Saturday, 29 April 2017

'WELL PLAYED KRISTINA'

Personally I am not a fan of Womens tennis. I am however now a fan of Kristina Mladenovic of France.
Over night in Stuttgart she bounced the 'cheat' out of the semi finals and maybe, just maybe she proved that Maria Sharapova is now a tennis player who cannot succeed without the substance that she relied on to take her to five Grand Slam titles.
Kristina Mladenovic has been rather vocal in her criticism of Sharapova since the Russian was banned for taking something that she apparently was told FIVE times to NOT take which Sharapova denies. Maria however does not deny that she failed to read an email sent to her by WADA ( World Anti- Doping Agency ) which in fact would have saved her from suspension.
The following is a transcript from Maria regarding the failure to read that particular email;
 "In order to be aware of this warning you had to open an email with a subject line having nothing to do with anti-doping, click on a web page, enter a password, enter a username, hunt, click, hunt, click, hunt, click, scroll and read," she wrote.
Well Maria my answer to that is simple; You probably have a paid gardener, a paid chauffer, a paid chef, a paid re- stringer, a paid house cleaner and a paid pool cleaner so why not pay someone to read your emails also as that would have saved you a whole lot of embarrassment ?!
Or would that have made way too much sense ? Too busy with your modelling assignments outside of your tennis practice sessions Maria ?
Anyhow back to my new favourite tennis player Kristina Mladenovic of France. Rather than describe just what Kristina thinks of Maria, here's a quote from her regarding the banning ;
"She's been taking this drug for 10 years and it's a serious drug. She has played with the rules and thought, if it's not banned, then I can take it.
"For me that's very disappointing. I don't like the mentality to be the best by playing with the rules."
So basically Kristina is saying that Maria knew that what she was taking could quite possibly bring the sport into disrepute, yet she kept taking it. The thing I find most disturbing about this is that Maria simply had to open an email, may have taken her five minutes of her precious time but if she had then she would go down in history as one of the best in Womens tennis, now she won't.
I find that amusing to say the least.
I wrote several posts on the ridiculous situation at the Australian Open in 2013 when the Prima Donna of tennis ( yes even more of a prima donna than Maria ) Victoria Azarenka took a ten minute time out for choking.
" I almost did the choke of the year", yep that's what Victoria said.
Yet the choker was allowed to take her ten minutes in the locker room and return to break Sloane Stephens serve and cheat her way into the final which she eventually won against Li Na.
Is it just me or is there a problem at the top of Womens tennis ?
On one side of the coin you have a player who is openly taking drugs to enhance their performance and who cannot even take a few minutes to read emails sent to her by a World Anti- Doping Agency because she lacks the intelligence to do so.
On the other side of the coin you have players such as Azarenka who resort to cheating to win titles and then of course you have players such as Serena Williams who threaten lines people ;
'If I could, I would take this ******* ball and shove it down your ******* throat,' she reportedly said. That was in the semis at the US Open against Clijsters in 2009 just before she was defaulted.
I also find that amusing.
Perhaps Mens tennis is a bit on the boring side compared to Womens tennis, nothing happening at the top of the Mens game, just feel good stories such as the come backs of Rafa and Roger.
Like the saying goes 'Nothing to see here, move along'......
Back to Mladenovic. The win against Sharapova means that Maria stays outside of the top 200 which is the cut off for the French Open qualifying event which commences next month.
The Officials in Paris have a decision to make whether or not to grant Maria a Wild Card into the main draw. Hopefully they will hand it to a player who deserves it.....
Over and out.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

'THE EURO KINGS'

The recent feel good story of the 'locals', Arneodo and Nys at Monte Carlo this week got better with an outrageous quarter final victory over Murray and Soares, the pair who finished at the number 1 spot at the end of 2016.
To win 10 of the last 11 points in a third set Super Tie Breaker against the combination who won last year's Australian Open and US Open titles once again fits the headline of one of my recent posts 'Defying Logic'.
When you are a pair who own a combined ranking of over 1000 and are simply playing for your livelihood against Multi Millionaires I believe it's fair to say that the terminology 'Self Belief' should have a photograph of these two in the next edition of the World Dictionary.
To beat players of the calibre that they did this week you not only have to look past your current ranking, prize money and past results but you also have to own a fair slice of heart. To not be totally overawed by guys who have won enough titles and Euros to hang up their rackets today and never have to work again is testimony to their mind set.
Romain Arneodo and Hugo Nys took home a share of just over $60,000 Euros when they eventually were beaten in straight sets in the semis by Bopanna and Cuevas which belittled their past combined earnings by a lazy $56,000.
In 1991 when I travelled around Europe in a tiny French Automobile with two West Australian buddies of mine we had a terminology for our biggest money earner Brett Patten, we called him the 'Franc King' as the French 'Franc' was the common currency back then before being replaced by the Euro.
Brett won more Francs than he went away with such was his ability to win in a foreign Country and he used to have a wallet that was so full of notes from his tournament wins that he had to continually off load the contents into different sections of his tennis bag.
So what do a pair of tennis battlers who have never really seen any success on a tennis court and who have obviously battled to live any sort of lifestyle do with $30,000 plus Euros each ?
Well I would imagine that these two are still partying at this moment, living it up in perhaps a suite at an expensive resort in Monaco and maybe even throwing a few chips around at the local Casino. Why wouldn't you ??
Remember if you are a resident of Monte Carlo you don't pay tax on your earnings so every cent you take home is yours to keep without that 'interfering fellow' pilfering part of your hard earned. Oh to be a resident of Monte Carlo.....
So Romain Arneodo and Hugo Nys can now claim a new title of 'Euro Kings' as they embark on a new lifestyle that can now see them afford to at least travel to the next tournament on the French Riviera, brim full of confidence and wallets full of notes that can now perhaps buy them a few extra luxuries along the way.
An entry fee is now 'affordable'.
Tennis prize money usually gets handed out to the players who wouldn't even know how much is in their bank account such is the ridiculous amounts that are handed to the players at the top of the World rankings. So as far as these two are concerned they owe an awful lot to the Tournament Committee who put their faith in them to at least put in a competitive performance in Round 1 because now they believe they belong in the sport.
That's the thing with tennis, many players never gain that slice of luck required to show their skills on the big stage and may never see a Centre Court of the magnificence that Monte Carlo owns. Tennis isn't all about the Dollar however if you don't own any then it's a tough sport to try and make a living out of as you have to spend a Euro to make a Euro, if that makes sense.
Rafa looks as though he will hold the trophy at Monte Carlo this year for a tenth time and pick up another million or so and the doubles finalists will play for around a quarter of a mil, something like that anyhow, loose change for all involved. 
As far as the 'locals' are concerned, well they are now local heroes no matter what happens in the future, 'Euro Kings' to be precise........

