Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sometimes its good to release your frustration

Down a set and just been broken at 4 all in the second Andy Roddick let out what he was feeling smashing his racket as he went to change of ends, it obviously helped because Andy broke Gulbis in the very next game who was serving for a two sets to love lead and went on to win the set and the match in 4 sets in a recent US OPEN encounter.On the other Hand once Marat Safin starts breaking frames its to the opponents advantage.Junior tennis players probably should follow the method of not showing your opponent to much emotion especially if your are sending out negative vibes, smart players will take this on board and use it to their advantage.

There will be an interesting Asia-Oceania Group II final when New Zealand comes up against China, to be played in New Plymouth 19-21 September.New Zealand Players have the following world rankings Dan King Turner 411, Rubin Staham 418, G.D Jones 618,Adam Thompson 813. Whilst China's team has not yet been announced ,their top 4 players and world ranking are Yan Bai 502, Peng Sun 518,Shao-Xuan Zeng 566,Zhe Li 573
Home Ground advantage will be an asset for New Zealand.

In the finals of Asia Oceania Group One, on the same dates in September, Australia will play Chile (at home, in the city of Antofagasta). If Australia loses that tie (their team is currently without Lleyton Hewitt, absent through injury), and New Zealand wins against China, then the two trans-Tasman rivals will be competing in the same Group next year. And this is a huge possibility, great for New Zealand but Australian's will not be happy and you can bet that this will be the last nail in the coffin for key administrators in Tennis Australia.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Southern High Performance Weekend

South Canterbury Players,Gabrielle Grady, Geraldine Prisk and Elliot Darling joined other players Ben and Riki Mclachlan and Harry James all of Queenstown for the Southern initiated High Performance weekend in Dunedin.Players had Video anaylisis with Pete McCraw ,Muscular Skeletal Screen testing, Sports Psychology seminar as well as advice of a Nutritionist and Fitness Testing.

Tennis Australia "throws toys from the cot"

Critism of Australia's Junior Development by articles in recent Australian Tennis magazine have not gone down well at Head Office."We were notified, out of the blue, that Tennis Australia has withdrawn Australian Tennis from sale at Melbourne Park, citing poor sales," Michelle Michie, the managing director of Nicholson Media Group, told The Sunday Age. Tennis Australia's response was "In regard to the Tennis World (Melbourne Park) outlet, our commercial team made the assessment that they were not making adequate retail sales. It was simply a commercial decision."In the recent issue of Australian Tennis Pat Rafter writes "There is a bunch of respected past champions willing to make a contribution to the development of elite juniors, yet currently at Tennis Australia there is only one view and one way forward," .The debate continues to escalate as the US Open is about to commence, and the Annual General meeting Of TA nears,in another revelation in this articleThe Age revealed that a damning independent audit of Tennis NSW by leading consultancy firm KPMG has deemed the body in desperate need of overhaul.This article also comment's on Rafters views

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So you want to become a World Tennis Power! The method, send your junior players to "Boot Camp"

An interesting article from the New York written by Geoffrey Gray gives an inside view as America searches for a new generation of stars. The USTA’s answer? Tennis boot camp.In the article Highly respected coach Nick Saviano had this to say "So now everyone wants to restock the pool of American tennis talent, and the debate is over how this should be done. “ . “One school is that the USTA should be a part of the development process. And the other schools are that they shouldn't’t be involved in the process and that it should be left up to the free-enterprise system.” Saviano belongs to the latter school. His point is one of global economics: In order to create the Next Great One, the USTA must concentrate on what America does well, which means keeping the focus on this country’s traditional tennis ethos—independence and innovation." I am also a believer to this theory their are good coaches in all countries getting great results but for some reason National bodies do not give enough recognition to them or provide them with resources and funding which often is spent on training programs that simply don't get the results and players are back to square 1 and many go back to their individual coaches to make up "ground lost".National Body's are very important and their help in fostering performance coaches within the country is vital. At the USTA 'S new academy One player tells of its stringent policy's for participants, the player in his interest section of a survey stated "girls" but girlfriends on campus were against the academy’s rules. So many rules! No smoking of any substances, tobacco or otherwise; no drinking of alcoholic beverages; no romance (including hand-holding, smooching, or petting of any kind); no posters on walls; no cursing; no leaving the grounds; and on and on.And here is the difficulty for most junior tennis players the difficulty in determining what focus and "distractions" you can have to become a World's Top 10 tennis player.Juniors in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand do have simply "too good of opportunities in lifestyle" and I think why Erakovic( New Zealand) has had some success she has been able to "shut out" some of the distractions life throws at young sports persons and give the training side full attention.Very few can do this and that's why only a small percentage can make it.The article also tells of USTA juniors enrolled to Boot Camp where They did push-ups and more push-ups. They learned how to make their beds. They assembled and reassembled M16 rifles and shot the guns in video simulators. They learned martial arts. They spoke in commands. Sir, yes sir! They were deprived of sleep.This is definitely worth the read and the article is titled Building an American Nadal.Here is the link.This article certainly provided me "food for thought" as it highlighted other factors with High performance juniors and coaching structure.Can some of this be applied in New Zealand?Is becoming a top tennis player a matter of toughness?The sooner we come to terms that tennis is not a team game the better.Individuality is a very big component in this game be it as a player competing or as a coach in teaching players No one player is the same and "text book" coaches will always struggle with this fact as do some National body's.Out of the top 20 men players in the world 18 are listed with different individual coaches.This includes the Argentines and "The Spanish Armada"

