Coach Tim

The Tennis Whispherer is pleased to welcome Coach Tim!

Tim was born in Sydney but journeyed with his family to the United States in the late 1970s, where his passion for tennis blossomed in the competitive junior circuits of the Missouri Valley.

Throughout his collegiate tenure, Tim honed his skills at the Muir Tennis Academy, a cradle for top-tier US junior talent. Having returned to Australian shores, Tim’s zeal for the game remains undiminished. His dedication to teaching mirrors his commitment on the court, striving to unlock the pinnacle of performance in every student he coaches.







Tennis Seniors NSW Tournament Calendar 2024

024 Events (Jan to Jun)

Date Venue Contact Phone Entry Info
Feb 16-18 Ulladulla Summer Games Mary Lou Barclay 0426 828 341 Enter Online Download Info
Feb 23-25 Armidale R/Robin Charles Hempel 0425 260 135 Download Entry Form
Mar 1-3 Albury NRT 7 Dom Mahaffey 0404 167 015 Download Entry Form
Mar 1-3 Walcha R/Robin Roxana Mathews 0455 501 482 Download
Mar 8-10 Narooma R/Robin Craig Junor 0415 519 247 Download Info
Mar 15-17 Goulburn R/Robin Corey Greenwood 0402 837 794
Mar 23-24 Central Coast R/R Leoni Baldwin 0420 556 227
Apr 5-7 Inverell NRT 7 Joshua Parker 0429 202 160
Apr 13-14 Tennis Macarthur NRT 6 Michael Jackson 0413 632 632
Apr 19-21 West Port Macquarie Vanessa Kendal 0403 349 274
Apr 26-28 Gloucester NRT 6 Ruth Johnson 0418 763 041
May 3-5 Picton Seniors NRT 6 Michael Jackson 0413 632 632
May 25-26 West Tamworth R/Robin Brian Brooking 0417 614 054
June 8-10 Robyn Castle Mixed Teams Rod Clarkin 0411 446 338
June 15-16 Lake Macquarie NRT 7 Keith Williams 0412 157 757
June 21-24 Tweed Heads, ITF MT200 Natasha Kersten 07 5524 3541
Jun 22-23 Cowra R/Robin Cindy Fuhlbohm 0414 702 502

2024 Events (Jul to Dec)

Date Event Contact Phone Entry Info
Aug 2-5 Forster Seniors R/R NRT 5 Brian Adams 0404 955 599
Aug 17-18 Batemans Bay R/Robin Mario Kefalas 0419 779 482
Sep 14-15 Orange Ex-Services R/Robin Chrissie Kjoller 0403 845 945
Sep 21-22 Tri State, Barham Graeme Sticka 0418 402 415
Oct 4-7 State Championships MT700 Sydney Arthur Olsen 0400 525 591
Oct 10-14 Merimbula Annual NRT 6 John Rheinberger 0438 928 516
Oct 12-13 Gosford Round Robin Chris Lees 0411 154 327
Oct 27-29 East Port Macquarie Mark Giumelli 0427 669 189
Nov 1-3 Pennant Hills NRT 7 Michael Jackson 0413 632 632
Nov 2-3 Myall Park – Hawks Nest Samantha Leggatt 0499 981 411
Nov 8-10 Kiama Vets & Legends David Lehman 0475 857 740
Nov 29-Dec 1 Nelson Bay R/R NRT 5 Steve Taylor 0466 154 580

For a full list of Australian seniors tournaments click on the State and National Championships sub-heading of tournaments.Points for singles and age group doubles

Tournament Resources

TSA Tournament Guidelines (2024)


Seaside Results 2023

Don’t overthink each point | AskThePro

I know this sounds pretty crazy, but you should not be trying to think while you are playing a point.

This idea goes against what our mind is telling us as well as what it is trying to do. We will usually have the tendency to try to work things out in our head during the exchange of shots in a point. Unfortunately, this will have a negative impact on all of the practice and training we have done, and it may cause us to make errors due to indecision.

It is much better to just play the point once it starts. [Just focus on bounce hit: Whisperer]

Before the point, choose one technique idea and one strategy idea to remind yourself how you would like to hit the ball and play the point.

After the point is over, assess what has just happened and repeat the one technique, one strategy idea. You may have to make some adjustments based on what the last point was like, but try to keep things simple.

On the changeovers you can have a little more detail in your own self-coaching, but overall, try not to over analyze.

Letting your body react automatically and instinctively gives you the best chance to execute your shot and play the point the way you want to. To do this, we need to have less going on in our head.

Don’t think during the point!

