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......