Episode 2- Coach's Corner Podcast with Geoff Masters
In Episode 2 of Coach's Corner Podcast with Geoff Masters, ATP Coach and Australian former tennis player, and Brian Teacher talk all things tennis. Masters was part of doubles winning pairs in the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon tournaments during the 1970s. Listen as he and Brian discuss starting off in juniors in Australia, the world of tennis commentating, and much more.
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Hi, I'm Brian teacher, and our guest today is
Geoff Masters, who started playing on the ATP tour.
In the 70s, Geoff was a top 20 singles
player in the world, and he won three major
doubles titles, including Wimbledon doubles with Ross Case.
Jeff is also a high performance coach where
he has worked with the likes of Samantha
Stosur and Bernard Tomic as juniors growing up.
Geoff has been a tennis commentator
on TV in Australia for over 40 years.
So Geoff offers a wide range of skills and
expertise at the highest level of the game and
is on Full Court Tennis App platform, where you
can hire him for an in app virtual lesson. Hi, Geoff.
Welcome to Full Court Tennis Coach's Corner.
Nice to see you.
From down under, right?
Down under, yeah.
It's late in the morning, it's
a sunny day here in Queensland.
Life is good.
I never get used to the difference.
When I call Europe, it's always
typically nine hour difference, same day.
But you're literally Saturday, November 5,
and I'm still in November 4.
It's always a strange thing, but great to have
you here and, and so looking overlooking your
your tennis career, your professional tennis career.
You've been involved in the sport,
I think, for oh, my God.
It's the high end of the sport for
with different hats for about 50 years.
So you've got an incredible perspective with all
these different hats, and I want to get
into a bunch of it right now.
So first let's start with your pro career.
So I'm not sure, because we played kind of on the
tour at the same period, the same guys and stuff.
The back of my mind, I'm thinking you played
somewhere between ten and 13 years on the tour.
Yeah, eleven all up.
I guess that the first year that I started traveling.
I was 18.
That was in 1969.
I finished the end of 1980.
So about eleven years all up from beginning to end.
It went from basically towards the end of
the amateur era to the professional era.
So I saw an enormous change,
even that eleven year period.
So you've been there from the start, from
the beginning of sense the pro tour through
the current tour today, which is incredible changes.
So in singles you got to as high I've seen, at
least it was reported 42 in singles, is that correct?
Yeah, I think that was the end of year rankings.
One stage early in the year, I was in the
WCT finals for the top eight, which was pretty exciting.
I was in a very elite group then with Mackenzie
Borg and Connors and Gerulaitis in the top eight.
But yeah, because I always yeah, I thought I always
thought of you as being a top 20 singles player.
That's why I was so that was a year end thing.
So at one point, maybe you
were higher in your singles ranking.
Yeah, I would have been higher in those days.
They basically just finished.
Well, that's a year end finish.
The end of the year wasn't so good, but,
yeah, during the year it was better than that.
I won a few tournaments, but certainly more in doubles
and singles, but I won a few singles titles.
Someone I know, I've talked to the ATP,
and they have not kept good records of
guys in our generation back in those days.
So you got to get on them and tell them.
Would you say you were almost better known
as a doubles player because you won three
majors in doubles and, of course, Wimbledon doubles
is quite an incredible accomplishment.
And would you say that's your happiest moment in
tennis or most exciting, or were there others?
Certainly one of with due respect, all players
played doubles in those days, like Borg and
Vilas and Newcombe and Roche and Gottfried Ramírez.
Everybody played doubles.
It was best to five sets, so it was very exciting.
And it probably had a little bit more kudo
in a sense than it does now, even though
the level of play now is so much better.
But everybody was playing then because
frankly, there wasn't that much money.
So everybody played singles, doubles and
mixed off and if they could.
But, yeah, look, winning Wimbledon was fantastic.
It happened to be the year that the Queen of
England actually showed up, and it was the final.
1977 was the centenary year of Wimbledon, and fortunately for
the Brits, Virginia Wade was in the final and it
was the year the Queen was going to show up
anyhow, because it was a centenary year, so she was
there to present the women's single trophy to Virginia Wade.
And then the doubles final was on next.
So we met the Queen in the little ante
room waiting to go on, and spoke to her
for a couple of minutes before going on.
What we said, I have no idea,
but that's a long time ago.
In the finals, did you beat Dent and Alexander?
Was that then or not?
We did, yeah.
Two other Aussies the year before, Ross Case and
I had lost in the final, the Brian Gottfried
and Raúl Ramírez, like 75 and the fifth.