Thursday, 20 April 2017

'PERSEVERANCE'

You will have to excuse my recent exuberance regarding my writing however the end to my local tennis season was possibly the most educational one I have experienced in quite some time. Ok much of that is my fault. I seem to only now play competition tennis every two or three years...
I am not of the age that searches the net for tennis tournaments to go 'hunting' the youth of the game and I am rather wary of my own physical limitations at the same time but when it comes to searching for dialogue for my site, nothing beats playing the game.
I loved many aspects of the two events I played just recently, despised a lot of it, still found that many people look the other way when you walk past them and realised also that certain sections of the crowd are still the same sections from past years who love to see you miss. Such is life.
Tennis tournaments are full of people who love the argument that goes hand in hand with the sport itself as I have often described tennis as just that, an argument, one that requires the best answer to win, or many answers for that matter. Personally I hate the argument of it all as it screws with my head and I can't remember the last time I in fact enjoyed a tennis tournament yet I still play and that in itself is something that I still have trouble working out.
As a coach of tennis you are possibly just meant to be like a sergeant at a boot camp and bark out the orders but tennis is a sport that I consider to be one that rewards the hands on approach. It's a sport that requires a coach to do what he or she asks of their students, almost like a School Teacher who devises a lesson plan or who puts together an exam, knowing the answers is a necessity.
If a kid never sees a coach hit a ball under duress then is respect simply a token gesture ?
I am from the old school of tennis where my heroes of the past ( the Swedes ) used to sit out there for as long as it took to wear the opposition out and most of my theories come from waiting for your opponent to lose rather than trying to find ways to win. If you think too much in tennis it will mess with your head, just find something that agrees with your mind and your style, stick with it.
I have been playing tennis tournaments locally since I was a kid but from age 38 when I last lost a singles match I promised myself that if I lost then it would be through being beaten, not handing it on a platter to the opposition. I haven't played 'World beaters' in the last ten years but I have been tested, I usually find a tonic. Why do I do it ? It's a test, no one ever got anywhere in life without a test.
Nothing has changed since I was 38, I play kids, some with 'great records', some with big egos, most only go to the net to shake hands. I play 'robots', all programmed the same way, I hate playing them, it hurts physically, hurts mentally yet I give it a go.
I love to shake hands at the end of it all and know that I have been in a mind battle that has gone my way admittedly for a long time but even if I lost it would have been an 'educational' loss as I have often stated, you learn more from a loss than a win.
You learn that tennis is tough, at any age because even at 0-15 in the first game your mind searches for answers and it goes through panic mode more often than not, 'Shit 0-15, if I lose the next point , it's 0-30, we then have problems'. Mats Wilander spoke of this same phobia, admittedly though after his career was over. Interesting Mats, you always looked so calm on a tennis court. Much comes out after retirement.
Did I learn anything from my latest 'silly idea' to play the young blokes again ? Yep, they don't own the patience to bother either the scoreboard consistently or their opponent for that matter. It's too risky playing to hit winners, it will only bring spasmodic results, trust me. Too many kids are being taught to finish a point rather than to simply stay in it and ask questions of their opponent.
When you sign up for a tennis tournament you shouldn't be in a hurry to go anywhere else but into battle and whatever the toll it takes, well you paid your entry fee.......
If I was 16 again and playing a 48 year old 'has been' or rather a 'never was' I would simply keep the ball in play, common sense. Shouldn't teenagers be able to wear out 'Dinosaurs' ??
Do I ever grow tired of playing this game both mentally and physically ? Yes, every time I step onto a tennis court, it started to bother me when I was 38, thought I was getting a little slower but I realised way back then that my opponents still weren't getting any smarter so that's why I have persevered over the years.
Tennis rewards perseverance, go hard, give it a go, Nike had a slogan many years ago 'Just Do It', I think that had merit.......
Only 'young' once.......
Regards GT



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

'DEFYING LOGIC'

The Monte Carlo Rolex Masters is one of those tennis tournaments that every player in the World simply wants to compete in, it's a show piece for the sport due to the location and the esteem that surrounds anything to do with the French Riviera.
I have seen first hand the magnificence of this particular tennis club and a photo I took from high in the grandstand overlooking the centre court and the Mediterranean ocean is my most treasured memory from that trip in 1991.
Monte Carlo is everything you could imagine and obviously for the players it is a tournament that is high on the list of priorities as far as destinations are concerned, however being such a small draw ( 56 in Singles and 24 in Doubles ) it is as the tournament name suggests, one for the 'Masters' only.
So how does a team with a combined doubles ranking of 1032 'sneak' in to a tournament of this prestige ??
Romain Arneodo is from 'just down the road', Cannes to be more precise and he currently owns a ranking of 851 in the World in Mens Doubles.
Romain has won several Futures Doubles titles and in 2015 made it to the third round at Monte Carlo, once again in doubles, he appears to be a doubles exponent despite his current ranking. Romain this year has won $54. No that is not a mis print, he has won the equivalent of what a 'poor man's tennis coach' charges per hour.
Romain has teamed up this year with a player by the name of Hugo Nys who is currently ranked 181 in the World in Mens Doubles. Hugo is a resident of Monte Carlo, half his luck, Hugo has won just under 4 grand this year, much more than Romain but nothing to get too excited about.
Romain and Hugo I am sure would have felt like two school boys heading out for a kick of the soccer ball with David Beckham when they were granted a Wild Card into Monte Carlo to take on last year's US Open Mens Doubles runner up pairing of Garcia- Lopez and Carrena Busta of Spain in Round 1. Now those two can play doubles.
Now once again this is not a mis print, somehow two guys with a combined ranking of over 1000 won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 and in doing so secured themselves enough Euros to let the Unemployment Office in Monte Carlo know that they would be ok for a while ( $16,550 per team to be exact ).
Round two: Horia Tecau and Jean- Julian Rojer have been to at least the quarter finals of every Grand Slam event and won Wimbledon in 2015. Their combined doubles incomes over their careers works out to be just over seven million dollars and this year alone those two have won around $300,000 between them.
No Unemployment Office required for these two.
So this is what transpired in a match where I am sure the number 8 seeds would have already pencilled in as a 'certainty'.
How about a 7-5, 7-6 win to the two battlers from the French Riviera and a now guaranteed $32,010 Euros between them. What's the chances ??
Defying logic in tennis is a tough thing to do because the scale of ability at the top of the sport is outrageously high and unfortunately does not bring enough feel good stories to World Tennis on a regular basis.
When they do happen however it is something to behold because just like the story of Reda El Amrani at the Marrakech Open in Morrocco last week does, it gives the struggling players hope for the future that a break though is possible, you just have to believe.
It doesn't get any easier for Arneodo and Nys as they now take on the winner of the Murray/Soares- Haas/Huey match though their mind set now would be that they belong with the best and anything is possible.
Makes us all feel good when guys like this do well, it proves that perhaps more players should just ignore the names and play the ball, that seems to reward the ones who dare to dream.........

