I am a self confessed 'Tennis Nobody' though I am comfortable with that title as I am a realist when it comes to tennis. I have played for 35 years, coached for 28 years and I have seen some amazing things on a tennis court both in Australia and Europe.
In 1991 I went on a soul searching journey throughout Europe which gave me all the inspiration I required to teach the game with a realistic view plus write a book on my experiences. I visited places like Monte Carlo and St Tropez, home of the rich and famous and I won a doubles tournament near Paris.
I believe in perspective in a sport such as tennis and as a coach I offer no Walt Disney versions of the game. I have written a book on my 35 years in the game though I am currently tinkering around with all of the information.
Everyone has their own view on tennis, my book is one that offers a story that I have no doubt could be mirrored by many before me and many after me who didn't make the Pro ranks though we all gave it a red hot go.
One day I hope to put the book to a publisher, if nothing else but to have my entire tennis life on paper for my kids to read. They may understand me a little better once they have read it, one can only hope.....
Tennis is a tough sport to make a living out of and I witnessed things in Europe that I could only describe as both inspirational and intimidating. I have often stated that as a coach of tennis it's important to own a view that has reality written all over it and not one that lacks substance. Walt Disney endings in tennis are few and far between.
Did I ever win much ? When I left WA as a 16 year old to train full time in Queensland I earned enough points in tournament play to give me a State ranking of number 7. It didn't mean I was the seventh best player in WA at the time, there were dozens who could play the game as well and better than I could. It simply meant that I was beginning to understand how the game worked and I had some good tournament results.
I probably played my best tennis however into my 40's as the sport became clearer in my mind. Locally I have won seven Albany Open Doubles titles ( Eight if you include mixed doubles ) and six Champ of Champs Singles titles so I suppose that simply says I can play the game, nothing more, nothing less.
I am not interested in charging much to teach the game though I am perhaps the most qualified tennis coach in my region. Technically I am an Advanced Pro Level 2 Tennis Coach however I quit the Coaching Provider who acrredited me that level ( ATPCA ) due to their inability to control who is a member of their association.
In a nutshell they are in opposition to Tennis Australia yet allow TA Coaches to join their association which to me is incorrect in many ways as in my opinion you either follow one of two directions, the ATPCA or TA. Personally I do not have any time for TA so that is why I joined their opposition only to find out that they were signing up guys who were still TA members and who were gaining funding from TA to run their programs.
It's all about how many acrreditations that some coaches can gain simply to make their 'achievement file' look busy. If a coach owns an accreditation with both organisations yet only follows one direction and receives funding from that coaching provider then what is the point in being a member of the other ? You do the sums on that one.
Being an 'Independent Tennis Coach' doesn't really bother me too much, it doesn't alter the way I teach the sport and it doesn't seem to bother my students. If there were an 'Independent Tennis Coaches Association, well, I would join it. I don't believe in the 'latest coaching methods' written out for me to follow, teaching tennis to me is all about common sense.
I have never followed a lesson plan and I have never used modified tennis balls to teach the game. Call me a 'Dinosaur' of the sport if you wish......
If I could sum up my style as a player I would say that I simply let my opponents lose, I very rarely go for a win, you make too many errors with that type of mindset. There's always a way to force an opponent to implode, it's all about how you think while you play.
As a coach I would say I am brutally honest with a student, though within reason, I would never shatter a kid's dream. I believe a student of any age can still get better even when their ideas seem to have dried up, there is always a way to keep the thought process ticking over.
There's people who can hit a tennis ball and then there's the ones who can play tennis, that's where my philosophy begins in a tennis lesson.