Friday, 26 May 2017
I am 48, I am old as far as a tennis player is concerned. I reckon that I have played over 100 tennis tournaments in my time on court since I was 12 years of age. That's a rough guess, I may have played a lot more.
I won a few, lost a lot, gained some friends, played some people who I would rather forget. I have smashed a lot of rackets ( mainly in practice ), I have done a lot of talking both out loud and in my mind and I have sworn on many occasions that I hate the sport.
I can understand where Andre is coming from, tennis makes you question your own intelligence whether it is on court or off it.
One thing I have never, ever done however is own a false sense of who I am, I am no one.
When people walk into my house they see a lot of photos of my kids on the wall and above the fire place, my kids give me perspective in life.
I place one, just one tennis trophy amongst the photo frames. It is a trophy that has the words ' La Valette' written on it. La Valette-du-Var is in fact a tiny town in South Eastern France. That however was not the town that Peter Gerrans and I won a Doubles tournament in, it was a town called Gareoult which is a six hour drive from Paris.
La Valette-du-Var is in the same Region as Gareoult.
It is the only trophy that I consider to be worth anything, the only trophy in 36 years of hitting tennis balls. It means something to me because it was won against opponents who could play tennis, not against opposition who for some players are people to rack up your trophy tally against.
I have seen trophy cabinets and mantle pieces laden with dozens of plastic and metal figurines that depict a tennis player in full flight, usually the one that resembles a server, you know the pose, the 'perfect' serve. That pose I have been trying to master for years but have fallen well short as mine is something that looks more like a 'frog in a blender' type of delivery.
So to those cabinets and mantle pieces full of figurines. I have often wondered why we put them out for people to see and is it to create a talking point of sorts, you know the one where the conversation revolves around your sporting 'expertise' ?
Mine certainly isn't, it's there because it reminds me of a time in my life when I came up against guys who were trying to make a living out of the sport and would play as though their life depended on it. Playing people with that sort of attitude towards tennis can give you an awakening that you have never experienced before.
I believe it is the ultimate test and one that I would say can give you all the perspective you require if you are searching for perhaps some answers to your many questions as to how good you really are.
Part of me wishes I never took that trip in 1991 because it destroyed my personal view that I was a good tennis player but that's not how life works. If you go through life with that sort of attitude, the one that has you believing that you are a whole lot better than you actually are it will bite you on the arse eventually, no risk.
Remember that story I wrote some time back about a player who couldn't believe that they had finally lost a match after 2 years of glory ? Well that story is typical in a sport such as tennis because many play events that do not test you as a person or as a player.
For the record, my doubles partner and I beat the two that hadn't lost in 2 years by the score of 6-0 in a local Round Robin Doubles event. So where had the 'Super team' won their events ? Do the sums on that one.
I have openly said that I will not charge more than $40 per hour to 'teach' someone how to hit a tennis ball because there is more to tennis than just hitting a ball, we all know that. I will not be responsible for draining anyone's bank account just because I own a piece of paper that says I am 'Qualified' to do so.
The $70 and $80 per hour 'Zen Masters' can charge that price because they are comfortable with their knowledge on the sport, good on 'em. After 36 years I still struggle with the justification of charging a fee that is anything more than a coupla hours work in the 'Real World' just because I know more than the student.
We are all different but self justification and self importance in tennis may just be one of the biggest issues the sport owns.
I don't begrudge anyone who wants to place a trophy in full view but be honest with yourself as to where you won it.
I will leave my 'La Valette' trophy above the fire until the day my kids box it up and write on it 'Dad's Tennis Trophy from Europe'. Between you and me kids, it's the ONE trophy that shaped my silly mind in this silly sport called Tennis.......