Monday, 17 April 2017

'A VIEW FROM A COACH'

By playing a local tournament or two lately I have realised that tennis is not in fact an environment that I am totally comfortable with anymore, due to more than one reason. The book I put together last year included a post called 'The Pigeon' which highlighted my thoughts on players who puffed their chests out at tennis tournaments which resembled our feathered friend, the pigeon.
My reasons for playing those last two tennis tournaments of the season locally were simple, I wanted to see if anything had changed over the years. Without going into it too much it's like this, every few years I get an 'itch' so to speak and I dust off the rackets and give it a go against the youth of the game and I still find that part of the sport educational as a writer as well as coach of the sport.
What does interest me greatly is the lack of education that spectators of the sport own, or don't own to be more precise. I see that nothing changes over the years as far as etiquette is concerned and I suppose it never will but I must admit that this lack of education can in fact be something to make you play better.
Take for example this; I am in the middle of a tough match in the final competition of the season in singles and my opponent hits a solid return but straight to me, I miss the backhand, an unforced error to be more precise.
A 'peanut' from the 'peanut gallery' claps and says 'great shot........'
I think to myself, that comment comes from someone who knows nothing about tennis, they may as well clap a double fault, that too is an unforced error. If someone hits an outright winner then I believe that this perhaps is worth a clap and 'great shot', until then, well just keep a lid on your actions as a spectator please.
This went on a bit during the match however I must be mellowing because my old self would have walked to the back of the fence and explained court etiquette to them but now days I love it when someone gives me the shits from the spectator seats, it just makes me dig in more and refuse to lose.
After winning the last 3 games of the match I noticed that the peanut gallery was rather quiet, that's how you do it buddy, ignore it, be big enough to use it as a spur to make you get over the line and nothing else.
I saw the highlights of the Kyrgios/ Federer match in Miami and that was a complete joke the way the crowd turned on Nick but that again is an uneducated crowd who have a favourite and will look at any way to put the opposition off their game.
It's nothing new but it can be disheartening as a player because you are trying your guts out though you are not viewed upon as anything but the enemy and you are treated 'accordingly'.
I have stated on more than one occasion that 'peanut galleries' are part of tennis tournaments as much as strawberries and ice cream at Wimbledon. Some hang off the fence, many are obsessed with the score rather than watching the match themselves and keeping count of who is actually winning or losing and many love to clap your mistakes. Each to their own I suppose.
Personally I have hung up my rackets for this season, I played and won the last two events of the season, a doubles and a singles event, albeit as a 48 year old 'Dinosaur' of the sport who has no right to beat the youth of the game with just a forehand and a desire to still achieve.
Yet that's what I did, I achieved something this season and tennis is like that, it's a sport where your ability to solve a problem or two on a tennis court can go a long way to helping you get through some sticky situations in life also.
Tennis is a sport that hands you a puzzle, a messy puzzle, a jigsaw of sorts, it's a sport that will never hand you the answers on a piece of paper, it's all in your head as to how the match can be deciphered and only your mind can solve the puzzle.
As I age in tennis I look for things, just little things that can help put the jig saw together and it's funny but I love it when the people behind the court don't want you to win and make a point of letting you know that they have no time for any ability that you may own.
As you walk off the court give 'em a big cheesy grin and a wink, you know you put the jigsaw together with a minimum of fuss and without complicating it all by mouthing off at their uneducated ways.
There are ways to get even in tennis with a spectator or two who own a brain the size of a hamster's wedding tackle, simply win, that usually shuts 'em up......
Regards GT

Sunday, 16 April 2017

'MONTE CARLO'

With one of the most picturesque World Tennis Tournaments about to begin on the French Riviera I thought it appropriate to post a chapter from my book that I put together last year on this site.
Monte Carlo is a place of rare beauty.....

The following two posts are ones I wrote while thinking about the place I wanted to visit more than any other ever since I was a young lad with dreams of becoming a pro tennis player. I think it was because the name of the place has a feel to it like no other.