Monday, August 18, 2008


Now the medals at Beijing's Olympics have been decided Nadal overcoming Chilean Fernando Gonzalez 6-3 7-6 6-3 and the Women's an all Russian Final with Elena Dementieva defeating Dinara Safina 3-6 7-5 6-3.Obviously all players that compete at this elite level have great talent ,is it in the "genes" ?or can it be manufactured?.Its with interest I read an article written by DANIEL COYLE of the New York Times.How to Grow a Super-Athlete. In this article he writes about genetics and "myelin" being found in top athletes.He also visited Spartak a tennis academy in Russia usually preceded in the tennis press by the word "famous" or "legendary," had produced three of the top six Russians (Dementieva, Safina and Anastasia Myskina).To put Spartak's success in talent-map terms: this club, which has one indoor court, has achieved eight year-end top-20 women's rankings over the last three years. During that same period, the entire United States has achieved seven. Its a very lengthy article but well worth the read
click the highlighted text and this will take you to the artcle.The most relevant point was by Robert Lansdorp, a tennis coach in Los Angeles"You can't keep breast-feeding them all the time," "You've got to make them an independent thinker." Lansdorp, who is in his 60s, has coached Sharapova, along with the former No. 1-ranked players Pete Sampras, Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport, all three of whom grew up in the same area and played at the same run-of-the-mill tennis clubs near Los Angeles. "You don't need a fancy academy," he said. "You need fundamentals and discipline, and in this country nobody gives a damn about fundamentals and discipline." Although he speaks about American Juniors,I do think that this point is very relavent to a large percentage of New Zealand junior tennis players and coaches.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Australian Update- Tennis Games off Court

"It's time for a rethink on junior development and a time to consider carefully who sits at the boardroom table running the game," dual US open champion and former No. 1 Pat Rafter writes in September's issue of Australian Tennis magazine.Former Australian Open boss Paul McNamee is still being touted as leading the new board.Read latest story here.

Roger Federer and Swiss partner Stanislas Wawrinka beat Sweden's Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 as Federer claimed his first Olympic medal in three attempts.In other results Djokovic won a slug-fest with US number one James Blake 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to clinch the men's singles bronze, compensating for his disappointing semi-final loss to Nadal.Dinara Safina ousted Li 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 to set up an all-Russian final with 2000 silver-medallist Elena Dementieva, who beat compatriot Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).Sydney 2000 champions Venus and Serena Williams reached the women's doubles final by beating Ukraine's Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the only all-sister match-up in Olympic history. They will face Spanish duo Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, who ended Chinese hopes of a second successive doubles gold by beating Yan Zi and Zheng Jie 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Friday, August 15, 2008


There's no bigger upset than the top seed getting beat in the quarter finals of a major event.James Blake(USA) defeated Roger Federer 6-4 7-6 to end Federer's Olympic Dream.Confidence is a major plus and all players go through that period of invincibility,recent losses have sent out a message to fellow tennis player's the "Fed Express" is beatable, players get that extra boost in confidence that may not of been there 6 months ago when Federer could not be beaten.When the going gets tough in a tight match on big points there can be self doubts that normally the champ would back himself and make a big play.
Federer's invincibility has gone he has become beatable, Blake had lost 8 in a row to Federer , I guess if you stick with it perseverance pays off!!!Federer had 56 unforced errors in the match, at times tennis can be a total mind game, certainly Federer has lost that mental edge for now , can he regain it? Changes will be a foot a fresh approach is needed maybe we will see a regular coach appear in the Players box, always change a losing game fed , you need to the US Open starts soon.Federer hasnt been settled all week and not been happy with the schedule.Read more about the match here

And out goes Serena Williams beaten in three sets by Elena Dementieva , this is the Olympic games, and history told us from previous Olympic's there will be upsets.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Too Hot To Handle!

