Sometimes in life we get lucky. An ex professional tennis player has come to 'sleepy hollow' to live for a couple of years at least due to work commitments, this guy can play tennis. He's my age, once ranked number 1 in Western Australia for 14's and 16's and ranked two in Australia.
He actually achieved a singles ranking of 360 in the late 80's. And he can still play tennis.
We had a hit on the weekend. What I found possibly more interesting than actually having a hit with this guy was in fact his views on the game back then as opposed to now.
When he was winning State Championships in WA he was in fact being coached for no cost, yes that's correct, no cost to his parents as there were enough players in the system to make money out of. He was coached by one of WA's leading tennis coaches who was also one of the highest ranked players in the State at the time so it was sort of like a Moya/ Nadal type of relationship where the coach was keen to bring the junior up to his level of play, for no fee.
I find that fascinating.
Tennis now days is a big business where every minute of every hour is clocked up on the $$$ meter and nothing is done for nothing, nature of the business.
I recently have seen a few advertisements on various social media sites in relation to term prices for the up coming tennis season. This is what is the 'norm' now days.
Most sessions are 40- 45 minutes and most sessions are priced at anything between $15 and $20. So breaking that down it's like this, most kids will spend around 5 or 6 hours on a tennis court in a school term and it will cost their parents anything from around $90 to $160 per term ( 8 weeks ).
Just stating the obvious here, my apologies, but where's the value ?
A 40- 45 minute tennis session with anywhere from 8 - 10 kids on a tennis court is strictly a money making exercise that looks real busy yet delivers nothing. How can it deliver anything except nothing in that time frame on a tennis court per week after a warm up game, a warm down game and a 'rumour' of coaching in between ?
Is the tennis coaching industry for real with that sort of pricing for that sort of court time ? Well apparently it's all ok, many parents don't really know any different yet scratch their heads after week 8 when 'Jonny' and 'Lucy' have not progressed much past what Mum and Dad have taught them in their driveway in the off season.
Is there a reason for the 'token gesture' from these modern day gurus who's Facebook profiles have them looking way better than what they really are as far as a teacher of the sport of tennis is concerned ? Of course there is a reason. It's called the 'private lesson necessity'.
Half way through most tennis terms with just a few dozen shots being hit due to way too many kids on court with the 'Zen Master' or a junior assistant who knows nothing about how to even hold a tennis racket themselves the light globe goes off.
'Hi I was just wondering how my 'Lucy' will improve her tennis as I know very little about the sport, is it just a time thing ' ?
'Well Lucy has been showing some promise in her group lessons but I would fully recommend a one on one session to get her tennis going'.
'Ok how much for an hour' ?
Sound familiar ?
Fair dinkum comedy routine that you think would have improved since the 70's however it has in fact deteriorated to such an extent that if a kid wants to get better at tennis it will cost a family a small fortune in hourly fees due to the new breed of tennis coach trying to become rich in the shortest time frame possible.
It is a known fact that tennis sessions have reduced in time yet increased in price over the years due to greed and lack of effort by 'Facebook Tennis Coaches' who wouldn't know value if they tripped over it.
I told you the story many months ago about the woman who rang me for a lesson while she was on her way around the South West of the State and who had received coaching at every town along the way. The last tennis lesson she had before she hit 'sleepy hollow' was classic stuff to say the least where she had paid $75 for a one hour session.
I asked her what shot she wanted to look at first, she said backhand, I asked why. She said 'I just can't quite work out what I am doing wrong'. ( Two shots later ) 'There's your problem, it's your grip, I can see it from here. What happened last lesson ?
'He didn't check my grip, just my swing'.
Interesting isn't it ?
So if a grip isn't being checked in a one on one $75 tennis lesson for one hour do you think in that 'Zen Master's junior program where a kid spends just 40 - 45 minutes on a tennis court per week after a 5 minute warm up and a 5 minute warm down plus a drinks break that there is going to be a look at the most important part of a tennis shot ?
You do the sums.
My apologies we are going off track here, like I often do when I start talking tennis.
My point is this, tennis is now a business in many 'coaching' programs, there is less court time than ever before and there are gimmicks a plenty. There are way too many ways the consumer can spend a small fortune on the sport and get very little back from it.
It all comes back to the one thing that seems to be getting worse in an industry that keeps delivering little but charges plenty for the 'privilege' of learning it.......