Monte Carlo has many things written all over it, glamour, exclusiveness, among others. There was no chance of it ever being a let down.
Blog May 2014
When you travel around Europe with 2 mates in a very small car the sense of humour wears thin , that's when you call on your 'other self' for ideas on how to create some sanity. My idea of leaving one of our touring party at a truck stop was   rather harsh to say the least , my next idea turned out to be possibly the greatest idea of my life .
I don't quite remember the ins and outs of our conversation that day but all I know is that my idea to leave Brett and Peter and go look at The French Riviera was a 'master stroke'.
'See you guys in two weeks' were my last words as I left Peter and Brett in Paris and bound a train for the French Riviera. I started at the top as far as destinations were concerned and I enjoyed every minute of the five hours or so of silence . No singing, no threatening to kill anyone, no arguments regarding who had the worst haircut , just peace and quiet.
When I hopped off at the train station all I heard was noise, loud noise, the noise of cars. Here I was expecting the sound of birds singing and waves rolling into the harbor so what on earth was this ?! I saw a Policeman ahead of me and asked him the following;
'Eskoo voo parlay ongley'(Do you speak English?)
'Wee, Bonjour'.
"Bonjour, what's the noise please ?
'Grand Prix'
"What Grand Prix ? Monaco Grand Prix " ?
 'Wee Monsieur'.
 "You dinkum" ?
'Dinkum Monsieur' ?
"Sorry mate Aussie slang, thank you for your help ".
I jagged the one weekend of my first ever trip to Europe and in particular Monte Carlo and the Monaco Grand Prix was on. Like the Mid Strength beer commercials on television, what's the chances ???? 
I stayed at a Youth Hostel just out of the main part of town in Monte Carlo, from memory it cost me about $25 Australian for the night, cheap as chips. I drank Fosters beer ( Fosters was a sponsor ) and watched the Monaco Grand Prix , practice one day , the real deal the next, I could not believe my luck. 

I 'lived it up' with fellow tourists at a hostel that I had to share with five other room mates, sure, not luxury but affordable on my budget. 
My two days in Monte Carlo were nothing short of unbelievable and I visited the Monte Carlo Country Club, the scene of Bjorn Borg's final match on tour plus his come back match. The following chapter from my Blog documents my thoughts on the most amazing tennis club I have ever visited.


Blog, May 2014

MONTE CARLO

When you get off a train on the French Riviera you don't just get out and start walking, you almost count your steps, it's like one of those great privileges in life that you feel you should be taking notes on. All I really remember from that day in May all those years ago was that I was in a place that I was sure only really existed on a postcard.
Tennis to me as a kid began at Monte Carlo because Bjorn Borg lived there, he owned a sports store there and he won the tournament on three occasions.
In fact Bjorn Borg may just own the record for the least amount of games conceded at Monte Carlo as in '77, '79 and 80 he lost just 17 games in three finals which back then were best of five sets. To put that into perspective the great man from Sweden won 54 games, that's a winning game percentage of a little over 72 per cent.
So to be heading to the Monte Carlo Country Club on cobble stones past views of the harbour and million dollar cruise liners was a walk that perhaps was out of a Hollywood movie as opposed to real life.
Have you ever seen 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' starring Steve Martin ? That movie from memory was shot on location not far from Monte Carlo, Villefranche-sur-Mer, another  magnificent French town built on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean ocean. If you were fortunate enough to watch that rather silly movie you will appreciate the stunning way in which the French people live.
It was a rather surreal feeling when I finally made it through the gates at the Country Club where my hero played his final tennis match in a career that defied logic and one that ceased all too prematurely at age 26. My thoughts on Borg's career were simple.
If he had played until he was Roger Federer's age who knows what his record may have looked like but maybe it's what makes Borg's eleven Grand Slam victories even more brilliant. By age 26 I don't believe there have been too many better Grand Slam records, perhaps only Federer's record surpasses it.
The Monte Carlo Country Club is a place of tranquillity and a place of Hollywood movie status where every step you take is one of respect toward not only the game of tennis but towards your inspiration to play the game. Yes I was inspired by two tennis players from Sweden but Borg was my hero in life before he was my hero in tennis. I loved what he did and he did it with a calmness that I have not seen since.
Mats Wilander replaced Borg for me as someone to follow after Borg's retirement from tennis but he would never replace the aura that surrounded Borg.
I will never forget the way he waved to his wife Mariana when the going was getting real tough in a Wimbledon final, it was his way of letting her know that he was in control despite the score line. He was known as the 'Ice Man' but that gesture was his way of showing that he had a human side to his almost robot like mannerisms on court.
Borg owned a style that has never been replicated since, he did it with grace and he owned a conscience. He was polite, courteous to officials and ball kids and he was a player who you would aspire to be like. He was a 'Rock Star' and a tennis player all rolled into one.
Monte Carlo and Bjorn Borg were as big a part of tennis to me at age 21 as they were when I first hit a ball as a 12   year old and it inspired me to eventually visit Europe.
If it weren't for Borg I would never have played tennis and I would never have visited a place that I still regard as the most amazing place I have ever seen.
It is a part of the World that has been sculptured out of a mountain overlooking the water where the rich and famous spend their spare time.
Tennis can give you a hard time mentally however it can also take you places, literally.........

Thursday, 13 April 2017

'SOME HOPE' ( REDA EL AMRANI )

Here's a story about a tennis professional that may just give every aspiring player some hope for the future despite what their current ranking is.
Reda El Amrani is a 28 year old pro tennis player from Morocco and he reached a career high of World number 160 in singles in 2010. He has won 8 singles events and 5 doubles titles in the Futures Series. His prize money is minimal, just over $150, 000 in his career, this year just over a grand. His current ranking defies logic, he's ranked 667.
If you get the chance to look up the highlights of his match with young gun Borna Coric at the current tournament being played in Marrakech, Morocco it is well worth the view as his style is unique to say the least. Drop shots a plenty,  a one handed backhand, a sound volley and a great forehand. He is also wearing a knee brace which quite possibly gives away the fact that injury has played a part in his ranking and time away from the game which is obvious if you look at his playing history which can only be described as spasmodic.
I say that his ranking defies logic because of the effort he put in against Coric who has had wins over Murray and Nadal and gained a career high of 33 in singles two years ago. Coric is currently ranked 79 though he has recently dropped twenty something places due to some 'average' results. Those average results have still netted him more this year than El Amrani has won in his entire career however.
For the record Coric won the match 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 ( 7-5 ) but not before El Amrani served for the match at 5-4 in the third.
So how does a guy ranked 667 take it up to someone who has beaten the World's best on more than one occasion ? Your guess is as good as mine but I think self belief has a lot to do with it because El Amrani has been inside the top 200 albeit several years ago but to gain a ranking of that number you need to be of a remarkable quality.
To the naked eye a ranking of 160 seems rather low and it doesn't really give off an aura that says 'this guy is talented' but to reach that number you have to own a game that doesn't own many technical weaknesses, it's a head game when you are top 200. 
So where does Reda El Amrani go from here ? Well he's only a 'young fella' and players such as Victor Estrella Burgos from the Dominican Republic and Mr Federer are 36 and 35 years of age respectively and playing the best tennis of their lives currently. Maybe 28 is considered now more  an age to excel rather than retire.
Personally I am looking forward to tracking Reda El Amrani's progress for the rest of this season as guys like him do the sport proud with their determination to still succeed despite age, injury or any other restrictions that were once considered as career limitations or career ending for that matter.
Tennis is a tough sport to make a dollar out of and every player is looking to get inside the Top 100 to guarantee themselves a handy pay day at Grand Slam events which offer a first round 'loser' up to $50,000 for their effort in making the main draw.
Four of those per year and you may just cover your expenses and put a few bucks in the ash tray of your car to cover your fuel to a few smaller events around the country as well. Top 100 though is a tough gig.
Reda El Amrani, good luck Champ, keep swinging.......