So we sort of got a little revenge the following year.
Yeah, Nail Bags (Bob Carmichael) and I lost to Dent and Alexander in
the finals, I mean, in the semis in five sets.
So we were excited to get to that point
and, you know, obviously disappointed, but I was very
excited to see you guys, you guys win it.
So you when you played, you were playing against
all these guys the same as I, Borg, McEnroe,
Connor, Gerulaitis, Vilas, all these guys, yeah.
Who who was your who did you find day in, day
out, was the toughest competitor of these guys and why?
Well, I remember the ATP tour, or even in those
days that they used to ask all the players all
the peers, various questions about what they found interesting, and
one of which was, if you had to have a
player play for your life, who would it be?
And the winner almost invariably was Jimmy Connors
because he was just the ultimate competitor.
I mean, he was just brutal.
And I was on the receiving end of a flogging from
him in the final of the Australian indoor singles one year.
I'd won the indoor tournament, I think in
'76 and lost to him in maybe '78.
And he beat me like six love 6-1, 6-3 something like that.
Absolutely flogged me.
But he was a competitor beyond anybody else's ability to
just fight and just feel like he just loved the
scrap and, you know, he was he was ready to
tear you, tear your throat if he could.
And I mean that in the best sense.
I mean, he was good to me, but on
the court, yeah, he was ferocious, I think.
Yeah, I played against him quite a few times in practice
and he always seemed to bring the best out that you
just it was always a struggle just to get games.
The more games you got, the better you'd feel and you got
into it and then maybe you give him a match one day.
It was always incredible.
So when you weren't playing tournaments, what type of
training did you do primarily on the tour?
Was it mostly playing sets or?
I know the guys today do all this
cross training, but back then it was quite
a bit different, not as sophisticated.
So tell me how you trained.
Yeah, I mean, you're absolutely right.
It's much more sophisticated today.
I mean, the era just prior to my playing
was where Harry Hopman was Davis Cup coach and
he was quite revered in Australia, so he used
to train the players pretty hard.
But it was a lot of on court stuff, a lot
of running and things that were basically stuff like double
knee jumps or you might call them kangaroo jumps, I'm
not sure what you bring your knees up to your
chest, jump, you do a lot of distance running, do
push ups, that sort of stuff.
But a lot of running, it was all about running.
So you'd run distances, four and 5 miles as it
was then, on a regular basis to get endurance.
And then a lot of time on
court basically was the thrust of it.
But these days, these people, men
and women, they're physically fantastic.
The work they're doing off court is awesome.
They're leaving nothing to chance.
And, yeah, it's wonderful to see the
athleticism that they bring to the table.
It's funny because you're bringing back memories of when I
used to train with Vitas a little bit and he
had that Harry Hopman mentality from working out with him.
And I remember that there was just a
lot of running, basically running after balls, practicing
hard and just grinding yourself to ground.
That's probably why I have two
hip replacements today, right away.
But these guys today really do it smart.
I was watching a video of Djokovic's training of all
the different plyometrics and footwork drills he does off the
court and even like this elastic bands with tension, with
the guys hitting his arms and stuff while he's trains
and trying to put a little extra tension.
But nothing like no serious
big weight lifting or anything.
Just working on the core and all
his extensions to keep him strong.
It seems really a smart way to train to be incredible.
I think he's been renowned for
just leaving nothing to chance.
His diet is fantastic.
And as you said, he's flexibility as well.
He works incredibly hard on his flexibility.
We see him doing the splits and
all sorts of things on the court.
So he's been driven to making
himself better in every sense.
And physically, you can see some longevity there
for sure, because he's taken such good care
of himself with his off court diet and
the way he's looked after himself.
So he looks as if he's fit and well
and able to play another four or five years
and it looks like yeah, it's exciting to see.
It will be exciting to see.
So when you were on the tour as a young pro and
just kind of starting out, you said you were 18, 19 years old.
Was your game kind of solidified, your technique, or were
you always trying to refine it and get it better?
Some guys, their technique is done and some guys are
always working on it, trying to get it better.
So what was your like?
Yeah, I think after time you start
to realize what your flaws are.
And as you know, even then in that
era, the players will suss you out after
a while and pick up any deficiencies.
I grew up in Australia a lot on grass courts
and some what we called ant bed courts, basically.
So it's like a clay court, but a
little bit more slippery and low bouncing.
So my grips in those days were
a little bit more continental grips.
So my forehand, as the balls got higher
and Vilas and Borg with these players are
throwing top spin, the balls getting higher, my
forehand grip was really not appropriate.
