January 31st … players descending onto Melbourne Park for an unprecedented 4 x tournaments at the same time at the same venue. This carnival of the worlds best tennis players, one week out from the Australian Open, coming from practice courts in suburban courts, coming from hotel bubbles, coming from hotel quarantine, coming to play in front of spectators and others in other parts of the world ‘coming of age’.
Vintage Tennis congratulates Nishant Dabas, Performance ‘Foundation’ member, for his outstanding run of ITF World Tennis Tour Junior play in New Delhi … winning back to back Doubles titles and reaching the Final in the two events, making it 3 x finals in a row over the past month … which included the National 18yrs Championships.
As he and our great group at the Kooyong Tennis Academy witness AO – Melbourne Park and allow themselves to dream of what can be the High Performance Team can’t wait for 2021 to get underway and pray/hope for a less disrupted year and for all be good, be safe.
Vintage Tennis Performance Foundation member Nishant Dabas, like all of our players, have kept the faith during 2020 and continued to be ready to play when the time came.
This week Nishant attended a camp in New Delhi, supervised by India’s Davis Cup/National Coach Zeeshan Ali, for all of India’s top ITF juniors. This was followed by an Invitational 18yrs National Championship, with Nishant winning the tournament only one month after his 17th birthday … congratulations from all of us !
Nishant has two ITF tournaments in Delhi during January to consolidate his success from this week. His training partners here at Kooyong Tennis Academy, Melbourne look forward to his return later this year as they missed him last year due to the virus. Nishant has been a member of our elite group since he was 11 years old.
Missing In Action … at the time of writing Melbourne (Australia’s home of tennis) has been in lock-down for the second time since March. Tennis Australia has cancelled all AR tournaments for 2020 and the Australian Open looks like going ahead, maybe without crowds.
Melbourne/Victoria has the greatest number of tennis participants and hosts Australia’s largest tennis competitions – Pennant (cancelled) and Country Week (cancelled), countless community competitions, coaching operations and social games all missing from the landscape.
Tennis lovers, I feel, will still have the motivation to get out on the court as we come out of lock-down but the plans, dreams, goals that players, especially those on a path to junior success and pro tennis will have to install a new direction and the determination to turn around M I A into Attention In Mental approach by way of the broader picture of life and history that teaches us to “adapt and overcome” when things change.
We will be working with our players to not just get back to where they were but to work to achieve the goals and level of development that needs to be in place for 2021 and 2022 to adjust that thinking and continue to look forward and overcome any obstacles.
By mentally taking this direction and with the commitment of their coaches those plans, dreams, goals and feelings will clear the hurdles that have been encountered during this period and balance life to that happy place that our sport gives us.
International tennis may be at a standstill during this global covid time … but lets consider Pro Tennis in our domestic/regional zones … so players can earn a living !!
In Australia and other countries professional sports are gearing up with a new look and distancing protocols in place. Organizing their national competitions to be in a controlled/contained environment with any outbreak identified/recognized and action being immediate.
Governments and sporting bodies understand the popularity and multiple benefits that sport plays in our society and the understanding that players need to earn a living and the economics of business.
Tennis is another of these sports where players ranked below 200 in the world are finding finances tough … so is it possible for the world bodies to set in place professional tournaments in an environment similar to these other sports that can get Pro Tennis underway within a country’s borders.
Each nation could conduct tournaments varying up to $250,000 subsidized by TV rights and sponsors plus funds raised by the ITF, ATP, WTA and the Grand Slam Development Fund. Players will compete for prize money but due to the imbalance of the possible number of tournaments from country to country no ranking points can be allocated.
Experience tells me that when tennis turned professional the tour was small and International travel expensive, so most of the events played by those wishing to pursue a tennis career found themselves playing domestic tournaments all around the countryside from Ipswich to Inverell, West Wyalong to Wagga Wagga, Newcastle to Narrandara, Geelong to Grenfell … good prize money, good tennis, good country hospitality.
Yes is the answer … Pro Tennis is possible … let the players earn a living and keep the game flowing until the game can go global again.
As sports people we are use to routines and schedules and we find it quite easy to go about our preparation to perform, develop, improve and it becomes second nature … however, during this time of restrictions nothing is second nature or normal as we confine ourselves all to benefit our communities.
