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.......