So I gradually tried to change that a little bit
more because it was not a weapon for me.
It was a bit more of a liability.
And my serve, I was always trying to get better with
my serve because that was something as it is even today.
I mean, you start the point, you need a good
serve, you had a really good serve, and if you
can set the point up so, yeah, my serving beforehand
were areas that I tried to get better.
I was always quite strong at the front part
of the court, my net game, et cetera.
But, yeah, my serving forehand was something that I continued
to work on, really, towards the end as well.
Yeah, that's interesting.
That's kind of the way I look at it that most
guys are kind of trying to refine their technique and get
a little better and figure out what they're losing from or
what they need to improve in their technique.
So it's good to hear that.
What about the mental part of the game?
I'm sure I know I lost a lot
of matches because of the poor mental quality
or whatever out there, the choking or whatever.
But everybody, I think, does, don't they?
I mean, I don't know.
Were you good mentally?
Did you ever feel like your brain let you down
or your mind emotions let you down on the court?
Yeah, for sure.
I think you're traveling a lot and you're
losing a lot of this space every week.
There's only one winner, so there's a
lot of people losing every week.
So your self confidence and self belief
takes a bit of a battering.
So it's hard to get your attitude in
a very positive space on a regular basis.
But in a sense, towards the middle or latter part
of my career, I was fortunate to be in a
couple of Davis Cup teams with John Newcombe.
And he was the epitome of positive attitude.
He was always talking positively.
And towards the end of my career, even then,
when he was still playing some great tennis, he
gave me some interesting tips about mental strength.
For example, he used to talk about how he'd
for his Wimbledon matches, he'd go to the referee
late in the evening and say, which court am
I on tomorrow and what match?
And they'd say, you know, Third on court three.
So he would go down to Court three late
in the day, stand on the court, visualizing himself
playing there and winning, and then you go home
at night before he went to sleep.
He'd make a habit of visualizing again
himself on that court playing and winning.
And I thought, well, he was ahead of the
field in a sense, as far as things like
visualization and understanding the significance of that.
So I learned from him a fair bit towards the end of
my career, almost a bit too late, to be honest with you,
but it was amateur stuff, but it was very helpful.
And he was always very self confident about
what he believed he could bring to the
table, and that helped him enormously.
That's that's very cool to hear.
What about any of the other you know, you
had such an amazing group of Australian icons around
the time when you were growing up, whether it
was Newcombe or Roche, Stolle, Emmo, Rosewall, Laver.
Did any of those other guys have
any impact on your game growing up?
Yeah, well, only to a smaller extent
because those guys were a bit older.
Primarily, they were living in the US.
I mean Stolle,
Emerson, Laver were all living in the US at the time.
My career was sort of in its middle stages, so
didn't get a lot, and that was nobody's fault.
They were just living elsewhere.
But as I said, I think spending some time
with Newcombe in some Davis Cup matches was a
very important time for me, that I learned some
of those mental skills that we all need.
We're all very much wiser after the fact.
We grow, our maturity grows as we get older,
so we're always much wiser after the fact.
I think the ability to listen and hear and emulate
what top guys do, it's pretty impressionable and can really
help tremendously in a young probe, growing up, having played
Wimbledon and won it when all these guys, 99% of
the guys, were playing doubles at that time, right.
So it was a pretty exciting time.
Like you're saying that everybody was trying to make
money and play and everybody needed to compete.
Do you think that the game itself has been affected in
the sense that or you think it's more the equipment today
that we see more big serve, big forehand, big backhand, not
as much volleying up at Net, of course.
Nadal's got a great volley, Federer's
got a great volley, Djokovic.
But you don't see a tremendous amount
of great transitional game out there today.
At least I don't, unless maybe you do. So I don't know.
Do you think that that affects possibly the game today, or
do you think it was just more of the equipment?
Yeah, look, I think the equipment had a
very big role to play in it.
I mean, probably about four or five years ago
now, I used to be on site at Wimbledon
and do fair bit of commentary, and I had
opportunities to interview some of the players, and I
actually had an opportunity to interview Federer when he
was still playing great tennis and winning.
And I said to him, look, you've been the best grass
school player of this era, as he was at the time.
And I said, even the way you played
grass now is much different from the past.
You used to serve volley a
lot more first and second serves. Watch.
He said simply the strings. He said the strings
are giving the players so much more shape and
spin on the ball that it's that much more
difficult now to come in on a regular basis.
And he was still even years, couple of years
after that, he was bemoaning the fact that there
were fewer players coming in at all.
And he was saying that the technique of the volley
of a lot of players seems to be lacking.