Steve Annacone, USPTA Pro

Talking Shop with Coach Paul Annacone | ATP

Annacone started his tennis journey as a high-level player, where he had a very respectable pro career that saw him peak at No. 12 in the singles rankings. But he saw the game at an expert level, and was drawn to the coaching ranks where he excelled at a nearly unprecedented rate.
He started coaching Pete Sampras in 1995, and was with him for nine major titles. He coached Roger Federer from 2010-13, and the Swiss Maestro won a Wimbledon title and returned to the No. 1 ranking during that span.
Annacone was able to use transfer wisdom through teaching methods, and his core coaching philosophy is based on three pillars.  The individual is made up of three things:
  • Their head, which is how they process stuff, how they figure out and problem solve.
  • Their heart, how well they can unconditionally compete.
  • Their physical attributes.
After digesting every bit of those components in his mind, then it was time to transfer the knowledge: “My philosophy is, how simply after that can I say what I need to say, the way they need to hear it.”
Sampras and Federer are of the greatest players to ever pick up a racquet, but as Annacone explains, they couldn’t have been more different to coach.
Sampras fit into Annacone’s “magician” category, in the sense that he could process information very quickly and didn’t necessarily need a lot of repetition to master certain elements of his game.
Federer, on the other hand, wanted to be coached and instructed thoroughly, with the caveat that he would challenge the methods and force Annacone to defend the reasons for his tactics. “I’ve never seen a guy happier on a tennis court,” Annacone said in regards working with Federer during countless practice sessions.
“The most important thing [with each player] is they knew themselves really well. Pete knew exactly how he wanted to be to achieve his goals, and Roger knew exactly how he needed to be to achieve his goals. Very different, but it worked for them.”

Tennis By The Numbers | AskThePro

When I was a young aspiring player, I often lost tennis matches by being too adventurous, which is my attempt to avoid admitting I was very impatient. I enjoyed playing the front court as much or more than staying near the baseline, and I never saw a short ball I did not want to attack.

Even by the age of twelve I would try and dominate my opponents with strong shots, or I would even serve and volley. Naturally, a game style with this risk profile produces plenty or errors. (In addition to an occasional spectacular play). After lost matches coaches would always tell me the number of unforced errors I had made. I never knew what to do with this information. (It’s not like it was my intention.)

“You made 41 unforced errors today!” a coach would say.

“What does that even mean,” I would respond rebelliously. “You’re just going for too much.”

I struggled with this feedback. How can I learn from this? In hindsight, I wish the coach would have helped me with situational play. When did the errors occur? How long were the rallies before I missed? When may I give myself permission to attack and when is patience more prudent. Certainly, an unforced error at the score of 40-0 is different from one produced at 30-40, don’t you agree?

Last week I was having a conversation with one of my adult clients about her most recent match. She mentioned that she had made too many unforced errors, and then she added a few more stats that she probably got from watching tennis on television. I told her that I was getting the gist of what she was saying, but I still could not get a good feel for the match as stats do not always paint the entire picture. I said that some stats are completely useless, and others can be counter intuitive.

“What ya talking ‘bout Willis?” (she did not actually say this) I continued by asking my Harvard- educated student the following question:

“After the match, what would yourather have the stat sheet say regarding break points, 2/3 or 4/17?”

She looked at me slightly confused (she suspected it was a set up): “I want to say 2/3, but it’s probably wrong, isn’t it?”

“Yes”, I continued. “Think about it, a 66.67 percent success rate (2/3) is indeed much better than a 23.5 percent (4/17), but in this case it is still better to break your opponent’s serve four times, instead of only two”.

She agreed to it being counter intuitive. I only mentioned that my client was Harvard-educated to show that intelligence was not in question here. I wasn’t teaching Penny, the waitress from the Cheesecake factory (no offense if you are a waitress, or don’t like The Big Bang Theory).

For some reason we look at all those break point opportunities and consider it a failure. What can we learn from this? The more opportunities we give ourselves, the better it is. A mindset of neutrality will be helpful here, an unattached approach to the outcome: if the break happens, great. If not, great.

Another stat in this realm is net points won/lost. When you look at a ratio of 4/9, you might judge it as a bad ratio. The player won four points at net, and she lost five points. What if I were to tell you that those four points won were all at break point! Then we might conclude that the nine attempts at net were not enough. If she had attacked the net twelve times for instance, she might not have needed those seventeen breakpoints! Your personal call to courage and to be brave at the right moments is a key strength for a competitor.

In any case, tennis stats are helpful, but have their limitations. Match play will still come down to being patient at the right times, being courageous at the right moments, and staying disciplined all match. Use the stats to dig into those areas more specifically. Answer the questions ‘when’ and ‘why”!