The Olympic finals are heading towards a repeat Wimbledon Final for Men's and Ladies ,there is still a way to go and extreme heat conditions could play a big part in how players handle this energy sapping element in their next few rounds.For Young tennis players in conditions such as Beijing or even local climates its very important to avoid dehydration.Here are some tips 1.Hydrate off the court as well ,remember if you are feeling thirsty you are all ready getting dehydrated! 2.At change of ends take 4-8 gulps every time.3.Do not over drink plain water,if you are playing a long match just drinking water can dilute your electrolyte balance and promote cramping due to loss of sodium.4.Your choice of electrolytes should contain Sodium that helps retain the fluids in your muscles.Carbs(sugar5-8%)also help retain fluids and give you an added energy boost.Take note of the pro players on Tv and what they are drinking at the change of ends.Many Players in Beijing are using "ice packs" and cold towels at the change of ends to keep body temps stable.
Qtr Final Match-ups Mens: Blake vs Federer,Mathieu vs Gonzales,Monfils vs Djokovic Melzer vs Nadal Women's:Bammer vs Zvonarena ,S William's vs Dementieva , V Williams vs Li ,Safina vs Jankovic

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1st Big Name Falls at Olympics Tennis

BRITAIN'S Andy Murray crashed out of the Olympic singles tennis competition in the first round.He lost 7-5, 6-4 to Lu, who is ranked 77th in the world.And Serena Williams gives her rating on where the Olympics place for her "For tennis players, our main goal is the Grand Slams," she said. "The gymnasts, for example, their main thing is the Olympics, and they get one, maybe two shots at it."Read the Full report here
Closer to home THREE Tennis South Canterbury players' skills and potential have been recognised again.Geraldine Prisk, Gabrielle Grady and Elliot Darling have been chosen for the first stage of Tennis Southern's high-performance programme.The trio make up half the number who have been invited to attend a camp to be held in Dunedin on August 23 and 24.The August camp will be delivered by the Academy of Sport South Island, Sport Otago, and Tennis New Zealand Tennis director of coaching Peter McCraw.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Key Ingredient to Sporting Success -Tennis Talent Identification

Talent identification is a key component to any sports success.In New Zealand on the tennis side this area has not yet been truly explored, but i am sure there are plans ahead for a National Talent identification program.Participation of youngsters in any New Zealand sporting code is often determined by tradition eg rugby , netball,ideals,desire to take part in a sport by its popularity,parental pressure,schools speciality often driven by a teachers preference and their own sporting background and of course proximity of sports facilities especially in major city's.For Coaches and elite national programs hoping that individuals have chosen the correct sport in any code let alone tennis is simply not good enough.

Sporting codes in various country's have developed specific methods to identify talented individuals.Whilst the world is focusing on Beijing and China this is an example of a country with different talent identification and implementation compared to western country's such as New Zealand.Its important to note in China's case that two very important factors are keys to their sucess.1.Its backed and totally funded by the Government. 2. And access to the worlds largest population.They have established 1,782 sports schools catering for 185,000 athletes.Their projection that 10% of these athletes will ascend to elite level.The success of this can be seen over the next two weeks.

This story gives an example of what is happening in china "A Chinese table tennis star tells when she was 7 scouts came to her school and had all the children try to throw 3 balls in a bucket 10 feet away.All kids that got the three balls in the bucket where whisked away for three hours training a day.This player turned pro at 11 years of age by that time she was training 8 hours a day".

Here in New Zealand the success of an athlete will be determined by their junior development program with factors such as where one lives,socio-economic status,training facilities,coaching and competition exposure are all key components for the "big picture" of becoming an elite junior tennis player.

This is Part 1 as I explore several factors on making an elite junior tennis player in a local environment

Friday, August 8, 2008


Tennis will not be taking "center stage" in Beijing,there will be other great story's and triumphs in other events where athletes have been training for the past 4 years to full fill their sporting dream.Many athletes in various sports have been working part time jobs to help offset their training costs unlike the tennis "stars" who have just come off Wimbledon where the grass is "greener" .Whilst the Olympic Gold medal is the ultimate for most athletes , tennis players still regard winning a Grandslam singles at Wimbledon,The French Open,The US Open or The Aussie Open a far greater prize than Olympic Glory.Whilst it will be a great competition you will be watching recorded matches and highlights as the True Olympic sports take precedence.The Tennis will provide its "upsets" ,2nd Seed Nadal faces a tough road to the finals possible second round match up with Aussie Hewitt and the Qtrs maybe against in form Murray then a Semi Final against Djokovic,Federer has a more friendlier draw but may meet in the 3rd round Tomas Berdych, the man who beat him in Athens four years ago.Women's top seed Ana Ivanovic opens against Ukraine's Mariya Koryttseva and Jelena Jankovic should have little trouble against Cara Black of Zimbabwe.Americans Venus and Serena Williams,are in opposite halves and will be favourites to progress for a repeat of their clash in the Wimbledon singles final.The games atmosphere is entirely different to a normal tennis event and there will be some tennis players that will simply just "enjoy" the moment, Punters dont bet your house, if History of Olympic tennis events are anything to go on there will be upsets .Visit the official Beijing Olympic Web Site here