And he believed that while there was so much more
spin on the ball, there were still times where you
needed to come forward to make sure that your opponent
didn't get into a rhythm, didn't know that you're always
going to be staying on the baseline.
So to answer your question, I think
the technique has had an effect.
However, I think there's still an opportunity for players to
come forward a little bit more than many are.
And as you mentioned, quite rightly, Nadal,
he's improved his volley enormously over his career.
I mean, he's now one of the better
volleyers coming around and Djokovic as well, who
never used to come in a whole lot.
They're still coming in at opportune moments.
But I think the game has evolved to some
extent where the ground stroking as well is so
much better today than it used to be.
There's such an emphasis on ground strokes, the
power that you can get in the back
of the court and hit winners.
That was impossible in the early days with A,
the wooden rackets and B, the smaller heads.
You couldn't do that. Now you can.
So you've got to be a lot more
judicious as to when you do come forward.
Yeah, I see that.
Tell me now, let's look at
your junior career, playing junior.
So when you were growing up, were you playing
in like, the tens, the twelves, 14s 16s,
or when did you start how competitive?
When did you start figuring out
that you were getting competitive?
And you might take this to the pro level.
Yeah, pretty early.
I mean, I love the sport.
I mean, in Australia I was a kid, there
weren't that many sporting choices as there are now.
And so tennis was very popular, as you mentioned before,
we had a lot of great players from Australia.
My mum and dad used to play social tennis.
So I played my first tournament when I
was seven in an under eleven event.
I liked it.
I won under eleven event when I was eight.
And then in the state of Queensland, where I grew
up playing in Brisbane, you know, I won most of
the under twelves, fourteens, sixteens events throughout, you know, those
developing years, so so I always felt like, well, I
love this, I'm quite good at it.
I was about 16 and I watched a
big international event at Milton in Brisbane.
I'm not sure if you probably never played at Milton
in Brisbane, where they used to have some big tournaments,
and I watched some pros play there and I thought,
well, this is what I think I can do.
And I was about 16 at the time.
So from age about 16, that's when I thought, yeah,
this is a career that I'd like to follow. Wow.
So growing up, when you were playing the juniors,
were you primarily playing sets or drilling or how
many tournaments would you play a year?
I know the kids today, possibly.
I don't think they play enough sets and stuff, so
I'm just curious as to what you were like. Yeah.
No, I agree.
Every Saturday there was a comp that I played in.
It was a male comp and there was singles and doubles.
And then Sunday, there was also another junior comp, but
there were a lot of tournaments, there were a lot
of what we call regional events, small country towns not
far away that would put on events, and you'd play
open singles, junior singles, mixed doubles, the whole thing.
You'd play five, six matches a day, and it would all
be encompassed into a really tight five, six matches of two
out of three or two out of three sets. Wow. Yeah.
And so you'd come home exhausted,
but you got used to that.
As you said, playing matches is the
best form of learning as well.
And I was lucky that I played a
lot of matches against older players, men, because
I was quite good as a junior.
But you play men who are cunning and smart
and you learn to play against different styles.
So I was very fortunate that there were a lot of
matches to be played weekends in just local comp, but also
tournaments of weekends where you go away for the weekend with
your mum and dad and you just play all weekend, literally
all weekend, and you'd come home and be tired.
But, yeah, it was great training.
So do you in Australia today, do you have this thing
where the kids are doing so many of the kids today,
when I see them and I teach a few lessons here
and there, they're not playing sets, they're drilling.
They're at these clinics and they're drilling.
And I say you should be playing two
sets at least five days a week.
I mean, these kids are playing like,
maybe two sets a week or something.
I don't think you can get good doing that, do you?
No, I agree with you absolutely.
In Australia, we don't have as many
courts that we used to have.
I mean, growing up as I was, there were
a lot of courts in people's backyards, so there
was access to a lot of courts.
Now, because of real estate has
become more expensive, there's less facilities.
So the viability is basically you play at
a club someplace and it's a limited opportunity.
So a lot of the coaching clinics, et cetera, it's geared
around churning out a lot of drills in a quick period
of time rather than playing a lot of matches.
And as I said before, there's not the local weekend
tournaments that there used to be where kids are getting
that match play on a really regular basis.
So that's missing.
And the ability to compete and get that toughness
of competition is so valuable and so important.
It's what we're missing.
It's kind of the learning curve, basically, to learning
all the different strokes, the different ways of ball
bounce, how to compete, that these kids seem like
to me, they don't have today.
So I'm glad to hear that from you.
