal , fitness and consistency like Novak , an all round game like Federer or perhaps a serve like Isner's then chances are this 'hot shot' kid is susceptible to a loss in his very next tournament. 
What makes guys like the above mentioned consistent winners ? They do something a little bit different , that's what needs to be taught by people teaching the game to the next generation. Last year at the Brisbane International I watched an Australian by the name of John Millman take on Andy Murray , entertaining match . Millman however did nothing that was really going to upset Murray despite a second set win as his style to me was simply 'ho hum'.
He had a good serve and consistent ground strokes but how many other 'robots' on the pro tour own these ?? How would you win consistently with just this in your repertoire of shots ?
My point that i make is that this is where I see the game from as a coach of 27 years; only the players that are prepared to do something a little different really become successful , consistent winners. The Australian Millman was ranked somewhere around the 200 mark , Murray was 3 and has probably seen it all before as far as what was presented to him that day . 

This year at the Australian Open Federer played another Aussie James Duckworth , good player but another 'robot' with nothing to bother any of the big boys with . Fed paid the youngster a few compliments but knew that no matter how well Duckworth played he simply had nothing to bother him with so he simply waited for his best to be played then won comfortably.
I refuse to teach a kid to just hit a tennis ball because it will only do so much , I will however teach more on the tactical side of the game , this is what can win you a game of tennis if you lack a weapon. 
Tennis needs to be taught not unlike when you go into a kids toy shop and look for a robot , you want one that does something a little different , one with a bigger gun than the rest, sound familiar ?
Tennis coaches in this situation are like the 'manufacturer' in a process that is churning out robots on a daily basis without much thought about how to make the robot different than the rest. I had a lesson with a new kid just last week who tried to drive every ball I offered him .
I asked him what was wrong with slowing the pace and looping some balls higher over the net to conserve some energy and to stop making his play so predictable ?
He actually warmed to the idea as the session wore on. He isn't new to the game but he has never been shown how to vary his play, this is disappointing. 
Think outside the square when you play and when you coach , it's a thinking man's game.......

Saturday, 11 February 2017

'THE CAMEO APPEARANCE'

Wrote this a while back, it has reared it's ugly head again, as it does regularly in this wonderful sport of ours called tennis.....

Did any of you see 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves' starring Kevin Costner ? Great movie, one for the archives of all time great action flicks. Do you recall the ending where in the last 5 minutes of the movie the great Sean Connery makes a cameo appearance ? Fancy waiting that long to put him in to that classic movie, he surely deserved a bigger part. 
Well this chapter dares to go where no one has dared to go before, the 'Tennis Coach Cameo Appearance'. The one where the 'Zen Master', the 'Tennis Coach from Heaven', the 'Supercoach', or the 'Groundstroke Guru' finally gets around to hitting a ball to the students who have paid top dollar for their 'wizardry'.
There have been many examples of the 'cameo tennis coach appearance' but none quite as comical as a story I was given by someone living in the City. No this story is one for the ages, factual without a tinge of fiction, a laughable situation that unfortunately occurs all too often.
A Tennis Club in a certain Capital City a little while back was asking for coaches to put forward their best argument as to why they should be considered 'Club Coach'. Now when a tennis club asks for someone to be the coach, well that's what in fact should happen, the coach should be there to do the job. Not so apparently.
You see what the tennis club in fact was after was a 'name', not someone to do a great job teaching the art of tennis but a NAME. They were in fact seeking someone who would make the public go weak at the knees on arrival, like a Rock Star arriving at a press conference. 
The player in question was once a high profile player who on retirement took up coaching. Whilst they had received coaching themselves they were in fact relatively new to the art of teaching the game.
So to cut a long story short the club did what everyone thought they would do and they hired the 'Rock Star' as resident Club Coach.
So is there anything wrong with this sort of 'Business sense' from a tennis club looking to become successful with membership or student numbers ? 
Absolutely not, it's how to create publicity for sporting clubs, names are always good for business. But what about blatantly lying to the public in regards to the 'availability' of this new 'Wonder Coach' ? Surely that is an injustice to every student who signs up for coaching ? Apparently not.
You see when these 'Zen Masters' sign up at a tennis club as Club Coach all that has to happen is that they make a 'cameo appearance' from time to time. 
For the other 99 per cent of the tennis season the students will in fact be coached by someone who has as many credentials as 'Willy Wonker' from the 'Chocolate Factory'. 
Now by all reports the ex player who has now become a coach spends around ONE week each term at the tennis club that they are now aligned to. Apparently they have Business dealings left, right and centre that they have to manage both here, Interstate and abroad. 
One unsuccessful applicant spent many years on the Challenger Circuit and was a former State Number 1 player for the 16's age bracket. This Level 2 Tennis Coach has in fact had more than 20 years coaching experience than the higher profiled successful applicant. 
So what did the Tennis Club really receive when they signed up this new coach ? Nothing more than a week of publicity each school term along with an inexperienced assistant who is being paid way too much for what they actually know about tennis.
This 'farce' unfortunately is common but in the sport of tennis it is simply accepted by the public. There are many examples of tennis coaches advertising their services throughout the season who never see some students. 
An assistant will be placed at a venue and a handsome catch will be taken by the person using their name as the bait.
Even in a 60 minute session of say 20 students over three courts I would personally use a rotation system of roughly 17 minutes per court. Each group would see each assistant plus the 'Main Man'.
When you really look at it all it's up to the public to ask the question. 'Who am I really signing up as my coach when I pay my fees '? Should a reduced rate be offered for certain sessions or clinics if the person who is advertising it does not in fact do the coaching ?
You know my answer......

