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!


  1. I stumbled across your blog some time ago and as an Ex Kiwi living in Sydney I played a little tennis in my Junior days in Wellington. I see your points.Simple tennis is too expensive and too elitist in New Zealand my kids could never afford the cost , I have two boys that play Rugby League a team game.sounds like officials cant get their head around Tennis is not a team game but an individual game.

  2. Hi Steve, I like reading your blog and thought that I would add some comments to this post as my son is
    effected by it.Kyle was sponsored by seed when he was 14(for 1 year).He got seed funding because of his results at the junior worlds in Malaysia.When Kyle received the funding we were extremely happy for him as it lighten the financial burden tennis carries. At no stage were we given a list of requirements for Kyle to achieve. Alan Chester comments in the Sunday news were somewhat amusing even though they were mainly aimed at the professionals players not juniors(still painted a crap picture of tennis in NZ). The last communication we had with Alan was one year ago.There was some big names on the seed board and I would like to say that we were given some great advice from them but I would be lying.No advice was given or Targets/goals to achieve set. The last time I heard anything from seed was what we read in the paper.We are still extremely great-full for the funding they gave Kyle though I feel that once Sasha left it was game over for seed.Thankyou ASB for putting that money aside for juniors.Now lets talk about Thanassi from Australia.He is a very good player the thing is that if he was not an Australian he wouldn't have been given a wild card into the Australian Junior Open and achieved a place in the final.Sadly for the Kiwi players(and those that reside outside the Major tournament countries) they all need to play the ITFS to gain enough points just to make the qualifiers let alone the main draw.I believe that there are other Thanassi's out there playing futures that no one knows about.When we had the three ITF tournaments here Australia sent over their c junior team along with a couple of b's to get the points. Isnt it great that the Aussies and Japanese went home empty handed. Kiwis boys won all three events. Alex would have won Wellington and Ashburton had Kyle not beaten him in the final and semi final.Difference between Kyle and Alex verse other Kiwi kids is guts and Determination. We have some great talent Emerging and younger ones behind them.The first reaction after wellington I had was to enter kyle into the Asia grade ones! but after sitting down with Kyles team we all agreed that he needed to get bigger,stronger,faster and better. He needed a bigger serve,forehand etc as these are weapons needed to be average in the pro circuit.If you don't have big weapons then forget it!.You're right in saying don't play too many ITFS as it gives a false reading of where you are at. Kyle will be looking at doing 6 lower end Futures this year in Europe as well as high end ITFS and money tournaments. I noticed (when comparing Kyles ITF ranking)against the top ten same age group players that they have played nearly double the itf tournaments and some triple. Many times I have thought that this tennis biz is too hard(golf is a better game:) but all we can do is get the best team around him,take on advice given from the likes of Marcel(whom I think is a pretty good and knowledgeable guy)filter out the stuff we do not like and trust your gut and your team. This year will be a interesting one for Kyle as he needs to step up against better and bigger opposition.The junior Davis cup in Korea will be a good yard stick of where he is at(if he makes the team) Parents need not get carried away with their children winning national titles as they don't mean anything outside NZ. What do I think of the RPC coaches? I like the one we have but every coach can improve! we need to develop a different culture in the camps. Too many players at the 16's nationals refused to play plate rounds and playoffs.This is crap and needs to be sorted asap.Question for readers how much profit from the Heineken and ASB classic goes to help the juniors in NZ? I could talk for hours mate but have a tennis committee meeting to go to ( i know how much you dislike us committee members :)

    1. I see you mentioned Alan Chester, a small man with short man's disease, idiots like him are running Tennis in this country!

  3. Thanks Dave for your comments,New Zealand juniors like Kyle are up against it, Kyle is a bright prospect , yes you are very correct about juniors not playing plate events and of course the Top Dog factor is playing its part there! and yes indeed needs to be sorted ASAP.I think you are very realistic in your summary re National titles we have to look outside New Zealand.I really would like to hear about what type of culture that needs to be created in training camps ,,I have an opinion that the culture needs to be full on enthusiastic but really pushing the players to their limits and creating discipline and work ethics.I may be wrong but I dont see or hear of this.We dont have any Futures in New Zealand yet we can waste 200,000 on plans that were never going to work..Aussie Nick Kyrgios World No 1 ITF junior has made waves at senior level, vaulting an incredible 267 spots after reaching the semi-finals in Adelaide at a challenger of course Tennis Australia gave him a Wild Card.I like the sound of Kyle doing some futures ..its a shame as i said TNZ cant get any here for juniors like Kyle , that should be a priority!Priority is not great and some serious questions need to be asked re funding.Thanks for first hand knowledge with your experience about the Seed Foundation.Like anything it comes down to who you know!Yes good the Kiwi Juniors sent some of those pretend Aussie players back with their tails between their legs!I know a few good committee members of which I am sure you are one....but Alas I know many who are rubbish and involved for all the wrong reasons. I am reading a book called the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle if you have not read this the try and get a copy its very interesting stuff.Thank you for your time to comment and certainly will be watching Kyle's development and hope he gets the support and advice he needs .Tennis is not the easiest of sports and being a top New Zealand junior in the current environment is extremely hard.Hope your meeting went without controversy lol.

  4. haha love the artwork! ok firstly addressing where we go wrong in NZ.
    have we previously developed top juniors on the world scale? Yes. Have we developed top 300 ATP players? Yes. Have we developed top 100 players (in the last 30 years)? NO.

    The whole mentality surrounded by juniors and parents is completely wrong. hes a top 14 year old, but oh no by 16 maybe hes not a top ranked junior and making the "junior cut" so lets move on. In regards to pro tennis, it literally means absolutely nothing if Kyle is number one in the world in the 14/16/18s wins every grand slam in juniors. in the MODERN ERA of tennis (not fairly lewis etc) look at how many number one and grand slam winners go on in the pros?

    I could go further into detail but i have things to do, so basically train your son to be a professional tennis player not a good junior and focus on developing his game around mind around that and not on winning in juniors......and help pack his bags to live at an academy in spain, because zero is the chance in NZ.

  5. You are so correct get rid of the Top Dog Ranking system it is not teaching juniors anything other than hiding and protecting rankings.What other country has this system?

  6. Great to read Dave's comments. They are thought out and constructive, rather than personal attacks.
    New Zealand has generally produced good juniors who are able to make junior Grand Slam quarterfinals, or close to it.
    It should be pointed out that there have always been players who have come through on the outside of national systems - Pat Rafter, Michael Stich etc etc. Sometimes systems do work...and other times they don't. What is mentioned in the above column has been tried in the past...in fact numerous different ways have been tried, some with more success than others. There is not one system which suits others.
    What it takes to potentially be a good pro player is a bit of money, some luck, a little bit of good planning and even a bit of talent.
    Good luck to Kyle and to all other juniors and perhaps coaches can stop bickering with each other and with administration all the time - it doesn't help!

  7. Coaches in NZ should be treated with respect by their students, parents and most of all by NZ Tennis, until this starts happening there is little hope of developing top players.Coaches have to constantly watch their backs, there is no job security, Racquet Companies treat us like crap, protecting the retailers who know nothing about Tennis and NZ Tennis looks after the 'arse lickers', what hope is there?.