So, you know, you've also so you've
been involved also at the Tennis commentating.
I see you've been doing that for
about almost 40 years, it seems like.
So you've seen this, like you're saying from the early
eighties to today, and the game is the prize money is
just how much was it when you won Wimbledon?
How much did you win? Do you remember?
Yeah, I think it was £6000, which is about $12,000.
So I think Wimbledon maybe before COVID I
think the pair have got like 629,000 is
it pounds or what do you call it?
Euro dollars or something?
It's gone down a little bit since
COVID but yeah, it's a huge difference.
So we're looking at this kind of like in a
sense, I think in the men's game, rafa is close
to the end, Djokovic is close to the end.
Maybe Djokovic has three to five years if
everything, but he could get a bad injury
at his agent, just that could be it.
Rafa is close, I think, to the end.
Federer is gone.
So it seems to me, in a sense, that the
game in the last twelve months is kind of opening
up and we're seeing new stars come on the Tour.
And in a sense, it's exciting, but the quality of
what we had for about 15 years with these three
stars I mean, they won 63 majors together, and and
it what's what's what's interesting about this is that before
these guys got on the tour.
Right about the time when Federer started to play,
I said to myself, I said, I don't think,
you know, are we ever going to see a
guy as good as Sampras in our lifetime?
No, it's not going to happen.
And these guys all surpass Sampras with like 2021 22.
I mean, it's just incredible.
So I don't know.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think anybody can rise up to winning,
like in the next decade, ten majors, do you
think, in the men's game or not?
Well, I mean, you know, we've all
learned never to say never, haven't we?
Because, I mean, in my era, warrior, in a sense,
we had Bjorn Borg winning five Wimbledons in a row
and six French titles, and then he retired and you
think, well, that's going to be hard to beat.
And then, as you say, someone else comes along.
And these three guys I remember putting up at one
stage when I'm watching these three guys, jokovic and Darlene
Federer, and my comment was that I thought that Jokkovich
was the best returner of serve I've ever seen.
And then I said about Nadal, I said, I
think he's the best counter attacker I've ever seen.
And then I said about Federer, I think
he's the best all rounder I've ever seen.
And here we are, they're all in the
same era, these three people to the table.
That was all different, all unique, and
it was just an incredible time.
And we've been so fortunate to see that.
So it's hard to see that
being emulated, perhaps ever again.
But you never say never. You never know.
I mean, young Alcarez is amazing for
what he's already achieved at this age.
He's strong, he's big.
But, boy, to see him copy what these other
three have done in itself will be amazing.
He needs others of the same ilk
to push him along as well.
And that's what we've seen.
We've seen Djokovic deciding, well, if I
want to compete with those two guys,
I'm going to have to push myself.
So he's gone to every level.
So they've all pushed each other, those streets.
I think that's a great point.
I think it's a great point.
I remember McEnroe saying that he used to
get pushed by board to be better.
And so it's true that the guys you need
people to push you to want to keep reaching.
So that's so true.
Now, the women's game is also, in a sense,
kind of more open now in the last few
years than it's been in a long time.
Do you think the woman's how do you pronounce her name?
Am I saying it right? Sweet tech. The Polish.
Shelley, how do you say Swansea?
Pardon me for goofing that up.
She's got three majors already, right?
Yeah, she does. Motivate it.
She's motivated, she hits the ball very well.
Big game, doesn't serve big like Serena, who dominated.
So it'll be interesting to see.
I'm not sure if you can dominate women's game today without
having a big serve to do the type of damage that
Serena was able to do on the Tour with 22 majors.
It'll be interesting to see.
Yeah, well, Serena, I think, was for me, as well
as that she's the best female player that I've seen.
I mean, people will say that she's been the best player,
full stop, and that's a legitimate point at her best.
Fabulous serve, very aggressive from
the back of the court.
So if you had an ordinary serve, she stepped in
and dealt with it so hard to see someone coming
along of that caliber in the near future.
And Spontech is terrific player,
as you quite rightly say.
A serve is probably the weakest part of her game, and
we might see some players trying to jump on that.
But she's disappointed, of course, that Ash Bardi retired,
but she says that Bardi's success was one of
the reasons she wanted to get better and better,
and she was very disappointed when Bardi retired.
So, yeah, she's looking to be pushed.
She looks the sort of person who wants a challenge.
She wants to bring it on.
I did some commentary matches on her last year in
Adelaide before the Australian Open started, and she lost the
body a couple of times and looked okay.
But by February, March, she was a better player.
She was faster, she was stronger, she
was more aggressive, and she's dominated. Here.