Monday, 6 February 2017

' ALWAYS REMEMBERED '

Certain people do things in life and according to how big or small the thing is the person may never shake the tag that they have been given, sometimes it's a tag they would give anything to lose.
The recent Davis Cup tie between Great Britain and Canada is a classic example with the young Canadian Denis Shapovalov being defaulted for hitting the umpire fair in the eye with the ball. Did you see it ? Un f....... believable !!!
Not quite certain what the 17 year old was actually trying to do because if he had missed the umpire it probably would have hit a spectator and perhaps Denis may have had a Lawyer knocking on his door the next day with a Law suit ready to file. Maybe it was lucky the umpire got in the way, I am sure the ATP will smooth things over.
Over the years in tennis we have seen some classic things unfold in regards to certain antics becoming almost legendary. Mac the mouth gets paid now days to do Television advertisements because his on court antics were larger than life.
For the record Denis, don't be too upset, even the great John McEnroe got defaulted once as well, just maybe don't make a habit of it young fella.....
One of the greatest things I have ever witnessed in tennis was a young Swedish gentleman by the name of Mats who at the same age as Shapovalov took out the French Open beating four top ten seasoned players in the process. However it was his 'antics' in the semi final against Clerc that got people talking, for all the right reasons.
At 6-5 and match point in the fourth set Mats watched a huge Clerc forehand go whistling by him that was in fact called out, Mats didn't agree so he walked over to the umpire and asked if the point could be replayed. Yep, he asked the umpire just that. So that's what they did and this time Mats won the short rally that took him to the final against Vilas which he won in 4 sets. Well played young fella...
Jimmy Connors did so many things on a tennis court over his career that finding things that stood out from the rest is sort of like going through the entire ABBA song collection and trying to find the best one, not easy. One stands out for me though with Jimbo.
The Michelob light challenge exhibition match between Jimmy and Mac, also in 1982 was perhaps one of the most entertaining as Jimbo felt the urge to climb over the net and walk to within an inch of Mac's face to tell him that he didn't appreciate his behaviour. The crazy thing was this, it was only an exhibition match, yep an exhibition that Connors won 6-7, 7-5, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4. You reckon the crowd got their money's worth there ??
Ivan Lendl, now there was a man who had such a big forehand that many opponents didn't even see it coming, just ask Sanchez, McEnroe and the late great Vitas Gerulaitis. All of those guys did something to make the big Czech angry enough for him to smack a ball straight at them and none were quick enough to get out of the way. Perhaps that's why Andy employed Lendl as his Coach, to maybe put a bit of mongrel into his game.
I wrote a post just recently on the rather entertaining Austrian, Stefan Koubek who attempted to strangle his opponent at the change of ends during their match. I found that antic entertaining to say the least but hey, Koubek was simply expressing his feelings, nothing wrong with that, it keeps life interesting.
Nick Kyrgios, well he has taken things to a whole new level with his rather below the belt dig at Stan and in particular his girlfriend, possibly not the smartest thing he has ever said on a tennis court but Nick is a walking, talking advertisement for tennis one way or the other. He simply just does or says what he feels at the time, tennis can do that to your mind, it can drive a sane person insane, no question at all. Was Nick ever sane do you think ??
I think we have all done something silly on a tennis court, myself included. Ten years ago I played a local singles competition and admittedly my head wasn't in the right place to be playing tennis as I had a bit going on in my personal life.
To put it into perspective, exactly a year earlier I had won the corresponding match against the same player 6-0, 6-1 however I was furious with myself as I had served for a double bagel and lost my serve to love !!
This time around I lost in a third set breaker and before walking off court I smashed my racket into three pieces and threw it over the fence before commencing a long walk home. Not my proudest moment but I have been a good lad ever since, sort of anyhow. On court I have been well behaved, off it, well I am still an argumentative prick.
If you are going to be remembered for something in tennis, well personally I like the Mats Wilander gesture of 1982 in Paris. Mats will long time be remembered as a nice guy, that's a good way to be remembered I reckon............

