Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tennis Player Pathway

I read with interest Paul MCNamee's Take on the Australian Coaching System employed by Tennis Australia and I have to agree with him on a number of points.

Below is what the article said.Many good coaches here in New Zealand are lost because of a flawed pathway that does not support players or coaches and the individual needs that is required to go to the top.I have called on TNZ many times to get their head out of the sand and see the real world start giving jobs to the best applicants and those with experience.Support must be given to the top coaches and not to the "yes boys" who are often given jobs that they cannot handle ...but of course will go with the flow and allow tennis to stagnate as long as they have a job.I liken the local system to rounding up sheep and putting them in a pen with the attitude one size fits all.Its been like this for the past 20 years .

After a couple of crisis years, the future fortunes of Australian tennis seemed to be taking a turn for the better after youngsters Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis contested the boys final in the recent Australian Open and 16 year-old Ash Barty reached the final of the women’s doubles.

But former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee has attacked the coaching structure adopted by Tennis Australia, describing it as fatally flawed. And he immediately found a high-profile supporter in the shape of former Wimbledon champion and Aussie Davis Cup hero Pat Cash.

In open letter to coaches, McNamee stressed the need for private coaches to be integrated into the system rather than ostracized. And if this trend is not reversed, he believes Australian tennis is doomed.
McNamee cited the example of an unnamed Australian player at Wimbledon last year who was under the guidance of their fourth coach in 12 months and how it was affecting this particular individual’s progress.

The letter read: “It’s fair to say that coach may come from anywhere, and may pop up at any moment, but it’s equally true that the most likely person to play that role is your coach in your formative teenage years, just like Ian Barclay was to Pat Cash.
“Well, at least that’s how it used to be until the Tennis Australia juggernaut decided to engage in and endeavor to monopolize the coaching industry, including directly employing coaches itself and designating which talented players they work with.

What is the consequence of the Tennis Australia approach? At the junior level, how many players have been lured away from their private coaches into ‘the system’ and placed under the care of a ‘better’ coach? Worse than that, the players have been subjected to the TA coaching merry go round.

“Several of our most talented players in recent years have been shunted from one coach to another, under the direction of our governing body.
“At Wimbledon this year, I saw an Aussie player, part of the TA system, with the fourth coach in 12 months. I don’t need to tell you that a mix of inputs like that, however knowledgeable and well meaning, is a recipe for disaster.

“I don’t blame the individual coaches for accepting a very attractive employment option but, as our results demonstrate, the TA player development strategy is fatally flawed in my view. After all, systems do not produce champions, people do.
“As a consequence, and I’m not alone in saying this, we’ve pretty much lost a generation of players who have not transitioned to the Tour.

“For each one of those players, there’s one of you coaches out there who’s hurting and bemoans that fact, and who wished the outcome had been different. For the sake of Australian tennis, this must not continue.”

Cash supported McNamee in all he said and added: “Tennis Australia have such a poor success rate only surpassed by the Lawn Tennis Association in the UK. To me the missing ingredient is so obvious.

According to Cash, Tennis Australia has long failed to utilize all the coaching experience waiting on their doorstep in the form of ex-players including themselves along with the likes of Peter McNamara, Jason Stoltenberg, Richard Fromberg and many others.
“In fact I offered to help them in this area so many times over the years I’ve given up bothering,” said Cash. “They have wasted another generation of talent and there’s another to follow by the looks of it.”

Thanks to Daily Tennis News Wire for the above.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day Three Round up - Melbourne Park International

Nick Kyrgios beat Rubin Statham yesterday in Melbourne.At 17 is certainly a bright prospect.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wanted a Great Tennis Player

It is with no surprise that the Sunday Star Times reported that the  Seed Foundation, an organisation set up to fund New Zealand's most promising tennis players, has stopped handing out money, because it can't find anyone good enough!!The article went on to say"The sad fact is that no player has any chance of making it from New Zealand unless they have wealthy parents or get money from Seed. Yes this is the climate for tennis players in this country,since the glory days of "Parun,Lewis Fairlie etc the local culture has disintegrated in many areas.Basically the Administrators of the game in this country are making more than the players  !Wasted funding in many regions have gone unaccountable and if you want proof then look at the Southern Region of New Zealand a debacle and $200,000.00 spent and  for what? a region that is still in debt.Wasted money on cars,High performance coach,CEO I could go on ,and this does not stop just in Southern.Tennis is for the wealthy and its no wonder we are not attracting enough of the athletic players with "grit" instead we attract a lot of "sooks" crying juniors spoilt by Mummy and Daddy (new racquets , new shoes) and when the going gets tough they cant get going!Mentally we are light years behind our counterparts on the other side of the world.We cannot HOPE to get it right if our structure is wrong and it starts with Admin and funding,Players and juniors could of been better off with that           

$200,000 spent in Southern! The picture on the left really defines Tennis attitude in New Zealand and I cannot believe this "head in the sand" thinking.I mean there are some horrific story's out there with bad administration and persecution of top coaches.If you are prepared to go with the flow you are safe ..buck the system here and its to the "gallows"with you! Lets be honest there has been some bad appointments to key positions and the best person for the job has quite often been overlooked! Yes I believe we have talented juniors not many that can make it population and participation does not allow i but we have a few but unless a better plan, more dedication and discipline can be installed , better access to funds for both players and THEIR coaches.Notice I highlighted their, here in Zealand The National Body are trying to take juniors from their private coaches and lets put it out there to appointed coaches that can "spin the yarn" and dont really have opinions except to check their Bank Balance.I mean do a little research and all players in the top 100 have their own coach and to create a scenario where NZ appoints a Davis Cup Coach to help a player for "x" amount of months is just stupid, sit down and talk to the player and their coach and see if you can "nut out a funding arrangement based on performance!I mean Rubin Statham just made the semi's of a Challenger in Australia ..and no help from Vos but by his own means and his own team.A Davis Cup coach needs to work with player and coach providing feedback to TNZ on results not pretending you are their coach.. C'mon guys get that head out of the sand and get with it! Tennis is an individual sport you need to put money into things that are working!