So she's a great athlete, great competitor,
love her attitude, but she needs someone
to push her along as well.
Years ago, we had a group of women that I
thought was one of the most competitive groups, when Serena
Venus Davenport moresmo what was the Dutch Belgium girl, what
was the top girl in the world?
The Belgian girl. Yeah.
When they were all playing, I mean, they
were had phenomenal, like, different little bit of
different styles of game, and they were all
kind of switching back and forth.
It was an amazing group and it'd be exciting to see if
we can get a group like that in the women's game again.
So I want to move on just to you as
a high performance coach now, overall working with so you
mentioned you were at the Queensland, I think the head
coach of the Queensland Academy, and that you were able
to kind of kind of be be there when Stauzer
and Tommy came through the academy.
So when they came through, could you tell as young
kids or what ages where they came through, that they
were different and they were going to be top players?
Was it easy for you to see that or they had to develop?
Well, you certainly believe strongly
that they had a chance.
I mean, Samantha Stosur, she was at 14
or 15, playing 18 and under events.
She was going exceptionally well
because she was strong.
She had a very good kick serve, a
very good top spin kick serve, which really
wired a lot of the younger players.
But because of that, you thought, well,
she's a chance and she was motivated.
Her attitude was good.
Tomic he was driven, not necessarily self driven,
which is a bit of an issue.
His dad drove him very hard, but the hours and work
that they were putting in, you could see that sort of
commitment was going to get some sort of success.
He always had good hands, burned physically.
He was not as quick as perhaps he needed to
be, but you always knew the work ethic that he
was putting in was going to take him so far.
Just how far was going to be up to him.
So I think a bit unfortunately, Vernon
probably didn't spend enough time developing the
front court part of his game.
But look, he's quite a finalist of Wembley
and he's had a pretty good career.
Sadly, he dropped out of it for a while
and he's trying to make a comeback now and
I think it's all a little bit late.
But Sam Stosur has done exceptionally well to win
the US Open, as she did against Serena Williams.
And the way she won was very impressive.
Former world number one doubles player as well.
So I think she maxed out her ability and she's
very much revered and a strategy not just for what
she does on court, but off court as well.
She's a delightful human being.
She's a great, phenomenal athlete.
I remember seeing her at age 19 saying,
this girl could really be the one.
And she could do it all, pretty much.
But did she have a good work ethic
when she was a junior growing up?
Well, it's funny because she was doing
so well as a 15, 16 year old.
I think she figured there was going to
be a walk in the park, and her
work ethic dropped off 17, 18 years of age.
She sort of flatlined, and people got ahead of her,
and I think she was doing well in doubles.
And then an interesting thing happened.
She picked up what was called Lyme's disease, and she
was out of the game for about ten months.
And I think that's when she thought, well, if
I ever get a chance to get back, I'm
going to work harder and do better. And she did.
And so she came back fitter, faster, stronger.
And that's when her singles career took off.
What age was she?
She was in the mid twenty s twenty five,
twenty six, when her singles game really took off.
She'd been doing quite well,
certainly very well in doubles.
But after she was out of the sport for 1011 months,
I think that was a catalyst for her to realize, I've
got a window of opportunity here for another few years.
I need to maximize it.
And she worked, doubled her efforts and spent a lot
of time in the gym getting stronger, faster, leaner.
So the back end, the back five years or four or five
years of her career were her best by a long way.
Wow, that's an incredible story.
So you posted a little quote from Leonard Berglin on
full court tennis, and I just love that little story.
And, quote, I think I'll kind
of paraphrase it in a sense.
Tell me if I'm right. Somebody asked you.
Well, when they came up, I'll let you say it.
You go ahead and tell the story,
since you know what you're telling. Well.
Remember Leonard Bergman? He was a quiet sort of guy
with the coach of Bjorn Borg.
He never said a whole lot, but
he was the father figure as well.
And a reporter asking one day at Wimbledon, I happened to
be there, and he said, what makes Bjorn so good?
And he said, well, when he's playing, I watched
to see that he's moving he street really well.
The reporter wrote it down, and then he said,
Secondly, I watched to see that he's keeping his
head still and watching the ball really, really well.
And he wrote it down.
And then Leonard said, that's all.
He said, I know if he does those two things
really, really well, the rest will take care of itself.
So I call it the secret of success is to do
the common things, that is, the basics, really, really well.
And if you do those two things really well.
The rest of it pretty much will stand up to
scrutiny, but we see a lot of people working on
their technique and how to hit the ball looks great.
In the moment of impact, the head turns, and so the
body turns, rotates too early and the ball goes away.