Friday, 3 February 2017

' ISN'T IT IRONIC ' ?

My apologies to Alanis Morissette for borrowing that line however I felt it necessary to use it to describe the decision to play a Davis Cup Tie here in Australia on a neutral surface. It is also rather amusing that the tie is being held at the 'Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club', on HARD COURT.
I have been saying for quite some time that Tennis Australia has owned no faith in it's players because it has not played a tie on a hard court surface for as long as I can remember. I won't go to the history books on this one though I am certain that the last time the Aussie tennis hierarchy showed any guts in choosing a neutral surface to play on may just have been in Adelaide in 2004. In that particular tie Sweden took the honours 4-1.
So why aren't all Davis Cup ties everywhere in the World played on the same neutral hard court surface ? Surely that would then prove that the clay court geniuses of the World could lay claim to being more than just a 'One-Trick Pony' if they were to win on something other than the dirt. Australia this week finally relied on nothing except the ability of their players which has been lacking for years in Davis Cup matches in this Country.
Playing tennis on a hard court is of course hard on the body but as far as a surface to develop a strong game on, well it's the first choice of most Pro Tennis players. I don't see too many Aussie tennis players developing a complete game on either grass or synthetic courts due to the obvious lack of tournaments played on those surfaces. 
As far as clay is concerned, it is a surface that can build a tactical mind due to the nature of the slower pace though in the land of Oz it is not a surface that is looked upon as one to embrace as a national training surface by most budding pros due mainly to availability.
Every Country in the World owns a surface that they are comfortable playing tennis on and they host Davis Cup ties according to what they play most of their tennis on so it has always been rather confusing as to why in Australia it has always been grass as the 'preferred' surface. Has it simply been a tradition thing do you think ?
Nothing else could explain it because even though over the past few years with Tomic and Kyrgios at the top of the Australian tennis rankings and some reasonable results at Wimbledon it has not been a grass court that these two have developed their high rankings on. Both own a predominantly base line game, you don't develop that on anything except hard or clay courts.
Would it be because of the fact that Lleyton Hewitt has now retired ? Hewitt has always stated that grass was his favourite surface. No matter what the reason was for playing so many Davis Cup ties in Australia on a surface that was really not doing our players any favours I am glad that it has finally changed for the better as after all do we not play our home Grand Slam on a hard court ?
From the moment the Australian Open switched from the grass at Kooyong to the hard courts at Melbourne Park in 1988 it should have been a natural move to bury the past and start a new culture of hard court tennis Down Under. Yet it didn't.
No one trains on grass who has any clue on the sport because it is not something that will help a player become smarter. It is 'hit and miss' tennis because unless it is a grass court rolled and worn like Wimbledon in week two of their championships it will play low and inconsistent and it will beg for the points to be kept short. That's NOT how you win a tennis match on a hard or clay court unless you are a genius like Roger F.
So here we are back at Kooyong playing on a hard court, hoo-bloody-ray !! Perhaps this will be the start of a new culture in Aussie tennis that should have been happening consistently almost 30 years ago, better late than never ey ??