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Its a Political Game - Australian Tennis about too take stock ,once again

Australia is a proud tennis nation with a great history of tennis champions.Questions have been asked once again what is happening with the structure and High Performance program as again the National program is losing top juniors who elect to go elsewhere.Former Top Aussie Jason Stoltenburg has recently had a very Public Feud with Craig Tilley Tennis Australia's Player Development Manager and Australian Open Boss.Tilley hired Stoltenberg - former world No.19, coach of Lleyton Hewitt and a man passionate about reviving Australia's international standing - as a national coach three years ago. Stoltenberg quit because of extreme frustration with Tiley's ideas.Stoltenburg had this too say "I've worked for Tennis Australia. I've been at the coalface of player development. It is basically a low-level college system. I've come to the conclusion that unless there are changes, and unless there are changes now, this country will become irrelevant as a tennis nation" and he went on to say this about Tilley "Craig is a massive control freak," Stoltenberg said. "Unfortunately, I think he's made it personal between us. From him, it's my way or the highway. His ideas and my ideas on how to become a world-class professional are poles apart."
Read the full 4 page story here

Last week the Sydney Morning Herald suggested that Tennis Australia's President Geoff Pollard may be on borrowed time as the board and presidency of Tennis Australia is up for re-election in October.Should Pollard be "rolled" then CEO Steve Wood and Craig Tilley could be looking for new jobs after that meeting.Link to the story

And now John Newcombe an Aussie legend has said Tennis Australia's player development program was not expert enough to lift Aussie talent Chris Guccione to the upper echelon of world tennis. Perhaps he had a point, because now Guccione has left the Tennis Australia-Australian Institute of Sport set-up to resurrect his stalled career with private coaching.The Link is here to that story

A week in anyones life can sometimes be longer than one hopes for, Tilley a South African who has had a remarkable coaching career is starting to feel the heat.Watch this space for further developments.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cuthill goes down in three sets Qtrs Mens Special Singles Sawtell(Aus)

Invercargill's Oliver Cuthill(NZ) started strongly winning the first set 6-2 against Grafton's Jamie Firth(18)but Firth found another "gear" winning the next two sets 6-2 6-4.Cuthill had won his previous two rounds in convincing fashion 6-1 6-1 against 14 year old Matthew Wenta and then took out veteran Stevan Strong 6-2 6-0.In the men's Open Singles Top Seed Nineteen year old Mathew Hogan(ACT) looks hard to beat beating Tomas Willis 6-0 6-0 in the Quarter Finals. Willis had beaten Cuthill in the Main draw.For Cuthill now, he will be taking up a Tennis Scholarship with the University of New Orleans later this month.Finals will be completed today at this tranquil seaside location.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cuthill "crashes" out of 2008 Sawtell RSL Seaside Open

Oliver Cuthill was defeated by 16 year old Tomas Willis(Qld)6-3 6-4 ,in the round of 32. Earlier Cuthill defeated Alex Wilson (NSW) in his first match 6-1 6-2 to set up the encounter with the 10th seed Willis.Willis attacked the backhand of Cuthill and was able to gain early control in crucial points by exposing this side.Cuthill had his chances in the Second set however bad choice in shot selection on big points proved costly.Cuthill's first serve percentage for the match was not high.Sawtell's surface is a mixture of clay and synthetic grass and Cuthill was always going to struggle in adapting from Hardcourt's.Willis comes off the Rod Laver 16s where he lost his quarter final match up 8-0.Cuthill is still in the Men's Special Singles, which is the second tier men's event and seeded players in the Open Events cannot enter. 11 of the top 16 seeds in the Open Event where under 17 years of age.Cuthill
will take on 14 year old Mathew Wenta in his first match, whilst expected to win older players certainly don't enjoy playing the younger guys and this could be closer than expected.Sawtell Tennis Club is situated in the beautiful Sawtell Reserve, surrounded by many sporting facilities not far from Coffs Harbor NSW. They have a total of 12 courts; eight clay courts (much envied by other clubs in NSW) and four artificial grass courts.It is a traditionally strong tournament this year attracting over 300 entries and is always played on "Bank Holiday" weekend in Australia.