The College system is  a great backup for our juniors and it probably is the best option for current juniors but its no surprise that New Zealand current Number 1 in Men and Women did not do the college scene.At the end of the day you get a degree, you get three meals a day, training, a few parties ...its a great life ...but is it the toughness that will get you to the top your sport I say no!

What needs to go is Top Dog and the way rankings and more importantly the culture it has brought to Junior tennis I mean how absurd that A local club game can mean more than winning a National Final.I have written on the blog before with this basic principle being the root of all evil , it needs to go! and bring back rewards as your progress through a tournament rather than head to head.It really is a Joke when you look more carefully and you hear the story"s around the country as they try to beat the system with Parents "stalking " out older players that have been given an outrageous top dog code..or by electing not to play an opponent as they may lose points.Lets reward the tournament player and bring back some real meaning to these events.Read Articles here Link 1 and LINK 2

You need to understand that by accumulating ITF junior points does not necessary mean success Juniors , coaches and parents are pretending to be on the actual pro tour and the amount of ItF tournaments played is ridiculous , sure if you want to go to college the rankings help, but smart college coaches will look at results at the end of the day.A perfect example is Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis 16 year old who reached the final of the recent Australian Open Juniors un seeded and ranked over 700 ITF. It would be great if Junior players Kyle Butters and Cameron Norrie looked at his schedule and training regime.If Juniors here keep following the same path then I see it impossible to make it on the Pro Tour.Credit To Statham and Co who have gone for it with limited resources and advice from the National Body.Juniors you need to be making the quarters of ITF Grandslam's and Grade A and 1 and 2 events consistently to have any hope.

Too much comparison is made with the local scene and at the end of the day if this is your gauge  on success then you are deluded.

Take the current Fed Cup , most of the team except for Marina are college standard players and certainly not the top college players ,without Marina the prospects of promotion to a higher division looks dim.

For New Zealanders I dont think College is the way to go for Pro Tour aspirants ...for the realists it is.

Basically I have gone off on a lot of topics , I think my opinions are relevant and sorry if i have confused those reading.I could go on but for today I have written enough!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

NZ Fed Cup Team "Bombs" out against Hong Kong China

In a must win match to top their pool and advance to the final to meet the winner of the other pool for the right to move to Group 1 New Zealand loses to Hong Kong China.Marina Erakovic New Zealand's Top player and the highest ranked player by a country mile in the event did not play in the tie.

One can only speculate events that lead to her omission? Erakovic playing would of assured the team a win.

Fanning lost to Chan who is ranked 357 and Hayman lost to Ip who is WTA 711.Erakovic is WTA 74.

We await patiently the match report. I am sure TNZ was hoping of some good news from the Fed Cup Team on top of the recent Davis Cup debacle unfortunately the News is all bad!

Erakovic on slippery ground.
The New Zealand number one faces a break from the game after dislocating her thumb when she slipped on a hotel floor. Erakovic will fly back to New Zealand to receive treatment.And so ends New Zealand's chance for promotion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happy 105th Birthday Nana

105 years ago my Grandmother Charlotte Mary Burns-Montgomery was born at Tichborne NSW Australia. Today she will celebrate her 105 th Birthday.Nana was the eldest child of John Alan and Henrietta Maud Mary Burns-Montgomery,having four brothers and two sister who have all passed on.We love you and Happy Birthday from all in NZ , the pictures above are Nana aged 3 and just recently on my visit home in January.I guess this Blog might go on for a few years with those genes......: )

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tea Lady's and Tennis - by Tony Osborne

Tennis Administration has changed, unfortunately not for the better. It wasn’t that long ago Tennis was run by a couple of Administrators and a part time Office Lady, who also made the tea!, it was more successful, there were more people playing and we had a respected Davis Cup and Federation Cup Teams. Just go on the NZ Tennis web site, we have the C.E.O Steve[ I know nothing] Johns, Marcel Voss the National Coach, Voss, who must be very confused at the moment, having been replaced BY Alistair Hunt, poor old Marcel must be wandering around the flash new Office at NZ Tennis wondering what his actual role is, we have a National Game Development Officer, whatever that is?, we have a Coach Education Co –ordinator, Craig Bell who is rarely seen away from the Water Cooler, there are other positions as well that I have no idea what these people they actually do!, oh by the way they don’t have a ‘tea lady’, perhaps that's where they are going wrong. We really have to ask what are these people being paid?, what is it costing to run the operation, Salaries, Cars, Travel, Cocktail Parties that sort of thing?. Are these people paid on performance?. What’s wrong with the Coaches in NZ, why do they have similar opinions as to numerous articles published at ‘The Eye Of The Tiger, but don’t have the ‘balls’, to express them to NZ Tennis. It’s about time the peasants revolted!!. Lets take the crazy situation with the Davis Cup Team, how come a player ranked 10 in NZ, Mathew Simpson is chosen to join the Team, it’s ok to have a Top Junior, so that he can gain some experience but this ,guy is just a Club Player who plays a few tournaments occasionally, the big question did NZ Tennis pay for him to return to NZ?. It’s obvious that there has to be some big changes for the sake of Tennis in this Country, starting with Steve Johns, who really is out of his depth, Regards Tony Osborne.