'THE SPIN DOCTOR'

    In the English Dictionary the meaning 'Spin Doctor' is described as the following.....              
     someone whose job is to make ideas, events, etc. seem better than they really are, especially in politics.
Now I apologise for using the above terminology for something that seems to be aligned to politics however in the Industry we call tennis, well the 'Spin Doctor' is alive and well. I have seen some rather amusing things over the years in tennis that I can only describe as entertaining, many 'Circus' like antics that should be confined to either the fiction section of the library or to social media pages. It should not get a run in this great sport of ours called tennis.
I have mentioned on more than one occasion on this site that certain 'tennis coaches' inflate results regarding their students which I find to be a blight on the sport in general though most of the public are none the wiser. 'Wow he must be good, did you read that result' ??
Always separate Main Draw results from 'Plate' events you guys and sorry to be painfully obvious but Consolation Events simply don't cut it in tennis, save the media space for the real deal....
I have read some classics in my time;
One 'guru' stated that they can offer tennis as a career, yes, a career. I found that nothing short of hilarious considering the fact that no students had ever come out of that program as a pro so it's not as though there is an argument to support the statement.
I once saw a photo of another 'guru' on a luxury boat but the boat had nothing to do with anything about tennis yet the person stated that they were signing some papers that perhaps had something to do with tennis, ( It wasn't stated as to what the papers were actually for ).
It wasn't as though they were buying the boat but hey why not include the boat ? It sounds great, looks great.
( As I have already stated; Spin Doctor- someone whose job is to make idea, events, etc. seem better than they really are )
By the way when I say the word 'guru' I am referring to a Tennis Coach of course however I use the terminology 'guru' because 'Tennis Coach' does not do these people justice. They are way more intelligent than a tennis coach, just ask 'em, they will tell you.
By the way the word 'Guru' of course refers to an 'expert'. Say no more.
I have read countless articles that make things in this sport seem almost too good to be true, probably because most of them are. So why does it happen ?
Lack of success, lack of ability to teach the game, small anatomy syndrome, short person syndrome, large person syndrome, you name it, there is probably a reason why the person, sorry, the 'guru' has blown something way out of proportion. But why is it aligned to a sport such as tennis do you think ?
Well as per usual I own a theory or two;
Tennis is bloody expensive to learn, correct me if I am wrong so would it be fair to say that some 'gurus' need to try to justify what they are charging by printing irrelevant information to fill up their daily quota of Media trash ?
C'mon GT that may be a little harsh, true but harsh, or is that harsh but true ?
When I first started this site it was all about how I saw the game, not a watered down version, not a Walt Disney one but a fair dinkum look at tennis in general. I make no apologies for the way in which I state certain 'facts'.
Tennis coaching programs now days remind me of the Stock Market of the 90's, full of bullshit, hype and promises and anyone could make money out of it. Eventually it was proven to be just what I explained it as.
I have seen up to 20 kids on a tennis court at one time, I have seen 'assistants' as young as 11 or 12, I have seen money change hands at the end of a session that may as well have been flushed down the dunny.
None of it is ever monitored, it's simply a free for all of epic proportions and one that Tennis Australia recommends to be coached at $60- $80 per hour. Where was that figure plucked from TA ?
Tennis is a sport that requires bucket loads of cash to learn privately as a group session of 20 kids somehow won't quite do the job as far as technique refining is concerned. So you tell me how much money is required to outlay at TA's 'recommended' price to bring a student from novice to champion ?
Beware the Spin Doctor of tennis folks as he or she will find a way to drain the bank account and offer little more than a few words 'of wisdom'. Tennis unfortunately is being taught by 'Zen Masters' wishing to live a champagne lifestyle yet deliver nothing more than cheap beer results. In fact if most 'Tennis Coaches' relied on results for a living they would be lining up at the local Centre link office for a wage top up.
Remember though, as most 'gurus' will tell you, 'it's what the market commands', it has nothing to do with results.
Funny sport tennis, taught by all sorts, particularly those full of their own self importance.........