So it's not easy to actually
watch the ball, watch the ball. Keep your head still.
We were all anxious to see where it's going to go.
I play golf, and it's the same sort of tossed the ball,
but in tennis, is someone's going to hit the ball back at
you, so you want to be even ready for that.
So it's hard to do, but once you
get some decent technique, the movement, I mean,
I remember hearing Federer say the same thing.
What's the thing that you look for most?
He said, movement and balance.
If you want to see someone
look at someone's, movement and balance.
And I remember watching Alcaraz and Sinner
this year play at the US circle.
What a match that was.
And those two guys, will they move not only to
the ball, but how will they recover is fantastic.
That was an incredible match.
It was fantastic.
Yeah, that's one of the funny.
So you can talk about the different degrees of watching
the ball, too, because you say watch the ball, and
still people don't watch the ball like you're saying.
But just watching as a TV commentator, and sometimes when
I'm watching on TV and you watching the players play,
and as soon as the one guy strikes the ball,
the opponent, it's almost as soon as you can hear
the noise in your, you know, from the ball strike,
they are literally there is no lag time.
They are reacting from the moment they hear
that noise and see the ball come off
the string, from their string to their string.
And that's one reason why they're so good
also, is because they are engaged every second
to try to pick that ball up.
And when you watch a guy like Djokovic and
Federer and those guys in the doll when they're
playing their best tennis, it's like you're watching a
software game that these guys are playing.
It's the craziest thing, their alertness
and how on they are.
And there was one other quote that I wanted to that
you said you were at a, I don't know, symposium, either
online or something, and we never got to talk.
It was, how can you compete in the
jungle when you train in the zoo?
So I have my own thoughts on that, but
tell me what you think about that quote.
Well, living in Australia, as I do, and I go to
the National Development Squad, where we see some of the best
kids training, et cetera, and it's not their fault.
They show up overnight and got the best courts and
the best lights and the best balls, et cetera.
Et cetera, and everything's provided.
And culturally, I'll make this point.
I mean, it was recently noted that Australia per
capita is the wealthiest country in the world.
So, in other words, we've become,
I think, a bit spoiled.
Our expectations become rather stretched.
We take things for granted.
That's what living in the zoo is.
If you're in the zoo, people throw you your meat.
If you're aligned, you don't have to fight for it.
They throw you water, you're all protected.
But if you're in the jungle,
you've got to fight for everything.
So for me, I'll make another point about that.
When I was going up to this development squad one night, I
took up the ranking list of the top 13 men and the
top 13 women in the world based on the ATP and WTA
rankings of the top 13 women in the world.
This is the end of 2021.
There were 13 different countries represented and
they were Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan.
I mean, these are not what we'd call
first world countries and not Third world countries.
But those people are not living in
a zoo, they're living in a jungle.
They're competing, they're fighting day in, day out.
Now you get to a country like Australia where
things culturally, culturally, we've had it pretty good.
So a lot of these kids are even growing up at
home, in my opinion, in a bit of a zoo, mum
carries the racket and dad drives and it's all laid on.
So that comes down to how important competing is.
So if you're living too much in a zoo, you're
not going to compete in the jungle very well. Right.
So it's a lack of hunger is what it is, correct?
A lack of hunger, yeah.
And so we see that.
By the way, we have the same problem.
There's no question about it.
The same problem in the States.
So the other thing I just wanted to
touch on is what do you see in
Australia with your juniors, technique wise?
Are the kids and the majority of
the kids, are they learning proper technique?
When you're watching the juniors play,
does their game look pretty complete?
Because here in the States, we're
not seeing that at all.
I'm just not seeing great coaching overall
and I'm seeing a lot of big
flaws in stroke production and technique.
Yeah, what concerns me a little bit is that
there is no such thing as one size fits
all as far as coaching is concerned.
I think we as coaches need to
understand our player as an individual.
And there are a lot of ways of hitting a tennis ball.
You can hit a forehand with a Western group,
a semi Western group, maybe even an Eastern forehand
group, depending on your height, your size and the
game style that you want to develop.
So for me, I think, as you said before,
there's not a lot of match play going on.
There's a lot of drilling going on.
So at the drilling and even at the coaching level,
I think sometimes a coach and this is not across
the board, but there's an occasion or there are occasions
where a coach will say, this is the technique, and
that's what everyone's going to learn.
The reality is I'll give you an example.
I mean, if you've got in years gone
by, two world number ones in Australia, Lleyton
Hewitt and Pat Rafter couldn't play more differently.
Rafters serve road, chip and charge.