[Our Tennis Whisperer teaches the GHOST LINE strategy to answer the ‘when’ and ‘why’ questions — emphasis added]

Tonny van de Pieterman is a tennis professional at Point Set Indoor Racquet Club in Oceanside, NY. He has previously been named USTA Tennis Professional of the Year for the USTA/Eastern-Long Island Region. Tennis By The Numbers | Long Island Tennis Magazine

How Ajla Tomljanovic Faced Down Serena Williams and 24,000 Others

When Ajla Tomljanovic was a little girl, she asked her father about a prized photograph of him holding a big trophy on his head. Ratko Tomljanovic was a great professional handball player, winning two European Championships for Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and was the captain of the Croatian national team; before that, he was a member of the Yugoslavian team.

His daughter wanted to know where that shiny trophy was, because she had never seen it in their home. Ratko Tomljanovic explained that it had been a team award, and that he did not get to keep it. Unimpressed, Ajla told him that she would not play handball.

“I want the trophy just for myself,” she said.

So Ajla Tomljanovic chose tennis, and she is still striving for that big trophy, for a professional championship. She has shown the talent for it, though her nerves have betrayed her at times — what she calls “the bad Ajla.”

Credit…Corey Sipkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But on Friday night, Tomljanovic, who is ranked 46th, demonstrated to herself and the world that she had the mettle and the shotmaking ability to win a trophy of her own. If she wins four more matches in the coming week, it will be one of the most coveted in sports.

That night, Tomljanovic beat the six-time U.S. Open champion Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1, in front of a raucous, partisan crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time.

“I feel like I belong here now,” she said.

That was not necessarily what she was thinking in the moments before she took the court.

Tomljanovic was nervous, and for good reason. Williams was her idol, and Tomljanovic had never played her before. She had never played in Ashe. In fact, she had never even practiced on that court. She had asked tournament organizers if they could find a time for her to hit some balls in the largest tennis stadium in the world at least once, but nothing was available.

Then there was the matter of her playing the role of villain, of facing down nearly 24,000 fans, virtually all of them screaming for Williams to win, and millions more watching on television. It would make anyone a tad nervous.

Tomljanovic confided the anxiety to her father, who was happy that his daughter admitted to the nerves. Better than hiding them, he thought. Ratko Tomljanovic also knew about playing in hostile environments, especially in Europe, where handball is intensely popular and the stakes are high. He tried to calm Ajla by evoking the almost comical role of the hard-bitten veteran of scrappy handball matches — the kind of yarn he had spun to her and his other daughter, Hana, many times before.

“Don’t tell me you are afraid of the crowd,” he told Ajla. “I played in some terrible places with 5,000 people booing and spitting, and one time the crowd came on the floor and there was a big fight. Don’t tell me it’s hard because some guy in the 35th row is yelling at you.”

It was not exactlyMickey yelling at Rocky. It was a speech designed to lighten the mood, and it worked. Ajla laughed. “She doesn’t care about what I did, at all,” Ratko said, chuckling.

But then he brought out another motivational tool. He mentioned one of his favorite movies, “For Love of the Game,” in which a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, played by Kevin Costner,reflects on his life and careerin the midst of a perfect game.

“But she didn’t know the movie, so I had to explain it to her,” he said. “I told her, ‘You have to be Kevin Costner today.’”

In the film, he told her, the pitcher focuses explicitly on the catcher’s glove and ignores everything else in the stadium. Ajla understood, and she followed the advice with her own unique resolve.

She blocked out all the noise, the roars for Williams, the indecorous cheers when Tomljanovic missed a serve, all the celebrities in the stands, the video tributes to Williams and her own childhood adulation for Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion standing across the net and playing as well as she had in years. But Tomljanovic was better.

“From the first moment I walked on court, I didn’t really look around much,” she said. “I was completely in my own little bubble.”


David Waldstein, NY Times

NCAA champion Ben Shelton

ATLANTA — The phrase “future of American men’s tennis” mostly inspires groans these days, as 74 Grand Slams have come and gone since Andy Roddick lifted the U.S. Open trophy in 2003.

Invariably, the burdenof that drought falls on the American youngsters who quickly rise up the rankings, start making an impact on the ATP Tour and then run into the Grand Slam wall that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have erected over the last two decades.

So let’s not saddle Ben Shelton, just 19, with that kind of albatross. But we can say this: The rising University of Florida junior, who won the NCAA singles title in May, is very, very good. And he’s on the precipice of a career-defining summer that may well put himon a very different trajectory from the one that seemed laid out for him just a few weeks ago.

Shelton, whose father Bryan is a former top-100 player and now is the head coach at Florida, played his first ATP-level match Tuesday, at the Atlanta Open. He won it in pretty straightforward fashion, beating veteran pro Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-2, 7-5 and letting out a big scream as he put away an overhead on match point.

“It’s really special,” said Shelton, who was just a few blocks from the courts of his childhood at Georgia Tech, where his father coached until 2012.

Ben Shelton already has received a wildcard entry to the U.S. Open, the season's final Grand Slam.

But with each tournament he’s played, the bigger story is that Shelton himself might be special, and his performance could very well force some decisions about his future much faster than anticipated.