 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

'INTERESTING CHARACTER'

My apologies however I wrote this in 2014. Someone sent me an email just recently and said they thought it was rather amusing so I thought I would repost it. I had forgotten about it, one of my earliest pieces of writing...... 
Stefan Koubek is no house hold name, he never was, he was a tennis professional from Austria and in 2000 he reached a career high of World number 20 in singles. He made over 3 million dollars in prize money. Stefan Koubek was an 'enigma'. Here's some random stories regarding the life and 'infamous' times of the Austrian who a movie should be made about, here's why;
In 2002 Koubek played a Frenchman by the name of Cyril Saulnier of France in the first round of the Australian Open. What the hell was Koubec doing while trailing 0-6, 1-6, 1-4, 15-40 ? Was he on the phone to his bookie to raise the odds at the change of ends ??
The Austrian put his opponent to sleep for nearly the entire first three sets then while the Frenchman was tucked up in bed with his victory speech already in his dreams, the scoreline in the paper the next day read Koubek def Saulnier 0-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-4, 8-6, work that one out......
Next round he played American James Blake , (within 4 years Blake would become World number 4) Blake won the first two sets while Koubek was still eating his breakfast, 6-4, 6-2. Koubek wins the next three sets 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, does this make any sense?
In his last seven matches of 2002 Koubek lost in the first round, interesting to say the least.....
In 2004 Koubek tested positive to drug use at the French Open. He claimed it was for an 'injury' to his wrist, it was inconclusive......
Koubek had a couple of 'off years' , he played mainly Challenger Events before 'getting it together' in 2007.
The Australian Open of that year saw the Austrian up against Aussie Wayne Arthurs, playing his last Australian Open , Koubek had him on toast, two sets to love, he lost in 5, hmmmm....
In Sopot, Poland in 2007 Koubek played Augustine Calleri of Argentina, this match was ridiculous. In Koubek's previous tournament he lost 4-6, 0-6 so his very next match was the one against Calleri. Shall we put it into perspective? 
Koubek lost his last tournament 0-6 in the second set , then trailed 0-6, 0-4 in his next outing, what was this guy doing??
At 6-0, 4-0 did the Argentinian get a call from Cyril Saulnier ?? What ever happened will go down in tennis history as possibly the most ridiculous match ever played.
Koubek def Calliri 0-6, 7-6, 7-5, saving 5 match points, is there a pattern here ??
In Metz , France , Koubek took on Sebastien Grosjean, he lead 5-7, 7-6, 4-2, in the driver's seat, received a bad call , went nuts, was disqualified, is there a pattern here ??
In 2010 a 'friendly' league match between two Austrians, Koubek and Daniel Kollerer got way out of hand as Koubek took offence to his opponent's language so he did what anyone else would do, he choked him !!
Yep he put his hand around his opponent's neck and tried to kill him , plenty of us have wanted to do the same to our opposition, however it's probably not in the book of 'tennis etiquette'.
Kollerer however was no angel, he had a string of offences in World Tennis including racism taunts towards opponents, he was banned for life in 2011 for match fixing. 
So what about our Austrian live wire Stefan Koubek ? He retired in 2011 with just over three million earned. Take off tax and expenses, add on endorsements, he probably finished with around two mil in the bank. Enough to buy a villa in the Austrian alps and teach the next generation how to play, perhaps with not as much 'exuberance' as he did though.
Funny game tennis, Stefan Koubek of Austria is living proof, legend......