Men Hewitt's, from the back of the court
said, for me, they need to be taught
differently and their drilling would be different.
Hewitt, he was the epitome of competitiveness,
not a big guy, happy to play
rally balls, cross court all day long.
So he's got to have shape on his ball train that way.
Rafter, he needed to develop his chip and charge game,
his serve and volley game, et cetera, et cetera.
So for me, one of the problems, I think, is
there's not enough understanding of a game style that you
want to teach your player because the technique that they
develop needs to be relevant to the game style.
All right, that's so true to me.
Also, I see that a lot of coaches today don't
really even understand how to coach the volley because not
too many players are doing it on the tour.
So you see a lot of juniors that
really they hit decent forehands and backhands, but
it's like their net game is completely absent.
Like, it's just like it's like there's
a big hole in their game.
I think that's absolutely right.
I mean, the ground stroking from the back
of the court has improved exponentially, but there
is a lack of ability to come forward.
And again, Federer mentioned that the last
time I interviewed him at Wimbledon, probably
three years ago, he said just that.
He said, what are the coaches doing these days?
He said, everybody, I play.
No one's coming forward.
This is when he was still winning Wimbledon.
He said, no one's coming forward.
He said, I know that if I'm returning, I
just need to chip the ball deep because I
know no one's going to serve in volley.
Now, as a couple since then are serving in volley.
But yeah, if you don't spend any time practicing that,
if you don't understand where to stand, if you don't
put yourself in that sort of environment, you freeze.
You don't even know where to
move before you even learn techniques.
So you've got to spend some time in an environment
to understand where to move, where to cover, even as
much as you need to know about the technique.
And of course, the very big changes of a grip from
semi Western to a volley grip, is a bit substantial.
So that means it needs a fair bit of tweaking for
someone to get a comfort zone with more of a volley
grip, a continental grip to volley but, if you will, rather than
a western forehand grip that are hit on the forehand.
So I think there is a lack, but we need
to show the kids how well these men like Djokovic
and Nadal have improved their volley over the years, because
they know it's so important to capitalize on a good
grand strip when you got your pilot out of the
court and you need to take time away.
One of the things why I've put together full
court tennis is one is to try to make
coaching accessible to anybody in the world.
So there's a lot of places where there's not good coaches
and so that they can reach out and get an opinion
on their stroke and have them compare it to a pro.
But also for the kids that basically don't
have a good coach and they want they're
just hanging out at the park.
I grew up at the park and I didn't have access.
There was barely even TV in the days of tennis.
So to be able to compare your stroke
to a top pro or something, I think
that like you're mentioning between Rafter and Hewitt.
Well, different styles of play,
completely different styles of play.
But when they're falling or they're hitting
a ground stroke, there still is certain
essential ingredients that the contact points through
the shot, their footwork, this or that.
A lot of them are basically the same ingredients.
And so, yeah, they can have different
styles of play, but different ingredients.
So I'm trying to get people to understand that and to
pay attention to it and to be able to look at
it and compare it and then learn from that.
Basically, because I find as a coach, it helps me
to be able to break it down, put it in
the app, put it in slow mo, look at the
technique, and then be able to show the kid on.
The court immediately what he's doing and compare it
to another pro so that visually they get a
better idea in their head of what to do.
And so I think that they learn quicker that way.
It's amazing, some kids, when they have bad habits,
you tell them what they're doing, something like maybe
they're taking the shortest backswing in the world.
A lot of the kids today, I see they're doing
so much windshield wiping, but they don't take their racket
back at all because they're doing so much windshield wiping.
And so they think they're doing it, but they're not.
And I'm sure you and I probably have
had the same type of issues growing up.
We think we're doing something, but we're not doing it.
And so to get them to understand how
to improve their technique, I think it's silly
today in this day and age with technology,
that everybody doesn't have good technique.
There's no reason for people not
to have good technique today.
So I'm hopeful with full core tennis, and
I appreciate you being on there and using
the technology and helping everybody as well.
And there's no reason you have an amazing career and
knowledge of the sport, and so people should be hiring
you in the app to get a lesson.
So it's much appreciated you being on.
It was fun talking to you, Jeff, and
look forward to seeing you on Full Court Tennis, Brian.
FullCourtTennis was founded by former '81 Australian Open Singles Champion Brian Teacher, currently an ATP coach. With today's widespread access to technology, Brian wanted to make tennis coaching available and affordable to all. And so the FullCourtTennis app was born. Now tennis players of all levels, from all around the globe can connect directly with world-class tennis coaches to improve their game.
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