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

'GIVE IT A GO'

I once received an anonymous message on this site accusing me of 'trying to wind back the clock' as I was still rather focused on playing tournaments as well as coaching. My reply from memory was simple as I stated that if a coach can still move then they should in my opinion still play the occasional competition. The reasons add up if you take the time to think about it;
Inspiring your students.
Showing your students that you can actually hit a ball under pressure, not just in practice.
Supporting local events.
Keeping the thought process active rather than just going from memory.
There are no doubt many more reasons why a coach of tennis should give it a go but I believe that those four examples top the list.
I looked up the results of a recent Country Championship where teams from all around our State took part and the thing that struck me most was that the students' coaches also took part in the senior events. That to me is inspiring to read because it shows a lack of fear and it would have been inspirational for those junior players to witness their mentors having a red hot go also because a kid will look up to the person who teaches them.
If that person, mentor, coach is leading by example then I think that is probably a huge factor in driving a student to become better at the game.
I recently wrote on my site a post titled 'AN EXPERIMENT' ( Silly Idea ) where I detailed my thoughts on a couple of local tournaments I competed in, a singles and a doubles event. It was irrelevant that I had success in both of those events, it was more important that I simply played because at age 48, well I suppose you are not expected to trouble the score board.
Is however that last statement an excuse for many ?
I once read that the great John McEnroe was still classed as the 'best over 50 player in the World' and that when you think about it, is rather inspiring but it's who John is, he's competitive even at age 55 plus.
Several years ago Bjorn Borg at age 54 took on Jim Courier in a singles exhibition match but I can guarantee you that Borg wanted to still gain some respect. Courier, at around 15 years younger took the match 3 and 6. Not bad for an 'old bloke' Bjorn.
Remember also that with a guy like Courier, he still hits with current Davis Cup players as he is the Captain of the US team and Borg is simply playing for pride and from a very long memory, that's inspiring once again.
Was I really trying to 'wind back the clock' as I was accused of by that anonymous messenger ? I think it has more to do with trying to stay in the game and not gather cobwebs because many coaches and mentors of the sport of tennis do this way too early and regret it later. We all go through stages in tennis, loving it, hating it, craving for the adrenalin rush once again, despising it for what it does to us physically and mentally, yet we keep coming back to it , well some do anyhow.
My theory on it is simple, you are a long time retired, many years to sit back and think about how good it was to be able to play a sport that can do so many things to us both physically and mentally whether good or bad yet we can look upon it all as a test of character. So I ask the obvious question, do you own character or do you just own an ability to hit a tennis ball ?
Any coach of the sport of tennis who owns an astute mind will tell you that character is what defines you as a person and a player and possibly the number one thing that a player or even coach for that matter requires for either success or respect.
There are many active tennis coaches out there and I take my hat off to all of them because their students are the ones who will reap the rewards of an 'active' mentor whereas a coach who simply goes from memory and You Tube instruction is lacking a hands on approach to their tuition.
Give it a go if you still can, play a Mixed Doubles event for a bit of fun, no one says you have to play 15 year old kids in singles who can run all day but show you actually still know how to compete. Justifying your $60 to $80 an hour price tag is something that is important to the consumer.
Do we put a limit on age do you think ?
I will post that clip of Courier and Borg on this site and you take a look at the physique and ability of Bjorn at age 54. You tell me whether or not you are a bit 'soft' for not still having a go at your age.......

Bjorn Borg vs Jim Courier - Champion Series Tennis



BORG AT AGE 54, NOW THAT'S INSPIRING.........

'THE PRESS CONFERENCE'

