Coach's Corner Podcast - Ep. 2 Geoff Masters

02/08/2023 1:33pm 42 minute read

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.

Yeah, fabulous.

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?

Prize money?

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?

14 majors?

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.

Just huge.

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.

In 2022.

So she's a great athlete, great competitor,

love her attitude, but she needs someone

to push her along as well.

It's amazing.

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.

Henry 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.

ITF 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.


About us

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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