As of now, Shelton is slated to return to Florida in the fall. But after performing well in several Challenger-level events and impressively winning his first round here, he’s on a fast track to the top 200 in the world rankings. Brad Gilbert, the longtime pro player, coach and ESPN analyst, wrote on Twitter that Shelton will be “top 50 for sure.” And the U.S. Open already has granted him a wildcard into the main draw, which would be a guaranteed $75,000 in first-round prize money — if he turns pro.

“That’ll definitely be a talk later in the summer with my parents and my team and we’ll make a decision based on where my development is and what’s going to be best for me not just on the court but off the court as well,” Shelton said. “There’s no real results or rankings that are going to sway my decision in a big way.”

There’s plenty, of course, that could bring Shelton back to college. It’s a comfortable place for him, he wants to complete his finance degree and it’s certainly a big deal to play for his father on one of the most successful teams in the country.

But as he goes through the process this summer, it certainly seems possible Shelton and those around him will conclude that he’s just too good to go back to school.

“I’m just a college guy out here having fun,” he said. “I don’t put too much stress on my matches. I’m focused and want to do the best I can, but it’s not do-or-die for me out here.”

Shelton will get a better sense of where he stands on Thursday when he faces No. 25-ranked John Isner, who has won the Atlanta event six times. After going 11-4 against pros ranked mostly in the 150-300 range, this will be Shelton’s first opportunity to see how he stacks up against a top-100 player.

But regardless of how it goes against Isner — and certainly it’s a major step up in class for someone who hasn’t turned pro yet — it’s Shelton’s explosive game at 6-foot-3 that is drawing as much attention as the results.

With a big lefty serve that averaged 126 mph against Ramanathan and the ability to get a massive kick on his first and second serve, Shelton already has a legitimate weapon that can win him matches. But he also appears to be very solid off both of his groundstrokes and is very comfortable coming into the net to finish points behind both his power and slice. Shelton won 15 of 22 points when he came in for a volley or overhead.

“I love to get to net, be able to use some of my hand skills, athletic skills and going up to get the ball (to put away overheads) is one of my favorite things to do,” Shelton said. “I could have done a better job today incorporating my serve and volley and getting to net quicker in points but I think that’s a big part of my game and a big part of my development.”

Only the hardest of hardcore tennis fans would have been watching Shelton on a Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta, but it was easy to see why he’s been a dominant college player, going 37-5 in singles last season. It was also a huge advertisement for other tournaments this summer and fall to offer him a wildcard entry, as Atlanta did. Every tournament wants to boast that it helped launch a great career.

It’s far too early to project that Tuesday’s match was the debut of the next great American champion, but at the very least Shelton appears poised for an interesting and successful pro career. Shelton may have some things pulling him back to college for another year, but if he keeps playing like he has the last several weeks, it will be difficult to turn down the opportunities he’s creating for himself right now.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Dan Wolken


Wimbledon still has a couple of days to go, which is helpful because 48 hours gives us time to have another 48 opinions on Nick Kyrgios, to add to the thousands we’ve had on Kyrgios over the past eight years. This is Australia in 2022: Girt By Nick. 

Kyrgios is now a human hottake generator, in that the endless hot takes on him now generate their own hot takes about the earlier hot takes, and on and on until we die. You’re reading one right now, so please watch for any sudden change in your vital signs. 

To sum up our rollercoaster journey with the tennis terror from Canberra, let’s go to the social media-speak Nick himself loves so much: It’s Complicated. WTAF. FFS. And so on. 

Because let’s be honest: it’s as easy to write the column ‘‘ Ten Reasons To Love Nick Kyrgios’ ’ as it is to write the column ‘‘ Ten Reasons To Hate Nick Kyrgios’’ . 

You can sensibly and sarcastically wonder out loud what it is the Kyrgios fans love about him. Is it the verbal abuse? The violent treatment of racquets and balls? The spitting? The tanking? The narcissism? Equally, you can ask the Kyrgios haters what it is they hate. Is it the breathtaking talent? The shotmaking audacity? The charming impudence of his approach to the game’s stuffed shirts? His refreshing honesty that winning isn’t everything? What’s not to love? And what’s not to hate? 

Kyrgios contains multitudes, and it is entirely possible that by Monday he will also contain a Wimbledon title, a triumph that will challenge us to reconsider him once again. Rarely have Australian sports fans been presented with a dilemma quite like the one we face this weekend. 

As a lifelong tennis nut, my own journey with Kyrgios has been long and complicated. I remember the time he first made me sit up with a start in the middle of the night, saving nine match points on his way to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2014. Everything seemed possible then. I loved the guy, and I’ve spent a lot of money supporting him, flying to Darwin to watch him in the Davis Cup, and finding myself sitting next to Ken Rosewall at Rod Laver Arena the night Kyrgios played Nadal at the Australian Open in 2020. 