2016 POST from GT
If I remember correctly there was an answer once from the great Argentinian Guillermo Vilas in the 80's that may go down in history as one of the best answers of all time in regards to a Press Conference question. 'How will you play 'Jonny Bloggs' tomorrow Guillermo ' ?  " With my racket" was Vilas's answer. ( It wasn't Jonny Bloggs, I just put that in because I can't think of who Vilas was playing ).
That answer by Vilas was how more dumb arse questions should be answered by tennis players because the Press Conference is always full of people who know nothing about certain sports yet they are like programmed robots. They ask things to justify their existence and to make themselves sound important.
Take the guy who once asked a pro tennis player, I think it was Berdych, how he won his match. Berdych looked at him and asked him whether he was trying to be funny because you see Thomas in fact LOST his match. The journalist didn't even watch the match and assumed that Thomas had won, interesting hey ? I wonder if that particular journo still has a job because to me that's not really doing your homework on the match now is it ?
I love the cliché answers however from not just tennis players but other sportsmen or coaches who get asked the same things over and over again 'How do you think it went out there today' ?
'How do you reckon it went mate' ?! That's what I would love to hear yet we get back the same old stuff ' Well I didn't play at my best but I got through'. I actually heard that one the other night on the AFL roundup when Hardwick was asked the question. I thought his answer was having a 'bet each way'.
'I don't think we played at our best but full credit to Carlton as they didn't allow us to play our game'. To me that answer lacks any real conviction as you are basically saying what is ridiculously obvious and that is this; It is almost an impossibility to play at your best in professional sport unless you are playing an opponent or team that really owns no ability whatsoever.
How is it possible to play at your best or play your 'own' game when you have someone on the same field who also gets paid big bucks to entertain the paying public and who has two arms, two legs and a desire to want to beat you into oblivion ?
Yet the Press Conference takes these answers with a pinch of salt every single time and offers nothing in return that I think should go something like this. 'What do you mean you had an 'off' day ? Have you no respect at all for the bloke who just lost to you 6-7, 6-7 who last year won a million bucks in prize money and who trains probably just as hard as you do and who will come into this room straight after you and will probably praise you by saying you were simply 'too good' ??! You know what mate, I reckon you got your head firmly implanted fair up your own bum'.
That's what I would like to hear one day because Press Conferences are all the same now days, all love, all touchy feely stuff that really doesn't change because the same thing will be written about each match every single time. One will say he wasn't at his best, the other will say their opponent was too good, cliché every time. Ernest Gulbis of Latvia had it right when he accused the Big 4 of boring interviews.
"Their interviews are boring. Honestly they are boring as crap. I often go on You Tube to watch the interviews. With tennis I quickly stop. It's a joke.
It's Federer who started this fashion. He has a superb image of a Swiss gentleman, perfect for him. I repeat, I respect Federer but I don't like it that young players try to imitate him. When I hear them answer like Roger, I am terrified of phrases like 'I had a little more success at certain moments and that is how I won'. I do not want to hear in an interview a guy who I will not name, but who I know well thinks all his opponents are ....holes, putting on an act".
Yep that's what Ernest reckons, brilliant buddy.
Ernest of Latvia sees certain things in Press Conferences that are an absolute pile of garbage yet it's all accepted and if you don't do an interview I believe the fine is upwards of 20 Grand.
Fair dinkum that's a big fine when you think about the fact that you could quite possibly take the transcript of each press conference regardless of the gender and put that to each write up in the paper the next day.
'I am just taking it one match at a time'.
'I was not at my best today'.
'I played well today.'
'I fought for each point'. 
Yep I reckon Ernest got it right, it's dull, it's always the same and the usual suspects never give their opponents any credit for their efforts despite a tight score line that has EFFORT written all over it.
The Press Conference leaves a lot to be desired, boring as crap indeed..........
***** P.S Last weekend in the AFL a 'journalist' asked Luke Beveridge, Coach of last year's Premiers, the Western Bulldogs whether a certain player would be back for their next match.
Beveridge is too polite to do anything but be polite as he politely told the 'journalist' that the particular player he was asking about had in fact retired. I thought journalists should know this sort of stuff......

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

'THE ART OF NOT MISSING'

I wrote this almost a year ago and I felt that with the clay court season just around the corner it was worth reposting. It is unfinished, as many of my posts are but you will get the idea of what I am trying to say. 
I feel I could elaborate on this particular topic and I am sure that I will as the season unfolds. The particular match that I wrote about was quite remarkable even though it was a straight sets win to Nadal.
What strikes me is the mindset of a player like the Spaniard who basically says to his opponent 'If you can make less errors than me, you can have the match'. Fifteen French Open titles later I still believe that between Nadal and Borg, well that is the way to win on the dirt..... 
2016;
The French Open Tennis Tournament usually holds records that no other tennis tournament does, it's pretty obvious why, it's a tournament played on a slow surface, clay. If ever there is a doubt as to what a player should be training on to refine their ground strokes look no further than the European clay court specialists, their error count is minimal.
These players are technically brilliant especially from the back of the court but some struggle on quicker surfaces, naturally. 
If you look at the way Rafa hits his forehand then you will see that this style can only really be taught on a slower surface , one that gives a player time to hit it to it's full potential. If a kid trains on a grass or synthetic court the style will be abbreviated, the ball will come through too quick, even on some hard courts. Clay is the answer to refining ground strokes, Rafa is the greatest exponent of this fact.
In the French Open this year in round three the Spaniard played Leonardo Mayer , ranked 65 in the World , a sensational tennis player from Argentina who has won over two million dollars in prize money. The score was 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 but the most impressive thing about this match was the amount of unforced errors that Nadal hit. He missed 2 in the first set, 3 in the second and 5 in the third, that's pretty impressive, so why doesn't he miss ?
Rafa hits the ball so high over the net that he invariably only hits long if he misses , many people don't realize this fact, they just see him hitting it hard, they don't see the height. The net clearance of Rafa is not unlike Borg's, if you don't pick it early it will be up around your ears, every tennis player's worst nightmare.
Rafa has won the French on 9 occasions because he rarely misses, Borg won it 6 times, he missed a hand full of shots each match also, there must be something in this way of playing.
Clay court tennis training will separate the great from the good, it's what needs to happen in each Country if they are to keep up with a nation such as Spain who have I believe 14 players in the top 100 men, give or take one or two . It is a surface that will develop ground strokes and a thinking man's game like no other, the proof is in the rankings.
Maybe one day other countries will follow Spain's lead before they have a strangle hold on the game that will be difficult to catch up to. 
The art of not missing is what will take a player to victory, not the winners. You don't have to hit a winner, just don't miss and you will be pretty hard to beat........

Friday, 7 April 2017

'WHICH PART DIDN'T YOU UNDERSTAND' ?

