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.


  1. Some time ago I said I would report some real SHOCKING stories about the treatment of Tennis Coaches in NZ. I am currently researching material about several Coaches.We spent a weekend with Clem Apted the Piako Coach in Te Aroha, a beautiful little town between Morrinsville and Paeroa. Clem operates from the town and coaches as far away as Hamilton and Ohinewai. Clem has an interesting story that involves a Tennis Club, the Probation Department and NZ Tennis, more about that later!. Apted is still very positive about being a Tennis Coach, he has doubled the numbers of kids at Te Aroha Club, he has an excellent programme into Schools sponsored by Te Aroha Physiotherapy and is currently working with the Te Aroha Business Association to start a National Tennis Museum, the Association is keen to find premises, he has the support of Mike Erceg the Waikato Bays Chairman, Cliff Pett from Paeroa Tennis and Onny Parun has offered mementos from his great career. Apted says”every Tennis Club has valuable pieces of Tennis history just hanging around the Club, NZ has a rich history in Tennis, valuable artefacts need a home”. Another respected Tennis Coach that has been battling away is Michael Mooney who is a former National Coach, he was Coaching at the Marlborough Tennis Association in Blenheim. Michael’s story has been fairly well documented. It’s almost unbelievable what Michael and his family has had to endure, persecuted by a vindictive committee intent to destroy his reputation, they have even stooped so low as to get a Trespass Order against him at a National tournament just to embarrass him, Michael has had the illegal Trespass order over turned. Michael’s daughter has had her membership application rejected, no reason was given , he has been followed, harassed, and assaulted. What has NZ Tennis done to mediate the situation, Nothing! , to give you an idea how warped this Committee is, they employed John Gardiner who was thrown out of Nelson Bays, where he is no longer allowed to Coach, because of his dishonesty. MTC, were well aware of Gardiner’s dishonesty but still took him on. Mooney who is more qualified, more competent and more honest is not allowed to coach at MTC, Mooney now works as a house painter to support his family, and continues his battle with MTC, most of us would have just walked away, but with a supporting family he feels he has a moral obligation to continue his fight for justice. Where are other coaches with the ‘balls’ to support him? . I will continue to highlight the poor treatment of Coaches in this country and their battles with Committees, and the National Body, NZ Tennis, Regards Tony Osborne.

  2. Paul McNamee is 100 per cent correct. It should not be the role of a national body to sever successful relationships between private coaches and their students; the proper role of a national body should be to support and nurture those relationships. There is no surer way to minimize a nation’s chances of producing champions than to alienate the entire private coaching community by effectively declaring war on them. Tennis Australia’s divisive and, as Paul points out, fatally flawed approach to junior development does, though, have one redeeming feature; namely, it provides a superb model for guaranteed future success as all one would have to do is implement the exact opposite of every one of its failed and failing policies.