In Australia, after our summer of tennis, players went about training with a plan and routine/schedule in readiness for the next tournament block – around the Easter break. Then courts were closed, tournaments cancelled, training ceased … what to do with no date of return … coaches advising these high performers to work on fitness and do what they can in what space is available to up-keep their skills … which is good.
But it’s tournament time and this is where this new routine requires discipline … simulate match play components starting with competitiveness – everything you do, compete – play station (can’t believe I said that) or board games or time/count your activity; movement – agility , flexibility, reflex, speed, endurance – simulate all (fast & slow) – sock soccer, paddlepop sprints, throw a afl or rugby ball against a wall and pickup clean ; touch/hitting spots – brick on a wall, hit a pair of rolled up socks into a bin, shadow swings, take your racquet when you go for a run (restrictions on exercise time) and count number of bounces (use both arms), play darts;brain – stimulate ideas to simulate play.
Wishing you all well in your tournament/competition block and I know this will require out of the ordinary discipline but we are in extraordinary times. If you want, please send videos through to our new #tennistag #yourit (a platform started by us to share our isolated moments and keep in touch with our tennis community)
Finally back to writing … so much to say … so much going on in our world environment.
During these events of history and the emotional roller coaster we experience, Vintage Tennis, staying in touch with our players, has via social media started #tennistag. A means of staying connected instantaneously even during times of physical distancing.
Come and join our tag and say your it (turn) and join the journey that we are all on together.
Since the Australian Open and now leading into the French Open many changes have happened in the structure of World Tennis. The changes are necessary (multiple globalreasons) and in time the feedback and research/results will develop these to truly reflect our professional game and like all other sports if you are worthy to play at an elite level … it will happen.
Tennis has a number of tiers or tours as the pathway (ladder) to play at the highest level you can and as during a match if you take those chances/opportunities to display your skills with a preparedness to be bold and the courage to back yourself the reward will result in your desired outcome.
That preparedness comes from seeking the chance to receive great training, to acquire an understanding of fitness/diet/mental strength, develop the chance to ‘put your best foot forward’ when that chance comes and to take it … as nothing in this world is given.
Your chance to succeed will require boldness and courage to trust all the hard work and countless thoughts on your game and style that you have put in to be ready to grab that dream and give it a damn good shake.
After over 40 years in professional tennis, both on and off the court, you witness triumph and disaster (ref. Rudyard Kipling poem ‘If’), and as much as you want something if you are not willing or able to do everything you can to take that chance … you may not get another.
As tennis professional coaches working with high performance junior players we are always asking them to challenge themselves … well what about us !
This is where we must also challenge the knowledge we are imparting … is it up to date … do we look forward to the tennis of the future … what does it look like … what will influence the hit, the move, the play … ? Change is one of the things that we are reluctant to do, but we can always learn and we can always re-create ourselves and the things we believe in … even if we come back to re-affirm what we already do !
With the evolution and changing face of this great game, we must also look at the generations that play and how their environment, social awareness and life is different from the past. Gen Y and millennial’s think differently to previous times and are often referred to as the ‘want it now’ group, making them driven and thirsty for success. This will certainly transfer into tennis of speed, power, variety and precision and our challenge is one of which components will this require … I feel all and more of what there is today.
So lets challenge ourselves and re-visit our methods and philosophy and continue to strive for our players and the dreams that they wish for.
Modern sport deals with so many different areas and components to find the edge when it becomes time to perform at your best … and more often than not it is the little things that you do, that individually may mean nothing, but add them up and all of a sudden performance jumps – all through something called 1 %’s.
Here is a few for our tennis players:- make the last 5 minutes at training (on or off court) the best/hardest of the session | get it right before you leave the lesson/session | read your diary from the last performance the night before your next match | set regular targets on your components | ask yourself the question “why is this match important” | stick to your game style/play plan | count to 2 between 1st and 2nd serves | accept the conditions of play – it is what it is | chase one more ball | be ready to play one more shot to win the point.
Ten little things that has just added 10% to your performance eg 13% to your ground shot speed; 19% more on your serve; 10% less unforced errors thus 10% to your winners or forced plays; 10% more opportunities to go offence and 10% more asking your opponent to work harder.
Little things that are always added as you develop and enhance your Technical – Tactical – Physiological – Psychological and Sports Science components.