Rosewall (who seemed bemused by Kyrgios more than anything else) never won Wimbledon, but he was a living reminder of a time when Australians always did. From 1922 to 1972, Australian players hoisted the men’s trophy 18 times. In the 50 years since, we’ve managed it just twice, Pat Cash in 1987 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. 

We desperately want another man to win the greatest title, but Kyrgios – with as much raw talent as any Australian player has ever had – complicates the hope. And some of that is actually quite simple for some of the reactions: it’s racism. But racism does not explain all or even most of the contentious relationship. 

I fell off the Kyrgios bandwagon last year, and after eight years of ferocious loyalty I’m finding it very hard to get back on it – even with a Wimbledon title in sight. The eternal promise had given way to eternal complaining. The bad behaviour too often crosses the line. The self-aggrandisement – the boasting about his crowd sizes and his self-proclaimed stature as the saviour of modern tennis – almost echoes Trump in its narcissism. 

And so here we are, wondering what comes next. 

Perhaps we can look to the past to summon some optimism. Hark back to John McEnroe, who was literally persona non grata at Wimbledon (they refused him the honorary club membership given to all champions) until his genius and his grit turned him into a beloved elder of the sport. 

Ditto with Andre Agassi. He even boycotted Wimbledon for years because of the all-white dress code. Then he turned up, wearing white tracksuit pants like a spirit returned from the 1920s, and won the whole show. Agassi 2.0 was born right there on the hallowed London lawns, past demons cast aside. 

Could history repeat? Will we come to love Kyrgios like we did those tennis toddlers of the past? We’re about to find out if Nick can wake up to the fact that the grass really is greener on the other side. 

Neil McMahon is a freelance writer. 

Coaching Comes Out of the Shadows

One of the last barriers separating tennis from other sports came tumbling down on Tuesday, when the ATP and even the USTA opted to allow coaching during matches on a trial basis for the rest of 2022. The trial starts immediately after Wimbledon, and when the US Open unspools in late August, it will mark the first time that any type of coaching is permitted at a Grand Slam tournament.

We know what tennis lost in this transaction: The distinction of being the one major sport in which the athlete, even in the heat of competition, must be a self-reliant problem-solver. But what did the sport gain?

One answer to that question is easy: replenished integrity.

As the popularity of tennis swelled over the years, the increasingly high stakes and a pressurized environment has led to a widespread and flagrant disregard of the rule against coaching in real time. Thus, tennis has been lurching from one coaching controversy to another—from the machinations of Ion Tiriac to the ghastly ruckus that may have cost Serena Williams her landmark 24th Grand Slam at the 2018 US Open to the recent, incessant dueling between chair umpires and the Tsitsipas family.

ESPN and Tennis Channel analyst Pam Shriver spoke for a great swath of her colleagues when she told me, “It’s time for this. Seeing how they were having a hard time enforcing the no-coaching rule, why not?”

Stefanos Tsitsipas will be able to freely communicate with his father-coach after Wimbledon.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will be able to freely communicate with his father-coach after Wimbledon.�© Getty Images

Proponents of the change cite an additional potential benefit: enhanced interest among fans and television viewers. They see the rule change as a win-win, yet if history is any indication, that bonus is far from guaranteed. But there is tremendous pressure on tennis officials to make the game more marketable to a larger and less expert audience. Elite coach Brad Stine told me, “I tend to lean toward tradition in our sport. But I think this is a nice non-invasive way to produce a better overall product.”

There are prominent dissenters, though. Tennis Channel analyst Jim Courier, a former world No. 1, wrote in a text message: “I consider myself a progressive but do not support this initiative. How many tennis fans have been saying for years how much more they enjoy WTA tour matches (where coaching has long been allowed) compared to the Slams where coaching is not allowed? It is not essential to the game and is one of the things that differentiates tennis…[you] figure it out yourself.”

Courier’s skepticism is warranted. The ATP held a trial run of on-court coaching in official matches in 1999, allowing one coaching visit per set. ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert guided Andre Agassi to three titles before the ATP abandoned that experiment. But he is now adamant about eliminating the rampant cheating and convinced of the entertainment value of visible coaching.

“I was massively in favor of it (on-court coaching) in 1999, and 23 years later I still am,” Gilbert said. “There are pieces in the plan that I don’t like, but I’ll live with them just to have it. It adds a lot of plot and creativity to a match.”

One of the most powerful arguments against allowing coaching is the advantage it gives to players, like the major stars, who can afford to hire top coaching talent. “Hiring a coach used to be prohibitively expensive,” Shriver said, “But now pretty much everybody has one.”