Here's a rather amusing story, one that unfortunately involves myself , one that I have learned from and one that I will make sure is never, ever repeated. It goes something like this;
A few weeks ago we played a local tennis tournament, a ripper, one that I will put down as possibly the best tournament I have played in ten years because the teams in it were all tough. It was a pleasure to be a part of it. Unfortunately the local newspaper didn't share my thoughts on it and the coverage of it was less than complimentary.
Not sure why but tennis in my home town is not regarded as 'cool' particularly by the local journalists who are ex footballers and cricketers, current footballers and cricketers, wannabee footballers and cricketers and football and cricket addicts.
In a nutshell it's like this here in sleepy hollow, if it's not football and cricket, well your sport may not really be looked after as far as newspaper coverage is concerned. Sorry basketball gets a look in as well, can't forget basketball.
So this is what I did, I gathered some information on the tournament we played including scores, names and a bit of history that I felt was necessary to make the article readable to the public. I sent it to A local paper, we have three, unfortunately it was not published due to the time frame however they requested that I send them results from future tournaments and put my spin on it so to speak. No worries, happy to give our sport of tennis a leg up, so to speak.
I did request one thing though, that my name is NOT to be put to the article because if I am playing the tournament I am not comfortable, win, lose or draw about stating what I did in the competition as it may be perceived as 'biased journalism'. I thought that request was pretty simple to follow.
Maybe for a ten year old kid but for an experienced bunch of people at a local newspaper ?? Read on.....
So to our local season ending tennis tournament, club versus club, five events, a chance to finish with some bragging rights as the champion club of the region, a great concept however one that I haven't played for a few years.
Ok so this is what happened with my write up; I gathered all of the scores that I felt were worth a mention, put an article together, sent it to A local newspaper on Sunday night, the night of the tournament including the one and only request that I had of the article; FOR MY NAME NOT TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTICLE, I was merely happy for our sport to receive some publicity locally as it struggles against other sports as I have mentioned.
No reply, no 'thank you Glenn for the results and article', not a thing, I was not certain whether the hierarchy at the newspaper were even interested in my article even though the write up was requested over a personal phone call.
Thursday rolls around, I grab a local newspaper, I open the back page and finally, it's there for all of sleepy hollow to read, a tennis article, yep tennis, football and cricket take a back seat please, tennis is finally having a moment in a local newspaper.
As I begin reading the article however I see from the very first paragraph that my version of the day has in fact been changed and in the final paragraph it states that a mixed doubles match was in fact 'between' a certain team when in actual fact it should have read AGAINST. In tennis there is a fair difference. So I thought I had better check the original article that I sent the newspaper.
Nothing wrong with my writing skills as I did in fact state that the match was AGAINST and not BETWEEN. How the f... can you have a match 'between' two players in the same team ??!! Spelling error ? Nope, I would suggest that right from the start of the article that I sent the newspaper they reworded things to suit themselves without any thought of how it actually read to the public. Now here's the icing on the cake.
What do you think was at the bottom of the article that was sent in by an avid tennis supporter and writer who did not want to be associated with the piece of writing that was simply done to give tennis a bit of publicity locally ? C'mon don't be silly, surely not my name ???
Yep my name, my f....... name !!!
Which part didn't you understand buddy ???!!!
The spelling was wrong but it was still my name.
Now I do have a theory on this, as I do with most things. The person who put ink to paper at the local newspaper thought that by spelling my name with one n, Glen as opposed to Glenn they must have assumed the following :
That the public who read the article would in fact think that Glen Thompson ( the writer of the article ) was a totally different character than Glenn Thompson the competitor. That I think was the most logical answer, what do you reckon ???
So to my conclusion on this whole ridiculous affair, NEVER AGAIN will GT be offering a local tennis article to a local newspaper even if it is to give the sport a much needed publicity boost as it is obviously all way too hard to follow a simple request from the person who wrote it.
On top of that it's obviously also way too hard to follow what someone had written regarding whether certain teams had in fact played against or was that 'between' each other ? Is it just me or do you get the impression that Mickey Mouse may have had more chance of doing this thing correctly ?
Personally when I write on this silly site of mine I am happy to be GT, happy to receive criticism or accolades, it's all my doing but when it comes to helping a local newspaper with a write up I INSIST on being the 'Ghostwriter'. That's just me.
Good luck next season when you want some tennis results written up for your local paper, I am already booked up........
REGARDS GLENN THOMPSON ( That's Glenn with two N's )

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

'MY TOP TEN'

Wrote this when I first started this site many years ago, I believe a lot of it still makes sense......

When it comes to things I hate about the game of tennis , the following things are what really disappoint me; Hopefully you can see where I am coming from; The following examples are predominantly from junior tennis tournaments, however also involves 'Open Tournaments' where kids and adults may meet each other;
1- Junior Tennis Tournament Peanut Gallery- This is where kids hang off the fence behind the court and regularly ask their mates for score updates as well as do their best to put the opposition off their game . Don't quite know why this behaviour isn't banned from Junior Comps , a lot has to do with the students' 'coaches' , poor pupil management I call it...
2- Why is it that junior tennis players go onto court with a racket bag big enough to sleep in ? How many times do these kids break strings and why are 3 or 4 rackets at the age of 12 necessary ? Image ??
3- Do bright shoes win tennis matches ?? Personally I love playing kids who wear this gear , it means they are more interested in looking good than winning games of tennis .
4- Why do 'Tennis Coaches' belt their students in tennis tournaments ? Surely this is called 'biting the hand that feeds' . Personally if ever I played a student who I knew I could beat easily I would give them at least 2 games per set , possibly 3 , great for their confidence . Smart Tennis Coaches do this ......
5- Why do junior tennis players yell out ' I can't believe I am playing this bad' . This is arrogance and ego all rolled into 1 - they simply don't realize that tennis is actually a tough game to play , mastering it at age 12 is really not going to happen.....
6- What is it with a long hit up ? Do kids think that just because the big boys warm up for what seems to be an eternity before they play that it also should apply to them ?? A long hit up is for players who are nervous , they want to play a set before they actually start a match ! I hate hit ups......
7- Why don't kids hit slice backhands and volleys during a match ? Would it be that their Coaches are simply following the current direction of the game and not thinking outside the square ? Personally I like to see a kid when drawn wide on the backhand side hit a one handed slice that gets them back into the point rather than go for a winner. I also like to see kids go to the net other than just to shake hands.......
8-  Why do Parents 'Coach' kids ? Haven't they seen what Mr Tomic has done to his son ???
9- Why do kids who win tennis matches at local tournaments think that they have just beaten Anthony Mundine in a boxing match and strut around as though they are the next Golden Gloves Heavy Weight Champion ? It's a boxing match for sure , but 60 feet away from your opponent , get a grip.....
10- Why is it that kids complain that when they hit a ball on the line their opponent calls it out ?? My answer to that is simple - If you are hitting balls on the line then your 'Coach' is teaching you the wrong way to play tennis.......
FOOTNOTE; In reference to Number 7 - Who has won the most Grand Slams and who hits a beautiful backhand slice and a sublime volley? Yet the game is being taught predominantly from the back of the court, try and figure  that one out.......