I consider myself a progressive but do not support this initiative. … It is not essential to the game and is one of the things that differentiates tennis…[you] figure it out yourself.Jim Courier, former world No. 1

Thenew ATP rules address the two most prevalent forms of illicit coaching: the use of hand signals, and furtively delivered verbal advice. Under the plan, ATP mentors will be obliged to occupy seats close to the court at opposite ends, where they will be free to use unlimited hand signals as well as communicate verbally when their proteges are on the same side of the court. But verbal communication that disrupts the flow of play or “hinders” an opponent is forbidden. Chats will have to be confined to “a few words and/or short phrases (no conversations are permitted).”

I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to determine exactly when a few words becomes a conversation. Curiously, coaches will not be allowed to chat with players when they leave the court, which looks like yet another strategy to combat the growing plague of bathroom and injury-treatment breaks. Even more curiously, endorsing on-court coaching of any kind was apparently a bridge too far for the ATP. Could it be that ATP honchos lacked enthusiasm for the WTA’s bold foray into on-court coaching?

Starting in 2009, WTA events allowed a limited number of coaching visits with players during changeovers (complete with audio for TV viewers). The approach became business-as-usual until Covid put the kibosh on it. However, it was about as interested as conversation at the 30-minute oil change. You can certainly watch it happen, but is it really that compelling?

Nobody has been clamoring for the resumption of on-court coaching. Fans—television viewers, mostly—became privy mostly to anodyne pep talks delivered to stony-faced, zoned-out players during changeovers. Apart from familiar pleas to stick the first serve or to be patient in rallies, the visits rarely produced useful strategic, tactical or personal insights. Part of the problem: No coach was honest—or dumb—enough to share nuggets of precious intel while everyone had their ear to the keyhole.

“Obviously, there will be some open talk about strategy and stuff,” ESPN analyst Jimmy Arias, the Director of the IMG Tennis Academy, predicted. “But a lot of coaching is—I don’t want to say baby-sitting—but it’s about helping a player in different ways, making everything as easy as possible to help him go out on the court relaxed.”

I’m looking forward to this. If I can help Hubie (Hurkacz) in any way, that’s great. … If you have a few different plans or ideas and he’s on the fence you can now give him a nudge in the direction you want.Craig Boynton, current ATP Tour coach

Coaching in real-time can be a perilous business. Arias said that the best game plan can go “out the window” if the player—who is ultimately the employer and boss of the coach—won’t or can’t execute it. An opponent also has a lot of say in the efficacy of any given strategy or tactic.

“Coaches will be 100 percent under a microscope,” said Arias, who is willing to accept the trade-off between self-reliance and greater entertainment value. “It could get very interesting. We know that some players like to take their emotions out on their coaches. I’m not sure how the coach is going to react when he says, ‘I think you should do this. . .’ And on the microphone his guy goes, ‘You’re just an idiot, go get my lunch.’”

Craig Boynton, the coach of world No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz, is more sanguine. He believes that the intense scouting and preparation that now takes place before matches leaves little room for surprises. One of his favorite quotes about coaching is, “You don’t need to teach the greats, you just need to remind them.”

Boynton, whose protege Hurcaz is shy, diligent, and self-controlled, added: “I’m looking forward to this. If I can help Hubie (Hurcaz) in any way, that’s great. It’s a positive if you can (legitimately) encourage a player, give him a little clearer direction. If you have a few different plans or ideas and he’s on the fence you can now give him a nudge in the direction you want.”

However the experiment turns out, ATP coaches will now find themselves in an unfamiliar place: the spotlight.

ATP: May 14 Badge Lessons:

More valuable ‘how 2 play’ lessons from yesterday’s match and a repeat of some from the previous match.

In a repeating pattern, both our pairs started well (after good prematch warmup) and won the first sets easily.  Again, Mike/Sam continued on and completed both sets successfully against the better pair. Meanwhile on court 2, the opposition, while clearly outgunned by Bobby/Fred regrouped and changed the game.  They continued this pattern against Mike/Sam.

In brief, they changed the rhythm of the game by:

1. taking much more time between points and particularly on change of ends.

2. Hitting slower, short balls particularly on serve forcing us to generate our own pace.

Combining 1/2 gives ‘too much time to think’, causes players to doubt their ability and leads to playing ‘not to lose’. Or stated more simply, playing the opponents game.�

Re 1. Our team collectively plays ‘fast’ compared to most players.  The team has learned the lesson of taking time in preparing to serve on big points and now has to learn how to manage the same on the return game … need to reinforce the use of breathing and ritual to get set between ‘points’ regardless of other player’s game rhythm.

Re 2.  Reinforces both the need to better understand the ‘ghost line’ strategy and be confident in execution.

It’s takes several weeks of practice to learn how to execute on our coaching court and then confidently apply to a match.  This is why I stress focusing on point by point — rather than games or winning/losing.  Yep everyone learns by making mistakes.

It’s tough to learn how to execute under match pressure even so that’s why we are playing badge. Our focus is on learning point-by-point rather than simply winning or losing. As I often say, most times you learn, a few times you win.  It’s a journey not a race.

Learning how to hit the ball is the easy part of tennis. Learning how to play, well that is the difficult part for most players.

School’s in again Sunday at 1230p.


Tennis: the players struggling to break even | FT

Tennis champions Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are among the best paid athletes in the world. But prize money drops off steeply, with lower ranked players often struggling to make a living amid the expense of travel and coaching. The FT talks to governing bodies in what is a fragmented sport, and follows two players fighting to get to the top and get paid…

It’s one of the most popular sports on the planet with both men and women. So why are so many professional tennis players still struggling to make a living?

If you want to do this you have to invest in yourself. It’s a big risk, but it’s also a really big reward. It’s completely dependent on your result. If you have a bad year you could work an entire year at a loss.

Who is in charge of the rules of tennis? Everybody and nobody, right?

People outside the sports world think, everyone’s making a ton. They are not. It is tough.

My name is Alicia Barnett. I’m 28 years old. I live with my dad when I’m not on the road. And this year I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home.

Hi, I’m Liam Broady. I’m 27 years old. I’m from Stockport, Great Britain. This is the best year of my career.

It’s hard to not get consumed by thinking about prize money a lot, but at the end of the day you have to go to a tournament and realise that you’re investing in yourself and in your tennis.

There’s a lot of pressure to perform well at tournaments. If you don’t do well you can be working at quite a loss. So it’s a pretty unstable income.

At the end of the trip you sum everything up, and you think, OK, I’ve done well this week. And it is a little bit calming. So you come away feeling better that you’ve made a profit or you’ve broken even, and you can relax a little bit, but it’s an afterthought. If I’m playing good enough tennis then the money will take care of itself, I think. My roommate just came in. The reason Luke’s here is to save money basically.

So they’re really seven different stakeholders within tennis. The ITF looks after the junior and up to the professional ranks and beyond that. We have the men’s tour, the ATP, the women’s tour, the WTA. And then you have the four grand slam events. And those seven stakeholders together work on promoting and developing the sport around the world.

Well, we clearly undermonetise. We have a billion fans, you know? We are very popular, and we have a very gender-neutral fan base, but we are extremely fragmented. We have all these different organisations – ATP, WTA, the four slams, and ITF – that go to market completely separately, differently with different governance. So we don’t do a great job in selling and distributing our sport.

That’s where we have to do better in tennis. We’re probably the fourth or fifth largest watched sport in the world, and we get very little in media content except for the majors. That I’d like to see change.

With a billion fans tennis is among the most watched sports in the world, but it accounts for less than 2 per cent of global sports media rights, which were worth a total of $44.6bn in 2020. That means less money to trickle down to the players.

It’s 6:45 in the morning and it feels like a very early start over here in Brest in France. Let’s hope we get a seat on this train. Yeah, you know, life on the road can be difficult at times, but you do get used to it. And it’s a lifestyle at the end of the day. You’re probably away from home really for 40 weeks a year.

You share stories about how you ended up staying in a brothel because it was the cheapest thing. Or you’re eating oats in the room rather than paying for breakfast just to save a little bit of costs.

Most prize money goes to the top players. As you go down the ranks it drops off steeply. This year in the top 500 median earnings from prize money were around $137,000 for men and $92,000 for women. If you’re one of the top players you’ll be earning millions of dollars in prize money as well as sponsorship deals.

Lower ranked players may get some extra help from grassroots funding and free rackets, and clothes in return for social media promotion. But the majority of their earnings will come from winning on court. More than a third of the women and nearly a quarter of the men in the top 500 have taken home less than $50,000 this year.

When I’ve asked players, you know, how much money do you have to earn to make it? And most of them come up with $100,000 to $150,000. That’s a lot of money.

At the moment, the current pie, let me put it that way, the total revenue generated by the tennis professional sport and what we distribute in prize money doesn’t allow for the second tier to have players that can make a living and sustain the cost.

You can’t argue that: the best players deserve the most money. At the end of the day, tennis is a business, and you want to keep your most valuable assets happy. And that’s the same in any business.

It’s the top three or four men and top three or four women that drive ticket sales.

I would debate maybe just the best players get the most money but just maybe a little bit less, and they should share the spread of the rest of the money.

It’s difficult because you think, well, they’ve worked really hard and they’re very talented. They deserve to be there. And if we work hard enough, we can get there too.

All the grand slams have moved to give more money to the players who get knocked out in the early stages. And British players, for example, can also benefit from pro scholarships and tournament bonuses. But many top 500 players don’t make it to the slams.

They play most of their season on the second-tier Challenger Tour and contend with injury, losing streaks, and high costs with few guarantees of financial returns.