Monday, 3 April 2017

'WHEN ROG' WINS, WE WIN'

Funny isn't it how we all rise as one when the great Roger Federer wins a tennis match. The Fed Express now days is like a travelling Rock Star who's fans are totally entranced in his every move and who's every move is scrutinised so closely that when things aren't going according to plan, the mood is sombre to say the least.
When a Rock Star sings the high notes every person in the crowd is totally captivated by their brilliance and the 'show' that Rog' brings to town now days is no different where just about everyone in the crowd has paid to see Rog' win.
No one is interested anymore in the Nadal vs Federer rivalry or the Djokovic vs Federer rivalry, they are only interested in one result, a Fed Express victory.
At the Australian Open this year, deep into the fifth set the crowd went up as one when Nadal let Roger back into the match with a double fault, yep, a double fault and anyone who owns any common sense knows that a double fault is not a time of celebration.
Yet the crowd could not contain themselves, Nadal was merely just another name and someone who was standing in the way of another Roger Federer victory.
Rafael Nadal was not someone who had won 14 Grand Slams, he was an 'imposter' of sorts who dared get in the way of someone who the adoring public resonated with as an ambassador for tennis and an ambassador for life in general. Everything about the 'Fed' seems to be of a brilliance that fairy tales are made of and Hollywood movie scripts are written about as everything he does now days makes the public smile.
When Rog and Mirka decided to have a family it was not going to be just an 'ordinary' family, it had to be twins, not once but twice, two girls then two boys, genius. The house Rog' had built overlooking a Swiss lake is no ordinary house, it's one you see in movies that Rock Stars live in and that Mexican Drug Lords own as their holiday shacks but no 'bad' money changed hands in this construction.
This particular house was paid for from a Swiss Tennis Star's bank account that probably has more zero's on the end of it than some Countries around the World own with a combined income.
Everything Rog' does is looked upon as newspaper headlines. You only have to look back to his Australian Open warm up tournament in Perth, at the Hopman Cup where the doors were opened free of charge for the public just to watch the great man hit a few practice shots.
Yep, JUST to hit a few practice shots, but it's the person who is hitting them that makes it so unique and to watch him walking around the arena at the end of the session posing for 'selfies' with an adoring crowd was nothing short of humbling.
Some Rock Stars, Hollywood Actors, Sports Stars or otherwise are way too 'important' to ever give their precious time up for the people who have helped make them 'important' in the first place but with Rog, well he's just a good guy who is happy to give some time back to the 'ordinary' people.
It's why we all love Rog, he's someone who is loveable because he makes us feel good about life when he wins as he does it with a grace that not many before him have ever done.
If Rog loses, and that's not very often now days, well it leaves a sour taste in our mouths and we make an excuse or two for him but we will never blame him for being simply 'human', we will blame the elements or the fact that 'Daddy Fed' may have had a sleepless night with his four young kids.
Remember to most of us, Rog just turns up and wins, tops up his bulging bank account, does some 'selfies' at the end of his on court speech, signs some autographs, does the obligatory press conference where he praises his vanquished opponent then boards his private jet to do it all over again at another tournament.
Never mind the fact that Rog is playing a sport that is so unbelievably tough that a guy ranked 750 plus in the World on his day could take out a player in the top 60 in the World as seen at Wimbledon last year where another nice guy by the name of Marcus Willis took out Ricardas Berankis.
When you put that into perspective we should perhaps marvel at any pro tennis player who can even win a Challenger Tournament because the top 1000 tennis players can all hit a good tennis ball. It's what you do with it that counts. For Rog to keep beating guys like Rafa consistently is rather outrageous to say the least.
Rog is a genius as far as what to do with a tennis ball is concerned and he is someone who is well aware of how good he is at it, yet he is so modest at what he does that it makes us think twice about our own personal 'victories' in life and how we should perhaps treat them.
Just like a Postman delivers mail up and down the street, just like a Fisherman hauls in another catch, just like a Rock star sings a high note and just how a Hollywood Actor delivers an unforgettable line, 'our' Rog keeps on being Rog and that's why when Rog wins it makes us feel like we have also won, he's just that sorta bloke.........

Sunday, 2 April 2017

'AN EXPERIMENT' ( SILLY IDEA )

The last two weeks have seen me limp on to a tennis court in two events to test whether or not the old legs can still move and whether or not the mind can get me through some matches.
Personally I despise the feeling that tennis hands to me physically however I love the test it presents to me mentally because as someone who writes about the sport and coaches on a part time basis I feel it a necessity to go through what active players go through.
It's all very well to write about it and teach it but if I can't do it myself then really what is the point ? Tennis is a sport where you must be able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk or you may be labelled forever as someone who 'talks a good game' yet has no idea how to play it.
This of course must be looked upon realistically according to age and physical capabilities.
Ok, this is what transpired;
Two weeks ago I teamed up with a young fella, a 23 year old who is in the prime of his life and we had a win, albeit by just two games in a local doubles competition where we won our first two matches by the score of 7-5. Doesn't get much tougher.
Matty was legendary and did all the work, I just went along for the ride.....
This weekend I played a singles event, well it was a team event which included doubles but I put my hand up to play the singles leg, dumb idea.
Ran into a kid in round 2 who lead me 3-1 and must've hit 35 winners against me but somehow I won the match 9-6 and took the Mens singles title, undefeated in three matches.
Each leg was either 3 or 4 matches, next year I am playing doubles, no risk.
What did I learn ?
You can still beat kids at age 48 through thinking alone because the legs don't move as fast as they used to so naturally you may have an edge in experience if nothing else.
I suffered that much pain mentally and physically in that match that I never want to experience ever again yet I gave it a go, it worked out, if nothing else I am prepared to have a dip against the youth of the game.
John McEnroe once said " The older I get, the better I was ".
I was never good, I just learned to put a ball over the net as a kid at age 12 and that lead me to still try to beat kids at age 'Dinosaurus'.
Silly idea, never again, but it keeps the thought process active as a coach and writer of the sport of tennis......
Regards GT