I think that you’ve seen a real concerted effort by the tennis stakeholders together in distributing the money so that more players are able to make a proper earning. It used to be a little bit more top heavy, whereas now if you lose in the first round of a grand slam tournament, in singles alone you’re going to earn about $50,000.

I made the second round of Wimbledon this year and that’s kind of my way of paying my coach, and my physio, and my S and C coach for the next year and to be able to afford the tennis tour really.

At some point, you have to draw a line. And beyond that line I think we have to be honest and say, in the Challenger Tour you should be able to at least break even and pay your costs. But you have to be conscious that this is sort of like a university. That’s an investment for you. Then go and move into the professional tour where you have a job.

I’m currently stretching up in the gym here in Bratislava after a good session. I’m on tomorrow against Ilya Marchenko. He’s a good player. I played him last week as well in Bergamo.

Obviously, we got the hotel for free at the Challenger’s, which is a nice bonus. The prize money came to about 1,500 euros I think, but then, of course, I need to pay for my coach’s food, and bills, and his weekly fee as well. I’m probably working at a loss last week. That tends to be the way that it works at most of these tournaments.

I don’t think it will ever be possible to have a sustainable tour at that level simply because it lacks the interest of the fan and the engagement of the sponsors, broadcasters, and ticket revenues.

Billie Jean King won 12 grand slam singles titles. She’s even better known for fighting for equal pay for women. In the early ’70s, one of her aims was this.

If you’re good enough to make a living, very few people were going to be included in that first go around because we knew we had to start small if we’re going to make it. Was that our goal? Absolutely not. Our goal is more is the merrier. I personally would like to figure out how we can have at least 700 or 800 people making a living. That would make me happy because that’s with the NBA. That’s Major League Baseball.

Every time I wake up in the morning I think about it. I have my blessing list, but then I think, we got to do better today. We got to make it work.

In 2020, Wimbledon and other events were cancelled, but the pandemic was also an opportunity.

To be honest, I’d probably say only since Covid have I started to be able to make money and actually put a little bit away into savings, and that’s at the age of 26. I’ve been a professional tennis player for six, seven years before that. During Covid we had a lot of tournaments in Britain, and there were no outgoings.

Tennis did come together. We had what we called a player relief fund, where we gave to the top 750 players in the world. We moved Roland Garros to September. We had to change the calendar. We changed the ranking. We got a lot closer to WTA. I’m a very strong believer that the two tools should be combined because together we are stronger.

We shouldn’t be competing with one another. We should be competing with the outside world, and I think that’s part of the strategy.

With the help of an adviser we are sort of in the process of evaluating the different options of how can we create a new governance that can enable us ultimately to provide a better product to the fans. Because at the moment, if you ask yourself the question, who is in charge of the rules of tennis? The answer is everybody and nobody, right?

If the ATP and the WTA were to merge, which would thrill me, it’s got to be 50-50. You’ve got to fight for each other. When you’re together you need to have equal prize money, equal everything.

Meanwhile, men’s number one, Novak Djokovic, co-founded the Professional Tennis Players Association. He said he wants more transparency in tennis and to improve livelihoods. Low earnings from prize money can mean some players never get their chance on court.

I think the damage to the sport is pretty massive if the wealth isn’t spread to the lower players. I think there are a lot of players then that, like I said, are incredibly talented and never get the chance to achieve their greatest tennis.

There could be guys that unfortunately don’t live in a nation where you have a strong federation which is capable of subsidising your cost. And then you might actually lose that talent that could become a great champion in the future.

We are addressing it. Is it perfect? Absolutely not and we know it. It’ll never be perfect. No sport’s ever perfect. No business is ever perfect. I think it’s quite a miracle that we’re doing as well as we are.

I spent my last 10 days of the year at the Davis Cup supporting the squad, practicing with them, and getting them ready. I basically spent the last couple of months backpacking across Europe really. It felt really good coming home.

You may not start out playing tennis for the money, but the money can be a game changer.

I actually figured out as well I spend about £12,000 a year on stringing and rackets. So at the end of the day this sport is incredibly expensive at the higher levels.

You always have to make sacrifices for things that you want to do. I’m just really grateful that I’m able to play tennis and travel. And I’m grateful that I have that support network because, otherwise, I don’t think I’d be able to do it.

To be top 200 in the world or top 250 in the world is a remarkable achievement. Out of, I think, 7bn people, it’s not many people who can say that. Obviously, if you can become good enough then you can earn a living at the sport. But sometimes it’s not that easy.

A lot of kids will come up to me and say, do you think I should try or not? I tell them always try because you do not want to say when you’re older, I should have tried ever. You don’t want to ever say that, I should have, I could have. So I think it’s really important to give it a go because you know what? If you do make it you’re one of the elite. You get lucky in life, and there’s opportunities you can never dream of.

Tennis: the players struggling to break even